The Psychology of Effective Protest


The Psychology of Effective Protest

New research shows why nonviolence works better than extreme tactics.

People gather in Berlin in solidarity with Women’s March in Washington.Hannibal Hanschke 
Nearly every faction that opposes Trump seems to have organized its own protest in recent months. The women have already marched, and now they’re doubling down with a day without women. (They’ve taken a page from immigrants, whom we also went a day without.) Soon, many scientists will march, as will some taxpayers who want to make sure Trump is one, too.Most of these protests have been peaceful, but the protest against a planned speech by former Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulous at the University of California, Berkeley, earlier this month showed that left-wing groups aren’t just about nonviolence and vagina drawings. The protesters “threw smoke bombs, knocked down barriers, set fires and started fights in the south campus area,” as USA Today reported, prompting President Trump to threaten Berkeley’s “FEDERAL FUNDS.”These splashier protests do draw lots of media coverage, research shows, because of journalists’ appetite for anything novel or unusual. But several new studies on the psychology behind protests show that, perversely, “extreme” protests like that at Berkeley also undermine activists’ overarching goal of attracting more people to their movement. What’s worse, activists don’t realize they are hoisting themselves with their own smoke bombs.
For one recent study, which is currently under review, the authors examined what happened when three different types of protesters—animal rights, Black Lives Matter, and anti-Trump—used either moderate or extreme protest tactics.“A prototypical extreme protest is something where vandalism occurs or violence is threatened, or protesters behave in a violent way, or an interstate highway gets shut down,” said Robb Willer, a Stanford University sociologist and co-author of the study. The Women’s March, Willer says, is a prototype of a moderate protest—one without hateful rhetoric or violence.

First, the researchers found that the study’s participants identified less with and were less willing to support a fictional group of animal-rights protesters who broke into an animal-testing facility than with those who marched peacefully. Then, both African-American and white participants felt more support toward Black Lives Matter protesters if they read that the protesters chanted anti-racist slogans than if they encouraged violence against police officers.

Finally, and perhaps most topically: The researchers showed people a video of a “moderate” anti-Trump protest, in which protesters held signs and chanted, as well as a news report about an “extreme” protest, in which protestors caused a traffic jam and blocked Trump supporters from reaching a Trump rally. People shown the extreme anti-Trump protests actually supported Trump more—an effect that occurred, to varying degrees, among liberals and conservatives alike.

Over and over, the researchers found the reason the extreme protesters were dissuasive is that less-radical bystanders couldn’t identify with them. People generally don’t see themselves as disruptors of the social order, Willer told me, even for causes they believe in. Ultimately, our belief in something is surpassed by our desire to conform.“When the social order is being greatly disrupted, when property is being destroyed, when there’s some risk of harm to people, that leads to a dis-identification effect, where people say ‘I’m not like those people,’” Willer said.The problem is, the extreme protesters didn’t realize this would happen. When Willer and his co-authors surveyed people about the causes they believe in and what they would be willing to do for the cause, the truest believers were willing to go to the most extreme lengths—and they thought the tactics would help gin up support.“It can be really difficult to take the perspective of a bystander who has not yet joined a movement, when you’re interacting mostly with other activists,” Willer said. “Bystanders are asking, ‘Am I like them? Can I see this issue the way they see it?’”

The findings echo the results of another recent study by Princeton University’s Omar Wasow, which found that nonviolent, civil-rights protests of the 1960s boosted votes among whites for Democratic candidates, who supported civil rights, while violent protests increased support for Republicans, and might have even tipped the the 1968 election for Richard Nixon.

“Nonviolence conveys moderation, and when things escalate to violence, that signals a radical or extreme movement,” Wasow said. “It makes the claims of the group less legitimate.”So what’s the best way to protest for maximum influence? As my colleague David Frum has written, “The more conservative protests are, the more radical they are. … Be orderly, polite, and visibly patriotic. … The goal is to gain allies among people who would not normally agree with you.”That might mean focusing on issues rather than specific politicians like Trump. Here’s how New York magazine’s Jesse Singal explained it:

“You want everyone who can get into the streets,” said [Dana Fisher, a sociologist at the University of Maryland]. But in the longer term, there could be downsides to harping too much on Trump, when many of the policy preferences he has stated or hinted at with his appointments — repealing the Affordable Care Act, restricting access to abortion, and others — are also held by plenty of other conservative politicians. So if the protest movements arising now are all anti-Trump, all the time, [the University of Michigan political sociologist] Michael Heaney said, there’s a heightened risk “they never achieve the policy changes they were aiming to achieve,” because once Trump leaves office it saps the movement’s energy.

But even as movements focus on issues, the research shows that they should do their best to welcome all comers. And the best way to do that is to appear, frankly, welcoming. “What do you do to build a coalition?” Wasow said. “You’ve got to appeal not to the liberals, but to the moderates.” In his study about the 1960s, that meant enticing people who weren’t vocally pro-integration, but weren’t unpersuadable either.

In the current context, he said, “These are people who might vote for Obama and vote for Trump.”

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I agree that protests that will influence others’ need to be non-violent. Non-violence is the standard set by Ghandi and it won India their freedom. And a good dose of non-violent, passive resistance. We need to be seen as strong, determined and logical. The moderates and those who are unsure about their vote for the present government, need to see us in the streets for the issues that touch the lives of the marginalized. We need to keep showing them the whole person whether it is a Muslim, Jew, Black, or disabled person. We need to show them the poor, the hungry, those for whom our hearts are filled with compassion.

 

We need to take these people, the “they” and turn them into real people. Give them a name, show their humanity and suffering, help the conservatives see each individual as a human being and not just some lump of clay that is costing them increased tax dollars.

 

It is also important that we as liberals and progressives show a multi-faceted picture to the country and to the world. We need to be out in the streets as women and feminist men; as able-bodied and disabled people; as young, old and middle-aged; as poor people as well as those who have more financial options. We need to show them our love for each other by showing black, white, asian, native, Hispanic, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu and all others working together and caring for and about each other. This is important because we are the face and the heart of America. The generations of immigrants and refugees who came here are the strength of America. Their determination, hard work and belief in themselves and the American dream is what makes our society different.

 

The administration announced yesterday that the EPA is to look over the water regulations and decide if any are harmful to the economics of our country. Harmful to our  environment isn’t even a factor. If the environment that we live in and that sustains Mother Earth doesn’t even count except as an economic consideration, then it is going to take a lot of work to introduce the sitting government and the Trump supporters to marginalized people, not as a abstract notion, but as real flesh and blood people with the same needs, concerns, hopes and dreams that they have. This is the real work of the resistance: The American Resistance.

 

During WWII The French Resistance fought the Nazis and did much to save lives, smuggle Jews out, break German code and make the plans of the Nazis go awry. Today, we also have a movement, the American Resistance. Hopefully it will not require the same long-term dedication but if it does, we will be there to show that acceptance, compassion and love are the mainstays of a great society.

 

Namaste

Barbara

Update from Standing Rock


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I watched Standing Rock protesters dance for victory. Then the police arrested us.

The native people have moved back to other protest sites. Standing Rock is not over. It has become a global icon for the environment and for Indigenous people world-wide. After the passing of over a hundred years, our Native people have awaken much of America up to our misuse of our planet. We have no Planet B. The native people are well aware of this and we are now more aware.

Other tribes are going to be carrying on the peaceful protests. Trump’s wall goes through Native American burial grounds, which is not acceptable. They are going to need our help and support going forward. I will continue to bring you news of the native people and ways you can help if you wish to help.

 I am so impressed with these brave people. We committed genocide on their ancestors and killed thousands of people. No tribe was exempt from the vicious murders. The male white Europeans also stole their land and finally the federal government gave them land that was deemed useless. Only now, there has been the discovery of minerals and oil. So once again, we want their land. America, corporate America wants the land back that now is viewed valuable. This is immoral and unethical.

The native people have survived. They have formed sovereign nations with their own schools, law enforcement, and government. Now the native people have stood up to the descendants of their tormentors. With this comes a new vision of who they are and what they can accomplish in life. They have taken back their pride and the importance of their way of life.

I honor them and their bravery.

Namaste

Barbara

Black Heroes


14 People Who Broke Barriers to Make Black History

In honor of Black History Month, here’s a look at 14 people who broke color barriers to become the first Black Americans to achieve historic accomplishments in politics, academics, aviation, entertainment and more.

Alain Leroy Locke

Image: Alain Leroy Locke is pictured circa 1918 in his doctoral cap and gown from Harvard University.
Alain Leroy Locke circa 1918 in his doctoral cap and gown from Harvard University. National Museum of American History

First Black Rhodes Scholar

Alain LeRoy Locke was an American philosopher, educator and writer. After obtaining an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, Locke became the first Black Rhodes Scholar. He later returned to the U.S. to complete his doctoral studies at Harvard where he got a PhD in philosophy in 1918.

Locke later earned the title “Father of the Harlem Renaissance,” the period of social, cultural and artistic rebirth that took place in Harlem, New York, throughout the 1920s to the mid-1930s.

Locke continued to mold minds at Howard University as the Philosophy department chair, a role he would keep until his retirement in 1953. In fact, there is a New York City school, Alain L. Locke Magnet School for Environmental Stewardship, named after the educator.

Alexander L. Twilight

Image: Alexander L. Twilight, Middlebury College Alumnus, Class of 1823.
Alexander L. Twilight, Middlebury College Alumnus, Class of 1823. Middlebury College Archives

First Black person to graduate from a U.S. college

Alexander Twilight grew up in Corinth, Vermont during the turn of the 18th century where he worked on a neighbor’s farm while learning to read and write. He was able to finally put himself through school at Randolph’s Orange County Grammar School at the age of 20. Six years later he transferred as a junior to Vermont’s Middlebury College, where he graduated from in 1823, becoming the first Black person to earn a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college.

Twilight went on to become a teacher, molding the minds of students for generations to come. In 1836, during a stint teaching in Brownington, Vermont, he became part of the state legislature.

Bessie Coleman

Image: Bessie Coleman is pictured on Jan. 24, 1923.
Bessie Coleman is pictured on Jan. 24, 1923. George Rinhart / Corbis via Getty Images

First Black civilian to become a licensed pilot

Bessie Coleman was born in Atlanta, Texas, in 1892 and grew up in a family of 13 children. Coleman had dreams of soaring through the air, so she went to France in 1919 to find a flight school willing to teach her.

When she returned to the U.S. in 1921 — as the first Black civilian to be a licensed pilot in the world — Coleman was met with press coverage and attention. She used her platform to do events, like parachute jumps, and give lectures, all with the aim of opening an African-American flying school. Coleman would only perform for desegregated crowds. She died in 1926 during a test flight.

Dr. Charles Hamilton Houston

Image: Dr. Charles Hamilton Houston ca. 1931.
Dr. Charles Hamilton Houston ca. 1931. Addison N. Scurlock, ca. 1931. Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center / National Museum of American History

First Black editor of Harvard Law Review

Charles Hamilton Houston went to Amherst and taught English at Howard University before attending Harvard Law School, where he would make history. Houston started law school in the fall of 1919 and in 1922 he became the first Black editor of the Harvard Law Review.

As a lawyer he went on to play a role in a majority of the civil rights cases before the Supreme Court between 1930 and the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954. In fact his work working to dismantling the Jim Crow laws earned him the name “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow.”

RELATED: The ‘Green Book’ Was a Travel Guide Just for Black Motorists

Constance Baker Motley

Image: Federal Judge Constance Baker Motley is seen at the U.S. Courthouse in New York on Sept. 9, 1966.
Federal Judge Constance Baker Motley on Sept. 9, 1966. Eddie Adams / AP

First Black women to become a federal judge

When Constance Baker Motley was 15 she was turned away from a public beach because she was Black and it sparked her interest in civil rights. After obtaining her law degree from Columbia Law School, Motley went on to represent Martin Luther King Jr. as a young lawyer and become a law clerk for Thurgood Marshall.

She took an interest in politics and because the first Black woman to serve in the New York Senate, but her political career was cut short when she became the first Black woman to be appointed a federal judge in 1966.

Eugene Jacques Bullard

Image: Eugene Jacques Bullard during his flight training.
Eugene Jacques Bullard during his flight training. Courtesy of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

First Black combat pilot

Georgia native Eugene Jacques Bullard, born in 1895, was unhappy with his life in the U.S. and fled to Europe in 1912. Bullard joined the French Foreign Legion after the start of World War I and enlisted in the French flying service after betting a friend on leave he could despite being Black.

In 1916, Bullard entered Aeronautique Militaire, French Air Force where he became the first Black military pilot to fly in combat. He was also only Black American pilot in World War I, although he never flew for the U.S.

Fritz Pollard

Image: Brown University halfback Fritz Pollard is seen in 1916.
Brown University halfback Fritz Pollard is seen in 1916. Pro Football Hall Of Fame/NFL / AP

First Black NFL coach

Fritz Pollard was small, but he loved football and went on to have a historic football career at Brown University. Pollard played before attending the Ivy League school, but being on the university’s team put him on the map. Many firsts were ahead of him, starting with being the first Black player to be selected for the Walter Camp All-America team and play in the Rose Bowl.

He went on to join the American Professional Football League — which later became the NFL — as a member of the Akron Pros in 1920. Pollard faced adversity and racism at every turn, but he persevered and became the first Black coach when he took the reins of the Pros a year after the team won their first title.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Image: American writer Gwendolyn Brooks poses with her first book of poems titled "A Street in Bronzeville," 1945, in this undated photo.
American writer Gwendolyn Brooks poses with her first book of poems titled “A Street in Bronzeville,” 1945, in this undated photo. AP

First Black author to win Pulitzer Prize

Gwendolyn Brooks was a writer who was recognized for her work in poetry. Her poems, like those in her book “A Street in Bronzeville,” were about the black experience in America at the time. In 1950, Brooks won a Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry “Annie Allen.” The award made her the first Black author to win the prestige prize.

Brooks wrote several other works before passing away in 2000, “Maud Martha,” “We Real Cool” and “Blacks. She is one of the most highly regarded poets of 20th-century American poetry.

Gordon Parks

Image: Gordon Parks, a professional photographer, author, poet and composer, is seen in Hollywood, California on April 4, 1968.
Gordon Parks in Hollywood on April 4, 1968. Associated Press

First Black director of Hollywood studio film

Gordon Parks did not begin his career as a filmmaker until he was 55, after a long career as a photographer and writer. In fact, he was the first Black staff photographer at Life Magazine. Parks signed a contract to make 1969’s “The Learning Tree,” earning him a place in history as the first Black director of a Hollywood studio film.

Park followed the film up with movies including 1971’s “Shaft,” one of the first Blaxploitation films. Famous filmmakers like Spike Lee and John Singleton have referred to Park’s achievement as inspiration for their own careers. Singleton directed the 2000 remake of “Shaft,” starring Samuel L. Jackson.

RELATED: Today in History: Earl Lloyd Became First Black NBA Player

Joseph Rainey

Image: Joseph Rainey of South Carolina is pictured ca. 1865.
Joseph Rainey of South Carolina is pictured ca. 1865. Buyenlarge / Getty Images

First Black person to win seat in U.S. House of Representatives

Joseph Rainey, a South Carolina native, was called to serve the Confederate Army during the Civil War. In 1862, he fled the United States with his wife and went to Bermuda, where the couple accumulated a notable amount of wealth.

When he returned to the U.S. years later, Rainey utilized his new status to become an active participant in the Republican Party. He won a seat in the North Carolina state senate in 1870 and went on to become the first Black person to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

William Carney

Image: Sgt. William Carney is seen circa 1900.
Sgt. William Carney is seen circa 1900. Library of Congress

First Black Medal of Honor recipient

William Carney was a member of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry during the Civil War. Carney and his fellow soldiers were in the Battle of Fort Wagner in July of 1863. When his regiment’s color bearer was shot down during the battle, an already wounded Carney struggled to retrieve the banner himself. As he brought the flag back to his fellow soldiers, Carney was shot several more times. For his heroic actions the soldier received a Medal of Honor, making him the first Black soldier to receive the honor.

Marian Anderson

Image: American contralto Marian Anderson performs circa 1945.
American contralto Marian Anderson performs circa 1945. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

First Black artist to join the Metropolitan Opera

Born in Philadelphia, Marian Anderson was a staple at her church’s choir starting at a very young age. She traveled around with her choir performing, which led to increased notary in the community. Other churches asked her to sing at their events, including the National Baptist Convention in 1919. When Anderson was unable to afford formal training, her church held a fundraiser to get the necessary funds.

Anderson gained national notoriety in 1939 when she performed to an audience of 75,000 from the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. The performance came after she had been denied a stage at D.C.’s Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution because of the color of her skin, a decision that led to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigning from the group.

In 1955, Anderson joined the Metropolitan Opera, the first Black artist join the company.

Ruth Simmons

Image: Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, speaks during an interview in New York on March 26, 2010.
Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, speaks during an interview in New York on March 26, 2010. Daniel Acker / Bloomberg via Getty Images

First Black Ivy League president

During her undergraduate education at Wellesley College, Ruth Simmons viewed the institution’s president Margaret Clapp as proof that women could obtain leadership positions. After continuing her education in France on a Fulbright fellowship and later at Harvard where she received her PhD, Simmons continued to work in education.

Starting in 1983, Simmons worked at universities across the country, including University of Southern California, Spelman and Princeton. Simmons became the first Black woman to be president of an Ivy League institution when she became president of Brown in 2001. She stepped down in 2012, but is still a professor at the university.

Dr. Ralph J. Bunche

Image: Dr. Ralph J. Bunche is pictured during an interview in New York on June 6, 1963.
Dr. Ralph J. Bunche is pictured during an interview in New York on June 6, 1963. Harry Harris / AP

First Black Nobel Peace Prize winner

Ralph Bunche was a social science graduate who had studied colonial policy in West Africa before going into service with the United Nations. The diplomat went to the Middle East to develop a plan for the divisive situation between Arabic and Jewish communities. Unfortunately the U.N. resolution was rejected and a conflict began, which included the murder of the U.N.’s chief negotiator Folke Bernadotte in 1948. Bunche was named as Bernadotte’s replacement and succeeded in achieving a ceasefire with the signing of the Armistice Agreements in 1949.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year, becoming the first Black person to receive the prestigious award.

Trump, Putin and the Cold War


MARCH 6, 2017 ISSUE

TRUMP, PUTIN, AND THE NEW COLD WAR

What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead?

Why a Muslim in the White House left after only 8 days


I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House

 

musliminwhitehouse

When President Obama left, I stayed on at the National Security Council in order to serve my country. I lasted eight days.

In 2011, I was hired, straight out of college, to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council. My job there was to promote and protect the best of what my country stands for. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim woman––I was the only hijabi in the West Wing––and the Obama administration always made me feel welcome and included.

 

Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this––or because of it––I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens.

I lasted eight days.

When Trump issued a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat.

The evening before I left, bidding farewell to some of my colleagues, many of whom have also since left, I notified Trump’s senior NSC communications adviser, Michael Anton, of my departure, since we shared an office. His initial surprise, asking whether I was leaving government entirely, was followed by silence––almost in caution, not asking why. I told him anyway.I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim. I told him that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy. I told him that I hoped that they and those in Congress were prepared to take responsibility for all the consequences that would attend their decisions.He looked at me and said nothing.

It was only later that I learned he authored an essay under a pseudonym, extolling the virtues of authoritarianism and attacking diversity as a “weakness,” and Islam as “incompatible with the modern West.”

My whole life and everything I have learned proves that facile statement wrong.

My parents immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh in 1978 and strove to create opportunities for their children born in the states. My mother worked as a cashier, later starting her own daycare business. My father spent late nights working at Bank of America, and was eventually promoted to assistant vice president at one of its headquarters. Living the American dream, we’d have family barbecues, trips to Disney World, impromptu soccer or football games, and community service projects. My father began pursuing his Ph.D., but in 1995 he was killed in a car accident.

I was 12 when I started wearing a hijab. It was encouraged in my family, but it was always my choice. It was a matter of faith, identity, and resilience for me. After 9/11, everything would change. On top of my shock, horror, and heartbreak, I had to deal with the fear some kids suddenly felt towards me. I was glared at, cursed at, and spat at in public and in school. People called me a “terrorist” and told me, “go back to your country.”

My father taught me a Bengali proverb inspired by Islamic scripture: “When a man kicks you down, get back up, extend your hand, and call him brother.” Peace, patience, persistence, respect, forgiveness, and dignity. These were the values I’ve carried through my life and my career.

I never intended to work in government. I was among those who assumed the government was inherently corrupt and ineffective. Working in the Obama White House proved me wrong. You can’t know or understand what you haven’t been a part of.

Still, inspired by President Obama, I joined the White House in 2011, after graduating from the George Washington University. I had interned there during my junior year, reading letters and taking calls from constituents at the Office of Presidential Correspondence. It felt surreal––here I was, a 22-year-old American Muslim woman from Maryland who had been mocked and called names for covering my hair, working for the president of the United States.

The evening before I left, bidding farewell to some of my colleagues, many of whom have also since left, I notified Trump’s senior NSC communications adviser, Michael Anton, of my departure, since we shared an office. His initial surprise, asking whether I was leaving government entirely, was followed by silence––almost in caution, not asking why. I told him anyway.I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim. I told him that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy. I told him that I hoped that they and those in Congress were prepared to take responsibility for all the consequences that would attend their decisions.He looked at me and said nothing.

It was only later that I learned he authored an essay under a pseudonym, extolling the virtues of authoritarianism and attacking diversity as a “weakness,” and Islam as “incompatible with the modern West.”

My whole life and everything I have learned proves that facile statement wrong.

My parents immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh in 1978 and strove to create opportunities for their children born in the states. My mother worked as a cashier, later starting her own daycare business. My father spent late nights working at Bank of America, and was eventually promoted to assistant vice president at one of its headquarters. Living the American dream, we’d have family barbecues, trips to Disney World, impromptu soccer or football games, and community service projects. My father began pursuing his Ph.D., but in 1995 he was killed in a car accident.

I was 12 when I started wearing a hijab. It was encouraged in my family, but it was always my choice. It was a matter of faith, identity, and resilience for me. After 9/11, everything would change. On top of my shock, horror, and heartbreak, I had to deal with the fear some kids suddenly felt towards me. I was glared at, cursed at, and spat at in public and in school. People called me a “terrorist” and told me, “go back to your country.”

My father taught me a Bengali proverb inspired by Islamic scripture: “When a man kicks you down, get back up, extend your hand, and call him brother.” Peace, patience, persistence, respect, forgiveness, and dignity. These were the values I’ve carried through my life and my career.

I never intended to work in government. I was among those who assumed the government was inherently corrupt and ineffective. Working in the Obama White House proved me wrong. You can’t know or understand what you haven’t been a part of.

Still, inspired by President Obama, I joined the White House in 2011, after graduating from the George Washington University. I had interned there during my junior year, reading letters and taking calls from constituents at the Office of Presidential Correspondence. It felt surreal––here I was, a 22-year-old American Muslim woman from Maryland who had been mocked and called names for covering my hair, working for the president of the United States.

The climate in 2016 felt like it did just after 9/11. What made it worse was that this fear and hatred were being fueled by Americans in positions of power. Fifth-grade students at a local Sunday school where I volunteered shared stories of being bullied by classmates and teachers, feeling like they didn’t belong here anymore, and asked if they might get kicked out of this country if Trump won. I was almost hit by a car by a white man laughing as he drove by in a Costco parking lot, and on another occasion was followed out of the metro by a man screaming profanities: “Fuck you! Fuck Islam! Trump will send you back!”

Then, on election night, I was left in shock.

The morning after the election, we lined up in the West Colonnade as Obama stood in the Rose Garden and called for national unity and a smooth transition. Trump seemed the antithesis of everything we stood for. I felt lost. I could not fully grasp the idea that he would soon be sitting where Obama sat.

I debated whether I should leave my job. Since I was not a political appointee, but a direct hire of the NSC, I had the option to stay. The incoming and now departed national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had said things like “fear of Muslims is rational.” Some colleagues and community leaders encouraged me to stay, while others expressed concern for my safety. Cautiously optimistic, and feeling a responsibility to try to help them continue our work and be heard, I decided that Trump’s NSC could benefit from a colored, female, hijab-wearing, American Muslim patriot.

The weeks leading up to the inauguration prepared me and my colleagues for what we thought would come, but not for what actually came. On Monday, January 23, I walked into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with the new staffers there. Rather than the excitement I encountered when I first came to the White House under Obama, the new staff looked at me with a cold surprise. The diverse White House I had worked in became a monochromatic and male bastion.

The days I spent in the Trump White House were strange, appalling and disturbing. As one staffer serving since the Reagan administration said, “This place has been turned upside down. It’s chaos. I’ve never witnessed anything like it.” This was not typical Republican leadership, or even that of a businessman. It was a chaotic attempt at authoritarianism––legally questionable executive orders, accusations of the press being “fake,” peddling countless lies as “alternative facts,” and assertions by White House surrogates that the president’s national security authority would “not be questioned.”

The entire presidential support structure of nonpartisan national security and legal experts within the White House complex and across federal agencies was being undermined. Decision-making authority was now centralized to a few in the West Wing. Frustration and mistrust developed as some staff felt out of the loop on issues within their purview. There was no structure or clear guidance. Hallways were eerily quiet as key positions and offices responsible for national security or engagement with Americans were left unfilled.

I might have lasted a little longer. Then came January 30. The executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries caused chaos, without making America any safer. Discrimination that has existed for years at airports was now legitimized, sparking mass protests, while the president railed against the courts for halting his ban. Not only was this discrimination and un-American, the administration’s actions defending the ban threatened the nation’s security and its system of checks and balances.

Alt-right writers, now on the White House staff, have claimed that Islam and the West are at war with each other. Disturbingly, ISIS also makes such claims to justify their attacks, which for the most part target Muslims. The Administration’s plans to revamp the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus solely on Muslims and use terms like “radical Islamic terror,” legitimize ISIS propaganda and allow the dangerous rise of white-supremacist extremism to go unchecked.

Placing U.S. national security in the hands of people who think America’s diversity is a “weakness” is dangerous. It is false.

People of every religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age pouring into the streets and airports to defend the rights of their fellow Americans over the past few weeks proved the opposite is true––American diversity is a strength, and so is the American commitment to ideals of  justice and equality.

American history is not without stumbles, which have proven that the nation is only made more prosperous and resilient through struggle, compassion and inclusiveness. It’s why my parents came here. It’s why I told my former 5th grade students, who wondered if they still belonged here, that this country would not be great without them.

News from the Native Americas – US Government Continues To Want Their Land


Standing Rock is burning – but our resistance isn’t over

Tents set ablaze at North Dakota pipeline protest campsite

Just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, water protectors set their makeshift and traditional structures ablaze in a final act of prayer and defiance against Energy Transfer Partner’s Dakota Access Pipeline, sending columns of black smoke billowing into the winter sky above the Oceti Sakowin protest camp.

The majority of the few hundred remaining protesters marched out, arm in arm ahead of the North Dakota authorities’ Wednesday eviction deadline. An estimated one hundred others refused the state’s order, choosing to remain in camp and face certain arrest in order to defend land and water promised to the Oceti Sakowin, or Great Sioux Nation, in the long-broken Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.

On these hallowed grounds, history tends to repeat itself. In 1890, police murdered Sitting Bull on the Standing Rock reservation out of suspicion that he was preparing to lead the Ghost Dance movement in an uprising. Two weeks later the United States Cavalry massacred more than three hundred Lakota at Wounded Knee. Over 126 years later, the characters and details of the stories that animate this landscape have changed, but the Cowboys and Indians remain locked in the same grim dance.

The first whirlwind month of Donald Trump’s presidency has brought the injustices of racism, capitalism, and patriarchy long festering beneath the surface of American society out into the open. The eviction of Oceti Sakowin from their treaty lands forces us to confront another foundational injustice, one rarely if ever discussed in contemporary politics – colonialism.

For many, it is contentious and even laughable to suggest that colonialism endures in the present. In the American popular imagination, colonialism ended either when the 13 colonies declared independence from Britain in 1776, or when John Wayne and the 6th Cavalry blasted away Geronimo and the Apaches in Stagecoach.

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Colonialism, according to these narratives, is history.

The eviction of Oceti Sakowin suggests otherwise. But in order to see the big picture in all its unjust and ghastly detail, we must take in the full shame of America’s treatment of the Standing Rock Sioux and the first people of this land.

At Standing Rock, 41% of citizens live in poverty. That is almost three times the national average. The reservation’s basic infrastructure is chronically underfunded. Schools are failing. Jobs are few and far between, and 24% of reservation residents are unemployed. Healthcare is inadequate. Many depend on unsafe wells for water. Roads are often unpaved. Housing is in short supply, substandard and overcrowded. If the people of Standing Rock did not take-in their beloved family and friends, there would be mass homelessness.

Dakota Access Pipeline’s price tag of $3.8bn is nearly $1bn more than the entire budget of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren is said to be worth $4.2bn. The pipeline will pour even more wealth into his pockets.

Meanwhile, Standing Rock will remain in poverty on the margins. The most expensive piece of infrastructure in their community will not be the schools, homes or hospitals they desperately need. Instead it will be a pipeline that they have vehemently opposed.

This is how the first people of this land live in the forgotten Bantustans of the American West.

This system, an essential foundation of the United States, is rooted in the theft of indigenous land and the ongoing disavowal of indigenous sovereignty. Indigenous presence must be confined, erased and then forgotten, so that the United States may continue to live upon and profit mightily from lands taken from indigenous people.

The erasure of indigenous people explains why Dakota Access was rerouted from upstream of Bismarck south to Standing Rock. It explains why pipelines can be hammered through Native communities without regard to their treaties and indigenous, constitutional and human rights. It explains why a multi-billion dollar pipe can be drilled through Standing Rock before long-needed basic infrastructure is built. It explains how, after months of unprecedented protests and visibility, Trump can claim that he received no complaints about the pipeline. It explains how Oceti Sakowin can be wiped off the map.

It is impossible to describe the totality of this picture of land theft, containment, poverty, oppression, policing and extraction as anything other than colonialism.

But from the moment that colonialism ensnared land and life, indigenous people fought it – none more than Sitting Bull and his kin, the Oceti Sakowin.

They have lit a fire on the prairie in the heart of America as a symbol of their resistance, a movement that stands for something that is undoubtedly right: water that sustains life, and land that gave birth to people. In its ashes there is the potential for a more just future for this land, this water, and all the nations and people who share it.

 

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We the People


I asked 8 experts if we’re in a constitutional crisis. Here’s what they said.

 

 

I firmly believe that the Senate will protect our Democracy.  There are GOP members who will also help to prevent the destruction of Democracy. I would to hear your thoughts and would encourage good natured debate. I hope you will consider sharing your thoughts.

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