Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Are We Repeating Ourselves?

Are We Repeating Ourselves?
by C.A. Matthews

Some days I experience an overwhelming sense of déjà vu whenever I read the headlines. I'm not talking about inconsequential things such as the impeachment hearing, as most realize that it is nothing but glorified political street theater offered as entertainment for the masses. I'm talking about reading eerily similar horrific news items day after day--another senseless mass shooting in everyday America, another immigrant family torn apart by our government's racist policies, another round of deaths from entirely preventable causes due to a lack of universal health care in the US...  

It's almost like I've traveled in back in time and arrived in 1930s Italy or Germany. However, this time around the disintegration of society's morals has a distinctly American flavor to it. You can almost taste the apple pie and hot dogs mixed in with the bitter tears of those who are suffering.
Independent journalist Abby Martin's excellent video interview of Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges summarizes the fear and dread that I--and many others--currently share whenever we scan the headlines. Anyone who has even a passing interest in history can readily see the pattern of fascism developing in the US and elsewhere. Is it just a coincidence that Brazil is under the control of strongman Jair Bolsonaro at the same time Trump is anointed king on Wall Street's throne (a.k.a. the Oval Office)? 

Is it a coincidence that "Liberal Saviour" Justin Trudeau of Canada turned out to be as big (if not bigger) a supporter of dirty tar sands oil pipelines than either Obama or Trump? Is it any coincidence that whistleblowers such as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are hounded, imprisoned and tortured for simply telling the truth about what's really happening in the world? Is it coincidental that recently revealed reports prove Big Oil giant Exxon kept its global warming fears to itself? Just another coincidence that chemical companies like Monsanto and opioid manufacturers like Purdue Pharma kept knowledge of severe cancer risks and addiction potential of their products to themselves?

I think not. Those who are truly in control don't believe in coincidence--they believe in taking opportunities and in the power of accumulating massive amounts of wealth. They believe in exercising the power of the militarized police state to get whatever resources they want and locking up any dissenters and shutting them up for good. We might not be invading Poland, but we are annexing the Sudetenland--or at least the modern day version of it in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Bolivia, Venezuela...
The pattern once seen cannot be unseen. Every headline, every news story--national, international or local--seen through the blood-tinted glasses of fascism screams at us. They point the finger back at us and ask, "Why are you allowing this evil to grow? What steps are you taking to stop it?" 

How can a local news story demonstrate fascism you ask? From my own experience, one story instantly comes to mind, the fight to pass the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. It's a story about saving the environment by passing a bill to stop the polluting of  the drinking water supply not just for one city, but for upward of 11 million souls. With very little money or power, the people fought hard to get the measure on the ballot, and they finally did. And it passed! 

But those with unlimited funds and access to both state and federal legislators and agencies have used a corrupt judiciary to thwart this citizens' initiative at every possible turn. Both state and federal Environmental Protection Agencies refuse to outlaw the indiscriminate dumping of animal factory farm (CAFO) manure and fertilizers, along with other toxic industrial wastes, into Lake Erie's watershed because it might cut into the vast profits of Big Ag/Big Oil corporations. 

Our government's objectives are quite clear. Money is everything. Human health and safety are not. The ruin of the local environment or the entire planet doesn't matter. Mussolini labeled fascism "corporatism" for very good reasons.

The almighty petro-dollar is placed on a pedestal to be worshiped and glorified by all. Is it any wonder we lock up little children stolen from their families seeking asylum without a thought?  Private adoption agencies, such as the one Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has an interest in, see a huge money-making potential here. Is it any wonder we create for-profit prisons? Locking up our poor neighbors of color on overblown charges of marijuana use guarantees jails full of free slave labor. Is it any wonder we are chipping away at the civil rights of LGBTQ persons and forcing women into back alleys for abortion care? And what about the Patriot Act that was recently and quietly extended again? Protecting the people's civil rights just gets in the way of the profit machine, don't you know...

I've stated more questions than answers, but the pattern of the questions will reveal the answer to you. Fascism explains it all. So, now that I've opened your eyes to this malevolent pattern of behavior rampaging throughout our society, what will you do? Will you continue to ignore it and cooperate with it?

Remember, slavery was legal in the USA until 1865. Native Americans weren't considered full citizens until 1924 with the right to vote not guaranteed in all states until 1962. Germans in the 1930s-40s didn't break any laws when they called their "undesirable" neighbors "non-citizens" and marched them off to the gas chambers. 

Immorality is easily enshrined in legality. Don't ever confuse the word "moral" with "legal."

Be moral. Act justly. Fight back. After all, it could be you or your loved one who is marched off to the gas chambers some day. Don't think history doesn't repeat itself. It can and it is.
Articles to think on: 
If we can save the banks, we can save the world." https://truthout.org/articles/greta-thunberg-on-climate-if-we-can-save-the-banks-we-can-save-the-world/
Most Veterans Say America's Wars Are A Waste. No One's Listening to Them. https://newrepublic.com/article/154471/veterans-say-americas-wars-waste-no-ones-listening-them
A 1970 Law Led to the Mass Sterilization of Native American Women. That History Still Matters. https://time.com/5737080/native-american-sterilization-history
Patriot Act Extension Covered in Funding Bill Passed by House Democrats. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/11/21/fund-n21.htm
Monsanto Colluded with EPA to Stifle Cancer Research. https://www.mintpressnews.com/unsealed-court-docs-reveal-monsanto-colluded-with-epa-to-stifle-cancer-research/225914/
AOC: "Health care is not an iPhone." (video) https://youtu.be/m1GHqkemn8U
In Bolsonaro's Burning Brazilian Amazon, All Our Futures Are Being Consumed. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/23/amazon-rainforest-fires-deforestation-jair-bolsonaro

Apache Leader begins spiritual journey home to protect Sacred Land from Extraction 

On Thanksgiving Day (and National Day of Mourning,) former chair of the San Carlos Apache, Wendsler Nosie Sr, left their reservation and began his return to the Apache holy site of Oak Flat (Chi'chil Bildagoteel) in Arizona.

Oak Flat is under threat of destruction by Resolution Copper, a joint venture owned in part by Rio Tinto, one of the largest metal and mining companies in the world. Wendsler, with the blessings of the Apache Stronghold, has decided that he will not leave the sacred site until it is protected, and his tribe's Constitutional and moral rights to religious freedom are respected, even if it means losing his life. National Co-Chair and President of Repairers of the Breach, Rev. Dr. Barber, along with Rev. John Mendez, Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner, and Ms. Yara Allen were present as he started this journey home.

Sign the petition today to protect this sacred land.

In the Apache tradition, the waters at Oak Flat are the source of all life. Generations of Apache have come to pray for thousands of years at this most holy site. After years of unsuccessful negotiations and a corruption scandal that landed an Arizona Congressman in prison, Resolution Copper was given the rights to mine Oak Flat as part of a last-minute rider that then-Senator John McCain added to the 2014 Defense Spending Bill. To process the copper ore, the proposed extraction would use 6.5 billion gallons of water annually - as much water as a small city - which would then be polluted with sulfuric acid. These operations would replace the holy ground with a gaping crater, two miles wide and one thousand feet deep. 

The only thing standing between Resolution Copper and the mining rights they have already been granted is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS must be certified by the federal government before private companies can begin mining public lands. During the required public comment period on the EIS, Wendsler argued that, while the environmental impact of this proposed project would be devastating, the bigger issue is in fact religious liberty. 

In a joint statement with the current San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler, Wendsler wrote, “the Oak Flat Draft Environmental Impact Statement does not address the current religious significance and the value given to Oak Flat by the Apache people, Yavapai people, Aravaipa and many others...Native American Religion has been excluded from the areas of concern and value.” However, the U.S. Forest Service has refused to consider the Apache's religious freedom claim in its EIS.

Two weeks ago, Wendsler and a delegation from the Apache Stronghold went to Washington D.C. to meet with the U.S. Forest Service and deliver the statement of his intent to return to Oak Flat. They were joined by Rev. Barber, Rev. Theoharis and a delegation of multi-faith clergy.
Rev. Dr. Barber, Wendsler Nosie Sr. and Rev. Mendez on the day of Wendsler's departure.

Rev. Dr. Barber was introduced to Wendsler seven years ago by Rev. Mendez, who has been engaged with the Apache Stronghold for over twenty years. Since then, they have built a relationship across faith, race, issues, and geography, to find common ground in this sacred and moral struggle. 

Wendsler is a member of the National Steering Committee of the Poor People’s Campaign. Along with a delegation from the San Carlos Apache, he joined the December 4th, 2017, official launch of the Campaign in Washington D.C. And in June 2018, following a sacred journey connecting with indigenous people across the country, the San Carlos Apache joined the Campaign in Washington D.C. for the 40 Days of Action. There on Capitol Hill, Vanessa Nosie, Wendsler's daughter, spoke to the conditions they had witnessed on their journey.

The Poor People’s Campaign now calls on all of the people in our movement to support the Apache Stronghold in their struggle for religious freedom and the right to their sacred lands at Oak Flat. 

In Rev. Barber’s and Rev. Theoharis’ words, “As Christian ministers who are committed to the freedom of religion for all people, we call on all people of faith to stand with Wendsler Nosie and the Apache Stronghold before it is too late. To preach the resurrection of Jesus is to proclaim that no one and no one’s tradition must be crucified for the greater good. We can protect the waters, protect Oak Flat, and still have enough resources for every family in this land to flourish. The history of terrible violence this nation has committed against indigenous people from the Trail of Tears to Standing Rock is a reminder that the apocalypse Nosie goes home to face is a real possibility. But it is not a necessity. We pray Americans will act to show genuine gratitude for the original stewards of this land and their religious freedom. We join our brother, Wendsler Nosie, in the call to save Oak Flat.”

Support this critical struggle by signing the petition and please consider making a donation to the Apache Stronghold at this pivotal moment.

Forward together, not one step back!
Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

The petition to Congress reads:
"Stop the Trump administration's gutting of the Endangered Species Act. Pass the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►

Tell Congress: Save the Endangered Species Act
The bald eagle, beluga whale, whooping crane and American grey wolf. All could be a distant memory if the Trump administration's heartless and greedy extinction plan remains in effect.

Earlier this year, despite massive public opposition – including by CREDO members and our progressive allies – Trump and his minions pushed through dangerous regulations to gut the Endangered Species Act, open up protected areas to fossil fuel development and line the pockets of big polluters.
Progressive champion Rep. Raul Grijalva recently introduced critical legislation called the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019 that would repeal these rule changes.1 We must demand that Congress immediately pass this bill to stop Trump's handout to the oil and gas industry and protect and recover precious, threatened wildlife.

Tell Congress: Save the Endangered Species Act. Click here to sign the petition.

Since it was enacted in the 1970s, the ESA has been wildly successful in protecting endangered species on the brink of extinction.2 More than 99% of all species listed on the ESA have been saved, including the iconic bald eagle, American alligator, Florida manatee and grizzly bear.

Yet, under Trump's extinction plan, decades of hard-fought victories to protect hundreds of endangered and threatened species could be completely wiped out. Despite the overwhelming success and support for the Endangered Species Act – more than 90% in one recent poll and more than 800,000 public comments in opposition to these rollbacks – the Trump administration is again ignoring science and public opinion to enrich its friends in the fossil fuel and extractive industries.3,4

At a time when climate change and other threats are wiping out species across the globe at an alarming rate, now is the time to strengthen the ESA, not weaken our ability to protect vulnerable wildlife and allow Big Oil to continue to exacerbate the climate crisis.

It's clear that the Trump administration won't stop until the Endangered Species Act is completely eviscerated. Please join us now urging Congress to pass this crucial legislation before it's too late. Click the link below to sign the petition:


Thank you for speaking out.
Heidi Hess, Co-Director CREDO Action from Working Assets
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Sign the petition ►
  1. House Committee on Natural Resources, "Chair Grijalva, Senator Udall Introduce Bill to Protect Endangered Species, Reverse Trump’s Changes That Will Add to Extinction Crisis," Sept. 17, 2019.
  2. Center for Biological Diversity, "A Wild Success: A Systematic Review of Bird Recovery Under the Endangered Species Act," June 2016.
  3. The Humane Society of the United States, "Broad coalition submitted more than 800,000 comments opposing Trump's plan to weaken the Endangered Species Act regulations," Sept. 24, 2018.
  4. Endangered Species Coalition, "Statement on Bills to Block Trump ESA Rollback," Sept. 17, 2019.

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