EPISODE # 21 Insurrection for Whom, and Toward What Social Order?

January 30, 2021

I’m no tactician, but I know that tactics are neutral in themselves—Nazi soldiers blowing up a bridge in occupied France to stop an Allied advance is despicable; partisans blowing up the bridge to prevent the Nazis from overwhelming a village and slaughtering its inhabitants is both defensible and righteous. So it is with insurrections: the goals and purposes matter. January 6, 2021 was a white supremacist insurrection against state power—part of a long American tradition that includes the secessionist insurrection of 1861, the uprising by the White League seeking to overthrow the biracial Reconstruction government of Louisiana in 1894, the violent toppling of the government in Wilmington North Carolina in 1898, and more. Each of these insurrections was in naked defense of white power. By contrast, the Haitian and Cuban revolutions, for example, were emancipatory insurrections designed to move human society forward. We’re joined today by legendary freedom fighter Daphne Muse whose life in struggle—from the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Pan-Africanist Movements to the fights for women’s liberation and disability rights— illuminates while it inspires.

PODCAST: Under the Tree: A Seminar on Freedom with Bill Ayers https://podcasts.apple.com/…/under-the…/id1521512100

January 2017—4 yrs. ago

January 28, 2021

Four years ago: January, 2017https://thenib.com/activism-trump-bill-ayers/

Brother Rick Ayers

January 28, 2021

Chesa on KLAW

January 22, 2021


An interesting take on this moment

January 22, 2021


Democracy and Education

January 22, 2021


“The Hill We Climb”

January 20, 2021

Amanda Gorman Inauguration Poem TRANSCRIPT (uncorrected)

At Joe Biden’s Inauguration: “The Hill We Climb”

When day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried that will forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to her own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare. It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. This effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with. Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.


January 20, 2021

By Robert C. Koehler

Normalcy and tradition held sway as — for the first time in my life — I watched a presidential inauguration live, listening to Lady Gaga sing the national anthem and, then, Joe Biden take the oath of office, becoming the 46th president of the United States.

As I write these words, I find myself swimming in a complex stew of emotions, more moved by what I have just watched than I expected to be.

“. . . if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts . . .”

And then Garth Brooks sang “Amazing Grace,: urging everyone — including the folks at home — to join him. And I did, quietly saying to myself: You’ve got to be kidding me.

I watched the inauguration for one reason only. I wanted to be certain that it happened, that it wasn’t interrupted. Is the country in a state of permanent fissure? Will the absent Donald Trump continue to pretend he’s the leader of an armed-white-guy movement and will this movement continue to pretend it has launched a civil war? Will racism continue to bubble up from the nation’s depths and seek to influence the present moment, the way it did in the good old days? Is fascism still brewing, or is it over and done with — whisked into oblivion as the Marine Band played its patriotic oldies?

And then the questions, as President Joe takes office, turn increasingly paradoxical: Is a coup, and resulting fascism, the nation’s biggest worry? What about the return to normalcy? I fear the latter as much as I fear the former.

Here’s how Noam Chomsky put it during a recent interview with Truthout. Addressing the Jan. 6 insurrection at the capitol, he said:

“That it was an attempted coup is not in question. It was openly and proudly proclaimed as just that. It was an attempt to overturn an elected government.” But, he goes on: It “was not the kind of coup regularly backed by Washington in its dependencies, a military takeover with ample bloodshed, torture, ‘disappearance.’. . .  the perpetrators regarded themselves as defending the legitimate government, but that’s the norm, even for the most vicious and murderous coups, like the U.S.-backed coup in Chile on the first 9/11 — which was actually much worse in virtually every dimension than the second one, the one that we remember and commemorate.”

He refers, of course, to Augusto Pinochet’s military takeover, with the help of the CIA, of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973, the possible murder (or suicide) of Allende and nearly two decades of fascist grip on Chile, with thousands of imprisonments, executions and “disappearances” of Pinochet’s opponents.

Supporting someone like Pinochet is part of the good old American normal, just as waging endless war, just as avoiding taking serious action to address climate change, are part of the American normal. And this is why the symbols and traditions of the inauguration feel so hollow to me, even when it’s someone other than Trump who is being inaugurated.

Yet I was moved by it all in spite of myself.

Maybe . . . maybe . . . the American center is beginning to shift, thanks to Trump and the theatrical fascism that has emerged on his watch. Some of the fun and games since Trump’s election loss, beyond the temporary takeover of the national capitol, include: “A guillotine outside the state capitol in Arizona. A Democratic governor burned in effigy in Oregon. Lawmakers evacuated as pro-Trump crowds gathered at state capitols in Georgia and New Mexico. Cheers in Idaho as a crowd was told fellow citizens were ‘taking the Capitol’ and ‘taking out’ Mike Pence, the vice-president,” reports The Guardian.

And in Los Angeles, the article goes on: “white Trump supporters assaulted and ripped the wig off the head of a young black woman who happened to pass their 6 January protest, the Los Angeles Times reported. A white woman was captured on video holding the wig and shouting, ‘Fuck BLM!’ and, ‘I did the first scalping of the new civil war.’”

Perhaps the racism and craziness are stunning enough for Biden to realize that centrist cliches and corporate obeisance are no longer adequate counters. They no longer hold their own against the possibility of fascism to come.

Timothy Snyder puts it this way in the New York Times: “For a coup to work in 2024, the breakers will require something that Trump never quite had: an angry minority, organized for nationwide violence, ready to add intimidation to an election. Four years of amplifying a big lie just might get them this. To claim that the other side stole an election is to promise to steal one yourself. It is also to claim that the other side deserves to be punished.

“Informed observers inside and outside government agree that right-wing white supremacism is the greatest terrorist threat to the United States. Gun sales in 2020 hit an astonishing high. History shows that political violence follows when prominent leaders of major political parties openly embrace paranoia.

“Our big lie is typically American, wrapped in our odd electoral system, depending upon our particular traditions of racism. Yet our big lie is also structurally fascist, with its extreme mendacity, its conspiratorial thinking, its reversal of perpetrators and victims and its implication that the world is divided into us and them. To keep it going for four years courts terrorism and assassination.”

Countering such a lie requires courageous governance: addressing the pandemic and so much more. What if Biden opened up, for instance, the possibility of global nuclear disarmament? What if he maintained compassionate intelligence for the whole planet as he governed?

What if it meant something when he said we should “open our souls instead of hardening our hearts”?

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is available. Contact him or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

FBI Assassins

January 19, 2021

Recently released FBI documents shed new light on the 1969 conspiracy to assassinate Black Panther leader Fred Hampton by Flint Taylor and Jeff Haas—Truthout

Under the Tree Podcast: Episode #20

January 19, 2021

20) Goodbye to All That!

A new year provides a formal opportunity for a practice we ought to engage in every day: looking backward and leaping forward. Rather than make hollow resolutions that we will likely break soon enough, we encourage sustained reflection as we walk on two legs toward a new multi-racial and participatory democracy. We’re reminded of the words of  the Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci: “The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.” Malik Alim and Bill Ayers begin the new year in dialogue about learning, growing, and dreaming big.