Last week, I spoke at a protest organized by RefuseFascism.org to demand an end to the separation of immigrant families and the removal of the Trump/Pence REGIME. Near the end of my speech, some in the crowd tried to drown me out with cries to "focus on the children" and "vote them out." Apparently they thought my bringing up the need for an actual revolution and even of the need for millions of people from diverse political perspectives to come together to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime was not germane to the issue of the children.
To those who said "focus on the children," my answer is--let's focus on the children now being tortured needlessly on the border AND the children worldwide, of whom they are part. If you were at this rally, you came out because you cared about the images you saw and you could not bear sitting silent and above all you wanted it to STOP. Good. But do you care enough to look deeper under the covers? Do you care enough to see the other ways that America abuses children and to figure out why... and to confront what must be done about it?
Think about the history of this country. How have children been treated? Ripping children from their parents' arms is not new for America. This country built its riches through snatching children out of the arms of enslaved Black people, selling them on auction blocks, and driving them with the whip as nothing more than beasts of burden. It cleared the land through massacre and, yes, kidnapping the children of indigenous people and sending them off to "boarding schools" to be robbed of their languages and cultures.
Think about this country right now. Today, its police run wild brutalizing, terrorizing and murdering Black and brown people--including children like Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and Antwon Rose. Today a whole system of mass incarceration turns hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino children into virtual orphans, and one in three Black boys born today is slated to end up behind bars. And all around the world, the system of U.S. capitalism-imperialism expands its wealth through global networks of the most vicious and brutal exploitation of children in sweatshops and fields and garbage dumps from Bangladesh to China to Haiti and beyond. It conquers lands, plunders resources, and jockeys with global rivals through wars, occupations, CIA-backed coups, death-squads and more--which is what has driven so many millions from their homelands, including the tens of thousands currently fleeing across the U.S./Mexico border.
Have you asked yourself why this is?
While the Trump/Pence regime is taking all this to this new levels of atrocity--now barbarically ripping thousands of children from parents, locking them in iceboxes and cages, preparing camps for tens of thousands on military bases and vowing to do away with courts and judges altogether--savage terror and oppression against children went on under Obama and under every U.S. president before him in one form or another. Do you think this has anything to do with capitalism-imperialism and all the different forms of oppression that keep that system humming? Exploitation is not a curse word--it is a reality. It is what goes into your iPhone and your clothes and your winter vegetables, and it is what turns all the wheels of this system, and it always involves the misery of children and the desperation of parents, and it very often involves the direct enslavement of children. This system demands the oppression of whole peoples and the kinds of wars and horror that the U.S. waged on Central America for decades--and in different forms still wages--that led directly to the situation that has driven tens of thousands to cross the U.S./Mexico border, a crisis that right now rivets and agonizes the world.
This cannot be reformed away or voted away because all this is woven into this system. But this can be ended by overthrowing this system through an actual revolution and bringing into being a new revolutionary system and society on the ashes of this old one. This is why, if you really want to talk about the unnecessary suffering of children, you have to talk about an actual revolution.
Or, if you think it can be reformed, if you think that all the horror I've only touched on here just happened because just the right reform was not passed, show me how. Tell me how you would end all of these horrors within the context of this system--and you have to do this with substance, not just by asserting what you'd like to believe is true or what makes you feel comfortable.
And don't tell me that revolution can't be made as if that were some kind of answer. If you haven't read or engaged Bob Avakian on this, you really don't have any basis to make that assessment. If you haven't gotten HOW WE CAN WIN--How We Can Really Make Revolution--the concise pamphlet which goes into how a revolution really could be made, how political work could be undertaken today which could lead to a situation, together with the development of things overall, where a real revolution, involving millions and millions, really could be made--then get it, and read it. If you are serious about stopping this--and I'm writing this because at least some of you are--then do the work.
At the same time, as noted above, with Trump/Pence in power we are now facing a catastrophic danger that goes beyond even the regular towering crimes of U.S. capitalism-imperialism. The Trump/Pence regime is bludgeoning into place a fascist America--an even more monstrous form of imperialist rule that relies on open violence and terror. The atrocities currently being carried out against immigrants are the linchpin and battering ram of this larger fascist program. As the RefuseFascism.org Call to Action puts it, "Trump's 'Make America Great Again' is a 21st century fascist program of Manifest Destiny--'America First'--wrapped in the flag and Mike Pence's Bible taken literally, with a program of white supremacy, misogyny, and xenophobia."
The stakes are tremendously high. No doubt, you were in the streets because you feel this on some level. But following through on your convictions requires casting off illusions and denial, which is all that chants of "vote them out" are.
Even back in 2016 Trump told you he wouldn't respect the elections if he lost. For over a year the Trump/Pence regime has been shattering norms and remaking the rules. They aren't going to allow themselves to be removed through the elections or through any other of the regular channels that they have absolutely no respect for.
Besides, exactly who could you vote for to end this? The Democratic Party has been neck-deep in demonizing, criminalizing, and scapegoating immigrants for decades. While there was a difference in degree and there was an air of multicultural inclusion that Obama liked to project, savage terror and brutality against immigrant children was widespread under Obama and Democrats before him. It was Bill Clinton who first militarized the U.S./Mexico border. Not only was Obama rightly called the Deporter-in-Chief for deporting more human beings than any previous president, a recent report from the ACLU on the treatment of immigrant children in detention under Obama reveals brutality, abuse, and misconduct that was "breathtaking, as is the government's complete failure to hold officials who abuse their power accountable." Children were kicked in the ribs, punched in the head, sexually assaulted, threatened with death, run over by vehicles, threatened and tormented by their prison guards.
Again, ask yourself why? The Democrats represent a different form of ruling the same basic empire. All this horror will continue to go on as long as the source of the problem--the imperialist domination by the U.S. of the lands to the south and the destruction, misery and horror that causes on a daily basis--remains in place. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party will do everything it can to keep any opposition that arises within the bounds of and on the terms of preserving that empire. It is doing that now.
But that does not mean nothing can--or should be done--until we make a revolution. And it certainly doesn't mean that only people convinced of the need for revolution should join together now to fight this barbarity and beat it back before it escalates to truly genocidal proportions.