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.
Najaf, Iraq -- A week has passed since my arrival in Iraq. Once again, we come desiring to strengthen the bonds of human friendship, bonds which threaten to break as the opportunities to visit each other become less and less possible. A few days prior to my departure, I attended a Veterans for Peace holiday party in New York City where I live. Most members of this chapter were in the US military during the Vietnam War. The chapter invited the Vietnamese ambassador to the UN to their gathering. In a moving message, she stressed that the war has been over for 40 years now, and that it was hard to find remnants of the war in her country. "It is hard however for us to forget" she said. "We remember so that it won't happen again."
In the weeks since the election of Donald Trump, I have started to double check whether I have my birth registration card in my wallet. This is an ID card that looks like a green credit card and is proof that I am a US citizen. Growing up in Douglas, Arizona, just walking distance to the US-Mexico border, I have been stopped by US Border Patrol. In high school, I was stopped while in a car with my friend and her mother and we were questioned about our citizenship status.
After the shock of the election outcome, I struggled with the question of why on Earth Donald Trump became the winner. In listening to his negative campaign rhetoric -- including the stereotyping of Muslims, Mexicans and others; making fun of people with disabilities; disparaging prisoners of war and a Gold Star family; and then listening to the tape of his words describing his objectification and mistreatment of women -- I had an image of the man as the bully on the playground because bullies do similar things to diminish the others around them.
On January 3, 2017, the 115th Congress is set to begin. After three long days, our representatives will count the votes cast in the Electoral College and declare to the people who will be the next president of the United States. Two weeks later, at exactly 12:00 pm, Donald Trump will be officially sworn in as the 45th president by Chief Justice John Roberts. To the consternation of most, this is really happening.
Last week, over 1,200 US historians and scholars in related fields signed a statement, of which I was a co-author, calling for vigilance against potential civil rights and liberties abuses under the coming Trump administration and an emboldened far right. The avalanche of signatures and speed with which the statement circulated suggested that our worries were shared by many. At issue were the calls for a Muslim registry and the creation of a "Professor Watch List," which brought to mind troubling antecedents such as the Japanese American internment of World War II and the McCarthyist witch hunts of the Cold War.
Who is responsible for Donald Trump's presidential victory? Some argue that Trump's rise is a byproduct of the decaying American middle class, affected by decades of bipartisan policies. And then there is ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. Smith is the lead pundit on the ESPN 2 morning talk show "First Take," and has been on record with finding extreme issues with Black people who made the conscious decision to avoid voting in the 2016 presidential election.
Since the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, I've given daily thought to the more alarming aspects of Trump culture. Conversations among friends have been quite helpful, both here in the US and in far- away Kabul from which I recently returned. It becomes hard to envision constructive responses to Trumpism without a steadfast focus on the larger culture which has made the policies of previous administrations seem acceptable and normal.
"What are you doing here?" Wendell Berry asked me after I approached him the afternoon of December 8, 2016, and told him that I was born in Kentucky. The celebrated poet and author of more than 40 books was in town to deliver the 17th Annual Edward & Nancy Dodge Lecture at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2010, Berry was given the National Humanities Medal by President Obama for his achievements as a poet, novelist, farmer and conservationist. The president also told Berry that he admired his poetry.
Biased-related incidents targeting Oregon's public schoolchildren have surged since the November election. Of 1,094 hate-based acts occurring nationwide in this period, 42 took place in Oregon. Documenting these incidents, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), ranks this small, famously "blue state" ninth because of its high rate of incidents. Despite the fact that the state's population of 4 million ranks 27 among states, the ratio of its bias acts to the state's population is three times higher than in California -- the state that tops the study's list.
As an animal rights activist in Canada, I was familiar with meeting pigs in transport trucks outside slaughterhouses. We'd be there bearing witness in the freezing cold of winter and then the boiling heat of summer as part of the Save Movement, whose Anita Krajnc has become a hero with her shocking prosecution for giving water to a pig bound for slaughter. If you've never met a pig, it's shocking. They have human-like eyes. They do look you in the eye. You can feel their plight.