June 3 2020 No Velvet Glove, Just the Iron Fist: Trump Attempts to Use Nationwide Riots Not to Redress Historic Inequalities But to Impose Tyranny

Cowering in his bunker in the darkness, cries of thousands of voices of the marginalized, the dispossessed, and the masses of those re-enslaved through divisions of exclusionary otherness thundering through the warrens of his underworld kingdom of lies, Trump made a frantic call to his master in the Kremlin, Putin, former Colonel of the KGB and long his patron and handler.

     “Boss? Boss, you gotta get me outta this. Its not going down like we planned. They got the palace surrounded. What do I do?”

     “Listen Donald, there’s nothing you can’t solve with greater force. You like Napoleon, right? Conquered Europe, they gave him a princess to marry as tribute. You just do what he did to seize the throne of France; give ‘em a whiff of grapeshot.”

     “Can you send the Russian Army to restore order? I was supposed to ask you for an occupation force when we kicked off the boogaloo.…”

      Putin laughs. Click.

       “Hey, that’s not funny. Pick up the phone.” He smashes things, howling and blubbering in fear and rage. “I’m the joke? I’m never the joke. I’ll make America pay for making a monkey outta me. I’ll make everybody pay.”

      And like the petulant child and bully that he is, Trump goes forth to avenge himself on the world that does not love him, visions of a red button in a briefcase dancing in his head, muttering, “Behold, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”




June 2 2020 The Great Dictator: Trump’s Reboot of the Chaplin Classic

As the world is gripped by images of Trump’s expulsion of the priests from the church and brutal repression of protestors against racist violence, of his photo op holding a Bible while invoking the use of the military against citizens to silence dissent and bolster his failing regime of white supremacist terror and authoritarian state force and control, I believe it is time to consider the relative merits of our Clown of Terror’s performance of the role of the Great Dictator as compared to its originator, Charlie Chaplin.

     To this end I recommend Robert Coover’s 1968 satire The Cat in the Hat for President, written originally about Nixon and republished as A Political Fable, and the luminous and feral 1933 novel on which Trump has modeled his revised Theatre of Cruelty, Heliogabalus; or, the Crowned Anarchist by Antonin Artaud.

    Let us mock and deflate all such absurd monsters who would enslave us.

     Transcript of Charlie Chaplin’s Final Speech in The Great Dictator:    

     “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

     Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….

     The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..

     Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

     In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

     Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

     Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”

     Final speech from The Great Dictator Copyright © Roy Export S.A.S. All rights reserved

     “The Great Dictator was Chaplin’s first film with dialogue. Chaplin plays both a little Jewish barber, living in the ghetto, and Hynkel, the dictator ruler of Tomainia. In his autobiography Chaplin quotes himself as having said: “One doesn’t have to be a Jew to be anti Nazi. All one has to be is a normal decent human being.”

     Chaplin and Hitler were born within a week of one another. “There was something uncanny in the resemblance between the Little Tramp and Adolf Hitler, representing opposite poles of humanity, ” writes Chaplin biographer David Robinson, reproducing an unsigned article from The Spectator dated 21st April 1939; “Providence was in an ironical mood when, fifty years ago this week, it was ordained that Charles Chaplin and Adolf Hitler should make their entry into the world within four days of each other….Each in his own way has expressed the ideas, sentiments, aspirations of the millions of struggling citizens ground between the upper and the lower millstone of society. (…) Each has mirrored the same reality – the predicament of the “little man” in modern society. Each is a distorting mirror, the one for good, the other for untold evil.”

     “Chaplin spent many months drafting and re-writing the speech for the end of the film, a call for peace from the barber who has been mistaken for Hynkel. Many people criticized the speech, and thought it was superfluous to the film. Others found it uplifting. Regrettably Chaplin’s words are as relevant today as they were in 1940.”



June 1 2020 Demonization of the Other in Propaganda Campaigns

      In the midst of madness and horror, a bit of comedy relief with a moral to the story; a friend pranked me just now with an image of a page of directives for what seemed like agents provocateurs, with the message, “What do you think of this?”

     I responded that it is possible this may be genuine orders for white supremacists sent to disrupt protests, like the ones who have been instigating arson, vandalism, and looting throughout our nation.

      Then he sent me the link to a Snopes article exposing the whole document as a hoax in which it was claimed falsely to be an Antifa manual in an attempt to discredit antiracist protests.

     Well played, friend.

      This was a great object lesson in the demonization of the Other; I never guessed that others would be trying to frame Antifa with this. It could have been written by anyone familiar with the use of partisans in compartmented operations, even borrowed from documents our Jedburg teams used in occupied Europe in WWII.

     The moral of this story is that propaganda works when it reinforces pre=existing beliefs, and casts one’s opponents as less than human. This mechanism is called prejudice.

     We are all human and deserving of human doubt; perhaps especially those we whom we disagree.

     The enemies of democracy only win if we cease listening to each other’s arguments in constructive dialog, cease feeling one another’s pain, and turn away from stewardship of each other as our primary human responsibility.

     This does not mean that perpetrators and their victims and defenders represent moral equivalences.

     In a world of lies and illusions, how may we disambiguate friend from foe, good from evil? Evil perpetrates violence against the powerless and the dispossessed; good protects them, and renders justice unto those who would do them harm.

     Yet we must never fail to recognize the humanity of our enemies. That path leads to tyranny.

     As Sigmund Freud said, “Civilization begins when we throw words instead of stones”.     

May 31 2020 A March in the Shadow of Terror: Anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre

On this day in 1921 America’s Black Wall Street was totally destroyed in a single night of terror by their white neighbors in Tulsa Oklahoma through massive and organized ground and aerial attack, because a black man stepped on a white woman’s foot in an elevator.

     This was our Kristallnacht, and it must never happen again.

     I founded Lilac City Antifa to help prevent violence and redress the inequalities of racism, and to reply to white supremacist terror and to fascism with this simple message; Never Again.

     Today some fifteen thousand people of Spokane who feel as I do on this issue marched in support of racial justice and equality under the rallying cry of  Black Lives Matter, though there is no chapter of this organization in our city. It was a model nonviolent protest and communal grieving, which began with Chief of Police Meidl praying with the protestors and was notable for the police officers who knelt in solidarity with the people, heroic and remarkable acts welcomed with waves of sudden bursts of tears among the crowd. For this brief and glorious moment, the dream of America as a free society of equals was realized; we were one people.

     But when those who had gathered in peace, love, and mutual support to forge a better future had shared their trauma and gone home, several hundred white supremacist terrorists who had infiltrated the crowd remained and began a rampage of pillage and destruction through the business district, as they have in all the major riots across America last week.

     This has been an extremely sophisticated and logistically massive campaign of provocation and disinformation which bears the signatures of centralized command, intelligence, and communications, the design of which reveals its true purposes and intentions; to discredit the movement for racial justice, to provoke and justify state repression, and to incite a race war which will overthrow our democracy and result in a white ethnostate. Trump sees in this an opportunity to seize dictatorial powers, and has been conspiring with and using white supremacists as deniable forces throughout his regime of fascist criminality and terrorism.

     Trump and his foreign puppetmasters and propaganda machine have called Antifa a terrorist group and attempted to shift the guilt for the mayhem and property destruction of their own organized white supremacists who in capturing the narrative of a peaceful protest movement which seeks constructive change enact the sabotage of democratic process. None of these goals align with those of Antifascists.

     It is in the interest of Antifa and of all loyal Americans to defend each other and our democracy as the embodiment of our principles and ideals of freedom, equality, truth, and justice.

     Writing in Jacobin, Robert Greene II has called this May of 2020 the Red Spring and likened it to the Red Summer of 1919, in which a brutal campaign of racist violence and the annihilation of Black communities swept America. Certainly the murders and other violent crimes against Black people which have ignited rage and chaos throughout our nation this spring have a long and terrible history.

     To this there can be but one answer; Never Again.





May 30 2020 A Call to the National Guard: Refuse Activation and Illegal Orders to Murder Your Fellow Americans

It is time to restore honor to our military and security services, to transform them from instruments of state terror and the repression of dissent to their original purposes to protect and serve as guarantors of our rights and freedoms.

     Trump has ordered the National Guard to crush the revolt in Minneapolis, and in quoting Miami Police Chief Walter Headley’s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” 1967 directive has officially endorsed and acknowledged his purpose in doing so as an act of racist violence and the use of government troops to maintain inequality through state and white supremacist terror.  

     With this death order, Trump is attempting to start the race war his deniable forces among the white supremacists have been preparing for, as envisioned by his models Charles Manson and Hitler.

     What is his goal in this madness? Trump intends to achieve the final state of his subversion of democracy and become an autocratic tyrant, to create the conditions in which he can suspend elections and declare permanent martial law.

      I call on our National Guard, our Police and Homeland Security, to stand in solidarity against tyranny and injustice; refuse activation and all illegal orders to murder and terrorize your fellow Americans.

     Do not allow Trump and his Presidency of treason, criminality, and the violation of America’s principles, institutions, and ideals to rob you of your honor and your place in history as heroes of liberty.




May 29 2020 A Useful Past: the Black Panthers

As we look forward to the great work ahead, the abolition of divisions of exclusionary otherness from our society and the restoration of democracy throughout the world, as cities burn and consume themselves across our nation and the injustices and inequalities of our civilization are exposed, as our government is revealed as a fascist tyranny of state force and control which has betrayed our liberty, as we rise up and resist our enslavement and dehumanization and the theft of our universal rights, as we join together to question and challenge authority as is the primary role and responsibility of citizens in a free society of equals, the most important thing we can say to one another now is direct and simple; I stand with you.

     In this moment of peril, let us swear ourselves to one another in the cause of our liberty and in mutual aide of our rights and freedoms as citizens and as human beings.

     This is the time to forge of ourselves a true Band of Brothers, Sisters, and all varieties of humanity as yet undreamed, to reach toward an America of allyship united in our diversity and the common needs of our human condition. Of this mission much remains to be discussed and explored, and it will continue to change with time.    

     But mine is not the voice that needs to be heard in this context, for I cannot speak from within this realm of lived experience. So instead I recall to all of us the wisdom of our elders in the words of an exemplar of resistance and a champion of the people, the great and visionary Huey Newton, in the proclamation of the Ten Point Program of the Black Panther Party as written in October 1966 and published in War Against the Panthers :

“We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine

The Destiny Of Our Black Community.

We believe that Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.

We Want Full Employment For Our People.

We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the White American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.

We Want An End To The Robbery

By The Capitalists Of Our Black Community.

We believe that this racist government has robbed us, and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over fifty million Black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.

We Want Decent Housing Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings.

We believe that if the White Landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.

We Want Education For Our People That Exposes

The True Nature Of This Decadent American Society.

We Want Education That Teaches Us Our True History

And Our Role In The Present-Day Society.

We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.

We Want All Black Men To Be Exempt From Military Service.

We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.

We Want An Immediate End To

Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.

We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.

We Want Freedom For All Black Men

Held In Federal, State, County And City Prisons And Jails.

We believe that all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.

We Want All Black People When Brought To Trial To Be Tried In

Court By A Jury Of Their Peer Group Or People From Their Black

Communities, As Defined By The Constitution Of The United States.

We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that Black people will receive fair trials. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been, and are being, tried by all-White juries that have no understanding of the “average reasoning man” of the Black community.

We Want Land, Bread, Housing, Education,

Clothing, Justice And Peace.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect of the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

     How relevant and filled with creative potential for our future his words remain for us now, anchored to the principles and values of the American Revolution as an ongoing process and experiment in becoming human.

     For further reading I recommend Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, by Bloom & Martin, and The Black Panthers Speak, Foner editor.

      The entire archive of the Black Panther newspaper is available here:  https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/black-panther/index.htm


May 28 2020 Not Yet a Revolution: Days of Rage and Riot as America Awakes to Find Itself Under Occupation by a Racist and Fascist State

Of riots and looting I shall say this; they are a Bonfire of the Vanities, a communal public ritual of protest and seizure of power in which the dispossessed reclaim the humanity which has been stolen from them.

     How else can the powerless respond when the meaning and value of citizenship has been negated through vote suppression, when our freedom and equality have been subverted through the sabotage and capture of our justice system and the reliability of truth and freedom of information on which it depends, when the security services prey on us rather than protect us and the police have been infiltrated by white supremacists and act as an army of occupation and a tool of repression and state terror, when the full faith and credit of the United States of America has been dispelled and banished like a figment of smoke and mirrors by our rogue President to establish his tyranny?

     Cities burn when the legitimacy of the government has been lost.

     Not yet a revolution, these days of rage and riot are a tidal force which periodically sweeps through our nation to restore the balance between the state and the citizens who are its co-owners. To become a revolution, this mass movement must organize to bring structural change to a failed state and restore our democracy.

     I call on all loyal Americans to rise up and work together in the cause of our liberty, to bring into our personal lives the demonstrations of our enduring injustices and inequalities now engulfing our streets and help us move from the stage of guerrilla theatre and protest to that of transformation of our systems and institutions as did our founders, to reclaim our nation from the Fourth Reich and restore our values of freedom, equality, truth, and justice.

     Not yet a Revolution; but with this moment of national reckoning that day moves closer to tomorrow.





May 27 2020 On Speaking Truth to Power as a Sacred Calling

     I found myself responding with candor to a conversation today in which a friend, of whose fearless championing of the dispossessed  I’ve said “If I could bottle that fine, fierce spirit I’d share it with everyone and tear down the walls of our divisions, starting with the one at our border and ending with those of our prisons,” expressed fear of retribution in calling out an institution of racist state force and control, thereby illustrating the mechanism of silencing on which unjust authority depends.

     Of course this was a preface for an act of breaking the silence; I did say they are my friend.    

     Here is the beginning of that conversation; “Today I’m going to do something stupid.

     On my Facebook and Twitter feeds I am going to express a viewpoint that I have long held to myself. A viewpoint I believed, if ever made public, would kneecap my dreams of a political career and public service.

    Today I realized my silence was just a vestige of my own internalized respectability politics, and f*** respectability. It has never, and will never, save us. So here goes: heres why I am a #PoliceAbolitionist”

      What followed is a brilliant and multivoiced discussion of the role of police violence in white supremacist terror, as an army of occupation whose purpose is to enforce inequality and subvert the institutions and values of democracy, and of the use of social force in a free society of equals. This is among the most important issues we face today and questions some of the inherent contradictions of our form of government, of which George Washington said, “Government is about force; only force.”

     But this is only indirectly the subject on which I write today; far more primary and fundamental is the function of other people’s ideas of ourselves, of normality and respectability, in the silencing of dissent.

     This is my reply; “I will fuck respectability with you, and their little dog normality too.      

     Authorized identities and boundaries of the Forbidden are about power, and we must call out the instruments of unequal power as we see them. Foucault called this truthtelling, and it is a crucial part of seizure of power and ownership of identity; always there remains the struggle between the masks others make for us and those we make for ourselves.

     Against state terror and control let us deploy parrhesia and the performance of our best selves. Go ahead; frighten the horses.”

    Often have I referred to this key performative role in democracy as the Jester of King Lear, whose enactments of mockery and satire, the exposure and deflation of the mighty as revolutionary seizures of power which reclaim that which we the people have lent them when it is used unjustly, are necessary to maintain the balance of interests in a society in which government is co-owned equally by its citizens and has as its overriding purpose the securement of the freedom and autonomy of individuals and of their universal human rights.

     Without citizens who refuse to be silenced and controlled by authority, democracy becomes meaningless.

     So with my arts of rhetoric and poetry as truthtelling, with my praxis of democracy as a debate coach and English teacher of these essential skills of citizenship, and with my political journal here at Torch of Liberty :  https://torchofliberty.home.blog ; to incite, provoke, and disturb.

     For democracy requires a participatory electorate willing to speak truth to power.  

     To all those who defy and challenge unjust authority; I will stand with you, and I ask that all of us do the same.

May 26 2020 Yearning to Be Free: Paths of Immigration

An epic and harrowing journey of hope and survival, the story of two war refugees escape to relative safety in America becomes an allegory of liberty in the words of Rowaida Abdelaziz writing in Huffpost. But also, of the lines of fracture in our political system and international community of peoples, and the tragic disconnects between our ideals of universal human rights and the systems and structures which fail to redeem their promise.

     As Osamah Mahyoub, late of Yemen, recounts in personal witness; ” I regret all of it,” he said.  “If I knew this was going to happen to me, I would have never come.” 

     Abdelaziz explains the context of his statement; “For now, he’s in limbo and praying that the U.S., which is complicit in demolishing his home country, will give him a chance at life. He could be deported any day.”

     “I can’t return to Yemen because my life is in danger. Where would I go in Yemen? Our homes are destroyed,” Mahyoub said. “If I return, I would be forced to carry arms, and I refuse to carry arms. I reject violence of any kind.”

    “I am only asking for safety,” Mahyoub said. “This is my last chance.”

     For many of us who came here fleeing a world on fire throughout our history, America was and shall always be the last chance of refuge, a shining dream of freedom, equality, truth, and justice floating on the clouds, an illusion which awaits the champions who will make it real.

     America, is this the best we can do?    


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