Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
The rules for building a successful movement are simple: mobilize your supporters, and neutralize your opposition. The challenge lies in making that happen. Fortunately, Donald Trump has helped tremendously with the first step. His "Muslim ban," his targeting of Latinos for deportation, his attacks on women and the environment, to pick a few, have brought millions out into the streets. Those predisposed to dislike Trump are digging trenches for the long battles to come. But it is not enough to mobilize one's base. A successful movement must also divide and demobilize the opposition. While Trump's actions in his first weeks of office may look shambolic, be assured that Steve Bannon has a strategy: While Trump has riled up his opposition, he has also energized his base.
Before making their home in Damascus, Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak had regularly visited Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, where they developed lasting friendships and deepened cultural awareness. Iraq was steadily deteriorating under thirteen years of US/UN imposed economic sanctions. Despite iron clad determination by US policy makers to isolate Iraq, Gabe and Theresa repeatedly challenged the economic sanctions by carrying medicines and medical relief supplies to Iraqi children, families and hospitals. They also helped organize opportunities for scores of other US and UK people to visit Iraq as part of Voices in the Wilderness (VitW). Voices delegations politely but firmly notified US authorities that they would break the economic sanctions by personally carrying duffel bags filled with children's vitamins, antibiotics, medical textbooks, surgical kits, first aid material and medical relief supplies, all of which the economic sanctions prohibited. Evidence for prosecution of one delegation included a bottle ofwater and a blank video that had been purchased in Baghdad. Punishment ostensibly imposed to force the Iraqi government's compliance with weapons inspectors had directly contributed towards the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children under age five. The VitW campaign succeeded in sending 70 delegations to Iraq, all of which prompted greatly needed education and public discussion in cities and towns across the US and the UK Leslie Stahl posed the question in a Sixty Minutes segment that aired in May of 1996: were the deaths of over one half million children under age five an acceptable price to pay for a dubious policy? "Yes, Leslie," said Madeline Albright, who was the US Secretary of State. "I'm a humanitarian person, and it's a difficult choice to make, but the price, we think the price is worth it.
In light of recent executive orders by the Trump administration, it is essential universities both secular and religious open a dialogue and stand with refugee, immigrant and undocumented communities and discuss becoming a sanctuary campus. I am not a theologian nor am I a Catholic, however, I have worked, studied and taught at a Jesuit university for 10 years. I am inspired by Catholic social teaching, and as mentioned by Catholic and legal scholar Michael Scaperlanda, "Ideas expressed in Catholic social doctrine are objectively available to all of us independent of our own faith or non-faith traditions."
Constituting a form of collective punishment, sieges and blockades targeted at civilian populations are effectively prohibited under international humanitarian law. In recent times, and very rightly, Bashar Al-Assad's inhumane tactic of siege, bombardment and starvation that his regime has regularly employed to break the will of defiant populations in Syria has been a subject of fierce criticism.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, has been universally hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV/AIDS, yet many argue that this medication is far from a panacea, considering that in the US, one in every two Black men who engage in sex with men will become HIV positive. The reasons so many Black men are affected are manifold, and include economic challenges, a lack of access to health care and the stigma which is often associated with a HIV diagnosis.
The early weeks of the Trump administration have shown a leadership style based on confrontation, intimidation and authoritarian decision-making. Donald Trump as president has made no attempt to temper his impulsive, self-centered and bombastic character traits. He has made no attempt to promote national unity, choosing instead to promote Islamophobia, coddle white supremacists and ignore growing anti-Semitism.
In a series of ill-executed maneuvers, Donald Trump began his presidency by opening fire on the innocenti. Among the president's unprecedented flurry of executive orders is one that alarmed the international community, titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." Known as the "Muslim ban," the executive order targeted Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen -- seven majority-Muslim countries.
On January 17, Betsy DeVos, nominee for US secretary of education, went to Washington, DC, to face senators in a congressional hearing. What occurred during that hearing has left many Americans in total shock. Throughout the hearing, DeVos proved herself not only riddled with conflicts of interest and a lack of basic knowledge in education, but also a mindset that was hostile towards the public school system she was nominated to head. After her floundering on the Senate floor, DeVos was confirmed with a historic tie-breaker from Vice President Mike Pence and is now the secretary of education.
Hidden Figures, an inspirational film based on the true story of three Black women mathematicians and computers at NASA, has been nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture. But is its box-office success due, in large measure, to the way it positions racism and sexism as things of the past? The depiction of these women overcoming segregation-era odds to serve their country in winning the space race seems to offer something compelling for all audiences, especially at a time when many throughout the country feel divided.
It was on day one of his presidency that Donald Trump told his first spectacular lie. Basking in the glow of his inaugural ceremony, he humbly speculated that the event was attended by "a million, million and a half people." When the sheer ridiculousness of this assertion was called out by the media, President Trump's new Press Secretary Sean Spicer doubled down: "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period!" -- as if the word "period" had the power to transform the facts, and make it so.