By Dina Gilio-WhitakerThe resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline taking place at Standing Rock right now is the most significant political event in Indian country since those struggles of the early 1970s, and there was no way I was going to miss it. I managed to carve out a few days and take a side trip to Standing Rock during Thanksgiving weekend, with a story assignment in my role as a journalist at Indian Country Today Media Network. I was there to bear witness to what is an unprecedented historical moment.
By Dennis A. HeniganThe National Rifle Association spent more than $30 million to elect Donald Trump President. Particularly with Republicans in control of both the Senate and the House, and a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the gun lobby will expect an impressive return on its investment. What will it want? Following the massacre of first graders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre infamously said that the lesson to be learned was: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” That phrase perfectly captures a core premise of Trumpism: that the nation is neatly divided into “good guys” (who have been forgotten by the elites controlling our government) and “bad guys” (Muslims, undocumented immigrants and “the others” who have been allowed to threaten the safety and well-being of the “good guys”).
By María de los Angeles TorresMy parents, like thousands of Cubans, had supported the revolution at first; they hid rebels in our home, a risk that could have cost them their lives. In January 1959, the day the rebeldes marched into Havana, my father rushed home to pick me up so that we could greet them. When we reached the Avenida de los Presidentes, a wide avenue dotted with statues of Cuba’s past presidents, he hoisted me onto his shoulders so that I could see over the crowd. People were jubilant—dancing, chanting, and reaching out to touch the bearded rebels in their olive green uniforms. One stopped in front of us and reached up to hug me; I was mesmerized by the red glass beads of the rosary that hung from his neck and the silver cross almost buried in his hairy chest. We honked our car horn all the way home. My father told me it was a day I must never forget.
by Karl GibersonPresident-elect Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary has liberal pundits proclaiming that America’s educational sky is falling. DeVos is a prominent Michigan evangelical Christian, with ties to the Christian Reformed Church—the denomination that sponsors Calvin College in Grand Rapids which recently fired a professor for suggesting that Adam and Eve were not real people. DeVos is an advocate of school choice and has supported a voucher movement that now provides tax dollars for families in many states to send their children to private—and religious—schools. Is this not a dangerous person to preside over America’s public schools?
By Ruth BeharLike all children of Cuban exiles who came to the United States in the early 1960s, I heard the name “Fidel Castro” constantly. He was the sole person responsible for the sorrow of my parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who lost their beloved home in Cuba. As Cuban Jews, the wound came atop another wound. My grandparents, Jews from Poland and Turkey, were double refugees—they fled Europe on the eve of the Holocaust, finding refuge in a tropical island of rumba and sugarcane where everyone called each other “mi corazón” and anti-Semitism didn’t exist.
A Q&A with Rich BlintBaldwin’s consistent and insistent interrogation of how the mythology of race, class, and power operates in America to blind and divide us is singular in its analytical depth, sweep, and emotional power. His work reads as a kind of prophecy simply because he was clear about how profoundly dangerous it has always been for Americans not to confront the truth about the violent racial history of the country. His work must be read as testimony, as, yes, a secular witnessing to the serious perils of indulging in the American fiction of “whiteness” and its purported superiority.
By Eileen Truax“Numbers are not looking well.” This was the welcome phrase that I got just a minute after I arrived to the Election Night Watch Party organized by a group of academics in Downtown Los Angeles. Electoral results were falling state by state, and the evidence started appearing before our eyes: Donald Trump, a man who verbally attacked Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, journalists, women; the one who promised to build a wall in the border and to deport eleven million undocumented immigrants, was about to become President Elect.
By Gail Forsyth-VailOn November 3, 2016, more than 500 clergy from many faith traditions gathered at Standing Rock in support of the Sioux Nation’s protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. As part of the day of witness, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Rev. Peter Morales was one of seven denominational leaders who read statements repudiating the 1493 Doctrine of Discovery, a papal bull which offered the rationale for the colonization of the Americas and other countries by European Christian powers. By virtue of the Doctrine, Christians were given the legal right to take, colonize, settle, and extract resources from land belonging to those who were not Christian. The statement Morales read, adopted by the UUA General Assembly, called for Unitarian Universalists to learn about the doctrine and its ongoing impacts, not only on indigenous peoples, but on the political, legal, economic, and cultural systems in the United States, in local communities, and in our congregations.
By Daisy HernándezI don’t know how to talk to my parents these days. Mami didn’t vote for Trump, but when I told her my outrage the day after the election, she said, “The man hasn’t even taken office yet. Let him take office.” I initially took her defense to mean that like my father, she had voted for Cheetoh, since she usually follows Papi’s lead.
By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber IIEarly Wednesday morning, after running a controversial campaign that was even endorsed by the KKK, Donald J. Trump thanked his supporters for victory and promised to be a president for all Americans. A shock to almost every pollster and political pundit, his victory has been heralded as an unprecedented political upheaval. But the reactionary wave that swept across America this past Tuesday is not an anomaly in our history. It is, instead, an all too familiar pattern in the long struggle for American reconstruction.
By Sharon Leslie Morgan and Thomas Norman DeWolfDeep, authentic relationships with people we’ve been raised to see as “other” are key to understanding and reversing the impacts of racism and other forms of intolerance and inequity, and the misuse of power, and privilege. For the two of us, there is solace in knowing that someone shares our beliefs and commitment to social justice. We have built a friendship over the years that helps sustain us. We can talk with and lean on each other in times of madness and sadness, as we did on election night and surely in days to come.
By Rev. Elizabeth M. EdmanIt should be a shock that those who enthusiastically claim the mantle of Christianity would reject peace as part of a knee-jerk hatred of LGBTQ people. The degree to which this is an affront to Christian mission cannot be overstated. Yet this is fully and completely the “fruit of the spirit” of queerphobic proclamation. It gestures powerfully toward the theological and ethical vacuousness of such teachings and goes a long way toward explaining the crisis in credibility that plagues the contemporary church.
A Q&A with Mary Frances BerryDonald Trump is emphasizing the possibility of voter fraud because if he loses he may want to challenge the election. The most obvious way to do that is to charge fraud. The conventional wisdom that there is little or no voter fraud is not quite accurate. While there is little in-person fraud that can be prevented with ID laws, the more pervasive fraud involves misuse of ballots and other kinds of vote-buying. This is what I call suppression of voter choice on the cheap. Studies and news accounts usually examine only the lack of a large number of prosecutions. The problem is that in most cases of vote buying, local prosecutors refuse to prosecute mainly, I believe, because buying votes is common, and indeed, they themselves—as well as local judges—may have bought votes to get elected. In a close count of electoral votes, this type of fraud in one state could make a difference.
By An Xiao MinaIn a democracy, memes reflect the sheer diversity of opinions and voices of the people, from right, left, and center alike. And in a democracy where the majority of people use the Internet, we should expect to see more memetic discourse on serious issues, as the artifacts of Internet culture spill over from social networking platforms and into our physical world and newscasts.
By Steven HillSocial Security is not going broke, not by a long shot. The Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report to Congress in July 2015, and among all the tables, charts, and graphs in that big fat report, it would be easy to miss the most important take-home message: Social Security is one of the best-funded federal programs in US history. That’s because it has its own dedicated revenue stream, which is composed of the insurance premiums paid by every worker (deducted from our paychecks by what is called “payroll contributions”), which are automatically banked into the Trust Fund. Even the Pentagon and the defense budget do not have their own dedicated revenue stream.
Throughout this election cycle, we’ve seen the rise of the radical right reminiscent of the pull of ultraconservative organizations from the past; increasing calls to prevent new immigrants from entering our country; increased calls to improve gun control legislation; a resurging wave of religious intolerance against Muslim Americans; and nationwide protests imploring racial justice and economic progress. These issues and others that have made headlines in the news have become focal points in this year’s presidential debates. To help inform the conversation about these topics, we’re recommending a list of titles from our catalogue.
By Dennis A. HeniganFor the first time since 2000, the Presidential election promises to be pivotal for the politics of gun control. Both for supporters of stronger gun laws, and for “gun rights” partisans, the stakes could not be higher. It was not long ago that the political death of gun control was accepted as an incontestible truth by pundits of every ideological stripe. For the Democratic Party, although much was made of the alleged impact of the gun issue on the Gingrich takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, the real turning point was the 2000 Presidential election.
By Kay WhitlockThe August 2016 announcement by the Obama administration that it will phase out or “substantially reduce” contracts with private prisons to house federal prisoners provides a master lesson in the political benefit of the magician’s art of misdirection. Hailed by many as a definitive step forward in criminal justice reform and a severe blow to the continuation of mass incarceration, the focus on private prisons hides more than it reveals. It raises false hopes, offers false promises, and points many who want transformative change in the wrong direction.
By Roxanne Dunbar-OrtizThe first international relationship between the Sioux Nation and the US government was established in 1805 with a treaty of peace and friendship two years after the United States acquired the Louisiana Territory, which included the Sioux Nation among many other Indigenous nations. Other such treaties followed in 1815 and 1825. These peace treaties had no immediate effect on Sioux political autonomy or territory. By 1834, competition in the fur trade, with the market dominated by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, led the Oglala Sioux to move away from the Upper Missouri to the Upper Platte near Fort Laramie. By 1846, seven thousand Sioux had moved south. Thomas Fitzpatrick, the Indian agent in 1846, recommended that the United States purchase land to establish a fort, which became Fort Laramie. “My opinion,” Fitzpatrick wrote, “is that a post at, or in the vicinity of Laramie is much wanted, it would be nearly in the center of the buffalo range, where all the formidable Indian tribes are fast approaching, and near where there will eventually be a struggle for the ascendancy [in the fur trade].”
By Bill Fletcher, Jr.Graduate students have been attempting to organize labor unions for decades. Until recently, those at private universities and colleges have been blocked from unionizing largely due to a Supreme Court decision from 1980, NLRB v Yeshiva University, that placed graduate students into the camp of managerial personnel and, therefore, ineligible for unionization and collective bargaining. The National Labor Relations Board has shifted the entire discussion with a decision affecting Columbia University graduate students. Just recently, Yale University students filed a petition for union recognition.