Sunday, December 29, 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem--Banksy

A manger scene juxtaposed against concrete blocks seemingly pierced by a mortar shell: with Christmas looming, Banksy reveals his latest art piece.

India's freedom struggle 2.0, this time it's against fascists

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Worst Cruelty is Our Indifference--@NilsMelzer

Nils Melzer is the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.
Today, we observe Human Rights Day. On this day, we remember that human dignity is universal and the prohibition of torture is absolute. At the same time, we know that torture, cruelty, and humiliation is still practiced with impunity throughout the world.

Today, I am particularly concerned about the unspeakable suffering of people on the move, those millions of women, men and children who have left their homes to seek safety and opportunity elsewhere, but who all too often get trapped in border-zones, detention centers, deserts or at sea, exposed not only to deliberate abuse, but also to the worst cruelty of all: our own indifference.

We know these people are exploited by smugglers, traffickers and corrupt officials, we know they are being tortured, raped, enslaved, and butchered for their organs. We know they have nowhere else to go. And yet, no one feels responsible. Instead, we erect physical and mental barriers, we think and speak of hostile invasion and send the military to defend our borders. But today I ask: against whom? Against this ragtag “army” of emaciated bodies, carrying their belongings in plastic bags and babies in their arms?

Have we shrunk so far from our own humanity that we can no longer recognize theirs? Or are we simply too comfortable to recognize that much of our own prosperity grows on the ashes of other peoples’ lives, on the swamps of inhumane working conditions, on the blood spilt by conflicts fought with our weapons, on the smoldering remnants of an environment destroyed by our extractive companies? After we have taken their resources, exploited their labor, ransacked their environment, colluded with their dictators and fueled conflict that turned their lands into battlefields – are we really surprised they come knocking on our doors saying they would rather live at our place now?

Human Rights Day also makes me remember the countless prisoners I have visited over the years, in wars from the Balkans to the Middle East and, more recently, in Turkey, Serbia and Kosovo, Argentina and Ukraine. Some were hungry, others were cold. Some were sick and others depressed. Some had been threatened, abused and humiliated. Some had no space to sleep or even sit, and many suffered from bedbugs, rats and lice. But the first question they asked was never about themselves. “Sir, do you have news of my family? Can you take a letter for them? Please tell them I love them!” This taught me that, whoever and wherever we are and whatever we have done, we always remain members not only of our own families, but also of the global human family.

As we mark Human Rights Day, we also approach the festive seasons being celebrated worldwide. And as we gather with our loved ones around Christmas trees, dining tables and living rooms, do we ever ask ourselves what it feels like to be stuck in a rubber dinghy that day, facing the choice between drowning in the freezing sea or going back to torture and abuse?

Do we ever ask ourselves what it feels like to be stuck in an overcrowded cell, wondering whether you will be raped that day? Do we ever ask ourselves what it feels like to be a child stuck in a coal mine that day, your lungs burning from the dust? And do we ever ask ourselves who is being most deeply dehumanized in a world tolerating such abuse: Is it the victims, ripped apart by pain and humiliation? Is it the perpetrators, lowering themselves below the most ferocious of beasts? Or is it all of us, wining and dining in the bubbles of our cozy homes while our siblings are being broken, crushed and annihilated on our front steps?

Arising from the ashes of World War II, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed nothing less than a global human family based on peace, justice and human dignity. Today, 70 years later, we still have not delivered on that promise, and we still have to look in the mirror and face the truth that, if we don’t change our ways, step up and take responsibility, no one ever will.

The People United Will Never Be Defeated!

Christmas in the Trenches

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Update on the Julian Assange extradition hearing 19 December 2019

Newsweek reporter quits after editors block coverage of OPCW Syria scandal

Citizenship law protests shut down India capital | ASIA TIMES

Asia Times | Citizenship law protests shut down India capital | Article:

India’s national capital, New Delhi, faced a lockdown unprecedented
in history Thursday as protests over the religion-based Citizenship
Amendment Act (CAA) broke out all across the country.

The Act allows refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to
become Indian citizens but bars Muslims. This, many have complained,
violates the constitution of India – a country whose population includes
200 million Indian Muslim.

Anger against the amended law had spread across India after students
were beaten up in Delhi on Sunday and more protests were planned.

The federal government got wind of those plans. Determined to crack
down on protests, it invoked section 144 of the criminal procedure code,
a colonial-era law that prohibits more than five people from gathering
in a public space.

On Thursday morning as protesters began to gather at pre-determined
locations in Delhi in defiance of section 144, the police sent out an
urgent order to all telecom companies to suspend mobile connections
including internet and voice communications at specific locations.

Nearly 16 metro stations at last count were closed Thursday to
prevent protesters from arriving at the locations. The police action
also led to massive traffic jams in Delhi and its neighboring city
Gurgaon and Noida, with people trapped for hours on the road.

Meanwhile, spontaneous protests were reported from Mumbai, India’s
financial capital, and from Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Vadgaon,
Ahemedabad, Calcutta and many other prominent cities as more people
joined the ongoing agitation.

In the southern city of Bangalore, known as India’s information
technology hub, police commissioner Bhaskar Rao announced the imposition
of section 144 on Wednesday night.

By then disparate groups of citizens across the country, including in Bangalore, had already started planning their protests.

Prominence was no insurance against arrest when the crunch came.
Noted historian and scholar Ramchandra Guha, known globally for his
books on India’s post-independence history and specifically on Mohandas
K  “Mahatma” Gandhi, was picked up by the Bangalore police while he was
speaking to the media at a protest site.

“I have been detained by the police for holding a poster of Gandhi
and speaking about the constitution to the press,” Guha told TV news
channel NDTV, whose journalists were interviewing him when he was
dragged away.

Videos that surfaced on Twitter show a couple of policemen trying to punch Guha as he was being dragged away.

“The police are working under directions from the central
government,” Guha said. “We are protesting non-violently against a
discriminatory act, in a disciplined way.”

Bangalore is the capital city of Karnataka, a state that is currently
ruled by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The central government has instructed all BJP-ruled states to strike
down any protest against the citizenship act, according to high-ranking
government sources.

Targeting Muslims

The amended citizenship law specifically bars Muslims from Pakistan,
Bangladesh and Afghanistan from seeking Indian citizenship through the
special route. They can still apply under other sections of the existing
laws, but takes a lot of documentation and time for approval. While
that in itself is a major provocation, the nub of the anger aroused by
the changed law stems from what the federal Home Minister Amit Shah has
stated will follow.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC), a controversial
classification process that was started in 2013 in the state of Assam
and ended this year, forced all citizens in the border state to file
elaborate documents to prove they were Indian citizens.

The exercise found 1.1 million people who have not been able to prove
their Indian citizenship. They are being moved into detention camps
before they are either deported or manage to prove their citizenship
through an elaborate appeals process.

The newly amended law blatantly gives immediate relief to those found
“illegal” under the NRC only if they are not Muslims. That means that a
nationwide NRC will give a free pass to everyone other than Muslims.

This has created anger, fear and uncertainty across the country.
Article 14 of the Indian constitution prohibits discrimination on any
basis including faith. This applies to non-citizens, as well, thus
covering refugees and expatriates working in India.

Internet suspension

While the suspension of the internet is a first in the national
capital, the tactic has been widely used so extensively elsewhere
recently that India has been mentioned as being in contention for being
named the country with the most internet shutdowns in the world.

Kashmir, which was stripped of its constitutional special status on
August 5 this year, has been without the internet for over 130 days.
Reports suggest that the internet shutdown there has severely curtailed
banking operations across the region, and also led to losses worth
millions of dollars.

The internet was also suspended in the state of Assam and other
states of India’s Northeast that have become the epicenter of the anti
citizenship law protests. The Axomiyas, who dominate the state have
opposed the settling of illegal migrants, Hindu or Muslim, in the state
for decades. The neighboring states with large tribal populations have
also opposed the new law.

Combative Modi

The BJP seems unwilling to back down even in the face of large-scale
protests. The federal government has ignored warnings and criticism from
the international community – including some comparisons of the
discriminatory act to Nazi Germany’s race-based Nuremberg laws. The US
state department and the United Nations have expressed deep concern.

Modi has been combative, blaming Muslims and the opposition parties
for fomenting the protests. At an election rally in the eastern state of
Jharkhand he said the protesters could be identified by their clothes –
an apparent reference to Muslims in skull caps. His deputy Shah has
done a round of combative interviews saying that a nationwide-NRC will
follow the amended citizenship law.

However, among the BJP’s allies, some who voted in favor of the new
law have now backed down. They now say they will refuse to allow a NRC
and they have criticized the new law, calling it discriminatory against

The opposition-ruled states of West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala and Punjab
have already announced that they will not allow the NRC in their
states. However, in the western state of Maharashtra, where the BJP was
ousted from power recently, several detention centers were already under
construction – places where illegal immigrants can be identified by the


Critics suggest that the government is trying to divert attention from the fact that India’s economy is slowing down alarmingly.

“The economic slowdown is a major challenge right now,” Delhi’s Chief
Minister Arvind Kejriwal noted. “So what was the need to do the
citizenship law, if at all?’ Those being naturalized as Indians under
the new law will have to be fed, clothed and housed. Who will do that?
Will they end up talking scarce jobs in India?”

According to the International Monetary Fund India’s slowdown came as
a “surprise” and is likely to get much worse next year. However, prime
minister Modi has so far not commented on the state of the economy.

More protests are being planned for the weekend.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

For the sake of press freedom, Julian Assange must be defended - Committee to Protect Journalists

For the sake of press freedom, Julian Assange must be defended - Committee to Protect Journalists:

Nine years ago this month, the Committee to Protect Journalists took a
stand on one of the most polarizing figures in journalism. We wrote President Barack Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, urging them not to prosecute Julian Assange.

The Australian hacker and WikiLeaks founder was in the
administration’s crosshairs for publishing classified ‘war logs’ from
the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with diplomatic cables.

The leaks unnerved the Washington political and security establishment. Then Vice-President Joe Biden branded Assange a “high-tech terrorist” and Holder said he was considering prosecuting WikiLeaks and Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act.

We argued that wielding a blunt World War I-era legal weapon against
WikiLeaks would undermine the right to gather, receive, or publish
information of important public interest.

After all, if Obama prosecuted Assange, would he not also have to prosecute The New York Times, The Guardian,
and other newspapers that published some of the WikiLeaks documents?
That would deal a body blow to the First Amendment's protections of free
speech and the press in the United States. It would also be a gift to
authoritarian leaders overseas who could cite Washington’s example the
next time they wanted to jail an irksome journalist or publisher.

It was also important to defend WikiLeaks because the Department of
Justice (DOJ) had already tried to accuse reporters of encouraging
leaks. This happened in 2010, when the DOJ named Fox News reporter James
Rosen in a search warrant as a "co-conspirator" and tracked his movements and communications.

Amid the pushback from journalists and legal scholars, no charges publicly emerged during Obama’s time in office.

But in May this year, President Donald Trump’s administration disclosed a superseding indictment against Assange under the Espionage Act and began proceedings to have him extradited from the U.K.

Assange has long been aware of the possibility of extradition. He
cited fear of being taken on to the United States if he traveled to
Stockholm for questioning over alleged rape and other sex crimes after
accusations by two former WikiLeaks volunteers in 2010. (Assange denies
the allegations). When he lost his appeal against extradition to Sweden
in 2012 he jumped bail and sought sanctuary in Ecuador’s London embassy,
where he remained for seven years. He was evicted in April after a
change of government in Ecuador and arrested by British police. His jail
term for skipping bail ended in September but he has been kept behind
bars pending the U.S. extradition application. A Swedish prosecutor dropped the investigation into the rape charge this year, saying too much time had elapsed.

The charges for which Assange is now facing U.S. extradition go back at least to 2010 when Assange, working with The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel,
published the “war logs.” Among a trove of stories was U.S. helicopter
video showing the Apache aircraft shooting Iraqi civilians, including
two Reuters journalists.

He had begun collaborating with The Guardian as far
back as 2007, but it was the dump of information to WikiLeaks from
Private Chelsea Manning about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well
as a quarter of a million State Department cables, that put Assange and
his site on the map.

The sheer volume of material was a challenge for the three partner
publications working to edit the logs and cables and redact information
that could harm people mentioned in them. Assange widened the circle of
editors by bringing in the newspapers Le Monde and El País.

But he grew impatient with the time it took to publish stories and
dissatisfied that only a narrow range of the information he held was
being made public.

In apparent frustration, he began releasing material that had not
been through this journalistic process. CPJ was made aware of the
dangers of this in 2011 when WikiLeaks published un-redacted diplomatic
cables that endangered the life of the Ethiopian reporter Argaw Ashine.

More generally, WikiLeaks’s practice of dumping huge loads of data on
the public without examining the motivations of the leakers can leave
it open to manipulation, as CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon has written.

Collaboration with the newspapers over the Manning leaks became bumpy and eventually Assange fell out with the then editors of The Guardian and the Times, Alan Rusbridger and Bill Keller, respectively.

Both, however, defend him against this prosecution and believe he should be protected by the First Amendment.

“The indictment is a mish mash of accusations, including the risk of
penalizing any reporter who does more than sit back and passively wait
for material to be leaked to them,” Rusbridger told CPJ. (Rusbridger,
now the principal of Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford,
became a member of CPJ’s board in 2014.)

“Assange is not my idea of a journalistic role model,” Keller, the Times’ former
executive editor, told CPJ. “But he has taken no oath to protect U.S.
government secrets, and I'm not aware of any evidence that he is an
enemy agent, in the traditional legal meaning of the term. He gathers
information (albeit sometimes by questionable methods), packages it
(albeit selectively and with malice) and publishes it (albeit with no
sense of responsibility for the consequences, including collateral
damage of innocents.) The First Amendment doesn't just protect people
who keep honest company, uphold standards of fairness and publish

Trump has stopped short of prosecuting the mainstream news
organizations that worked with Assange. Indeed, during the 2016
presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said he “loved” WikiLeaks, which
had published thousands of private emails that damaged his rival,
Hillary Clinton. She accused Assange of colluding with Moscow. U.S.
intelligence blamed Russia for the leaks.

Yet within a year, Trump’s love affair with WikiLeaks was over. In March 2017, the site published documents known as Vault 7,
which showed the government’s enormous capacity to hack electronic
communications. Then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, who is now secretary of
state, branded WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”

Assange’s U.K. defense lawyers could well use the argument that this
prosecution is selective and political at the extradition hearings, a
process that in any case could take years, according to some legal
experts. The U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty provides for an exception of political offenses. Assange can also argue he is protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of expression.

Assange’s first hearing is set for February 25, 2020. Meanwhile,
Assange is apparently in such bad health in Belmarsh Prison that some 60
doctors have written to the U.K. government to urge his release.

Besides the 17 charges under the Espionage Act, Assange has also been
hit with a separate indictment under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Prosecutors argue that Assange conspired with Chelsea Manning to hack
U.S. government computers. If successful, such a prosecution could
criminalize established investigative journalistic interaction with a
source, as my colleague Avi Asher-Shapiro has reported.

To some, Julian Assange is a warrior for truth and transparency. To others, he is an information bomb-thrower.

The question with which CPJ has had to grapple is whether his actions
make him a journalist. Each year, we compile a list of journalists
imprisoned around the world, based on a set of criteria that have
evolved as technology has upended publishing and the news business.

After extensive research and consideration, CPJ chose not to list
Assange as a journalist, in part because his role has just as often been
as a source and because WikiLeaks does not generally perform as a news
outlet with an editorial process.

No matter what label people put on Assange, his prosecution is a threat to journalists worldwide.

Taken together, the 18 counts in the DOJ indictment criminalize key
reporting practices and the publication of information obtained through
them. And the extraterritorial application of the U.S. Espionage Act
means that any journalist anywhere in the world could potentially be prosecuted for publishing classified information.

A successful prosecution would chill whistleblowers and investigative reporting. This is why CPJ opposes Assange’s extradition.

Obama/Bush/Trump Lied Repeatedly About Afghan War-- Documents Reveal

Jeremy Corbyn faces Russiagate smear campaign before UK vote

Direct Action To Stop a War--STOP KILLING YEMEN!

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Joe Biden's Insane thoughts on Hairy Legs, Roaches, and kids

Profiles in Courage: ENN's Middle East reporter Gertrude Bellinger

Is it time to put the Baby Trump blimp to bed? - Waging Nonviolence

Is it time to put the Baby Trump blimp to bed? - Waging Nonviolence | Waging Nonviolence:

Criticism of Trump and vigorous efforts to remove him are vitally necessary, but piling on personal insults adds unnecessary fuel to the fire.

It began as an irreverent stunt during Donald Trump’s 2018 visit to
London, a helium-filled swirl of yellow hair atop an obese, orange,
diaper-clad Trump, his small hands clutching a phone. After a brief nap,
Baby Trump has been pressed into service as the unofficial mascot of
the anti-Trump resistance, with at least nine appearances in the United
States so far.

It’s easy and gratifying to insult Trump. He offers a daily smorgasbord of contemptible
flaws to feast upon. And he dishes out as good as he gets, his Twitter feed a
virtual firing range of baseless, crude and bigoted put-downs. Mocking him as a
fat, tantruming baby may seem a fitting and well-deserved counterattack, one
that is orders of magnitude less terrible than the many acts of cruelty Trump
has perpetrated.

The Baby Trump blimp, however, is emblematic of the counterproductive manner in which
the left too often registers our very justified outrage. 

To start with, there’s the body shaming. Hardly a day goes by without
Trump’s body size, shape and color being ridiculed as grotesque. Body
shaming is a form of bullying that isn’t any less cruel when done to
people we don’t like. Even though Trump is the target, the blimp
stigmatizes every person with bodies deemed too fat by our
thinness-obsessed culture, much like the atrociously cruel and classist —
yet wildly popular — People of Walmart website, which lampoon unsuspecting shoppers with
shabby clothes, fat asses and other “white trash” offenses. Sizeism is
one of the few forms of bigotry still tolerated by mainstream society.
Why do we perpetuate it?

Spectacles of leftist schadenfreude paint us into a hypocritical
corner, as was pointed out to me by a conservative woman I met at a
cross-partisan dialogue. To put it in crass, realpolitik terms, cruelty
damages our brand. It prompts the public to fixate on our
ugliness instead of the dastardly policies of the Trump administration.
Furthermore, it perpetuates the us-versus-them divisiveness that adult
Trump so masterfully leverages to his advantage. (One of his supporters recently slashed a Baby Trump balloon with a razor blade in a self-proclaimed act of “good versus evil.”

Like any skillful demagogue, Trump has forged a counterfeit bond with his base, a bond
premised on a shared victimhood narrative of lost honor and wounded pride. What
I’ve learned from conservatives over the past two years is that Trump supporters
perceive an attack on him as an attack on themselves — those high and mighty
liberal elites are not only smugly self-righteous, they’re mean, they hate
us, we are under siege and must protect our tribe and our
leader Trump.

Conservative journalist Rod Dreher has written that, when Trump goes off the rails, his voters justify
their support by saying to themselves, “He may be a fool, but he’s our
fool.” Liberal mockery of Trump’s copious flaws only serves to entrench
their loyalty and bolster Trump’s persecution narrative.

As has been amply documented, partisan (some call it “tribal”) polarization has reached a
deleterious extreme in the United States, leading people to form knee-jerk
partisan opinions instead of reflecting on the merits of contentious issues.
Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt told National Affairs that, when
we attempt to rationalize our partisan bias, we get rewarded with a highly
pleasurable hit of dopamine. It feels good to belong to our team, our party,
our tribe, and if tribal membership requires that we denigrate the “other”
tribe and publicly humiliate their leader, we do it, and we do it gleefully. And
when we do so, we prompt the right to hate and fear us back. For this reason,
humiliating Trump plays into Trump’s us-versus-them strategy of rousing his
supporters to battle against the common enemy: us.

There is, to be sure, a long tradition of satire aimed at undermining the authority and
respectability of the powerful. The question is, what, if anything, does the
public learn from it? Literary critic Tim
Parks distinguishes effective satire, which points
toward positive change, from failed satire. “[W]itty mockery of a
political enemy can be hilarious and gratifying and can intensify our sense of being morally superior. But as satire it has failed,” he writes in the New York Review
of Book
. “The worst case is when satire reinforces the state of mind it purports to undercut, polarizes

prejudices, and provokes the very behavior it condemns.”

Baby Trump falls short of Park’s standard, for it is no more
enlightening than playground taunts — such as “you’re a baby,” “no you
are” and “I know you are but what am I?” The overarching problem with
Trump isn’t that he’s immature (or fat), it’s that he’s created what
Ralph Nader calls a “cocoon of falsity”
in which he smashes and breaks democratic and cultural norms and
governmental functions that keep people safe, healthy, fully included
and respected.

Poking fun at a degenerate figurehead is not automatically effective. If mocking Trump
turned fence-sitters against him, late night comedians would have successfully
blocked Trump’s candidacy before it ever gathered steam. For all the ridicule
Trump’s endured, it doesn’t seem to have undermined his brazen abuse of power.

Perhaps if our national culture were one of reverence for politicians, then the mere act
of mocking one would have some shock value and jolt us into seeing them in a
new and unflattering light. Perhaps if Trump attempted to present himself as a
dignified head of state, we would need Baby Trump to expose the contradiction
between his pretend and actual disposition. At this point, anyone who doesn’t
already see that the emperor has no clothes is not likely to be enlightened
upon seeing him in diapers. It’s simply meanness for meanness sake.

The creators of Baby Trump said they wanted to boost the morale of Trump’s foes and to “get under his skin.” As one of the organizers wrote in the Independent,
“Trump has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t respond to reason, to facts
or to science. What he does respond to is humiliation.” Yes, he sure
does, and that’s precisely the problem.

Evelin Lindner, a psychologist and founder of Human Dignity and
Humiliation Studies, or Human DHS, has documented cycles of humiliation
met by violent reprisals met by more humiliation, until the society
spirals into genocidal violence. “Humiliation,” she writes,
“is the nuclear bomb of the emotions, perhaps the most toxic social
dynamic of our age.” It reinforces the tyrant’s self-serving
rationalization that they are valiantly fighting the evildoers who are
attacking them.

Linda Hartling, a community psychologist and director of
Human DHS, emphasizes the boomerang nature of humiliation. “If you use
humiliation as a shortcut to attack an opponent, it will come back in some way,
if not at you then at someone more vulnerable,” she said. Hartling sees Trump
as a “humiliation entrepreneur” who is constantly retaliating against those who
pierce his thin skin.

Trump has already been ratcheting up his incitement of violence,
calling for his persecutors to be tried and executed for treason and
warning that civil war could break out if he’s impeached. Dozens of
preeminent psychiatrists have raised red flag warnings about Trump’s
anti-social, narcissistic, sadistic and sociopathic behavior. “Trump’s
sociopathic characteristics … create a profound danger for America’s
democracy and safety,” retired Harvard psychiatry professor Lance Dodes told the Washington Post.
“Over time these characteristics will only become worse, either because
Mr. Trump will succeed in gaining more power and more grandiosity with
less grasp on reality, or because he will engender more criticism
producing more paranoia, more lies and more enraged destruction.”

Ridiculing Trump achieves nothing and risks provoking him to even more outrageous attacks
and counterattacks. That’s what narcissists and demagogues do when their
fragile egos are threatened. Psychiatrists warn that someone with Trump’s malignant
narcissism and anti-social personality is vulnerable to a total psychotic
breakdown and that, by the time the warning signs are evident, it may already
be too late.

Criticism of Trump and vigorous efforts to remove him are vitally necessary, no matter
what the risk of further destabilizing his mental health. But piling on
personal insults adds unnecessary fuel to the fire. A deranged Trump is
incredibly dangerous.

For all the grievous harm Trump has done, I cannot and do not respect him. But withholding
respect and diminishing his humanity are two different things. At a minimum, I
feel obliged to treat Trump with the basic decency I extend to every human
being, no matter how awful I find them. To do otherwise, to dehumanize them as
the “enemy other,” is to set in motion a vindictive spiral that cannot end
well. Human dignity is sacred and, when it’s violated, our ability to negotiate
and tolerate discord erodes, and hate and violence reign.

“Humiliation is the most destructive force on the planet,” Hartling said. “It leaves a wake
of destruction, disrupting relationships in ways that are extremely difficult
to repair.” Why risk so much collateral damage just for the sake of inflicting
suffering on a man who is already seemingly one of the unhappiest on earth, his
inner life its own perpetual torment?

“Speak the truth but not to punish,” Buddhist monk and peace activist
Thich Nhat Hanh counsels. What that means to me is that, when I
criticize Trump’s rampant misconduct, I focus on the actions, not the
person, and contextualize the actions in systems and structures of white
supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, militarism and the resource
extraction mindset. I also want to contrast Trump’s nihilism with my
vision for an equitable and sustainable future, a beautiful,
inclusively-interconnected sacred place where humans and all living
creatures bow to each other in the great dance of life.

During the Sept. 25 Climate Strike in San Francisco, artists and activists from 10
environmental justice and human rights groups transformed two downtown blocks
into a series of street murals representing “community-oriented and earth-based
to the climate crisis. Taken together, the murals invited viewers to envision a more

beautiful future that celebrates the interconnected lives of people, plants and
wildlife. To me, honoring what’s sacred is worlds more inspiring than
denigrating what we already know is awful.

Diné (Navajo) land and water protector
and poet Lyla June Johnston suggests that the struggle of resistance against
Trump and fossil fuels shouldn’t be one of hate-driven revenge against
but, rather, a movement for life in all its sacred beauty. It’s not
about winning, Johnston said in an interview with the podcast “For the Wild,”
it’s about sustaining, diversifying, protecting and, above all, loving life.

So long as I attempt to implement my vision by denigrating those evil people who stand in my
way, I am taking one step forward and two back. Aggressors usually rationalize
their behavior as serving some higher purpose; seldom is that the case.

Trump must be held accountable but accountability need not take a
vindictive cast. I don’t believe murderers should be executed or rapists
raped. I don’t want Trump hung in effigy or body shamed, I simply want
him gone and, potentially, imprisoned where he can do no further damage.
And I want his supporters to feel that they have a rightful place in a
post-Trump America, a place where they are treated with the same basic
decency and respect as everyone else. If they don’t feel this way, brace
yourself for President Donald Trump, Jr. or whatever other humiliation
entrepreneur is waiting in the wings.

Hating on Trump incessantly isn’t going to be any more effective in
2020 than it was in 2016. The more we hate and humiliate him, the more
his supporters will be inclined to defend him. Even if we win, we’ll be
sowing the seeds of a vicious backlash. And our hatred could trigger an
adult Trump tantrum of existential dimensions. Our desperately sick
culture needs to heal, and more poison isn’t what the doctor ordered.