That’s what NY Times columnist Charles M. Blow is asking. Yesterday morning, after two years of silence, Robert Mueller made a very brief public appearance in which he declined to clear Trump of any involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“And as set forth in the report after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”
– Robert Mueller, May 29, 2019
That Trump wasn’t indicted was not a matter of the evidence, but of Department of Justice policy, which prohibits prosecuting a president. Trump is tweeting out his innocence and the administration taking advantage of every loophole it can find. Meanwhile, as I’ve been fearing for two years, the GOP cronies are coming out of the woodwork. Two weeks ago, Alabama passed a near-total abortion ban, and as of yesterday, Louisiana’s headed in the same direction.
Today’s method calls for some Nina Simone…and I mean every word of it.
The name of this tune is Mississippi goddam And I mean every word of it Alabama’s gotten me so upset Tennessee made me lose my rest And everybody knows about Mississippi goddam
“You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.”
It’s the world’s first recorded joke, found on a papyrus scroll from 2600 BCE. Carol Andrews, formerly of the Egyptian antiquities department of the British Museum, notes that the ancient Egyptians were amused by “nudity, drunkenness, slapstick and political satire.”
Satire has a long history of keeping up public morale. When pranks, skits and jokes tap into political unrest, verbal dissent becomes a powerful act of protest.
It’s 5:00 on a Friday, so I’ll keep things light. From the SNL archives, the US Presidents from Gerald Ford to Donald Trump – and a special bonus tweet from 2013 at the end.
On April 9, Sudanese photographer Lana Haroun captured 22-year-old engineering student Alaa Salah as she stood on top of a car above a sea of protestors and raised her arm in the air, finger pointed toward the sky. She cried, “I was raised to love our home.”
She has been called “The Sudanese Statue of Liberty,” the revolutionary in the white toub.
Two days after this photo was taken, Omar al-Bashir’s thirty-year military dictatorship came to an end.
If you pay attention to anything in this post, pay attention to this timeline:
On February 14, Trump threatened to declare the second State of Emergency of his presidency after he failed to secure congressional approval for border wall funding.
Hours later, Trump signed a $1.375 billion dollar “compromise spending bill” that was far short of his request, but that will continue to reinforce border security.
On February 22, President Omar al-Bashir declared a one-year State of Emergency across Sudan 9 years after the international criminal court charged him with three counts of genocide in Darfur. Pay special attention to the crimes.
Hours later, the editor-in-chief of El Tayyar daily newspaper was arrested after he gave an interview with Sky News Arabia TV, stating that President Al Bashir’s decision to impose a national State of Emergency did not resolve the current political crisis.
Over the next seven weeks, Journalist Osman Mirghani’s arrest received widespread condemnation from Sudan and around the world. An ongoing vigil was held in front of the National Press and Publications Council in Khartoum.
On April 11, after 6 weeks of sustained nonviolent action by the people of Sudan, the Sudanese military removed Omar al-Bashir from power.
At this very moment, the streets are filled with a new group of protesters from Darfur. One of the mantras heard on the streets: “We are all Sudanese.” Listen to the sound of citizens mooing like cows as al-Bashir and his entire government are transported to prison.
If you need something more to feel hopeful about, THIS is happening in the world, too:
One of the hard questions many of us have been asking ourselves: “Should I stay friends with Trump supporters?” My gut says save yourself the heartache, but nonviolent action theory says YES – and so does Stephen King.
I asked friends on Facebook to tell me about a conversation they had with a 45-loving family member or friend that went WELL, and here’s what I got:
It would be an imaginary tale.
I think all of my in-laws voted for him. It’s put a strain on our relationship
Oh I’ve unfriended both friends and family members over this floridfacedfatfuck
My brother 🙄. We don’t talk about it. My mom is just anti-democrat but falls short of Trump-loving. I will way that she is appalled, surprised, and receptive when I show her news not available on Fox
I WOULD have a conversation, but have to spit whenever that name is mentioned. It always seems to go back to what Obama did or didn’t do.
every time i’ve tried it’s just turned into a never ending tire fire.
When can I stop laughing? They’re all gone.
I’m fessing up. I’m writing about the importance of building bridges, but I fully admit that I screen all of my contacts on social media for any whiff of Trump. I know that my uncle has called Trump “the best president of my lifetime,” and I admit that I don’t mind so much that I haven’t seen him since the election. It’s not like these conversations are out of my comfort zone – I’m a liberal lesbian Democrat and I managed to work with the Bush administration – but this is something different.
So here’s a gut check: the research shows that keeping the communication lines open is vital component of successful nonviolent resistance. Gene Sharp’s research showed that an effective alternative to boycotting soldiers and police is to:
befriend them and convince them that hostility is not part of the resistance;
convince them that the objects of the regime are immoral and unjust;
to convince the opposition to resist or refuse to carry out orders;
to convince the opposition to provide information to the resistance about the oppressor’s plans.
In 1915, Gandhi demonstrated that “befriending one’s enemy” worked to change opinions about the untouchables in India. In the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, revolutionaries made deliberate efforts to befriend Russian soldiers, and “something like a bond of sympathy” arose, leading soldiers to align with Hungarians.
In March 2011, Syrian activist Islam al-Dabbas, known locally as “The Flower Guy,” led his fellow protesters in bringing water and flowers to the army and security forces that were trying to end demonstrations. He’s now serving 15 years in prison. “We wanted to send a message: these protests are peaceful,” said his brother Mohamed. “My father and brother did nothing more than peacefully ask for justice and freedom.”
Can a democracy survive the kind of polarization we’re experiencing? I’ll be writing about that in future posts. In the meantime, if you’ve managed to keep a friendly relationship with Trump-supporting family and friends, hit me up in the comments.
Today I’m bogging (sic) from the annual Association of Writers and Publishers conference in Portland, Oregon, and because I’m sleep-deprived and over caffeinated, this will be a short post.
I’ve got plenty to say about the Mueller report – and maybe even a new ukulele song. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve got to say about Method 32. It works, but it’s an angry, divisive energy that has been utilized by the GOP in Chief since he began campaigning. He used it at a rally last night when he called Representative Adam Schiff “little pencil-neck.” And it’s working.
Stop by Twitter today to see what’s trending, and it might make you feel better. #YouMightThinkItsOK … but it’s not.
Sometimes I wonder what it will feel like to read these posts in 5 or 10 years. Honestly, I started the this project because I needed to do something with the daily barrage of overwhelmingly bad news. In a short time, it’s becoming a record of how much we’re all managing on a daily basis.
I am doing this because we are NOT helpless.
These methods work.
Method 31: “Haunting” Officials was used in India 1928 during the Bardoli Satyagraha, a peasant-led campaign of civil disobedience. In response to the government’s unresponsiveness to widespread famine, farmers, peasants, and other volunteers “haunted” government officials. They camped out in the roads in front of their homes in silence. When the activists were arrested, they were immediately replaced by others. Eventually, authorities tired of the process. Members of the governments of Bombay and across India were furious about the treatment of the protesting farmers and resigned from their offices in open support of the farmers.
Yesterday in New Zealand, citizens gathered in silent protest outside Gun City, a gun store that sells the military-style semi automatic reportedly used by the man responsible for the massacre in Christchurch. Prime Minister Jacinda Adams’ response to the massacre puts other leaders to shame:
“She fought from the start like a real politician, scorning the killer, attacking racism and slapping back at Turkish president Erdogan’s revolting election propaganda – which used the murderer’s own video – then hitting out at US president Trump. And insisting that New Zealand’s gun laws would change forever.”– Robert Fisk, Independent
Wasn’t Method 29 a breath of fresh air? Today’s must-watch video of Anderson Cooper is not that. The piece below aired last week, but in today’s news cycle, it’s already old news. That’s the danger of the time we’re in. Paul Manafort is up for sentencing today, 45 is already tweeting about campaign contributions and the wall, and in the meantime in North Korea:
Satellite images appear to show the North is rebuilding a facility that had been previously used to test long-range missile engines. Analysis of the images suggests the work on the facility, which had been dormant since August, began right around the time Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met up for their second summit, which ended last week without an agreement.
– via CNN, March 6, 2019
Watch Anderson Cooper’s response to 45 calling Kim Jong-un, the leader of the world’s most repressive dictatorship, “my friend,” “an interesting guy” and a “real leader.” North Korea – the country where failing to keep the presidential portrait dust-free is a punishable offense.
This offers some context for Professor Gene Sharp’s warning that Method 30 should be used only rarely in situations of political or international conflict. What would happen if North Koreans mooned Kim Jong-un’s palace, like Trump’s protestors did in Chicago? By law, three generations of a protestor’s family could be sent to labour camps.
In September 2017, The Telegraph provided a concise list of “brutal and inhumane laws North Koreans are forced to live under.” I’ve provided a condensed version, below:
Three generations rule
In North Korea, if one person is convicted of a serious crime and sent to a prison camp, their immediate family can also be sent with them. Then the next two generations born in the camps can also remain there. The 1972 edict says that up to three generations must be punished to wipe out the ‘seed’ of class enemies.
Access to non-state-controlled media
Listening to unauthorized foreign broadcasts, watching foreign TV shows and possessing dissident publications are considered “crimes against the state.” Those caught face execution or being sent to labour camps.
Freedom of movement
It is a criminal offense for North Koreans to leave the country without government permission. That doesn’t stop thousands making highly treacherous journeys in attempts to escape every year. Even those who successfully make it out of the North can still be pursued by government agents and there are reports of defector’s families being punished in their absence.
Although the North Korean constitution officially allows freedom of religion, the state has a hostile approach to religions, particularly to those it sees as western faiths such as Christianity. Those discovered practicing Christianity face arrest and being sent to a labour camp. (I wonder how the half of pastors who approve of Trump feel about the endorsement of Kim Jong-un?)
Private enterprise of any kind is officially banned in North Korea. Those caught face arbitrary punishment even though the black market remains one of the only ways for people to get the food, medicine and other necessities the government often fails to provide.