Moveon.org: You showed Congress that Nobody Is Above the Law!

Our democracy and national security are under attack by Donald Trump—and Republicans are trying to enable and defend him at every move—which is why I, for one, am motivated to work alongside millions of MoveOn members to defend our Constitution and our elections by impeaching and removing Trump.

Recent testimony in the U.S. House of Representatives makes it crystal clear that Trump attempted to bribe and bully a foreign official into interfering in our elections for his own political benefit. This is worse than Watergate—and yet even as Democrats are working to expose the truth, Republicans are doing nothing about it.

That is why MoveOn members are taking action.

In 14 cities around the country, mobile billboards are traveling around key congressional districts in the busy days leading up to Thanksgiving, showing our demand that key Republicans stand up to Trump and support impeachment. These are members of Congress who we believe could, if faced with enough constituent pressure, break from Trump’s lawless and reckless stranglehold on his party. And the billboards are already being featured in national publications including The Hill and The Washington Post.1,2

In New York’s 21st Congressional District, voters are seeing an ad across TV stations hammering Representative Elise Stefanik for being such a “star” defender of Trump—and demonstrating to Republicans everywhere the kind of pressure they’ll face. The ads were featured in the Albany Times Union and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and seen more than 200,000 times online in addition to on TV.3,4

Events organized by local constituents are taking place every week in states with key senators—in Colorado, Maine, Arizona, and Kentucky. And in some cases, events are happening all across the state on the same day—fueled by MoveOn members, allies, and paid professional organizers that MoveOn members have funded. These events are being reported on in local papers of record in each state, such as Louisville’s Courier-Journa l.5

We’ve been bird-dogging members of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.—pursuing Republicans with the simple question of whether it’s okay to seek foreign government interference in our elections. Dozens of Republicans have fled from the question. One pretended to be on the phone to avoid answering, and another one even head-butted the camera! You can see the video of these efforts below.

MoveOn and partners are planning actions all across the country the day before the House eventually votes on the articles of impeachment—and already more than 300 events have been registered, with almost 50,000 attendees planning to turn out.

And MoveOn members have made more than 80,000 calls to Congress—in Washington and in home districts—demanding that Congress assert that nobody is above the law.

It can be maddening to see how Republicans have responded to the impeachment hearings—dismissing, interrupting, and threatening witnesses who simply sought to tell the truth, some of them lifelong public servants in our armed forces and diplomatic corps.

If you’re mad, keep taking action. The majority of Americans want Trump’s impeachment and removal—and MoveOn members are powering these tactics, and more, all across the nation to make our voices heard.

As Robert Reich recently said in an email to MoveOn members, “Congressional Republicans know that Trump is guilty, and they know that they look like damn fools for protecting him. Every day, they are making a calculation of how far they can take this without losing their careers, which is why it is so important for MoveOn to ramp up its campaign to break the Republican dam by making an association with Trump’s crimes politically toxic, leaving no choice but to get rid of Trump once and for all.”

The question now is whether Republicans will continue to be complicit in Trump’s crimes and corruption—or whether they’ll choose higher ground. Now is the moment to push them to make the right choice—over this congressional recess week and when they’re back in Washington, through the weeks ahead. And to keep thanking Democrats who are standing strong for the principle that nobody is above the law.

Thank you for all you’ve been doing to defend our elections, national security, and Constitution. Together, we’ll keep up the fight.

Thanks for all you do.

—Rahna, David, Elsie, Erik, and the rest of the team

‘Shot in the vagina’

The same forces that feed into the violence against migrant women are also undermining climate action.

Maria Meza, a migrant woman from Honduras, runs away from tear gas with her five-year-old twin daughters Saira and Cheili at the US-Mexico border on November 25, 2018 [File: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon]
Maria Meza, a migrant woman from Honduras, runs away from tear gas with her five-year-old twin daughters Saira and Cheili at the US-Mexico border on November 25, 2018 [File: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon]

Last December, the Trump administration enacted a scheme requiring Central American asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal proceedings drag on indefinitely in the United States.

The Migrant Protection Protocols policy – a handily perverse euphemism – is the approximate equivalent of calling the Exxon Valdez oil spill the Marine Life Protection Initiative. As various human rights and advocacy organisations have pointed out, the border programme has exposed tens of thousands of asylum seekers to violence; including rape, kidnapping and assault, in the unsure border regions of Mexico.

In light of the surplus of rapes and other abuses already documented as a result of so-called “protection”, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – marked annually on November 25 – is an ideal occasion to reflect on the violence facing migrant women in an era of mass migration.

Pervasive violence

As the UN Women website observes : ” Rape is rooted in a complex set of patriarchal beliefs, power, and control that continue to create a social environment in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalised.”

For an idea of the extent of normalisation, just recall Patriarch-in-chief President Donald Trump‘s own previous advice about fondling women without their consent: “Grab ’em by the p****.”

Migrant women, of course, are particularly vulnerable to “grabbing” – and much worse – especially given that crimes against migrants are not generally reported or prosecuted. And for Central American women transiting Mexico to the US border, sexual assault is frequently par for the course.

Lest anyone assume that this validates the Trumpian vision of Mexico as composed of rapists and criminals , however, just recall the epidemic of rape in the US’s own military – not to mention rampant claims of sexual abuse of immigrant children held at US detention facilities.

‘Shot in the vagina’

It bears emphasising, too, that many of the women who flee Central America are fleeing a system of patriarchal violence that the US itself has played no small part in sustaining.

Following the 2009 US-abetted right-wing coup in Honduras, for example, a surge in femicides and all manner of other crimes was accompanied by a climate of impunity that has yet to subside. According to a New York Times essay , a 2018 study conducted in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula indicated that more than 96 percent of women’s murders went unpunished – an arrangement presumably facilitated by reports that officials in the “agency entrusted with investigating women’s deaths [were] killing women themselves”.

Murder methods have included being “shot in the vagina” and “skinned alive”.

In addition to throwing a bunch of money at homicidal Central American security forces, the US underwrites capitalist patriarchy by pushing punitive economic policies – pardon, supporting “development” and “investment” – that favour the financial domination of the United States’ local, predominantly male and obsequiously neoliberal elite acolytes.

This ensures that, while US corporate interests in the region remain sacrosanct, the lives of the poor are expendable – and the lives of women even more so. After all, as far as capitalism is concerned, there can never be too much inequality.

Patriarchal contexts

Meanwhile, across the ocean, violence against women is also tied up with migration. Last year, the UN found that in Libya – a primary jumping-off point for maritime migration to Europe – the ” overwhelming majority of [migrant] women and older teenage girls interviewed … reported being gang-raped by smugglers or traffickers.”

In Libya‘s migrant detention centres, too, rape is rife. And, thanks to an agreement between the Italian government and the Libyan coastguard, migrants intercepted at sea are often returned to these very same centres.

Never mind that centuries of European colonialism and exploitation of the African continent have played no small role in determining present migration patterns; “fortress Europe” has appointed itself unquestionable victim of the migrant crisis, condemning the actual victims to a criminalised existence that only increases the chances of their further victimisation.

For many migrant women, then, life becomes one continuous migration between patriarchal contexts in which sexual violence is pervasive and normalised.

And for those who do make it to Europe, things do not necessarily improve. Amnesty International has documented how, for a great number of females in Greek refugee camps, ” the insecurity and dangers they experience in Greece are a constant reminder of the violence they sought to escape”.

Among the interviewees at one camp was a Cameroonian woman who had to flee abuse twice. Leaving Cameroon on account of an abusive husband, she made it to Istanbul, where she found a job at a sweatshop. When her employer there started sexually abusing her as well, she fled again, this time to Greece.

Violate women, violate the earth

But physical violence and socioeconomic inequality are not the only ways in which patriarchal systems drive migration. Consider reports that climate change could generate more than 200 million refugees by 2050 – and that climate change disproportionately affects women.

Consider also an August article at The New Republic, headlined The Misogyny of Climate Deniers, which catalogues a ” growing body of research linking gender reactionaries to climate-denialism” and finds that “male reactionaries motivated by right-wing nationalism, anti-feminism, and climate denialism increasingly overlap”.

According to a 2014 paper published by the International Journal for Masculinity Studies, the whole notion of climate change is in fact perceived as a “threat to the masculinity of industrial modernity”.

By extension, then, patriarchal capitalism imperils not only women but the planet itself.

Now, as the migrant crisis rages on and humanity hurtles towards self-destruction , the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women should serve as a reminder that, without first smashing the patriarchy, we will never even stand a chance.

INTERACTIVE: Violence against women

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pentagon: US carrier sent to Middle East on credible Iran threat

The acting US defence secretary says carrier, bombers sent to region due to indications of ‘credible threat’ by Iran.
The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln departs from Naval Station Norfolk before Hurricane Florence in Norfolk, Virginia, on September 11, 2018 [Handout/Navy/Stacy M Atkins Ricks/Reuters]
The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln departs from Naval Station Norfolk before Hurricane Florence in Norfolk, Virginia, on September 11, 2018 

Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said on Monday that he had approved sending a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle Eastbecause of indications of a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces”.

“[It] represents a prudent repositioning of assets in response to indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces,” Shanahan said on Twitter.

“We call on the Iranian regime to cease all provocation. We will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any attack on US forces or our interests,” he added.

Shanahan in his tweet provided no details on the threat.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that the United States was deploying the Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to send a message to Iran.

Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman for Iran’s supreme national security council, said on Monday that Bolton’s statement was “a clumsy use of an out-of-date event for psychological warfare”.

Tasnim news agency quoted Khosravi as saying that Iranian armed forces had observed the carrier entering the Mediterranean Sea 21 days ago.

Bolton “lacks military and security understanding and his remarks are mostly meant to draw attention to himself”, Khosravi added.

Three US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters News Agency on Monday that “multiple, credible threats” picked up by intelligence were primarily against US forces in Iraq by Iran and its proxy forces. They said there was also concern about US forces in Syria and in the waters nearby.

One of the officials said the intelligence was specific enough that it detailed the locations of potential attacks against US forces and the timeframe within which it could occur. The official added that the threat was not only against US forces in Iraq but those coming in and out of the region. There are currently about 5,200 US troops in Iraq and under 2,000 American forces in Syria.

Increased pressure

The US action marked the latest in a series of moves by President Donald Trump‘s administration aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Iran in recent months.

WATCH

How will Trump’s Iran oil gamble affect the global economy?

The Trump administration’s efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began last year when it unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal it and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking in Finland where he was attending the Arctic Council meeting, said on Monday the United States has seen activity from Iran that indicated a possible “escalation”, one day after the United States said it would send a carrier strike group to the Middle East to counter a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.”

Last month, Trump announced the US will no longer exempt any countries from US sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, a decision that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and US treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey. The US also recently designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist group”, the first ever for an entire division of another government.

Iran sanctions explained

In response, Iran said it has mobilised all its resources to sell oil in a “grey market”.

Amir Hossein Zamaninia, Iran’s deputy oil minister, told state media on Sunday that Iran would continue to export oil despite the US sanctions, which he said were neither just nor legitimate.

“We have mobilised all of the country’s resources and are selling oil in the ‘grey market’,” state news agency IRNA quoted Zamaninia as saying.

“We certainly won’t sell 2.5 million barrels per day as under the [nuclear deal],” he said. “We will need to make serious decisions about our financial and economic management, and the government is working on that.”

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for the country to “resist and unite” against US pressure in what he called a “war on hope” waged against the Islamic Republic.

“America will only let go of this game when it realises it cannot achieve anything. We have no way but to resist and unite,” Rouhani said in a televised speech on Saturday.

“Our war today is the war on hope. They want to break our hope, and we have to break their hope.”

Number of hate groups in US reached record high in 2018: SPLC

Watchdog finds number of hate groups increased by seven percent last year, as groups used internet to grow and recruit.

People protesting against US President Donald Trump wait near the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Brendan Smialowski/AFP]
People protesting against US President Donald Trump wait near the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Brendan Smialowski/AFP]

Washington, DC – Hate crimes in the United States reached a record high last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said on Wednesday, adding that much of the rise was due to the rhetoric of US President Donald Trump.

Driven by Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and policy, the number of hate groups active in the US peaked at 1,020 in 2018, a seven-percent increase from 954 recorded in 2017, according to the SPLC, which began tracking hate groups in 1971.

Trump’s statements echoed by hate groups included describing immigrants as “invaders”, calling for a Muslim ban, attacking African nations and speaking against the country’s alleged demographic changes.

In 2018, at least 40 people were killed by those motivated by or attracted to far-right ideologies, the watchdog group wrote in its annual report, released on Wednesday.

The last peak in the number of hate groups in the country was recorded in 2011 during the height of a backlash against President Barack Obama, the first black president, the SPLC said. According to the watchdog, there were 1,018 documented hate groups then.

Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said she first heard of building a wall to separate the US from Mexico on a white supremacist site.

The same demand became one of Trump’s most famous campaign promises in 2016.

Since then, the SPLC recorded an increase in the number of groups active, which followed three years of decline in groups during the Obama administration.

Federal figures were consistent. Latest statistics from the FBI show that hate crimes increased by 30 percent in the three-year period ending in 2017.

The increase followed three years in which hate crime incidents fell by about 12 percent.

“President Trump has opened the White House doors to extremism,” the SPLC report states. “Not only consulting with hate groups on policies that erode our country’s civil rights protections, but also enabling the infiltration of extremist ideas into the administration’s rhetoric and agenda.”

A handful of Trump appointees include officials with ties to groups hostile towards Muslims, immigrants, refugees, and the LGBT community, the report said.

The majority of hate groups – including neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan (KKK), racist skinheads, neo-Confederates and white nationalists – adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology.

The number of white nationalist groups, those particularly electrified by Trump’s presidency, surged by almost 50 percent from 100 groups to 148 in 2018.

The SPLC said black nationalist groups also rose 13 percent last year to 264.

The number of anti-Muslim hate chapters, however, dropped from 114 in 2017 to 100 in 2018, according to the SPLC, but rights group have said hate crimes against Muslims were up last year.

‘ISIS tactics’

Beirich said US hate groups were using the internet to spread their messages and propaganda in the absence of strong online regulations.

Charlottesville: Life sentence recommended for James Alex Fields

She said the web was now the main recruitment tool for hate groups and “absolutely” key for white supremacists.

The SPLC has long called on tech companies to take action against the hate on their platforms.

“Similar to ISIS using this to push propaganda and ideas, it has now become the main place for recruiting to happen,” Beirich said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

The 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the largest demonstration of white supremacists in recent years, was first organised on Facebook.

“There is no question that technology has helped this movement,” she said. “Up until 2017 there was so much hate online.” Following Charlottesville, Facebook began cracking doing on hate content.

Anti-Muslim campaigning in the US is a ‘losing strategy’: report

“There is a lot of mainstreaming of hate rhetoric,” she added. “The idea of building a wall came from the council of conservatives in [1989]. These ideas are leaping from the extremes to the mainstream. It would be nice to put them back where they came from.”

‘Terrible shaming of women’

In 2018, the SPLC added a new category to their hate groups to document a growing online movement that targeted women.

READ MORE

Hate before the vote: Pipe bombs, shootings, incitement

In contrast to a time when neo-Nazis placed women on a “pedestal”, Beirich said now the internet was loaded with “terrible women shaming” and rape.

Although the anti-women movement bred and existed online, she said it has been connected to violence over the past year.

Violence and “domestic terrorism” surged around the 2018 midterm election when Democrats won the majority in the House of Representatives, the SPLC said.

Before the election, a slew of pipe bomb packages was sent to prominent Democrats before the election. And in late October, a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and killed 11 people, shouting “all Jews must die”. The alleged attacker frequently posted anti-Semitic slurs and conspiracy theories online prior to the attack.

A memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue [Gene J Puskar/Reuters]

Pittsburgh shooting suspect Robert Bowers pleads not guilty

Even more angering to hate groups, the SPLC report found, was the number of women elected to the US Congress, including two Muslims, and the election of an openly bisexual senator in Arizona.

“For white supremacists, these newly elected officials symbolise the country’s changing demographics – the future that white supremacists loathe and fear,” the report said.

Now fuelled and legitimised by the sitting president, SPLC has noticed a new trend of hate groups looking beyond Trump as they grow politically frustrated as their demands are not being met.

In the past, this has led to acts of violence and will be a worry leading up to the 2020 election, the SPLC said.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS