As you move through these perilous times would you rather be with the ones tossing sarcasms at Trump & protesting for refugees or the ones hating on the rest of us for just being & doing everything all wrong?

Myself, I like the smart-alecks. We do not live by indignation alone & we do not move forward laden with hate.

Placard at anti-Muslim ban protest: “We gave you hummus. Have some respect.”

(Thank you to Thamina Faiz for this hilarity.)

Those who object to protests against anti-Muslim ban draw from the cesspool of American exceptionalism

African refugee on Proactiva rescue boat ( REUTERS:Giorgos Moutafis) Feb 4 2017

The term most analogous to Eurocentrism for the US is American exceptionalism, an old concept recently promoted by Obama & Clinton which places the US at the center of the universe & at heart means our superiority exempts us from the highest standards of human civilization & mandates colonial wars.

It’s peculiar isn’t it that those who deride protesters against the Muslim ban necessarily employ exceptionalism to argue their paltry case by saying if we didn’t march against Obama’s wars, we shouldn’t march for refugee rights–as if the US were the only country barbarically debarring millions of refugees & as if we didn’t have a moral & political imperative to render solidarity to refugees. Supporting refugees is part & parcel of opposing US wars.

The protesters aren’t so provincial as to only demand refugee rights for Muslims but are demanding no wall on the US-Mexican border. In Europe & elsewhere, protesters are demanding the EU open the borders to refugees from the Middle East, Africa, Asia. They express a breadth of vision that opposes wars & demands asylum for brothers & sisters from wherever they come & for whatever reason, including Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide.

There are more photos now of African refugees debarking from Libya. For a long while there were none & thousands continued to drown. Those being rescued from drowning by the private humanitarian operation Proactiva look traumatized & terrified. There aren’t a lot of reports of what most have gone through just to get from war zones & sweatshop zones to Libya but the reports that do exist are gut-wrenching. Many come with children; many are teenagers & children traveling alone.

It doesn’t matter what country we live in nor how we responded to Obama’s wars. We have a moral & political duty to support refugees in whatever way we can. Because that is what human beings do for other human beings fleeing war. Those who sneer or try to undercut that solidarity should hang their heads in shame & just let history pass them by.

This young man’s face expresses so well the trauma & uncertainty so many have endured. He is standing on the deck of a Proactiva rescue ship off the coast of Libya. Those many who cannot rally may want to consider contributing to Proactiva or Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, who are both on the front lines of the refugee crises.

Open the damn borders. No human being is illegal. Refugee asylum for all.

(Photo by Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters)

Emancipation US-style in Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul IDP child (Mohammad Ismail:Reuters) Feb 5 2017

Kabul, Afghanistan: emancipation US-style.

Temperatures in Kabul today are -2 C / 28.4 F. This is an internally displaced child standing outside “her shelter” which the photojournalist advisedly did not show. After over 16 years of grandstanding displays & conferences pledging UN & international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, it wouldn’t be smart to show that most are living rough or in makeshift cardboard tents.

For the Pakistani government officials & politicians who insist Afghan refugees should be forced back, this is the reason why that would be criminal.

To the people of Afghanistan let us say that the failure of the antiwar movement thus far to mobilize solidarity to get the US out has been catastrophic & there is nothing we can say to assuage that. Except that we will do our damnedest to change that & rebuild the international antiwar movement. You have paid long enough for our historic failure.

US out of Afghanistan. War reparations in the billions to the people of Afghanistan.

(Photo by Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)

The political torpor of the misanthropes who object to protesting the Muslim ban

The misanthrope’s mantra has become: “There’s something wrong with people who protest Trump’s ban on Muslims but didn’t object to Obama’s wars.”

That’s the problem with cynicism & misanthropy. It doesn’t require information. It can construct a straw man & burn it in effigy & work itself into a white heat of condemnations without a shred of evidence for hating on other human beings.

If the accusers had been involved in the antiwar movement during Obama’s term, they would know that polls repeatedly showed opposition to US wars was at an all time high; that Obama’s approval rates were at an all-time low over his continuation of wars & starting of new ones; that the Pentagon adopted a tactic of pretending to withdraw or draw down both in Iraq & Afghanistan precisely to diminish opposition to the wars, that it keeps most US troop deployments secret; & this all likely explains why there is almost no media coverage of any US wars.

Of course, one would have to read mainstream media to find all that out. Or one could have learned it at an antiwar organizing meeting. Get the drift? Those so ardent in hating should have been more ardent in organizing all that positive antiwar energy.

John Pilger on the hijacking of feminism? How about a feminist on the Assadism of Pilger?

Been seeing a video of John Pilger circulating giving a lecture called “The Hijacking of Feminism.” Call me old-fashioned, but why was a man asked to give that lecture? If I had been sitting in that lecture hall, I’d have been bristling with indignation. We can damn well talk for ourselves. And how does he come off making such sweeping & damning generalizations about modern feminism?

There are major disputes within feminism & always have been. Feminism is a cacophony of voices. It’s internationally diverse & not just a western-based movement. But he made pronouncements about its political character as though it were monolithically pro-war, conservative, & dominated by US feminists like Hillary Clinton who never had any actual association with the movement.

He wasn’t entirely wrong in his judgment; the conservative current dominates media representations of feminism. But that ain’t all she wrote. There is no actual social movement. For a very long while, up until the Women’s Marches on January 21st, feminism was more a political current than a movement. That appears to be changing because women’s rights are being assailed. A movement has to be organized with broad forces involved, not just those connected to the Democratic Party who want to contain its momentum. That won’t be easy but meanwhile we sure as hell don’t want to listen to the women-hating gorillas aroused from their primal stupor by women on the march.

This momentous change is bringing misogynists out from under their rocks to denounce the Women’s Marches as a “cutie-pie pink-cap uprising,” or “Big Mommy Parade of White Woman Privilege,” or “hands off my pussy protests.” There are those trying to divide it claiming white women are its proprietors & it is either of no interest to Black & brown women or is a movement hostile to their participation & leadership.

There’s going to be some political scuffles in rebuilding the women’s movement & collaborating with women around the world. That’s the nature of social movements. Women will work those differences out. Or they won’t. Men are certainly allowed opinions & can express them. In the appropriate venue. But don’t try to speak for feminism & don’t lay down ex cathedra assertions based on misrepresentations or on power politics in the US.

PS: Pilger needs to take time out from lecturing on feminism to studying Syria, where his politics have tanked.

Where is our generation’s Frederick Douglass?

We joke about listening to Frederick Douglass, MLK, & Malcolm X at the vigil memorializing the Bowling Green massacre but seriously we do rue that they are not still here to lead us. In fact, they are still alive & do continue to teach us through their ideals, writings, & lives well spent.

Our historic era is producing its own great leaders–if not in a singular figure with a resounding voice, then in the unbroken collective defiance of Palestinian & Kashmiri resistance, of Syrian revolutionists & of the monumental Arab uprisings that showed the human race the best we’re made of. Maybe the Arab uprisings have been set back; they never said they were defeated.

Then there are the tens of thousands of anti-Trump youth, the over three million in the Women’s Marches on every continent, the thousands around the world still actively opposing the anti-Muslim ban.

Reactionary cynics & misanthropes sneer at all that; they always have because hating is the breadth & depth of their vision. As they stumble over each other moving backwards from the front lines, they dismiss civil rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights protests as trivial “flare ups,” identity politics gone amuck, just a liberal thing unsuited to the avant-garde smart-ass & sophisticado. There’s no Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, MLK alive to silence their discordant harping so we must tell them in a collective voice & in the nicest possible way to STFU. We’ll make history without you.

Just one more thing; the resounding voices of our era may very well be soprano or more likely a chorus expressing the entire range of human aspiration.