Civility

As we rapidly slide into authoritarianism led by a racist vulgarian, the press has oddly become fixated on not the danger to our democracy but on civility and balance. To hear some tell it, we have too much democracy. No, we hear a lot lately, the threat to America is bad manners.

The mainstream media considers it “uncivil” to lob hardballs at a politician or shout “non-responsive!” at his evasive answers. Instead, it steers a safe, middle course, avoiding “controversial” phrases and judgments. The “split-screen” showing both sides of an issue is a fixture of the media, whether in the Op-Ed section of a newspaper or on your favorite cable news show.

Civility is why “nationalist” is the style guide’s choice for Richard Spencer — instead of the more accurate “white supremacist” or “neo-Nazi.” If a Congressman uses the N-word it will be reported as a “racially-charged remark” and not as a “racist” epithet. When reporting climate change there must be “balance” to the 99% of scientists who regard it as fact. Civility means fairness and fairness requires false balance. So readers are obliged to hear from petrochemical lobbyists to provide indispensable new insights into a nonexistent “debate.”

Recently the press began worrying that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denied a cheeseburger at a Virginia restaurant. The liberal press fretted — is this the end of civility? The Washington Post warned in its best Mom voice, “Let the Trump team eat in peace.” Al Jazeera worried that liberal vexation at a mendacious fundamentalist White House spokeswoman reflected “growing concern about political tribalism” in the United States.

When U.S. Representative Maxine Waters suggested challenging Trump administration figures in public, Politico headed for the bomb shelter: “Waters scares Democrats with call for all-out war on Trump.” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi rebuked Waters, calling for “unity” — even though a recent CNN poll showed that 42 percent of Americans want Trump to be impeached — including a very unified 77 percent of Democrats.

The liberal reticence to vigorously challenge Trump seems based on fears of ridiculous things Trumpistas might say. In a piece entitled “The Left Loses its Cool,” Politico quoted Florida’s GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi: “When you’re violent and cursing and screaming and blocking me from walking into a movie, there’s something wrong,” she said. “The next people are going to come with guns. That’s what’s going to happen.” For Trump supporters having an unpleasant lunch is worse than ICE throwing children into cages or dying because somebody took your healthcare away. Nonsense like this often goes unchallenged.

While the president was busy signing, un-signing, and re-signing executive orders on family separations, the press seemed far less intererested in discovering why sitting U.S. Senators were denied entry to DHS detention facilities. When immigration attorney David Leopold appeared on CNN and pointed the finger for the White House’s inhuman family separation policies at “white nationalist, Stephen Miller,” host Kate Bolduan cut him off: “I don’t know if you want to go as far as to — I mean, let’s not — I just did an entire segment about civility here. I don’t know if you want to call Stephen Miller a white nationalist.”

Thus “civility” ended what could have shed some light on the issue of family separations. Leopold was on the right track: to really understand White House immigration policies you first have to understand its White Supremacists. Yet while the mainstream media pulls its punches, censors guests, and cuts off lines of inquiry, FOX and Sinclair, right-wing radio and conservative papers throughout the country dispense with such niceties and play hardball.

“When they go low, we go high,” Michelle Obama told Democrats shortly before the 2016 election. This was a sweet sentiment. But during that same campaign Donald Trump mocked a disabled journalist and called Mexicans rapists and criminals. This became the new standard of civility. Last March Trump tweeted that Maxine Waters was a “very low IQ individual.” The Tweet was reported but Waters largely had to defend herself in the press.

The stakes have never been higher. We ought to worry less about civility and more about democracy. If we really want to salvage what’s left of it we need to take the gloves off and aggressively confront injustice and untruth.

That goes for both liberals and for a very timid and diminished Fourth Estate.

This is a moral issue

Dear Friends, once again I am forwarding information on how you can support Budget Amendment #1147, which offers four important protections to Massachusetts immigrants in the face of inhuman and immoral federal policies. There are many political issues where constituents and legislators may agree to disagree on details and nuance. This is not one of them. This is a moral issue where your legislator will either demonstrate s/he has human compassion and will bravely do the right thing. Or not.


Dear Safe Communities endorsers and supporters:

The momentum is building. The horrific situation at the border has put the plight of immigrant families at the top of the news, and mobilized people who don’t normally take to the streets for immigrant rights. We have a lot of people on our side – and we need to mobilize them to support our campaign. Please share this widely across your networks!

Over the weekend, we asked you to ask your networks to email Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Sánchez and your own Representatives highlighting the family separations crisis and urging them to act to protect immigrant families in Massachusetts. Here’s our agenda for this week:

  1. Keep those emails coming – but during business hours, let’s focus on phone calls! We’re targeting Speaker DeLeo (617-722-2500) and individual Reps (find yours at http://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator). See scripts at the end of this email.
  2. If you’re on Facebook and/or Twitter, keep hitting the Speaker, Chairman Sánchez and your legislators with calls to action. Sample posts are at the end of this email.
  3. After two very successful, back-to-back protests at the State House last week, we want to turn up the heat even more with another demonstration THIS WEDNESDAY. We’re meeting on the State House steps at 12:30 pm and going in together at 1 pm to make some noise outside the House Chamber.

We’re lining up several speakers, with a focus on immigrants who can speak from experience, and we’re hoping for a big, visible crowd (we already have 200+ RSVPs). The message: In the face of horrific federal actions, Massachusetts MUST act ASAP to protect immigrant families! The Senate passed a budget amendment with 4 basic protections from the Safe Communities Act. House, now it’s YOUR turn. Step up and show you have moral courage and principles!

Sign up here, share on your FB feed and/or Twitter, and bring colorful signs! We’ll be making some for printing, but homemade are best! Remember to make it through security, they can’t have any sticks on them, and you have to be able to stuff them in a folder or backpack, or roll them up.

  1. Also on Wednesday: Lobby Day #3. We need representatives of organizations to join us for another lobby day from 11 am to 1 pm. (You can join the rally after!) Meet at 11 am in Room 109 for materials and lobbying targets (2 right turns after security at Beacon Street entrance). If you are unaffiliated with an organization, team up with others who are, or visit your own Rep! RSVP to Charlotte Boghossian at cboghossian@charlesgroupconsulting.com with subject line: SCA Lobby Day June 20.
  2. Next full coalition call is THIS FRIDAY, 1 pm. Use the Conference Line: (218) 895-6184, passcode: 6472#.

One last thing: We’ve heard from some of you about the messaging advice provided in Saturday’s email. To be clear, the Safe Communities Act – and our support for comprehensive legislation to protect immigrants in Massachusetts – is what brings us all together. That is what we want, and we have many legislators who support us.

But right now, our campaign has a narrower focus: to pass the 4 SCA provisions that the Senate adopted in the FY2019 budget. For legislators who are on the fence, and for Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Sánchez, passing the whole SCA, in the budget or separately, this year is a non-starter. For them, our messaging advice emphasizes that this is a compromise. This is the absolute least that you can do for immigrant families.

We’re a broad and diverse coalition, and each of us will formulate our message in our own way. But that’s why we recommended what we did.

Thanks to all of you for everything you’re doing to make it absolutely unbearable for the House to sit on their hands! Hey, even Charlie Baker had to backtrack today, embarrassed to be helping out at the border.

See you at the State House!

On behalf of the SCA Steering Committee,

– Amy & Marion

Sample call script for your Rep:

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in [city/town]. I’m calling because I’m shocked and heartbroken by what’s happening to immigrant families – not just at the border, but in Massachusetts. The Trump administration is tearing parents and children apart just to send a message, and I think that’s immoral.

I want to know what Rep. [ name ] is doing about it. I know you haven’t passed the Safe Communities Act, and even though the Senate included basic protections for immigrants in the 2019 state budget, the House seems to be dragging its feet, and we’re almost out of time.

Will you commit to fighting to ensure those immigrant protections make it into the final budget? I’m counting on you. Thank you!

Sample call script for Speaker DeLeo:

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in [city/town]. I’m calling because I’m shocked and heartbroken by what’s happening to immigrant families – not just at the border, but in Massachusetts. The Trump administration is tearing parents and children apart just to send a message, and I think that’s immoral.

I want to know what the House is going to do about this. I called my Rep, but I know that any decision is really up to leadership. I know you haven’t passed the Safe Communities Act, and even though the Senate included basic protections for immigrants in the 2019 state budget, the House seems to be dragging its feet.

We’re almost out of time. Will you commit to including those immigrant protections in the final budget? The people of Massachusetts are counting on you. Thank you!

Sample tweets and Facebook posts:

Note: For Facebook posts, just omit the handles and hashtags (you can use #FamiliesNotFear on FB too, but hashtags are more of a Twitter thing). All of these can be directed at @SpeakerDeLeo and @Jeffrey_Sanchez too (tag 1, 2 or both + your Rep at once).

Immigrant families are being torn apart, and Mass. sheriffs are helping??? @YourRepsHandle put a stop to this ASAP! Make sure FY2019 state budget includes basic protections for immigrants! #FamiliesNotFear https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2018/06/14/modest-immigration-reforms-mass-could-send-powerful-message/wnGpYDUZ6w1gy8iZ9QUPcL/story.html

Then they came for the #immigrants… and Massachusetts did NOTHING? @YourRepsHandle it’s well past time to protect our families! Include basic provisions from #SafeCommunitiesAct in the FY2019 budget!

Families aren’t just being torn apart at the border – @ICEgov does it in Mass. communities every day. @YourRepsHandle, will you pledge to protect immigrants in the FY2019 budget? #FamiliesNotFear
[ this one goes really well with the ACLU video below ]

Some more helpful links to include in emails and post on social media:

Or check out the @MIRACoalition feed on Twitter for lots of material on family separations, or @ProgressiveMass for lots of call-to-action posts.

Children deserve rights everywhere

Suddenly a few Republicans are demonstrating that they actually have souls. Franklin Graham, Laura Bush and even Melania Trump are among those who have recently spoken out against separating children from their parents at the border.

Another insidious form of child abuse has taken place for decades in Palestinian occupied territories, where Israel routinely rounds up and imprisons hundreds of children each year. I am forwarding an appeal from Jeff Klein, of Mass Peace Action, asking Congress to support the McCollum Bill, which so far has only two Massachusetts Congressional sponsors. I have written about Betty McCollum’s legislation before. Please read Jeff’s letter and then contact Congressional Reps. Richard Neal, Niki Tsongas, Joseph Kennedy III, Katherine Clark, Michael Capuano, Stephen Lynch, and Bill Keating, to let them know they need to be on the right side of this issue. They need to be better friends to children than to a government that just last month slaughtered hundreds of demonstrators.


STAND UP AGAINST THE ABUSE OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

Dear Activist,

When many Americans and their elected officials are protesting the mistreatment of immigrant minors at our southern border, it is time to renew our demand that Members of Congress also speak up to protect Palestinian children.

When we sent out our earlier alert on the McCollum Bill, Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, H.R. 4391, only one member of the Massachusetts delegation, Rep. Jim McGovern CD2), had co-sponsored the resolution. Since then, CD6 Rep Seth Moulton has joined him in supporting the bill. But other members of our delegation have not yet taken a stand against the abuse of Palestinian children. This is unacceptable.

There are two things you can do.

  1. CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS to ask that they co-sponsor the McCollum Bill.  Do it again even if you have called before. (And please thank Reps. McGovern and Moulton for their co-sponsorship.)

This is Rep. McCollum’s explanation of the bill:

“Given that the Israeli government receives billions of dollars in assistance from the United States, Congress must work to ensure that American taxpayer dollars never support the Israeli military’s detention or abuse of Palestinian children. Congresswoman McCollum’s legislation, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, requires that the Secretary of State certify that American funds do not support Israel’s military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

  1. ASK THAT THEIR OFFICES ATTEND A BRIEFING JUNE 25 on H.R. 4391 and the situation for Palestinian children after the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.  You can use the No Way To Treat a Child campaign tool to send an email asking Members of Congress to send a representative to the briefing. If you are in contact with a relevant Congressional staffer, also please phone them directly.

Each year the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children. Last year alone, more than fourteen Palestinian boys and girls under the age of 18 were shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — and many more were wounded – using resources provided by our own government. We cannot allow this situation to continue.

For Massachusetts Peace Action and its New Day for Israel and Palestine organizing project.

Jeff Klein, Convener, MAPA Palestine/Israel Working Group

Please sign the letter today!

A NEW DAY is a network sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action.

PLEASE SIGN UP for regular “A NEW DAY” Action Alerts if you have not already done so and please reach out to your contacts to have them sign up for by emailing A-NEW-DAY@masspeaceaction.org (and please note your Congressional District).

(NEW DAY members will receive a limited number of action-oriented emails)

Massachusetts Peace Action
11 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138
617-354-2169
info@masspeaceaction.org
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