“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” — Vladimir Lenin
With a global pandemic where over 100,000 Americans are dead, staggering unemployment not seen since the Great Depression, the ever present and unfolding threat of climate change fueled catastrophes, white supremacist agitators, the wealthiest and most powerful empire on earth today is facing the perfect storm. Quite possibly, its quietus. At the center of this firestorm, an unhinged emperor is fanning the flames.
Donald Trump is that emperor, and regardless of what some might say about the limits on the executive branch, the president has sweeping powers to use the military and to detain anyone, including American citizens, indefinitely. Given the track record of this one, there is no reason to think he will not use every power he has been granted. And it is all legal thanks to the Patriot Act and provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He also has power under the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy the military domestically. This law was originally created to prevent so-called “hostile incursions of the Indians.” Is it any surprise that Trump would look to a tool of racist colonial oppression as a solution?
That Trump has declared Antifa a terrorist organization also has frightening implications. Although he has no legal power to do this, his words alone have power. Already, US Attorney General William Barr has said that he will treat protesters as domestic terrorists and has blamed all of the violence on “far left extremists” without any evidence whatsoever. There was no mention of white supremacist groups who have been active throughout the protests. Prior to this, he requested “emergency powers” from congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic. Antifa is not an organization, it is an umbrella term for anti-fascist protesters who are autonomous. Therefore, any protester against fascism can be labeled under this broad term if it suits them to do so for the purpose of crushing dissent.
No empire has ever gone down peacefully. And there is usually a long timeline of decay. We have witnessed much of this decline over the last few decades. But events are not always evenly paced. Sometimes major shifts or shocks can occur within days or weeks, and such things can inflict terrible pain for many. We must not assume that “it can’t happen here.” Because, in truth, “it” already has. Over and over and over again. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century.
On a much more personal note, I want to urge my friends, family and comrades in the States to be alert and careful. This is not to make anyone fearful of dissent, organizing, or protesting injustice. We need to stand in solidarity against racism, brutality and fascism. But the US has always been a dangerous place, especially for people of color, Native Americans, Latinx, women, the poor, LGBTQ, marginalized communities, immigrants, and political dissenters, and I fear that there is something very different unfolding now. Something quite ominous. I sincerely hope I am wrong. But anyone taking a stand needs to understand the risks involved. Standing united in solidarity is the only way to weather what lies ahead.
Stay alert, stay safe, stand in solidarity and stand for justice.
Previously published on Kenn Orphan, June 2, 2020
From the archives:
US Lectures World on Human Rights as Cops Kill Blacks With Impunity, by Finian Cunningham + Rebellion Against Police Murder Tears Through the US, by Sophie Squire + Margaret Kimberley: The US is the World’s Worst Abuser of Human Rights