Activists Vow To Fight After Supreme Court Allows Enforcement Of Muslim Ban

Activists Vow To Fight After Supreme Court Allows Enforcement Of Muslim Ban

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Rama Issa-Ibrahim, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY), was already in the midst of a crisis before the news broke Monday that the Supreme Court had announced a stay of the preliminary injunctions against Trump’s Muslim ban. The Supreme Court’s decision allows the administration to enforce the third, latest version of the travel ban that bars citizens of six majority-Muslim countries (plus North Korea and some Venezuelans) from entering the United States, as appeals wind their way through the 4th and 9th Circuit Courts.

A large number of Issa-Ibrahim’s clients are Muslim women from Yemen (on the ban’s list), she explained on a joint press call with the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). There is a devastating civil war raging in Yemen, and clients were so visibly shaken by reports of famine and the death of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh that her staff had “to bring in our social worker to de-escalate the situation, to process those feelings. Then just a few hours later, the Supreme Court decision [was announced.]”

It makes an already tragic situation worse, eliminating these and other Yemeni nationals’ ability to bring family members fleeing the conflict to the United States. Issa-Ibrahim—who is from Syria, another country on the list—doesn’t even know when she’ll next see her own father.

Camille Mackler, director of immigration legal policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, emphasized just how uncertain the results of the Supreme Court’s decision are nearly a day after their ruling. As of Monday evening, neither the Supreme Court nor the Department of Homeland Security offered any guidance to Customs and Border Patrol officials at airports or in consulates in the impacted countries. In response to the potential confusion, NYIC has reactivated the No Ban JFK email address and hotline, where anyone from or with family in Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia can call for legal advice.

Said Mackler, “This stay on the preliminary injunctions leaves many immigrants in limbo and terrified. Many people are planning on traveling during the holiday season and are scared to travel out of the country, not knowing whether or not they will be allowed back. While these injunctions only scratch the surface of the larger legal battle against the ban, we will resist this latest assault on our liberties, and prevail.”

The next legal steps include oral arguments in front of the 4th and 9th circuits on Wednesday and Friday of this week for both preliminary injunctions. Those courts will decide whether to uphold them or strike them down. If the Supreme Court upholds the injunctions, they will not go back into effect until either the Supreme Court refuses to take the issue on appeal or they grant the appeal request and make a final judgment in the case.

“This decision is nothing less than a dereliction of duty from our nation’s highest court,” said Albert Fox Cahn, legal director of the New York chapter of CAIR. “This ruling reminds us that we can’t simply rely on the Supreme Court to stop President Trump’s marginalization of Muslims and other minorities. It is incumbent on lawmakers at every level to take a stand against this bigoted ban. Let us be clear, the justices have not ruled on the merits of the ban, and this decision is far from the last word. The fight goes on, and we’ll do everything we can to oppose Muslim Ban 3.0.”

As the appeals continue, NYIC, AAANY and CAIR are taking their cases not only to the courts, but to the streets and the halls of Congress, drawing on their mass mobilization skills honed after the first Muslim ban to help fight this one. Murad Awawdeh, vice president of advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition, emphasized that his organization was activated immediately after the first ban, drawing thousands of people to a protest at JFK Airport on the first day of the ban, 30,000 to Battery Park the following day and nearly 100,000 people participating in actions in the 14 days after.

“It is entirely un-American and unlawful to use the pretext of national security to discriminate against people based on race or religion,” Awawdeh said, and “nearly a year after we rallied at JFK and at Battery Park in response to the first attempted Muslim ban, we will continue to fight against Trump’s plan to turn bigotry into policy, while standing strong for human dignity.”

As of Tuesday morning’s call, Mackler and Awawdeh had not received reports of airport detentions, but said lawyers and advocates are standing by ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. Non-lawyers in New York City can show their support at a rally against the ban scheduled for Thursday, December 7, at 6pm in Washington Square Park. CAIR chapters across the country are planning a variety of rallies and protests, which will be announced on their website and social media channels.

The No Ban JFK email is and the hotline number is (844) 326-4940.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.


Fight The Trump Tax Scam With A National Day Of Action November 27

Fight The Trump Tax Scam With A National Day Of Action November 27

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Two-hundred people in Anchorage, Alaska, greeted Senator Lisa Murkowski this summer when she returned home after voting against one of the GOP’s many attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Even Democrats like Cynthia Parkin came to show their support, because, as she told the Anchorage Daily News, “I know Lisa just went against the grain.” On Wednesday, however, Murkowski wrote in an op-ed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that she wouldn’t oppose the GOP plan for tax reform just because it includes a provision repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Parkin and other like-minded Americans may find themselves at a different kind of rally on Monday, November 27, when the activist group Indivisible is planning a national day of action against the bill, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, right after Congress returns to Washington from Thanksgiving recess.

The bill currently stands to repeal corporate and personal taxes, most of which would benefit the wealthiest Americans. The tax cuts that help the middle and working classes, however, are temporary, and when they expire, those Americans stand to pay even higher taxes, according to an estimate from the Tax Policy Center. This means tax increases for Americans making between $10,000 and $75,000 over the next 10 years, according to a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official non-partisan tax analysts. As Indivisible, “The Trump Tax Scam is tax cuts for the wealthy paid for by the rest of us.”

To fight back, “We are encouraging Indivisible groups to plan sit-ins at as many of their Senators’ regional offices as they can around the state. Statewide actions will be the gold standard,” Indivisible’s leaders said in a statement. Indivisible has continued to update its website,, with events around the country, call scripts for specific senators who may be on the fence, and a call tool that allows concerned citizens in blue states to call residents of three states, Alaska, Arizona and West Virginia, and encourage them to call their own senators to tell them to vote no on the plan.

Groups in Arizona have already started pressuring retiring Senator Jeff Flake. On the day before Thanksgiving, local leaders said in a statement, “We’re at Jeff Flake’s office to urge him to vote NO on the #TrumpTaxScam. Who will pay for the deficit, Flake? The middle class, while ultra rich and corporations get a tax cut?? We say NO.”

In Utah, another activist focused on the dangers repealing the individual mandate poses to veterans and disabled Americans, noting, “I already knew it is heavily favoring the uber-wealthy and big corporations. But I didn’t know how much it was going to screw veterans. We just had Veterans Day and many of us spent time honoring our military.”

While the health care bill provoked a massive outpouring of protests, and disturbting moments of activists in wheelchairs being dragged and arrested in the capital, the tax plan hasn’t received the same amount of public outrage. In general, Americans tend to believe their taxes are too high. George H.W. Bush arguably lost his chance at a second term because he failed to deliver on his memorable promise: “Read my lips, no new taxes.”

Still, the specter of repealing the individual mandate made the bill more personal, and arguments against the reverse-Robin Hood nature of the bill (taking from the middle class to give to the rich), and polls continue to suggest the bill is unpopular. For those who like a little music with their activism, MoveOn is planning GOP Tax Scam Holiday Caroling. Those with actual musical ability can find more information here.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.


Progressives Pushing To Take Virginia Statehouse

Progressives Pushing To Take Virginia Statehouse

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


The Democratic Party, never one to turn down a circular firing squad, headed into the weekend before a critical governor’s race in Virginia squabbling over whether or not the Democratic National Committee rigged the 2016 primary in favor of Hillary Clinton. The fight was spurred by a Politico article by Donna Brazile. It was terrible timing, four days before the Virginia governor’s election, which as CNBC points out, “has traditionally been seen as an early bellwether for new presidents as it happens one year after the presidential election.” As pundits and journalists waged a Twitter war over how Brazile’s remarks would impact future elections, Opal Boyer, an energy analyst from Alexandria, Virginia was knocking on doors in Arlington.

“So far it’s been pretty uplifting,” Boyer said in a phone interview of her canvassing shift for Demoratic candidate Ralph Northam. People are talking about how important [the election] is, and how they’re not going to miss it.” Of the intra-party fights, she noted,  “I was wondering if I would come across any of that, but I haven’t yet. I’m a little more than halfway done with my shift, and no one has mentioned it. They seem pretty committed to voting Northam.”

Marc Beallor, another Arlington canvasser, echoed Boyer, noting, “Most people are pretty savvy in terms of understanding what’s going on. They’re so used to the games that Trump is playing.” Beallor explained, “I’ve been doing this for many years, but I’ve become much more active now as a result of the Trump election. I’m strictly volunteering my time…I’m really motivated because of the situation in the country.” What he’s afraid of, however, is whether that sentiment is the same in other parts of Virginia.

David Robeck, VA House of Delegates Candidate Deborah Rodman and Opal Boyer returning from a day of canvassing. (Courtesy of David Robeck.)

Indeed, outside of Beallor and Boyer’s canvassing area, the race remains extremely tight. Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate, has eagerly aligned himself with Donald Trump, running an anti-immigrant campaign featuring ads tying the Democratic candidate to the MS-13 gang.The polls in the week leading up to the election swing wildly. A Hampton University poll had Gillespie up by 8 points. Another from Quinnipiac had Northam up by 17. On the Friday before the election, another few had them tied.

Northam, on the other hand, has tried to emphasize his distance from Trump, but drew outrage from many progressives when he said he’d sign a bill outlawing sanctuary cities (which Viriginia doesn’t currently have). Democracy for America even threatened to pull funding.

Taking nothing for granted, multiple progressive organizations around the country have provided opportunities for Americans to help with the election, both for governor and for the House of Delegates (Virginia’s state legislature). The Virginia Democratic Party has a phone banking system, so anyone can sign up and make as many or as few calls as they want. Run for Something, an organization dedicated to helping progressive millennials run for down-ballot offices around the country, has a phone bank specially for the House of Delegates (password 2017candidates). Indivisible and Democracy for America also have an option (DFA appears to have VA back in its phone bank). The election is three days away, but whether you’re in Virginia or phone banking from your bed, there’s still time to make a difference.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.


Header image source.

Here’s How To Push For Gun Control

Here’s How To Push For Gun Control

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


When the NRA finally emerged from its conspicuous silence following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, it showed a very slight crack in its anti-gun control armor. On Thursday, it released a statement in support of banning bump stocks, a device used by the Las Vegas shooter that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire like automatic ones.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president and chief executive, issued a joint statement on regulating bump stocks with Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, saying, “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

What the NRA didn’t do, as the Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick and Sam Stein point out, is suggest Congress do the banning. Instead, NRA suggested that the Bureau of Alcohol make regulatory changes to bump stocks. Resnick and Stein write, “For individuals who have gone to war with the NRA in the past, the statement read like a master-class of misdirection. An organization built to promote gun ownership and gun rights wasn’t acquiescing to political pressures so much as trying to shape them in their favor.”

Still, some gun control advocates were cautiously optimistic.

“It’s an encouraging first step,” Mimi Carter, a spokeswoman for the Brady Campaign, an advocacy group for gun control, told AlterNet. “We look forward to identifying a comprehensive solution.”

John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, echoed the Brady Campaign, but added, “Congress should take action immediately to prohibit bump stocks and other conversion devices that end-run federal law by turning rifles into machine guns. This alone, however, will not solve our country’s gun violence problem.”

What will? Everytown for Gun Safety is encouraging gun control advocates to do the following:

  • Call your senators and demand that they vote no on “concealed carry reciprocity,” the NRA’s proposed legislation that would allow states to enforce their concealed carry laws over state lines, effectively allowing Americans to carry concealed weapons in all 50 states.
  • Call your congressional representatives and demand that they vote no on a proposed bill to gut gun silencer safety requirements.

If you want to go even further, you can encourage all of your representatives to revive legislation to expand background checks (which failed in the Senate following the 2013 Sandy Hook Massacre), or prevent terror suspects from obtaining firearms (which failed in 2015 following the attacks in San Bernardino), or bring back the assault weapons ban, which even Democrats voted against in 2013.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.



How To Help Puerto Rico, Even When The President Won’t

How To Help Puerto Rico, Even When The President Won’t

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


Donald Trump’s idea of humanitarian aid to Puerto Rico is throwing paper towel rolls to a crowd. His callous and grandstanding attitude following Hurricane Maria’s devastation is breathtaking, even for a man who uses a golden toilet. His cheap imitation of a T-shirt cannon was enough to make America collectively throw the phones we watched it on into the sea. If you’re looking for less expensive ways to channel your rage, consider donating time, money or supplies to organizations and individuals on the ground in Puerto Rico. It’s infuriating that America once again has to turn to private companies and non-profits to pick up the slack for the federal government, but until at least the 2018 midterms, we’ll have to endure a few more months of government by GoFundMe.

Remember, this is going to take months, not days. Read on for ways to get started.

Donate Money to Organizations on the Ground 

The Hispanic Federation established the Unidos fund, with 100 percent of donations going toward relief for Hurricane Maria. Elected officials in New York City pledged $50,000 to begin, and donations are being collected for the foreseeable future. You can donate at the website, or text Unidos (space) Amount (space) and Your Name to 41444 (e.g., Unidos 100 John Doe).

Other options include the One America Appeal, started by five former U.S. presidents after Hurricane Harvey, which has expanded to include Irma and Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; UNICEF; and the Center for Popular Democracy.

Crowd Funding

If you prefer to send money to individuals or want more direct control over where your donations go, search GoFundMe’s Hurricane Maria hub.

Donate Supplies

The government of Puerto Rico has compiled a guide for how individuals and groups can donate everything from water and construction supplies to feminine hygiene products and diapers.

In New York City, which is home to a large population of Puerto Rican immigrants, fire stations are serving as drop-off centers for diapers, baby food, batteries, first aid supplies, and feminine hygiene products. Boston firehousesare doing the same, but even if you don’t live in either of those cities, it’s worth checking in with your local fire departments to see if they might be doing the same.

Even Real Housewife of New York and margarita mogul Bethenny Frankel is doing more for Puerto Rico than the president. As part of her B Strong Foundation, she sent four planes full of supplies and EMTs to Puerto Rico before Trump had thrown a single paper towel.

Spread the Word and Help Families Find Each Other

Large swaths of the island still don’t have power, and might not for months. This makes it near impossible for families to get in touch with each other. Sometimes, as the Atlantic points out, residents of San Juan or other areas with fleeting cell phone service can manage a brief phone check-in or social media post, but these are few and far between. The Puerto Rico Maria Updates Facebook page has been a huge benefit for those who can obtain momentary wifi.

The Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration is asking people to contact the island’s disaster relief team by emailing, and including, per its Twitter post, your contact information and as much information about your friends and family as possible.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.


Trump Wants To Limit Refugees To Lowest Level In 30 Years

Trump Wants To Limit Refugees To Lowest Level In 30 Years

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Donald Trump wants to cap the number of refugees allowed in the United States at 45,000, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson briefed Congress on Wednesday. That is even fewer than the 50,000 many administration officials expected and less than half of the 110,000 that President Obama recommended for 2017.

According to a report in the New York Times, Trump administration officials like Stephen Miller wanted the number of refugees limited to no more than 15,000.

This announcement comes on the heels of the release of the latest version of the Muslim ban, which takes Sudan off the original list, adds North Korea and Chad, and also aims to impose harsher vetting and screening procedures.

Immigration activists quickly condemned the decision. “We are abandoning desperate people in life-or-death situations, including children with medical emergencies, U.S. wartime allies, and survivors of torture,” Betsy Fisher of the International Refugee Assistance Project told AlterNet in a phone interview, noting that resettlement is an option of last resort.

“We’re at the world’s most significant refugee crisis, at least since World War II,” Fisher continued, “and refugees overwhelmingly are stuck in limbo without access to any kind of permanent solution where they can live in safety, where they can go to school and where they can get jobs and where their kids can go to school.”

Aside from those humanitarian appeals, there are also national security and foreign policy reasons for supporting resettlement.

As Fisher points out, the United States “[relies] on countries like Jordan and Lebanon and Turkey to combat the Islamic state, to provide stable places where we operate military bases… Resettling people from those countries demonstrates that we understand the economic and financial pressures that they’re under is a result of the conflict in their region and that we’re willing to stand by them by providing a long-term solution for some of the most vulnerable people that they’re hosting.”

Congress has a few days to provide feedback to Trump’s request, but the president has the final say. If Trump’s eagerness to pass multiple versions of the ban are any indication, he’s unlikely to change his mind. While there’s no specific legislation in the works advocates like Fisher are still recommending that people call Congress to express their disappointment, and in general to keep an eye out for future guidance on how to respond once the specifics of the new Muslim ban vetting processes are announced.

Meanwhile, as the AP reported, the Pope encouraged supporters to welcome refugees: “Brothers, don’t be afraid of sharing the journey. Don’t be afraid of sharing hope,” he told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

Our president remains unmoved.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.


Latino Officials Arrested In Dream Act Protest Outside Trump Tower

Latino Officials Arrested In Dream Act Protest Outside Trump Tower

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

While Donald Trump was threatening to destroy North Korea in his first major speech to the United Nations, Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) along with New York City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito were being arrested outside Trump Tower, according to a statement from immigrant advocacy organization Make the Road New York.

The four elected officials were among the large crowd protesting the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and demanding that Congress pass the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

A group of 12, including the four officials, blocked traffic in busy midtown Manhattan. Espaillat explained that he participated knowing the risk of arrest.

“I do not take civil disobedience lightly,” he explained in a statement. “As a member of Congress who was once formerly undocumented, I believe this cause is too monumental to sit idly by.”

Rep. Gutiérrez, a member of the Judiciary Committee and the chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, emphasized the importance of participating in this action as part of a larger grassroots movement.

“A few congressmen and elected officials gathering in front of Trump Tower doesn’t mean much if it is not backed up by the grassroots and allies, and today we are standing with diverse allies to make sure Congress and the president do more than just talk about solutions, they actually follow through with action,” he said.

Gutiérrez previously spoke out against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s recent deal with President Trump extending the debt ceiling and providing funding for Hurricane Harvey victims, but not the Dream Act. In response, according to Politico, Gutiérrez said, “The bond and trust between the Dreamers and the Democratic Caucus is broken.”

His remarks echoed the feelings of many frustrated immigration activists, like Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, who also participated in Tuesday’s action, and noted, “Immigrants’ lives are not bargaining chips… Congress needs to pass a clean Dream Act now and stop playing games with people’s lives.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the four elected officials remained in police custody.

Pictures from the event are below:

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.


Nationwide Protests Erupt After Trump Ends DACA

Nationwide Protests Erupt After Trump Ends DACA

As Politico reported Sunday night that Donald Trump was planning to end DACA on Tuesday morning, immigration advocacy groups sprang into action, planning rallies. Though it was Labor Day weekend, and the reports were not definite, too much was at stake.

Yatziri Tovar, a member of immigrants’ rights group Make the Road New York and a DACA recipient, said in a statement, “DACA has changed my life drastically, including being able to obtain a New York State ID and being able to work and graduate college. If DACA is taken away, I don’t know what I will do. I’m working two jobs to supporting my family.”

The news wasn’t a surprise. As Angel Padilla, policy director of Indivisible, a major anti-Trump resistance group, said in a statement, “Trump’s announcement was not made in a vacuum. Consider the events of the past few weeks: Trump equivocated on the evils of white supremacy; pardoned a racist former sheriff who routinely profiled Latinos; banned transgender Americans from serving in the military; and reinstated a program transferring military-grade weapons and gear to local police forces. Trump’s decision to eliminate DACA is part of his broader agenda to take our country back to an era where members of historically marginalized groups had fewer rights and protections.”

Unfortunately for the approximately 800,000 Americans protected by DACA, the planning by activists ahead of Trump’s decision was all too necessary. At 11am Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the program would no longer be accepting applications.eee


DACA supporters in a shouting match with Presidenty Trumb supports across thge street from Edward Roybal Federal Building.President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, immigrant rights leaders, young immigrants, allies, families, elected officials, unions, and faith leaders, held a press conference and rally at Edward Royal Federal Building in Los Angeles to share their reactions to the news Tuesday, September, 5, 2017. (Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

In Washington, D.C., hundreds of DACA recipients and allies shouted “shame” in front of the White House shortly before 11am. When Sessions made the announcement a few blocks away, participants began marching toward the Department of Justice, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Others remained in front of the White House, as national immigrant rights organization United We Dream livestreamed from its Facebook page.

In Denver, students around the city staged walkouts in solidarity with DACA recipients.

: Students at Denver schools are walking out of classes in protest of  announcement.

The battle to defend DACA will be fought on multiple fronts, not onlyeee through street protests and rallies, but also in Congress and the courts.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.

Paul Krugman: America Has Begun Its Slide Into Fascism

Paul Krugman: America Has Begun Its Slide Into Fascism

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio proudly referred to his tent city prison as a “concentration camp.”  For decades, the former sheriff freely carried out his abuse and racial profiling, ignoring any requests to stop, Arpaio was finally convicted for contempt of court earlier this summer, but the conviction lasted barely three weeks before Donald Trump pardoned him, paving the way for what Paul Krugman calls “fascism, American style.”

“There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law,” he writes in his Monday column. “What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed.”

It’s not hard to understand why Trump would be eager to pardon Arpaio. The president fawns over dictators like Duterte and Putin, and accuses immigrants of being rapists. Of course he’d love the idea of a strongman flourishing in an American county. In addition, Krugman points out, “the pardon is a signal to those who might be tempted to make deals with the special investigator as the Russia probe closes in on the White House: Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”

His base also revels in spectacular feats of racism, and with his approval rating plummeting, Trump needs them more than ever.

What’s less immediately clear is how we got here in the first place. Why was Arpaio allowed to openly engage in abuse and racial profiling? Why did we allow a failed businessman-turned-reality television star to become president? For Krugman, the blame lies with their collaborators. What made Trump’s rise possible, he explains, is “the acquiescence of people, both voters and politicians, who aren’t white supremacists, who sort-of kind-of believe in the rule of law, but are willing to go along with racists and lawbreakers if it seems to serve their interests.”

Most of is have read the reports about poorly educated white voters and the fawning profiles of Trump supporters and their “economic anxiety.” What we hear less about are the “millions of votes from well-educated Republicans who — despite the media’s orgy of false equivalence or worse (emails!) — had no excuse for not realizing what kind of man he was. For whatever reason, be it political tribalism or the desire for lower taxes, they voted for him anyway.”

Their representatives in Congress have done little more than issue verbal slaps on the wrist. The likes of Paul Ryan express “dismay” and “concern” every time Trump issues a new immigration ban, praises the KKK or acts on one draconian policy or another. Krugman isn’t optimistic that Arpaio’s pardon will lead to action to back up the flimsy concern. If anything, he writes, “We may well be in the early stages of a constitutional crisis. Does anyone consider it unthinkable that Trump will fire Robert Mueller, and try to shut down investigations into his personal and political links to Russia? Does anyone have confidence that Republicans in Congress will do anything more than express mild disagreement with his actions if he does?”

Probably not. Krugman leaves us with this chilling thought: “There’s also a word for people who, out of cowardice or self-interest, go along with such abuses: collaborators. How many such collaborators will there be? I’m afraid we’ll soon find out.”

Read the entire column.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.


How To Fight Back After Charlottesville

How To Fight Back After Charlottesville

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

What can I do? How can I help?

After the election, these questions echoed across the dinner tables and Facebook pages of well-meaning Americans. They emerged again after the violence at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

For many longtime activists, the influx of eagerness is welcome but bittersweet. As musician/comedian Jean Grae tweeted:

With that in mind, there are a variety of ways to help, both for Charlottesville specifically and to fight racism in general. This is not only about one incident, it’s about how America got here in the first place, and the difficult but essential work of confronting and fighting racism, within ourselves and in our country.

What You Can Do to Provide Immediate Support to Charlottesville Organizers and Those on Their Side

An article by Solidarity Cville, a coalition of anti-racist Charlottesville activists, including members of Black Lives Matter, offers eight suggestions on how to help. We’ve listed two below, but encourage you to read the entire piece:

1. Donate to Black Lives Matter of Charlottesville: As Charlottesville-based activists wrote on Medium, this will cover mental health care, trauma support and living expenses for organizers.

2. Call the offices of Judge Richard Moore, Charlottesville Circuit Court at (434) 970-3766, and demand that he dismiss an upcoming case that disputes the ability of the city council to remove the Robert E. Lee memorial that set off the violence. Solidarity Cville provides a sample script:

I’m leaving a message for Judge Moore regarding the upcoming Monument Fund hearing, scheduled for August 30. As someone concerned about community safety, I strongly urge you to join the city of Charlottesville in dismissing this case, which will continue to sow violence in the community. Thank you.

You can also donate to the Charlottesville chapters of the NAACP, the ACLU and a variety of crowdfunding platforms to cover medical expenses for activists injured in the attacks, including Natalie RomeroDeandre Harris and a general medical fund for all 19 people injured.

Want even more organizations? There’s a continuously updating Google document of resources you can add to. Comedian Sara Benincasa has also compiled a large list of everything from the Legal Aid Justice Center to the Black Student Alliance at UVA.

Not in Charlottesville, But Related

Student activist Takiyah Thompson, 22, was arrested for taking down a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina. She was charged with two felonies for inciting and participating in a riot where property damage exceeds $1,500, plus two misdemeanors for disorderly conduct and damage to property. She was able to post $10,000 bail, but you can donate to the Durham County Freedom Fighter Bond Fund to help her and other low-income North Carolinians post bail and recoup legal fees.

On the morning of August 17, protesters demanding that the charges be dropped streamed into a Durham Country sheriff’s office, turning themselves in.

To Join the Long-Term Anti-Racist Fight

There are countless options for a first step. Here are some ideas.

Holding your elected officials accountable: Want to start local? Find out if there are any Confederate statues in your town or city. Then ask your mayor, city council members, even your governor to take them down.

Then, contact your state attorney general and ask that they investigate local white supremacist groups. When you’re ready to go national, Indivisible has a guide with multiple asks for your members of Congress, including:

  • Demanding the firing of white nationalists who work in the White House like Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Stephen Miller.
  • Including funding in the 2018 budget for combating white supremacists. As the guide notes, “Trump’s budget cuts funding to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Community Partnerships, which supports the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program. The program is designed to battle all forms of domestic extremism.”
  • Protecting DACA and other programs that give undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and provide a path to citizenship.

Protect voting rights: In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which guaranteed the right to vote for every American. In 2013, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in Shelby v. Holder to gut key provisions of the act. This included the rule that states with a history of voter suppression pre-clear changes to their voting laws and procedures with the Department of Justice, to make sure the changes were not interfering with any citizen’s right to vote. They did so, as the ACLU noted in a recent blog post, “even as they acknowledged that voter suppression and discrimination still occur.” Gerrymandering and voter ID laws flourish.

In 2017, Donald Trump still claims that three million people voted illegally, and even created a commission to investigate these thoroughly debunked claims. In addition to the ACLU, organizations like Let America VoteMi Familia VotaVoto Latino, and the Brennan Center for Justice are great places to go for information on how to protect the right to vote.

Attend school board meetings and make the case to ensure history is being taught correctly, with an accurate portrayal of white supremacy, oppression and slavery.

Take the conversation home (and to schools, religious institutions, local coffeeshops): Call out family and friends who still support Trump or haven’t yet grasped the concept of white privilege. Hannah Giorgis’ BuzzFeed essay from just after the election is an excellent primer on the long, hard work of allyship.

The Safety Pin Box is a great resources that has guides for starting the conversations, and a subscription service that provides opportunities to financially support black women, and gives those of us with privilege concrete, measurable tasks to help use that privilege for good.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.

After Charlottesville, A Surge In Anti-Racism Rallies Across The Country

After Charlottesville, A Surge In Anti-Racism Rallies Across The Country

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Sadie, 3, wore red-rimmed sunglasses to the Rally for Peace and Sanity at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York. As elected officials denounced racism and war, she sat in her father’s lap, carrying two neon green signs. One said “Love one another.” The other, “Black Lives Matter.”

“Everything that happened yesterday was horrifying and demanded a response,” said her father, Justin. He was referring both to Donald Trump’s threats of nuclear war and the white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left an activist and two police officers dead. Justin said he attended the rally to set an example for Sadie and his two other daughters, to stand up for social justice.

(Photo by Ilana Novick)

Sadie and Justin were just two of thousands across the country who organized nearly 700 rallies (and counting) following the violence in Charlottesville. From California to New York to Atlanta, where multiple progressive groups were attending the Netroots conference, to Ohio and Arkansas and countless other states, Americans took their anger and fear into the streets, starting Saturday night, and still underway Sunday evening.

“In Trump’s America, the KKK doesn’t need a hood anymore,” Dan Cantor, the national director of the Working Families Party, said in response to Saturday’s events, joining a coalition of organizations including the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, Indivisible, Democracy for America, Resist Here, MoveOn, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Million Hoodies, and many others in condemning the white supremacist-fueled violence. Events started Saturday night, but will continue for the next few days. (Find or register a protest in your area.)

Activist leaders emphasized the difference in police responses between the fascist march in Charlottesville and the protests following the death of black men and women by police, particularly in Ferguson, Missouri after the killing of Michael Brown.

“When people of color have led peaceful protests in recent years, the police response has been swift,” Cantor noted. “In a crowd with clear violent intent, the response of law enforcement today in Charlottesville was comparatively restrained. They would not have treated a similar demonstration by young black men with such restraint.”

Elected officials at the Brooklyn rally, including New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams also noted that the violence in Charlottesville is not an anomaly, but part of a long tradition of hatred in America.

“I’ve been frustrated,” Williams said. “There are many people who are shocked about what they saw. They are in awe about what they saw. That is America…It has been in the DNA of this country from its birth. We have to be honest about that. Because if we pretend that it’s not who America is, that it is something new, we are missing the point.”

Indivisible co-executive directors Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg tied the violence in Charlottesville to multiple facets of American society. Their statement read, “In addition to condemning openly violent acts motivated by racism and nationalism, we must also confront white supremacy in all its sinister forms—including structural racism in our criminal justice system, our education system, our financial system, and throughout our society.”

Protest in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Tristan Rader)

More photos and videos below.

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.

Outrage Over Trump Turned A Red-State Republican Into A Resistance Leader

Outrage Over Trump Turned A Red-State Republican Into A Resistance Leader

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Resistance against Donald Trump’s presidency has come from unexpected places, with many overnight activists joining their first protest or call to Congress. But one of the most surprising transformations is that of Beverly Tuberville, the founder of the resistance organization Indivisible Oklahoma, who, prior to Trump’s nomination, was a lifelong Republican.

Tuberville, who calls herself a “recovering Republican,” was inspired to question the Republican beliefs she grew up with after scandal-plagued Trump’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate. Since that dramatic turning point, Tuberville has organized a town hall in March with more than 1,000 energized Oklahoma residents demanding accountability from their senators (who declined to attend), recruited state elected officials and advocates to advise her corner of the red-state resistance, and founded Indivisible Oklahoma.

Republicanism was the cultural norm growing up in Oklahoma, Tuberville explained in an email interview, “synonymous with Christianity.” She was fiercely anti-abortion, which made it “impossible to even care about how ‘off’ the Republican Party was on the other issues. It was always like, well yes, they want to trash the planet, take benefits away from people, excuse inhumane treatment of animals, and basically rob the poor—but they don’t dismember babies. Republican politicians are very astute at taking advantage of this frame of thought.”

Donald Trump’s nomination changed everything for Tuberville, leading her to question a number of longstanding beliefs: “I began researching every issue important to me, rather than trusting the Republican rhetoric. I began to realize that Republicans have done nothing to reduce abortions, while Democrats had done a great deal with free long-term birth control programs and sex education. I also began having dialogue with those from other parties that hated abortion as much as I did. They just didn’t believe making it illegal was the answer.”

Tuberville continued, “I can tell you this: if Democrats and Independents would learn how to talk to conservatives about this one issue, they would win elections. I hope to help with that. There are very real reasons why abortion should remain safe and legal.”

At first, the political conversion was traumatic. She was up all night crying on the night of November 8, and “began looking at a lot of my friends differently. Most voted for Trump, and most of them believed all of the fake news about Hillary. I remember telling my mom that I didn’t have any friends left, or even people I cared to spend time with.”

She went to a local Democratic Party meeting, but was dismayed that the average age of the room was 70. “I was the youngest person there. I’m 53. So, wow, where were all of the millennials? It was quite depressing.”

The release of the Indivisible Guide and the ability to register a group on the site and invite other like-minded locals to a meeting was a crucial turning point in red-state resistance, allowing potential activists to “come out of the woodwork.” Tuberville says Indivisible Oklahoma is made up of “many recovering Republicans like myself, yellow dog Democrats, Independents, Berniecrats, Green Party, some libertarians, and some who are still Republicans.” People from all over Oklahoma joined the initial Facebook group and began splitting up into what are now more than 40 groups with 6,000 members across the state.

Multiple groups got started calling, writing to and showing up at the offices of their Congress members. One eastern Oklahoma Indivisible group even gained viral publicity from one of Rep. Markwayne Mullin’s town halls. Mullin was upset that one of group’s leaders, “a grandmother of four and a farmer,” Tuberville noted, had dared hold up a slip of paper indicating she disagreed with his vehemently anti-EPA comments. “He told her she had to put it down. She refused, and he motioned for officers to remove her, then motioned for a second officer when she said they would have to physically remove her. The clip was even featured on the Washington Post.”

In March, Tuberville helped to organize a massive town hall, featuring a former Oklahoma state attorney general, a state representative and staff from the Sierra Club and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There were 1,000 attendees clamoring to voice their concerns on the environment, education, health care, immigration and civil liberties.

Notably absent from the packed auditorium at Rose State College were Oklahoma’s Republican senators, James Lankford and Jim Inhofe. They were invited, but declined to attend.

Tuberville wasn’t surprised: “Oklahoma representatives are in such a red state that everything has been relatively easy for them up to this point. They’ve had major funding from the fossil fuel industry, and automatic support from churches, simply because they are Republican. But now, people are getting involved and waking up. Many are not happy to wake up and see what a mess has been made of our state and our nation.”

She also believes that despite the uphill battle the Oklahoma groups face, this activism war is one worth fighting, and that at this point, Indivisible’s defensive strategy is the answer: “red states’ representatives do not care what you think about their agenda if you are in opposition to it. They do not want to hear our carefully thought-out argument. We are in damage control. We can’t just lie back and let them destroy our country, and state for that matter, unopposed.”

Still, she believes there’s an opportunity for substantive change: “We may start out in defense mode, but we are infiltrating every part of the state. We’re having Indivisible members getting involved in committees, tables, organizations, marches, PTAs, women’s groups, and churches. Some are becoming precinct leaders for the first time and attending political party meetings for the first time.”

As she put in a blog post for Indivisible Somerville, “We are #RedStateWoke. Oklahoma is a desert. Indivisible is the water.”

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.