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Show some courage! Defy your tribe!

Show Some Courage
By Robert Wright
Last week LeBron James, who has 50 million Twitter followers, tweeted a picture of a policeman in Columbus, Ohio who had shot a 16-year-old Black girl to death. The tweet said, “You’re next. #Accountability.”Coming right after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, the tweet seemed to mean that this cop, like Chauvin, would be convicted of murder and imprisoned—though some took James’s message as more menacing: a threat of vigilante justice.On either interpretation, the tweet didn’t make sense. The cop’s body cam had captured the killing, and the video told this story:
A cop responding to a 911 call arrives on the scene and sees the 16-year-old, Ma’Khia Bryant, with a knife in her hand, approaching another girl. The other girl is backed up against a parked car, with no means of escape, as Bryant draws the knife back and seems poised to stab her.

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Who gets a second chance?

Opinion Editorial
By Anand Giridharadas
In theory, second chances are a good thing. I mean, we all need them. Many of the ancient religions counsel mercy, and second chances are the natural consequence of that. Situations are not identities. Your worst deed is merely a situation. You should have the chance to become more than that deed, to transcend it.
But as the Trump era fades and a new wave of second-chance-seeking gets under way, I have been wondering: Who gets second chances and who doesn’t, what must you do to get one, and how is that connected to all the people who don’t even get first chances in America?
After President Trump’s acquittal in the Senate, what we’ve known all along was confirmed once again, and flagrantly: that certain people, especially if they are rich and powerful and white and male, enjoy total impunity in American public life. There will be no consequences for Donald Trump. Maybe some prosecutor somewhere will find a spine, but I wouldn’t bet my coffee on it.

read more

The Rise of White Nationalism in America

Opinion Editorial
By Erika Shannon
The recent attack on America’s Capitol has certainly confirmed what many have worried for a long time – that white supremacy is on the rise here in the U.S. With recent events, it can be seen that this is a fast-growing problem. These far-right extremists are often disillusioned Trump supporters who want nothing more than to create chaos and for Trump to remain in office, even though he lost the election fair and square. One of the problems is that we live in a world of social media heresy, where people are able to get others worked up with a few keystrokes and the click of a button. In fact, Facebook in particular is often used by right-wing extremists as a way to recruit, and sometimes train, new members. While social media websites attempt to take down groups or pages with white supremacist or extremist views for fear that they may be used to incite violence, it is impossible to make sure that people with these views do not find their way onto social media and share their hate-filled opinions. There are people who feel that occurrences like this are indicative of a free speech violation; however, it is legally up to websites to create their terms of use and handle violations as such. One thing that’s clear is that when people are given a platform to express hate, other like-minded individuals will find them; because of this, something must be done to ensure that they are unable to recruit new members or incite violence.

read more

How Best to Protest

Op Ed
By Linda F. Hersey
Across the U.S., in cities large and small, protesting increasingly is a popular way for ordinary Americans, especially young adults, to make their concerns and causes known. The First Amendment grants Americans free speech and the right to protest.

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WE ALL MUST VOTE THIS TIME

A USRESIST NEWS EDITORIAL                                               WE ALL MUST VOTE THIS TIME A) INTRODUCTION The 2020 Presidential election is the most important election of our lifetimes. At stake is the future of our rule of law and our democratic system of...

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Show some courage! Defy your tribe!

Show some courage! Defy your tribe!
Someday the world, and maybe even your tribe, will thank you.

By Robert Wright from Robert Wright’s Nonzero Newsletter
(available on Substack)

April 26,2021

Last week LeBron James, who has 50 million Twitter followers, tweeted a picture of a policeman in Columbus, Ohio who had shot a 16-year-old Black girl to death. The tweet said, “You’re next. #Accountability.”

Coming right after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, the tweet seemed to mean that this cop, like Chauvin, would be convicted of murder and imprisoned—though some took James’s message as more menacing: a threat of vigilante justice.

On either interpretation, the tweet didn’t make sense. The cop’s body cam had captured the killing, and the video told this story:
A cop responding to a 911 call arrives on the scene and sees the 16-year-old, Ma’Khia Bryant, with a knife in her hand, approaching another girl. The other girl is backed up against a parked car, with no means of escape, as Bryant draws the knife back and seems poised to stab her. The cop opens fire.

There are good questions you can ask about the cop’s conduct. Couldn’t he have fired one shot, not four? Or, instead of shooting Bryant, could he have rushed her, hoping any stabbing attempt would be ineffective and he could wrestle her to the ground before she did real damage? But if I were the girl the knife was pointed at, I probably wouldn’t be complaining about the decisions he made. In any event, he acted within standard policing guidelines, which say you can use your gun to end a lethal threat to yourself or anyone else.
During the first couple of days after the shooting, my Twitter feed, which tilts to the left, featured a number of tweets that, like James’s, condemned the cop. And it contained almost no tweets making the point I just made—that, though this was a white cop shooting a Black person, it was also a white cop shooting someone who seemed to be trying to stab a Black person.

I sensed a need for someone—like me, for example—to push against the prevailing narrative, to tweet something that might help clarify things. So what did I tweet? Nothing. Why? Because I lacked courage. I just didn’t feel up to dealing with blowback from people on Twitter who, forced to choose between evaluating your argument and attacking you, reliably opt for thermonuclear war.

I’m more and more convinced that there are lots of people like me out there. No, I don’t mean cowards. And I don’t just mean people who think there are too many misleading and inflammatory social media posts by influential people. Obviously, lots of people in red America think there are too many of those posts coming from blue America and lots of people in blue America think there are too many of those posts coming from red America.

What I mean is that there are lots of people who think there are too many of those posts coming from their own tribe—whether red or blue or some other tribe—but are afraid to speak up about it.

I say we start speaking up! Here are some reasons that, at least from my own tribal perspective, speaking up seems like a good idea.
1) If my tribe doesn’t seize the moment, the other tribe will. Ben Shapiro, formerly an editor at Breitbart and currently a right-wing troll, got tons of mileage out of a tweetcomplaining that liberals were resisting the truth about the Columbus shooting. He’d have gotten at least somewhat less mileage if liberals hadn’t in fact seemed to be resisting the truth about the Columbus shooting. When your tribe is denying something that’s obviously true because it doesn’t fit into your tribe’s standard menu of talking points, that’s often a gift to the other tribe. And it can add to the power of people in the other tribe who seize the moment. I personally don’t want to add to Ben Shapiro’s power.

2) If my tribe doesn’t seize the moment, the world will be more likely to enter a spiral of doom. You knew this was coming, right? After all, if I couldn’t connect the theme of courage to the apocalypse, why would I be writing about courage in a newsletter that is devoted to the Apocalypse Aversion Project?

You may ask: But isn’t apocalypse aversion largely about international politics—avoiding wars, building structures of international governance to tackle problems nations can’t tackle alone, and so on? Yes, but:
It’s hard to build coherent international governance on a foundation of incoherent nations. An America lacking in cohesion, divided along red-blue lines, won’t have the political will to do ambitious, politically difficult things. Such as: crafting and then participating in new forms of international cooperation designed to prevent things like pandemics, environmental calamities, and arms races in space or in bioweapons or in AI.

To get a little more granular: Doing these things will require convincing some skeptical Americans—definitely including some who are right of center—that these things make sense. And these Americans will be hard to convince if the people trying to convince them come from a tribe they hate—all the more so if one reason they hate the tribe is because it can’t be trusted to gets its facts straight (like when it accuses cops of racism or murder even when there’s no good evidence of either).
In short: standing up to your own tribe can strengthen its ability to argue persuasively for important policies, including anti-apocalypse policies.

There’s another sense in which courage can aid in the building of good international governance. It takes a little explaining, but the explanation begins with a simple, almost self-evident premise: It’s hard to build coherent international governance on a foundation of international division. Obviously, the more time nations spend at odds—whether fighting actual wars, engaging in tense standoffs, or enduring chilly relations—the less likely international cooperation is.

Now, sometimes being at odds with other nations is the only real option. If a country invades another country, or egregiously mistreats its own people, pushing back against that, sometimes forcefully, can make sense.

But in some cases we overdo the pushback, and one common reason is that we overstate the transgressions we’re pushing back against. Often the way this works is that people who are deeply invested in hostility toward a country exaggerate its transgressions, and hardly anybody has the courage to challenge the exaggeration.

The exaggeration isn’t always, or even usually, intentional. Often people who agitate against, say, Russia or China feel (like LeBron James) that they’re just telling the truth. And sometimes they are. But various cognitive biases make it quite possible that they’re wrong—that they’re unconsciously exaggerating how menacing a country is or how cruel it is to its own people. Depending on the nature of their claims and the prevailing zeitgeist, it can take courage to challenge them.

For example: During the runup to the 2003 Iraq War, it took courage to challenge the claim that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction. And by “challenge” I don’t mean denying that he was building them—I just mean saying, “Are we really sure about this?” It’s hard to explain to people who are too young to remember those days why it wasn’t easy to ask a question like that. But the mass psychology of a moralistic rush to war is a strangely powerful thing.

Some kinds of pro-war narratives are especially hard to challenge. In the runup to the earlier war against Iraq, the Persian Gulf War of 1991, a Kuwaiti teenager testified before a congressional committee that while she was volunteering in a Kuwaiti hospital she had watched as Iraqi soldiers “took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the children to die on the cold floor.” President Bush repeated that story 10 times in the coming weeks, as support for invading Iraq grew.

Who wants to challenge a Kuwaiti teenager who tells a story like that? Who wants to be called an “apologist” for baby killers? Nobody. But it turned out she was lying. Two years later we learned that she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US and had been coached by the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton.

But that’s all in the past! And the past is where it’s easy to find examples like that. Finding them in the present is harder. One reason is that it takes courage to sound a note of skepticism about such claims in real time, when emotions are running high. So they tend not to get investigated until after they’ve done their damage.

Right now there are good examples of this—claims about bad behavior by foreign actors that may, for all we know, be exaggerated or even flat-out wrong. You can find examples having to do with the governments of Russia, China, Iran, and Syria. Want to hear about them? Sorry, I’m not feeling that courageous at the moment. But I’ll get back to some of them soon in this newsletter.
Meanwhile, I close on a note of hope: After a period of reflection, LeBron James deleted his tweet.

Who gets a second chance?

Original Post Here

In theory, second chances are a good thing. I mean, we all need them. Many of the ancient religions counsel mercy, and second chances are the natural consequence of that. Situations are not identities. Your worst deed is merely a situation. You should have the chance to become more than that deed, to transcend it.

But as the Trump era fades and a new wave of second-chance-seeking gets under way, I have been wondering: Who gets second chances and who doesn’t, what must you do to get one, and how is that connected to all the people who don’t even get first chances in America?

After President Trump’s acquittal in the Senate, what we’ve known all along was confirmed once again, and flagrantly: that certain people, especially if they are rich and powerful and white and male, enjoy total impunity in American public life. There will be no consequences for Donald Trump. Maybe some prosecutor somewhere will find a spine, but I wouldn’t bet my coffee on it.

So now, with a kind of constitutional sanction, Trump will get his thousandth second chance. Just as he got after every business failure, just as he got every time he crossed some supposed red line in office. And is this surprising? Is this second chance to resume a role in public life all that different from the impunity of every police officer who has shot an unarmed Black person? Is it different from the impunity of every Republican who laid the ground for Trumpism, then bailed at the last minute, only to reinvent themselves as a democracy-is-fragile guru? Is it different from the impunity of the speculators who caused the 2008 financial crisis? Is it different from the impunity of those who brought us Guantanamo and torture and Iraq and Katrina and climate change and voter suppression and suffocating plutocracy and more?

Not only are these powerful figures who maim or defraud or starve or oppress other people immune from accountability in America today. They come back better than ever. The 21st-century second chance is a flashy, well-publicized, flex of a reentry in which one expects more than a chance to be back in polite society. One expects to lead, to become an expert in the problem one caused, in the vanguard of the search for solutions to the problem that one is, the fire chief of the department investigating the arson one has set.

See, for example, how many highly culpable figures of the George W. Bush presidency have now become well-published writers on the topic of saving democracy — saving it from the totally predictable consequences of everything they once worked toward. Or how the Lincoln Project guys, before the organization imploded, became media darlings, despite having somehow had no problem with the pre-Trump Republican Party of “welfare queen” slander, the Southern strategy, trickle down, WMDs, Sarah Palin, and more. Or how the Wall Street speculators who brought you the 2008 crisis around the world now run “impact” and “social” funds, promising to solve through their investing genius the problem of poverty to which they helped contribute. Or how Jeff Bezos is now donating money to fund free preschool for children from low-income families, which is another way of saying the families Bezos and his friends underpay and thwart from unionizing.

If you play your cards right, you don’t even need to atone for one of these second chances. You can go straight from the arson to the firefighting, straight from causing the problem to leading the search for solutions to it. You can do this by starting a foundation, or writing some attention-getting magazine cover, or, as Kellyanne Conway did the other day, dancing on “American Idol” to begin the reputation-laundering process that will surely get her a cable explanatory job soon.

This oversimplifies it somewhat, but I imagine a certain older arc of atonement that went something like: Sin>Accountability>Redemption. What we often see now is a very different arc, more like Sin>Sin-related expertise>Leadership of sin prevention. It will not be long before some of the most craven collaborators of Donald Trump are teaching seminars and leading panels on how to guard against future autocracy.

So one of the problems with this kind of second chance that so dominates our public life is that it isn’t really a second chance, because people don’t atone, don’t seek mercy, don’t show they’ve changed. They just clean their stink, which is different. And they go right to the helm of supposed solution-seeking, cutting in line everyone who was right all along, in fact battling them all along.

But another, more fundamental problem with these costless second chances for those at the top is they entrench a reality in which second, and often first, chances are withheld from most people. There is a zero-sum relationship between these second chances at the top and the chances people enjoy below the stratosphere. Because if bankers who wreck the housing market get costless second chances, bankers keep doing what they did, and people down below don’t get second chances to own a home after losing one to foreclosure. If people who lie the nation into war get costless second chances, there will be more lying into wars, and more young men and women who, meeting an IED on some dusty road, get no second chance. If people who enable fascism get costless second chances on cable and reality TV, it reduces the price of enabling fascism, and that makes it that much more likely that a refugee from violence won’t get a new start here. If the tax avoiders and union busters get costless second chances through reputation-laundering philanthropy, their workers will see their chances of ever experiencing a day of economic security withering and dying.

Their second chances, high up there, are the reason you perhaps often feel you don’t have a first one. Not everything in life is simple. This is. Either they keep getting second chances they don’t deserve — or you start getting first chances you do.

The Rise of White Nationalism in America

USRESIST NEWS OP ED

The Rise of White Nationalism in America

By Erika Shannon

January 22, 2021

The recent attack on America’s Capitol has certainly confirmed what many have worried for a long time – that white supremacy is on the rise here in the U.S. With recent events, it can be seen that this is a fast-growing problem. These far-right extremists are often disillusioned Trump supporters who want nothing more than to create chaos and for Trump to remain in office, even though he lost the election fair and square. One of the problems is that we live in a world of social media heresy, where people are able to get others worked up with a few keystrokes and the click of a button. In fact, Facebook in particular is often used by right-wing extremists as a way to recruit, and sometimes train, new members. While social media websites attempt to take down groups or pages with white supremacist or extremist views for fear that they may be used to incite violence, it is impossible to make sure that people with these views do not find their way onto social media and share their hate-filled opinions. There are people who feel that occurrences like this are indicative of a free speech violation; however, it is legally up to websites to create their terms of use and handle violations as such. One thing that’s clear is that when people are given a platform to express hate, other like-minded individuals will find them; because of this, something must be done to ensure that they are unable to recruit new members or incite violence.

A burning question for many is who are these people? Often times, they are those you would least expect: your neighbor, mailman, doctor, or barber. People of all ages are involved with the white nationalist movement. Many members are associated with the alt-right and have conservative ideals. According to research by the Institute for Family Studies, white people with no college degree make up a large chunk of these white nationalists. This suggests that members of these hate groups are less educated, which means that education may be a powerful tool for fighting racism in America. Their research also indicates that white males in the lowest income group ($0-$29,000) are more likely to have a strong sense of white identity and solidarity. The research by IFS also shows that while a large chunk of white nationalists are 65 and older, there is not a huge age gap; this means that the amount of white nationalists across age groups is fairly uniform, and it can be inferred that children of white supremacists are being taught white pride ideologies by their parents.

The reason why people get involved with white supremacist groups is not exactly clear-cut. The attitude carried by members of these groups is one of superiority. Often these extremists have a strong sense of white identity, as well as a sense of white victimization for fear that they will one day no longer be the majority. According to the US Census Bureau, all racial and ethnic minorities are growing faster than whites here in America. By 2044, it is projected that the white non-Hispanic population will no longer be the majority. With that looming fact, there should be no surprise that white nationalists are coming out of the cracks to regain a sense of power. Other reasons for people becoming white nationalists can include a desire to feel significant, a need to blame their lack of success on another race, and of course, a sense of belonging among their white nationalist group members. These reasons seem to overlap with reasons why young men would join a gang, and to put it bluntly: white supremacist groups in America ARE gangs However, without the threat of police violence looming over them, gangs of white supremacists feel brave and emboldened enough to march our nation’s capitol with their faces exposed, and the names of their family business proudly emblazoned on their clothes. This boldness is what we, as American citizens, have to worry about. Members of white nationalist groups have a skewed view of the world, in which they are the biggest victims in society. With that mentality, we cannot be sure what they are capable of carrying out in order to give themselves a sense of significance and power. With hate crimes on the rise over the past decade, it is clear that more effort must be put forth to put a stop to the spread of white nationalism in the U.S.

Engagement  Resources

TRUMP SUPPORTERS BECOME INSURRECTIONISTS: SOMETHING MUST BE DONE

USRESIST EDITORIAL
January 8, 2021

TRUMP SUPPORTERS BECOME INSURRECTIONISTS: SOMETHING MUST BE DONE

On Wednesday of this week a mob of Trump supporters invaded the US Capitol wearing MAGA hats and waving Confederate flags. They desecrated the Senate chambers, took over offices of members of Congress, including Speaker Pelosi, broke windows, smashed furnishings, and overran the Capitol police. Their actions were inspired by conspiracy-driven words of President Trump, on Twitter for the past several months and at a kickoff rally on the Washington Mall.  Trump has been falsely insisting that the 2020 Presidential election had been stolen from him and urging his supporters to “stop the steal.”

Commentators have called this an “attempted coup, “an “insurrection “and a “dark day in American history”, all of which are true; but the question before us now is what are we going to do about it? We cannot let this attack on our democracy continue. We do not want to go through 4 years of Trump rallying his followers to take similar seditious actions and delegitimize our electoral process. We cannot let the country fall apart because of the ego and misguided psychological makeup of a man who cannot admit that he lost an election.

USRESIST NEWS recommends that the following actions be taken:

  1. A High-Level Bi-Partisan Commission should be established to make recommendations for ensuring the integrity of our electoral system going forward, and considering the possibility of getting rid of the electoral college..
  2. The FBI should undertake an investigation into the January 7th protests with the ability to prosecute wrong doers.
  3. The effort to track and prosecute home-grown white nationalist terrorism should be given highest priority.
  4. Any effort by President Trump to pardon himself should be legally challenged by the new Attorney General.
  5. State level efforts to prosecute President Trump for his attempt to change the vote-tally in Georgia should be implemented.
  6. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites should take down any tweets or posts from President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others that claim the election was stolen. (Notably Facebook has recently banned Trump from posting on their platform.)
  7. Efforts by New York State and other local authorities to prosecute crimes committed by President Trump should be accelerated.
  8. Congress should consider impeaching President Trump and barring him from future office-holding because of his role in instigating the January 6th break in.
  9. Republican lawmakers should review the leadership of the Republican National Committee (RNC) to ensure that Mr. Trump has no role with the RNC once he leaves office. This will help to ensure that his rhetoric and ideals become separate from future Republican policies. The RNC can still be the RNC but with less “Trumpism” in the policies they stand for.

We realize there are risks involved in taking these actions; that they may further polarize our political environment and make Trump appear as a martyr to his followers.. But to do nothing at this point would be a greater risk. We would be turning our back on injustice, and the criminal and seditious acts committed by President Trump and his followers over the past 4 years and allowing them to continue.

The Stars Aligned to Enable a Biden Presidency

An extraordinary set of events, circumstances and people came together at the right time to enable Joe Biden to become the 46th President of the United States. This Editorial is a shout-out to those who made Biden’s election possible, including.

Joe Biden himself, a dark horse candidate who towards  the end-of-the-race came from near last place, got a great endorsement, and with the wind at his back went on to capture the Democratic Party’s nomination. Biden succeeded in identifying himself  more with basic character issues ( empathy, honesty, integrity ) than with specific policy ideas and that enabled him to appeal to a broad group of voters from both parties.

Jim Clyburn, Congressmen from South Carolina, whose last minute endorsement  enabled Biden to capture the South Carolina primary, and gain momentum first  from African American voters, and then  from others, that carried him to victory in  almost all of the remaining Democratic primary contests.

The Other Democratic presidential candidates ( Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren) who put their differences aside and endorsed the Biden candidacy once it was become clear that Biden had enough delegates to win the nomination. The other candidates recognized that defeating Trump was the paramount election issue, and that required a unified party.

Christopher Krebs, the former Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Project (CSIS)  in the Department of Homeland Security, who worked tirelessly to help states set up voting systems that could not readily be hacked and  withstand rigorous recounts.

Stacey Abrams (Georgia) , Cindy McCain (Arizona), Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan) and other swing-state leaders who endorsed Biden’s candidacy and worked tirelessly to get out the vote in their states.

Trump himself who refused to lead the country, and ran a terrible campaign focused on voter suppression, conspiracy theories, lies about himself and fear mongering about lawlessness in US cities that didn’t exist.

There also were important political and socio-economic factors that helped Biden win, including  huge voter turnout, the highest in 120 years; the worsening pandemic and the economic downturn that many voters saw caused by  Trump administration mismanagement.

It is not easy to vote a sitting President out-of-office. Lots of events need to happen at the right time, and the right people need to do the right things. Although we at USRESIST NEWS are not in the astrology business we wouldn’t be surprised to see an astrological chart of how the political stars aligned over our country on November 4th to enable a Biden Presidency. Thank God.

How Best to Protest

Across the U.S., in cities large and small, protesting increasingly is a popular way for ordinary Americans, especially young adults, to make their concerns and causes known.  The First Amendment  grants Americans free speech and the right to protest.

Motivating many young adults in the U.S. and Europe to organize rallies, demonstrations and marches has been administration and policies of President Donald Trump. The uptick in civil rights protests began in 2016, with Trump’s campaign for president. They have yet to stop – and address an increasing variety of issues and campaigns, most notably the “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu, the South African human rights activist, famously said.

Understanding your rights and how to stay safe is essential. Here are five tips on how to make the most out of a protest — and protect yourself and your friends.

  • Go prepared: Bring water to drink and to wash off your skin or eyes, in the event police are called and tear gas or pepper spray is used. Bring snacks. Check the weather forecast. The protest may go on for hours. Make signs with simple messages. Plan your exit if you need to leave the protest quickly, if activities become violent.
  • Safety comes first: Wear protective goggles over your eyes. Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to move in. Attend with a group of friends and/or colleagues you trust. Know your surroundings. If you are pepper sprayed, stay calm. Change your clothes. Don’t touch your face and other areas exposed. A baking soda solution mixed with water is best for removing it. When things get dangerous, the best advice is to leave and to protect yourself.
  • Understand your rights: If you are injured, for example, you have the right to obtain medical assistance without delay. You have the right to attend a peaceful assembly and the right to be told the reason if you are arrested. Be sure to carry ID.
  • Interacting with police: The police are there for everyone’s protection and to maintain order. That said, if a police officer becomes threatening or violent, get his or her badge number. Keep your hands where officers can see them. Try to film or record the encounter, or ask someone else to do it. If you’re arrested, ask to see a lawyer and stay silent until you have legal help, according to the ACLU. Follow instructions given to you. If you witness an arrest, do not try to intervene but you can try to record the event.
  • After the protest: Follow up. Learn about other ways to engage to make sure the campaign or advocacy does not end with the protest.

 

RESOURCES

  • ACLU discusses the right under federal law to assemble and protest.

https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/protesters-rights/

  • Wikipedia gives a thorough explanation of the right to protest.

https://bit.ly/3bLcwOf

  • com offers a state-by-state look at protest laws.

https://civilrights.findlaw.com/enforcing-your-civil-rights/protest-laws-by-state.html

WE ALL MUST VOTE THIS TIME

A USRESIST NEWS EDITORIAL                                             

 WE ALL MUST VOTE THIS TIME

A) INTRODUCTION

The 2020 Presidential election is the most important election of our lifetimes. At stake is the future of our rule of law and our democratic system of government. For the past four years President Trump and the Republican party have been tearing down the basic political, legal and moral principles that our country stands for; such as respect for our legal process, the separation of political powers and the rights of citizens as enshrined in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. They have polarized the country leaving us divided, angry, and fearful of one another. This has got to stop; and the best  way of stopping it is by voting Trump out of office.

Most polls show that the democrats have a considerable electoral lead right now. But that lead could evaporate if people do not turn out to vote. Everyone needs to play their part in making sure that voting is maximized, that efforts to subvert the voting process are stopped and that the electoral process is fair and transparent.

B) ROLES OF KEY PLAYERS

Citizens

The most important spoke in the wheel. All citizens must do what they need to do to cast a ballot. So we advise

  • If you live in a state where universal ballots are part of state policy, cast a mail-in or absentee ballot. For a list of states that have authorized mail-in ballots for all citizens see https://www.usa.gov/election-office
  • If you live in a state where mail-in ballots are an option cast a mail-in or absentee ballot, especially if you are an elderly person, have underlying health conditions, or can’t get to the polls.
  • If you are physically able to vote in-person, exercise that option but please be sure to wear a mask and protect the health and well-being of yourself and others when you vote
  • Register to vote as early as possible, preferably in the coming days. By registering now will ensure that you will be eligible to vote regardless of which method you choose to use – in – person, absentee or mail.

States, Cities, and Towns
In the absence of Federal guidance and electoral support states, cities, and towns must undertake the government regulatory functions needed to ensure a fair and transparent election. They need to

  • Make mail-in/absentee ballots available
  • If need be setup alternative mail-in/absentee ballot delivery systems that bypass

 US Postal Service obstructions

Make enough polling stations available; with extended hours if needed

Make sure polling stations are operated in a sanitized environment with volunteers who are   not highly at-risk for Covid

Make sure ballots get counted expeditiously, ideally with results announced the same day or as soon after the election as possible

Keep the public informed of vote tallying process and announce the results as soon as they are known

The Federal Government

The Federal Government should be at the forefront of a national effort to make voting easily accessible to all citizens, ensure all votes are counted, and protect our electoral system from unwarranted foreign or domestic intrusions. It’s not doing this. However normally here is what should happen:

The President should stress the importance of voting and encourage all Americans to vote by mail or in-person

  • Congress should pass the Voting Rights Act and provide funding to states to ensure that all citizens have the ability to vote and that all votes are counted in a timely manner
  • The Post Office must prioritize the handling and processing of mail-in and absentee ballots
  • The Intelligence Community should take actions necessary to stop election interference by foreign or domestic agents

C) Voting Rights Organizations and Activists

Because the Federal government is abnegating its electoral responsibilities, and there are ongoing efforts to suppress voting and interfere in our electoral system, activists and voting rights organizations need to step in to help fill the gap. They need to take steps needed to:

Stop the postal service from obstructing the election

Arrange to have enough polling places open and staffed to accommodate in-person voters

Arrange to have enough people on hand to tabulate all in-person, mail-in, and absentee ballots as expeditiously as possible

Conduct get-out-the-vote and voter registration campaigns

Serve as voter watchdogs and call out any efforts to suppress voting

D) Resistance Resource Organizations

 Here is a partial list of the many voting rights organizations working to ensure a fair and transparent 2020 Federal election.

  • American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project: Works to protect the gains in political participation won by racial and language minorities since passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). https://www.aclu.org/other/about-voting-rights-project
  • Common Cause: Works to make the process of voting more democratic from all angles — they’re fighting to expand voting rights, eliminate gerrymandering, and push for popular vote presidential elections (see you later, Electoral College!) www.comoncause.org
  • Fair Fight: Brings awareness to the public on election reform, advocates for election reform at all levels, and engages in other voter education programs and communications. www.fairfight.com
  • Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: Works to advance and protect the right to vote and to ensure that the right is afforded equally to all.  www.Lawyerscommitteee.org
  • League of Women Voters: Encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. www.lwv.org
  • National Conference of State Legislatures:  Publishes a state-by-state list of voter identification laws: www.ncsl.org
  • National Vote At Home Institute:  works with election officials in optimizing their processes and governing laws for both mail ballot and in-person voting methods. https://voteathome.org/
  • Rock the Vote: Dedicated itself to building the political power of young people. www.rockthevote.org
  • USA.Gov: Offers a guide to the voting requirements in each state. https://www.usa.gov/election-office
  • Vote.org: Vote.org uses technology to simplify political engagement, increase voter turnout, and strengthen democracy. They provide information on voting requirements of every state. www.vote.org
  • Vote Vets: Uses public issue campaigns to give a voice to veterans on matters of national security, veterans care and everyday issues that affect veterans and their families. www.votevets.org

Recommended Democratic Party Platform Goals

USRESIST NEWS  proposes the following set of public policy goals to guide the Democratic Party’s  2020 presidential campaign platform.  We support all progressive policy proposals but would like to emphasize the policy goals below as ones we think need to be prioritized. They reflect the suggestions of our talented team of reporters, journalists, and bloggers.

The Most Important Goal

The most important goal in the upcoming presidential election is to win.  We need to win the presidency, maintain control of the house, and flip the senate. To do this we need all Democrats everywhere and anywhere to vote (in-person or by mail) for Joe Biden and his Vice-Presidential running mate.

  • Civil Rights: Voter suppression in all of its forms (limiting access to the ballot box, legislative obstacles such as shorter registration deadlines, voter purges, etc.) should be deemed unconstitutional. Civil rights and equality efforts should be promoted, especially those aimed at promoting racial justice and ending discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ efforts that have been at the forefront of these issues  deserve enhanced and continued support.
  •  Ethics Reform :Mandate that the president, his appointees and members of Congress, disclose their previous 10 years of tax returns. Require a divestiture of all holdings which may represent a conflict of interest as defined by the Office of Government Ethics. Bar any outgoing president, appointee or member of Congress, from working for those who’ve lobbied them for a period of ten years.
  • The Economy: Implement a comprehensive adequate safety net to address the economic needs of those at risk.  Right now, services to low-income populations are dispersed and levels of support inadequate.  We should have universal health care that is not related to employment, subsidized daycare, paid sick, parental, and family leave with job security, and a minimum basic income so that rent and food are not in question. Transition America’s economic dependence upon what is now a global industrial carbon-based supply chain to a more self-reliant locally sourced economy; while also recognizing that the United States is part of a worldwide interdependent economic order. Well-designed free trade agreements among nations, that respect labor rights, human, rights, and environmental standards, are often in America’s best interest.
  • Education: Forgive the debt of those who cannot afford to repay students loans, and ease repayment terms on all loans. Make tuition at all community colleges free, and provide reduced tuition at public colleges and universities for anyone with moderate incomes.  Restore higher education affirmative action programs. Increase public school teacher salaries and  make sure that schools in low income communities have the resources to provide quality education to their students.
  • Environment: Triple our country’s investment in renewable energy. Make the US the world’s leader in clean energy research, investment, commercialization, manufacturing, and exports by 2030. Mandate that all new and renegotiated electricity generation contracts have to be based on 100% low-carbon electricity starting in 2021.  Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Ethics Reform: Mandate the president, his appointees and members of Congress disclose their previous 10 years of tax returns. Require a divestiture of all holdings which may represent a conflict of interest as defined by the Office of Government Ethics. Bar any outgoing president, appointee or member of Congress from working for those who’ve lobbied them for a period of ten years.
  • Foreign Policy: Rejoin and strengthen our alliances in Europe and Asia. Reset our relationships with Russia and China. Emphasize multilateral collaboration in solving global problems such as climate change. Strengthen the effectiveness of international organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the International Criminal Court. Increase our foreign assistance program for developing countries.
  • Gun Control: Pass  major gun control legislation that includes mandatory background checks; the banning of assault weapons of all kinds; raising the age to buy guns; and promoting the use of red flag laws.
  • Health Policy: Secure proper funding for the American healthcare system to provide hospitals with the equipment needed to support patients and staff during COVID-19 treatments. Fully contain COVID-19 in all 50 states and rebuild our public health system so the US is better prepared for future pandemics. Make sure that pharmaceutical companies are held accountable for their role in the opioid crisis and ensure that addiction treatment is prioritized. A strong commitment to reproductive rights is imperative after the recent attacks on the rights of womxn). And an inclusive health insurance option must be made available for every person in America, at no cost for those who can’t afford it.
  • Immigration: Reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees.  Encourage foreign entrepreneurs, innovators, scholars, medical professionals, and creative thinkers to come to the United States. American policymakers should make a point to address the value and skills that immigrants bring to our country. Tear down the Trump border wall, and provide citizenship to all Dreamers.
  • Police Reform: Prohibit the use of chokeholds. Pursue criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct and ban no-knock warrants in drug-related cases. Create a national registry to track police misconduct, and establish standards for police conduct and certification. Delegate non-criminal police responsibilities to health care workers, social workers, and others. Promote local adoption of existing campaigns such as #8CantWait, Campaign Zero, #8toAbolition, and President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Towns and cities can decide which of these make the most sense for their municipalities based on their histories and current practices.
  • Technology: Strengthen Federal regulation over the posting of hate speech and false advertising on social media platforms. Strengthen the  protection of individual privacy rights from the  intrusion of technology platforms. Support  broadband access for all Americans. Encourage greater government, business, not-for-profit and educational collaboration to increase internet security and guarantee individual freedoms.

Echoes of a Massacre: White Supremacy Rears its Head in Wilmington

By Laura Plummer

July 17, 2020

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” – James Baldwin

On June 4, a sergeant with the Wilmington Police Department in Wilmington, NC, was conducting a routine audit of patrol cameras when she came across on-duty policemen using shockingly racist language while they believed the camera was off. Corporal Jesse Moore and Officers James Gilmore and Kevin Piner referred to black people as “negroes” and n——s, disparaged blacks in positions of power, talked about purchasing assault rifles so they could “go out and start slaughtering”, and said they were “ready” for a “civil war” to “wipe ‘em off the map.”

The sergeant quickly moved the tape up the chain of command and, on June 23, the trio was fired. In a statement, Chief Donny Williams called their comments “brutally offensive” but urged the public to not “judge our officers based on the conduct of a few.”

The “bad apple defense” is a common refrain when individual authority figures are exposed for wrongdoings. We are told that these cops do not represent the majority of law enforcement. The fact that the sergeant turned over the tapes immediately and that the men involved were summarily terminated does bode well for the WPD’s anti-racist internal culture, especially as the tapes had not leaked to the press and so could not become the target of public outrage. In addition, Chief Williams created an action plan both to hold the officers accountable and to prevent similar incidents from recurring.

But what is particularly noteworthy about this incident is the actual language used, language that is not only racist, but genocidal. The mention of a race war is common rhetoric used by radical white supremacist groups. This violent fantasy and the casual way in which the officers discussed it recall a period in the city’s history that is less about bad apples and more about a rotten tree.

Or in this case, a forest.

If you’ve never heard of the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, you’re not alone. It’s not a staple of school history curricula, despite the powerful impact it had on the spread of white supremacy throughout the south. This is due in part to the fact that, up until recently, the event was portrayed as a race riot incited by blacks. It’s now well documented that it was a calculated white supremacist c’oup d’état.

In 1898, Wilmington was the largest city in the state with about 25,000 residents, 56 percent of them black. Its black and white coalition government was neither Republican nor Democrat, but Fusionist. Blacks held public office, owned businesses, published a newspaper, worked as skilled craftsmen and even served in law enforcement.

This enraged Democrats (the parties were the opposite of what they are today), who had governed North Carolina since Reconstruction and who didn’t want to see former slaves and their offspring in positions of power. They began planning how they could overthrow the biracial government in Wilmington and deprive blacks of their rights to vote and to hold office.

They initiated a news campaign of racist propaganda painting blacks as incompetent and a sexual threat to white women. The campaign was meant to appeal to poor and working-class whites in North Carolina, to turn them against their black neighbors. White southerners were all too eager to have a scapegoat for their near-total dispossession following the Civil War. The Democrats won back the state legislature from the Republicans in November. However, Wilmington had elected a white Republican mayor and a black alderman.

Two days later, two thousand members of the Red Shirts, a paramilitary branch of the Democratic Party, descended on the city. Armed with machine guns, they burned down the public records office and the black newspaper, forced office holders to resign and shot dead at least 60 black men. Many more were wounded and thousands of black families fled. White sympathizers were banished.

Despite calls for Washington to intervene and seek justice, President McKinley turned a blind eye. White newspapers across the country adopted the narrative that the riot had been incited by blacks, and this version was codified in the collective consciousness. Almost overnight, Wilmington went from a majority black egalitarian southern city to a white stronghold that would endure for decades. Blacks in Wilmington were literally “wiped off the map.”

Over 120 years and a two-term black president later, three white uniformed officers were caught on video espousing many of the same sentiments as Carolinian Democrats did at the turn of the 20th century. While the very public killings of black citizens by police have mobilized a nation, even more insidious are the conversations that go on behind closed doors among those in positions of authority when (they think) the cameras aren’t rolling.

Learn More:

  • Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, David Zucchino
  • Personal Interview, Andrew Thornebrooke, Author of The Rearguard, July 09, 2020

Don’t Politicize A Pandemic

By Ron Israel, Managing Editor, USRESIST NEWS 

America sadly has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. Other countries that used to have high case-loads and mortality rates ( e.g. Italy, Spain, China, South Korea ) have found ways to contain the virus and keep their outbreaks under control. Why has the United States been unable to follow suit?  It is because of the politicization of the pandemic.

President Trump and his administration have consistently used the virus as a means to exacerbate America’s political divisions and stoke their voter-base. They have  ignored the public health emergency that the virus presents, downplayed  the seriousness of the virus and refused to listen to the scientific  guidance of their own   scientists. That guidance emphasizes  the wearing of masks, social distancing, staying at home when needed.  hand-washing, avoiding crowds, lots of testing and contact tracing and related public health measures.

The Trump administration has refused  to lead at the national level and  instead has  allowed states to do their own thing in response to the virus,  including opening-up without putting in place any of these basic measures.  It has resisted invoking the War-Time Powers Act and other public policy tools that would allow the government to mandate production of needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing devices .It has prioritized the allocation of limited PPE resources to mostly red states. It has stoked a false dichotomy between opening up and staying at home when it’s possible to sensibly do both.

President Trump sees the coronavirus as a threat to his re-election. But rather than tell the American people the truth about  the virus, and  take aggressive action at the national level to contain its spread, he continues to downplay its seriousness. His Republicans colleagues have gone along and seem to be using the virus as a means of voter suppression, witness  the small number of polling stations available in recent state primary elections in red states.

Trump’s failure to lead during this pandemic, and his willingness to politicize the virus, is resulting in a growing national tragedy. So many lives could have been saved, jobs preserved and spirits lifted had the President provided us with much needed national leadership.  Sadly the virus cases continue to rise in large parts of the country.  Trump’s politicization of the pandemic needs to stop.

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