OtherWords – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Sat, 08 May 2021 05:19:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.17 Congress needs to pass Labor Laws Protecting Union Drives and right to Strike https://www.juancole.com/2021/05/congress-protecting-drives.html https://www.juancole.com/2021/05/congress-protecting-drives.html#respond Wed, 05 May 2021 04:01:18 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197615 By Rebekah Entralgo | –

( Otherwords.org) – Following one of the most high-profile union votes in history, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama ultimately rejected efforts to form a union. But for labor advocates, this fight is far from over.

“The Amazon workers who voted for a union in Bessemer are already winners,” Rev. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign said. “This is just the first round.”

“Amazon did things to intimidate and suppress the vote,” he added. “The workers are filing complaints, and they will continue to stand up. They have set a fresh trend in the South, and the echoes of their bold action will reverberate for years.”

The Bessemer union drive is just the beginning of a re-energized national labor movement — a movement driven by the systemic inequality that has allowed Jeff Bezos to become the richest man in the world while his employees are forced to forgo breaks and urinate in bottles.

Inspired by the fight in Bessemer, Amazon workers at other fulfillment centers in Baltimore, New Orleans, Portland, Denver, and southern California have all begun exploring ways to form unions at their own Amazon facilities.

“The American public is now hyper-aware of what Amazon warehouse workers and drivers are forced to go through: Grueling hours with impossible demands,” said Erica Smiley, executive director of Jobs With Justice. Now “Amazon workers nationwide are finally feeling safe and supported enough to start organizing their own warehouses.”

Every unionization drive is an uphill battle. While support from the public for unions is generally positive — polling from the AFL-CIO showed that 77 percent of Americans support a union for Amazon workers in Bessemer — current federal labor law isn’t strong enough to thwart corporate union busting.

Throughout the entire voting period, Amazon misled and intimidated workers. From attempts to delay the vote multiple times to creating a “Do It Without Dues” campaign (despite Alabama’s “right to work” rules, which prohibit mandatory union member dues) and restricting mail-in ballots, it’s clear the cards are stacked against the workers.

“Americans want to organize unions,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “And it should never be this hard to do so.”

The Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which helped organize the drive in Bessemer, has announced that it is contesting the results of the election, alleging Amazon interfered with the right of Bessemer employees to vote in a free and fair election — a right protected under the National Labor Relations Act.

“Working people deserve better than the way Amazon has conducted itself during this campaign,” said RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum. “Amazon’s behavior during the election cannot be ignored and our union will seek remedy to each and every improper action Amazon took.”

A clear way to ensure fair, democratic union elections is for the U.S. Senate to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The PRO Act, which passed the U.S. House in March, would add real teeth to existing federal labor laws.

Nearly all of the union-busting tactics deployed by Amazon — including forcing workers to attend meetings where supervisors promote anti-union messaging, delaying or stalling the vote, and retaliating against workers for organizing for better conditions — would be banned under the bill.

Just as importantly, they would be enforced. The bill would fine employers up to $100,000 for NLRA violations.

While it will take weeks for the NLRB to review the potential election violations committed by Amazon, the results are a clear indication that if the law had already been in place, this would have been a much more transparent process.

Union drives are not stopping. It is up to Congress to ensure that workers in the future are protected from corporate greed.

Via Otherwords.org)

Rebekah Entralgo is the managing editor of Inequality.org. This op-ed was adapted from Inequality.org and distributed by OtherWords.org.

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Forbes: “Sherrod Brown condemns Amazon for union busting, demands pro-union legislation”

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Thinking Globally About Racial Justice https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/thinking-globally-justice.html Sun, 25 Apr 2021 04:01:20 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197423

From the pandemic to climate change to police violence, today’s crises require global collaboration on a scale never seen before.

By Imani Countess | –

( Otherwords.org ) – Last summer, Black Lives Matter protests in the United States after the murder of George Floyd echoed around the world.

Evoked by the worldwide visibility of the brutal killing on video, this solidarity also reflected visceral anger against police violence in a host of other countries — including African countries like Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria.

Millions across the world, not just the U.S., watched the trial of Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. The celebration and relief at Chauvin’s conviction won’t just be felt here.

Today’s global crises — police violence, a global pandemic, the climate emergency, and many more — require action wherever we live. But they also require global collaboration on a scale never seen before.

Despite Biden’s pledge to “build back better” after the destructive Trump era, the new president still appears reluctant to take these global obligations seriously.

For example, the Biden administration has moved aggressively to roll out vaccines here in the United States. But it has rejected global appeals to waive patent rights for vaccines, to share vaccine technology, and to require transparency from pharmaceutical companies about their pricing.

The result is “vaccine apartheid” on a global scale. As of early April, 20 percent of the population in North America had received at least one dose of a vaccine, compared to less than 1 percent in Africa.

Global inequalities play out on so many issues like these that it is no exaggeration to talk of a more general “global apartheid.”

This global system is structured not only by race, but also by class, gender, and national origin. There are many different levels of privilege and vulnerability. But similar patterns are repeated from the local to the global levels.

African countries are among the most vulnerable. And, although its power is waning, the United States is still among the most privileged — and resistant to change. U.S. policy on global issues will not change fundamentally without widespread public demand.

Can we as U.S. citizens be inspired to join global movements for justice and see them as linked to, rather than competitive with, action on pressing issues at home?

It will definitely not be easy. But my experience says such solidarity is possible. We can learn from the transnational movement against South African apartheid, when the movement won U.S. sanctions against South Africa over the veto of President Ronald Reagan.

Thirty-one years ago, on April 16, 1990, I sat in London’s Wembley Stadium with 70,000 others celebrating Nelson Mandela’s release. I heard a familiar accent nearby, and it turned out to be several folks from Pikesville, Maryland.

I was born and raised in nearby Baltimore. Pikesville was a majority-white suburb of families that fled the city in response to desegregation efforts. Nonetheless, there we were, together in London celebrating the success of a transnational solidarity movement led by Black and brown South Africans.

The obstacles to global solidarity may seem overwhelming. But we can redefine the possible, argues Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement, the youth movement that has put the Green New Deal on the political agenda in the United States. “In your demands and your vision,” she says, “don’t lead with what is possible in today’s reality but with what is necessary.”

In 2021, joining forces for justice across national boundaries is not a choice. It is a necessity.

Imani Countess is the Founder and Director of the U.S.-Africa Bridge Building Project. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Evening Standard: “Black Lives Matter in 2020: Global protests after the death George Floyd”

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People escaping Violence have a Right to Seek Asylum: Stop Calling it a “Border Crisis” https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/escaping-violence-calling.html Sun, 18 Apr 2021 04:01:37 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197297 By Rachel Pak | –

( Otherwords.org ) – Over the last several weeks, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported a rise in the number of migrant children seeking refuge in the United States.

With the increase, the federal government’s capacity to process and shelter migrant children has been stretched, leading to children being housed in overcrowded and inhumane CBP facilities for extended periods of time.

Federal officials and some media have called what’s happening at the border a “crisis” or a “surge”— harmful rhetoric that has long been used to dehumanize immigrants and people approaching the southern border.

This language of crisis is a distraction — and it undermines common sense policy solutions that can secure justice and safety for everyone in our country, including immigrant survivors fleeing gender-based violence.

Not only can this language be misleading and a misrepresentation of actual migration flows, but it provokes fear and needlessly divides Americans. It turns immigration into an “us versus them” issue, falsely painting migrants as a threat.

Policy solutions then shift to emphasize criminalization and detention, rather than responding with compassion and welcoming with dignity to those seeking safety. As a result, we’ve seen egregious policies in the last few years, like detaining and separating families and sending people seeking asylum to wait indefinitely in Mexico for their day in court.

When we buy into the sham narrative of crisis, we fail to recognize migrants as human beings and we lose sight of the real issues: how our government is treating people who are escaping unimaginable violence — and how our policies are returning individuals to torture and even death.

Right now, children are being jailed in deplorable conditions where they are susceptible to heightened and enduring trauma. Meanwhile our border remains largely shuttered to adult survivors fleeing rape and horrific gender-based persecution because the new administration has yet to repeal an illegal policy implemented under the last one.

People escaping violence have a right to seek safety. If they can’t, that’s the real crisis.

Moving towards a better justice system isn’t possible if we continue to scapegoat immigrants instead of reckoning with our broken system. People approaching our borders deserve better. At the very least, our language should recognize their humanity.

We should look at the context of border crossings and understand the many complex reasons people leave their homes — including to find refuge from atrocious acts of rape, domestic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence.

We should center the individual in our language — each person carries their own intricate stories and histories. Then, as a country, we must remember our moral and international obligation to uphold the legal right to seek asylum and extend refuge to those who qualify.

We have an opportunity to improve our policies and better secure access to safety for immigrant survivors. But to get there, our approach must shift to one of compassion, reflecting the humanity of people approaching the border.

Everyone deserves to live a life free from violence— and our language and policies should reflect that.

Rachel Pak is the Media Relations Associate at the Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit organization that serves immigrant survivors fleeing gender-based violence. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Reuters: “Biden says he will raise U.S. cap on refugee admissions”

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Voter Suppression Is an Attack on Democracy — And My Faith https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/suppression-attack-democracy.html Sat, 10 Apr 2021 04:01:11 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197131

My faith teaches me to stand with the marginalized, whose voting rights are now under sustained assault.

By Robert P. Alvarez | –

( Otherwords.org ) – I believe in God and in the right to vote. Georgia’s recent election bill doesn’t just feel like an attack on democracy — it feels like an attack on my faith.

The bill, formally SB 202, infamously makes it illegal to give people food or water while they’re waiting in line to cast their ballot. Providing food for the hungry and water for the thirsty are tenets of my Catholic faith.

So is standing with the marginalized. People don’t like to bring race into the conversation, but we have to be honest about how this bill harms people of color.

In Georgia neighborhoods that were 90 percent or more white, the average wait time to vote was around five minutes in last year’s elections. For neighborhoods that were 90 percent or more people of color, the wait time was about an hour. Some voters waited up to 11 hours.

Georgia’s new law seems designed to make these lines longer — and to punish anyone who tries to make them more comfortable. This disproportionate impact on Black, Latino, Native, and Asian communities isn’t an accident. It’s the result of public policy.

Long lines make people less likely to vote in future elections. Republicans know this. That’s why these long lines are concentrated in areas where voters are more likely to cast their ballots for Democrats.

For many voters of color, the ballot box is how we advocate for our needs — and how we defend ourselves against legislation that might harm us. Make no mistake, this bill is about silencing voters of color and chipping away at our political power.

The new law also chops the period of time when voters can request an absentee ballot in half, imposes stricter voter ID requirements for mail-in voting, and slashes the number of locations where voters can cast a ballot.

More worryingly still, it strips control of the state’s election board from Georgia’s secretary of state — and gifts it instead to the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Last year, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refused President Trump’s calls to “find” 11,000 more votes for the president, who lost the state. Now, by giving themselves power over the board, Georgia Republicans are plainly laying the groundwork to decertify any future election results they don’t like.

The GOP used to shout their commitment to religious freedom, the rights of businesses, and freedom of speech from rooftops. Now, with their wide net of voter suppression drawing the condemnation of faith groups as well as businesses, they’re stumbling over their own hypocrisy. When Georgia-based businesses like Coca-Cola and Delta spoke out against these new laws, Republicans tried to raise their taxes.

To top it all off, Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are now telling businesses to “stay out of politics.”

That’s rich coming from McConnell, a lifelong defender of corporate “speech” whose super PAC took in an unbelievable $475 million from corporations last year alone. It’s like if businesses do anything other than write checks, Republicans cry “cancel culture.” Give me a break.

GOP lawmakers are pushing hundreds of bills like Georgia’s in nearly every state in the country. These coordinated attacks on voting rights will inevitably leave poor people and people of color vulnerable to harmful public policy.

As a Catholic, I’m deeply offended by this assault on our democracy. No matter what your faith is, you should be, too.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video:

Al Jazeera English: “Big US firms exit Georgia state over ‘voter suppression'”

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The Worst Attack on Voting Rights Since Jim Crow https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/attack-voting-rights.html Sun, 28 Mar 2021 04:02:19 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196903

Most Americans want to make voting easier, not harder. We need to pass the For the People Act.

By Phyllis Richardson | –

( Otherwords.org ) – Last November, despite a global pandemic, voter intimidation, and an unprecedented disinformation campaign, a record number of Americans cast a ballot in the 2020 election.

Expanded voting by mail, no-excuse absentee voting, curbside voting, and early voting made the ballot box more accessible. But now, Republican lawmakers in 43 states are introducing hundreds of restrictive “voting rights” bills to roll back these measures.

In my home state of Georgia, Republicans have introduced a package of restrictive bills to increase red tape, roll back voting rights, and silence the voices of millions of voters. These attacks are unmistakably in response to the state’s record voter turnout to elect President Joe Biden and Senators Rafael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

The 11 bills in Georgia are grounded in baseless and racist claims of election irregularities. They aim to silence the voices of voters of color, young people, and older voters by directly repealing the measures that made last election cycle the most inclusive ever.

Experts put it bluntly: Georgia’s current efforts to restrict voting access are “the most sustained effort” to silence voters “since the Jim Crow era.”

Just like during Jim Crow, Georgia is taking special aim at Black voters, who overcame decades of draconian voting measures to demonstrate their power at the ballot box last November.

GOP lawmakers have proposed a ban on Sunday early voting, for example — a direct attack on “souls to the polls” events, which usher congregations of primarily Black churches to polling places after services. They’re even trying to prohibit giving food and water to people waiting in line to vote, even after many Black voters were forced to wait in 10 or 11 hour lines in the last election.

Even if you don’t live in Georgia, these unprecedented assaults on voting rights are most likely happening in your state, too.

As of March, the Brennan Center calculated that GOP lawmakers had introduced 253 such bills in 43 states. Many of these bills resemble Georgia’s proposals — enacting even stricter voter ID requirements, slashing voter registration opportunities, and limiting vote by mail. Others go even further by enabling aggressive voter roll purging or even overturning election results altogether.

No matter who they voted for, an overwhelming majority of Americans support pro-voter policies — including expanding early voting, enacting online and automatic voter registration, allowing universal absentee voting, and including a pre-paid postage stamp on mail-in ballots. The majority of us agree that we need to improve our elections to ensure secure, accurate voting for every eligible resident in every state.

Throughout our nation’s history, we’ve fought to expand voting access to all eligible residents, but a handful of politicians want to erase this legacy. To move forward together, we must ensure that every eligible American has the freedom to cast a ballot and have it counted accurately so that the outcomes of our elections reflect the will of the people.

To start, we must reject state-level anti-voter policies and pass common sense federal legislation like the For the People Act (HR1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR4), which will not only restore the voter protections laid out in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 but strengthen those protections and and our democracy.

By expanding access to voting, we can ensure that our elected officials are accountable for delivering real solutions to the people. Tell your senators: Fix our broken democracy and pass the “For The People Act.”

Phyllis Richardson is the ExCom At-Large volunteer leader at the Sierra Club Georgia Chapter and the Governmental Affairs Director at Georgia WAND, a woman of color-led organization for social justice. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

CNN: “Martin Luther King III calls Georgia voting bill ‘racist'”

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Biden’s Relief Package Is a Huge Victory for Workers https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/package-victory-workers.html Mon, 15 Mar 2021 04:03:33 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196651

It’s one of the largest antipoverty programs ever passed — and will save worker pensions throughout the country.

By Rebekah Entralgo | –

( Otherwords.org ) – President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is more than just a response to the coronavirus. It’s also one of the largest anti-poverty measures in U.S. history.

Provisions in the package, like expanding the Child Tax Credit alone, will bring nearly 4 million kids out of poverty, cutting child poverty nearly in half. Combined with $1,400 relief payments, $300 in extra unemployment insurance, and other provisions, the Urban Institute estimates the package will reduce poverty in this country by over a third.

And, of course, the package will speed vaccine distribution, hopefully bringing this pandemic to an end. All of this is good news after a year of devastation.

Some of the package’s most impactful changes barely even made headlines.

One of the more under-the-radar victories is that more than a million union workers and retirees can expect to see their troubled pensions rescued. The relief package sets aside $86 billion in direct aid for approximately 200 pension programs that are at risk of running out of funds.

This investment would provide swift, targeted relief to national multiemployer pension plans like the Teamsters Central States plan, which represents 400,000 participants in Ohio, Michigan, and other Midwestern states. With a current deficit of more than $20 billion, the fund is projected to go broke in 2025, leaving current and future retirees without benefits.

“For more than two decades, Teamster members, retirees, and officials have worked tirelessly to make sure the hard-earned retirements of its members are protected,” International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Jim Hoffa said in a statement.

“Now, as part of this bill,” he said, “more than 50 Teamster pension plans — including its largest, the Central States Pension Fund — will be eligible for assistance at the outset of the bill’s enactment, with more of the union’s plans becoming eligible in 2022.”

Multiemployer pension plans are negotiated between unions and employers in fields where there is a lot of turnover among workers, like construction and mining. Other industries including retail, transportation, food processing, and trucking also negotiate multiemployer pension plans, meaning the impact of this $86 billion in aid will have a wide-ranging impact on workers across multiple sectors.

As industries change and Republicans in Congress and state legislatures have pushed deregulation and right-to-work laws, union membership has been on a steady decline, starving pension plans. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, union workers, businesses, and retirees faced a crisis and were in dire need of support.

Midwest Democrats like Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have been working to save union retirement funds ever since 2008, when Wall Street received a bailout while union pensions took a massive hit, leaving millions of workers out to dry.

But this is good news even for non-union members. It will help support family members in retirement, boost local economies, and strengthen this country’s commitment to a dignified retirement system for all — which has been under fire for years as conservative politicians have attacked Social Security.

Not everything workers and their advocates were pushing for made it into this bill. The popular $15 minimum wage hike failed, with Republicans unanimously opposed and a few Democrats joining them. That fight won’t go away, but there’s still a lot to celebrate for now.

With Democrats in the majority and millions of people struggling to make ends meet, now is the perfect time for the government to take a strong pro-worker stance and provide relief to those at risk of losing benefits. This COVID-19 relief package, as well as the recently-passed Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in the House, are great first steps.

When unions are strong, we all benefit.

Rebekah Entralgo is the managing editor of Inequality.org at the Institute for Policy Studies. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Yahoo Finance: “Stimulus: A breakdown of how the $1.9T relief bill aims to help those in need”

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Essential Workers deserve $15/ hr. – Remember when we Fêted them for Serving us in Pandemic? https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/essential-remember-pandemic.html Thu, 04 Mar 2021 05:02:16 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196454

We care for your parents, children, and homes. We should make enough to care for our own, too.

By Eshawney Gaston | –

( Otherwords.org) – I’m one of America’s millions of essential workers. We’re working in your children’s schools, at your grocery stores, and at drive-through windows. We’re cleaning your homes.

And we’re struggling so hard to make ends meet.

Congress is debating whether to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Experts say this would raise wages for 32 million workers like me.

Supporters had hoped to pass the increase as part of the COVID-19 relief package, but an obscure parliamentary rule says they can’t. Now supporters in Congress will have to decide how hard they’ll fight for us.

I want to share a bit about what it’s like to work for less than a living wage — especially during this pandemic.

In my last job, I sold vacuums door to door. My coworkers and I had to go into strangers’ houses to demonstrate the equipment. But our company didn’t provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and it didn’t require employees or clients to socially distance or wear masks.

Eventually, I caught COVID-19. Instead of supporting me, my manager repeatedly questioned me for quarantining. I didn’t want to risk my life for a low-wage job with no benefits, so I left.

Now I work two low-wage jobs, but neither has benefits. The safety precautions are a little better, but as a home care worker, I’m caring for patients who may or may not wear masks.

It’s especially stressful because I live with my mom, who’s in several high-risk categories. My two jobs aren’t enough to afford an apartment with utilities, furniture, and other expenses, so we’re living in a hotel.

The pandemic made this harder, but the truth is that it’s always been hard — I’m 23 and I’ve already had too many jobs to count. I keep changing jobs to escape poverty wages, harassment, discrimination, exploitation, danger, and a lack of health care. Wherever I go, it doesn’t seem to get better.

This isn’t right. And that’s why I’ve learned to fight back.

When I was working at McDonald’s for $7.25 an hour a few years ago, a co-worker told me she was going to a rally for the Fight for $15 campaign. I asked to go along. It was an amazing experience. We were all there for each other, working for structural change so that we don’t have to live this way. So no one does.

I started dedicating my life to achieving a living wage, union rights, and health care for all. And right now, we’re so close to $15.

Some lawmakers don’t think essential workers like me need a livable wage. I want to tell them they’re wrong. We’re the ones taking care of your ailing parents, teaching your kids, and putting food on your table.

My mom and I deserve a place to call our own. My fellow low-wage workers deserve to be able to buy good food, get quality healthcare, and securely house their families in exchange for their hard and often dangerous work.

Even before the pandemic, 140 million Americans were poor or low-income. Now the economy is down 10 million jobs since the pandemic hit, and at least 8 million more of us are living in poverty.

I don’t want to have to struggle so hard to survive. I don’t want that for anyone. We’ll need more than a living wage to make ends meet for all of us — we’ll need stronger unions and better health care, too — but fair pay for hard work would be a great place to start.

The minimum wage must be raised to $15 an hour. Join the Fight for $15 where you live, and call on your representatives to make it happen. Together we can make this a reality.

Eshawney Gaston is an essential worker and a leader with NC Raise Up, the North Carolina branch of Fight for $15 and a Union. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

Featured illustration via Pixabay.

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To Stop the Rot in American Democracy, Trump must be Indicted for Incitement https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/american-democracy-incitement.html Sat, 20 Feb 2021 05:01:58 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196237 By By Mitchell Zimmerman | –

( Otherwords) – GOP senators said Trump was culpable, but he’s a “private citizen” now. Fine — indict him like one. By | February 17, 2021

In the wake of his second impeachment acquittal, Donald Trump proclaimed victory in what he called “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country.”

Trump was acquitted. But the Senate hardly absolved him: A 57-to-43 majority concluded he had incited a riot.

Few if any of those who voted to acquit did so because they considered Trump innocent of the charge. Rather, after refusing to hold the trial while he was still in office, they relied on the technicality that Donald Trump is now “a private citizen.”

All the more reason, then, to hold Citizen Trump responsible under criminal law for his effort to overthrow our democracy by force. Maybe it’s time for him to face 12 jurors.

Many Republicans agree Trump was responsible for the sacking of the Capitol.

“There is no question, none,” said GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell, “that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day… A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him.”

Similarly, GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy concluded, “The president bears responsibility” for the “attack by mob rioters.”

Donald Trump whipped up his supporters, including violent white supremacists he had previously instructed to “stand by,” and incited them to march to the Capitol, “never give up,” “fight much harder,” and “fight like hell” — as hard as it took to “stop the steal.” That meant: Do whatever it takes to force Congress to set aside Joe Biden’s election victory.

A few political leaders have called for an indictment, but not many. Perhaps they don’t want to politicize criminal law enforcement.

But silence is still political. It reflects a presumption of impunity for presidents and other high officials. It’s the same impunity that protected Richard Nixon from being charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and Bush-era cabinet officials from being charged with conspiracy to commit torture following 9/11.

The First Amendment protects offensive and controversial speech, even Trump’s “right” to utter the lie that the election was stolen. But it includes no right to incite mob violence.

Supreme Court decisions have long confirmed that you can be charged with a crime if your speech is (1) “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and (2) “likely to incite or produce such action.” The First Amendment does not protect “preparing a group for violent action and steeling it to such action.”

A Sixth Circuit case involving Trump himself explains: If a speech “explicitly or implicitly encourage[s] the use of violence or lawless action” and violent or lawless response is likely and imminent, you’ve gone beyond free speech.

That’s what we all saw Trump do on national television.

Over the last four years Trump has repeatedly been denounced for acting as though he were above the law. We can’t allow a supposed need for “unity” to confirm that he was right.

Impunity is incredibly dangerous. In Central America, it means you never worry about being prosecuted if you’re a corrupt police chief. In Russia, it means you can poison your political enemies without punishment. In Saudi Arabia, it means you can literally dismember a critic in another country’s embassy and suffer no consequences.

And here in the United States, it may mean you can incite your supporters to sack the Capitol — and feel free to try again in the future.

Impunity is a disease that rots the rule of law. Left unchecked, it will rot American democracy. America must teach Donald Trump that he is not above the law — and that his impunity has finally come to an end.

Mitchell Zimmerman is an attorney, longtime social activist, and author of the anti-racism thriller Mississippi Reckoning. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

PBS NewsHour: “With mounting legal challenges, what are the potential consequences for Trump?”

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Undocumented Americans need a Pathway to Citizenship; Biden’s Plan is promising but needs swift implementation by Congress https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/undocumented-citizenship-implementation.html Sat, 13 Feb 2021 05:02:53 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196120 By Vanessa Meraz ” –

( Otherwords.org) – Years of advocacy have made DACA the floor of what’s possible, not the ceiling. By | February 10, 2021

My father’s tired eyes lit up in a way that I had not seen since my sister was born. “Esto nos podría cambiar la vida,” he said. “This could change our lives.”

This was his hopeful reaction to the Biden-Harris administration’s proposal of legislation that would create a path to citizenship for immigrants like him.

He is exactly right — it could change our lives. But only if we keep the new administration accountable so that it actually does.

My family and community have lived in the shadows for decades, and I have never felt closer to basking in the sun. But too often, politicians have exploited our hopes for votes, only to backtrack. For these promises to become a reality for my father, mother, and all 11 million undocumented Americans living in the United States, we must continue to push past the status quo.

The early signs, at least, are promising.

On day one of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order announcing his commitment to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which survived years of attack from the Trump administration. DACA temporarily protects undocumented people like me, most of whom immigrated to the U.S. as young children, from deportation.

Our families deserved this moment of relief.

President Biden’s pledge to preserve DACA is a welcome one, not only for the immediate positive impact it has on the lives of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and our families, but also because it sets a refreshing change of pace for what’s to come.

By supporting the preservation of DACA at the outset, the Biden-Harris administration has confirmed that DACA is the floor — and not the ceiling — of what’s possible. It’s a commitment to go beyond the parameters of past efforts, moving away from temporary fixes and toward permanent relief for all.

In another encouraging sign, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently reintroduced the Dream Act, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for over 2 million eligible undocumented people, including DACA recipients. It would also include Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders seeking safety from life-threatening conditions in their countries of origin.

Passage of the Dream Act is a necessary step. But it must be just the first of many.

President Biden has encouraged Congress to pass legislation that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for all undocumented people in the United States and place DACA recipients, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers on an expedited path to citizenship.

The immediate action we’re seeing from this administration on immigration is no fluke. It’s the result of advocacy, tenacity, and resilience by many Black and brown advocates who have consistently refused to accept the status quo.

In the coming weeks and months, we have a chance to bring safety and opportunity to all 11 million undocumented immigrants and our families in the United States. While the Dream Act is indeed an important step in ensuring millions of undocumented youth no longer have to live with uncertainty, it would still leave Dreamers like me worrying about the ever-present fear of separation from our loved ones who don’t benefit from the temporary security that DACA provides.

Legalization efforts must be inclusive not just of DACA recipients, but also of our children, families, and communities — who, like mine, all call this country home.

Vanessa Meraz, a DACA recipient who immigrated to the U.S. when she was three years old, works on the Immigration and Immigrant Families policy team at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Biden To Tackle Immigration Reform With Eight-Year Path To Citizenship | NBC News NOW

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