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Beginning of the Year Special edition

January 6, 2017

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Source: The Young Turks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWBZha_AXIk

Ever the optimist, I thought it would be good to begin the year on a hopeful note, so how am I going to do that with THIS topic?

Well, given that we are going to need a slew of new ideas to confront the whole new dirty and ugly reality (Trump, neoliberal capitalism, climate catastrophe – OK, only the first of these is new), it probably behooves us to wrap our heads as clearly as possible around just who and what we are dealing with.

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The Deep Background

So much has been written already about Donald Trump, the election of 2016, and the horrors that surely lie ahead of us, that it is impossible to single out just one piece to focus hearts and minds. Therefore, taking the long view – and why not? Heaven help us if it’s a day more than four years – here is some of the deep background that you might want to explore on those long winter nights that try our souls. The document below has links to a semester’s worth of “readings and resources from more than one hundred scholars in a variety of disciplines” – see you at the final exam! Don’t worry: I give high grades because for some reason, my students do really well.

And if you are looking for the lowdown on what lies ahead, here, courtesy of Grist, is the best overview of Trump’s key cabinet and other official positions so far.

It is noteworthy that some of the biggest pushback against the crazy meanness of the incoming administration will continue to be on college campuses, among many other places, as in the “Democratic Day of Education” scheduled at my home institution – UC Santa Barbara – for January 18. For those who can’t attend, here’s the very serious, thoughtful, and frightening Trump syllabus. (Ooh, I hope they adopt this if they ever revive Rump University!)

It’s a long set of readings, but you can see what appeals! There’s a resource guide with links to a lot of the materials here.

As the authors, Johns Hopkins University Associate Professor of History N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Iowa explain, “Concerned less with Trump as a man than with ‘Trumpism’ as a product of history, this course interrogates the connections between wealth, violence, and politics.

Though drafted in the summer, the syllabus remains fresh and relevant, as you will be able to tell from reading this insightful introduction to it.


The Trump Syllabus 2.0

N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain
http://www.publicbooks.org/feature/trump-syllabus-20

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Photograph by Gage Skidmore / Flickr

June 28, 2016 – On June 19th, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran a web version of a mock college syllabus that sought to explore the deep historical and political roots of Donald Trump’s political success during the 2016 Presidential campaign. The syllabus suffered from a number of egregious omissions and inaccuracies, including its failures to include contributions of scholars of color and address the critical subjects of racism, sexism, and xenophobia on which Trump has built his candidacy.

In May 2016, Donald Trump became the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for President of the United States. Not since Barry Goldwater’s 1964 bid has a major political party produced so polarizing a candidate. Many, including Trump himself, attributed the campaign’s success to factors unique to Trump, like his wealth, his celebrity, and his professed aversion for “political correctness.” Trump’s political ascendancy came, however, as his personal fortunes did: through inheritance.

This course, assembled by historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain, includes suggested readings and other resources from more than one hundred scholars in a variety of disciplines. The course explores Donald Trump’s rise as a product of the American lineage of racism, sexism, nativism, and imperialism. It offers an introduction to the deep currents of American political culture that produced what many simply call “Trumpism”: personal and political gain marred by intolerance, derived from wealth, and rooted in the history of segregation, sexism, and exploitation.

The readings below introduce observers to the past and present conditions that allowed Trump to seize electoral control of a major American political party. By extension, this syllabus acknowledges the intersectional nature of power and politics. The course emphasizes the ways that cultural capital like Trump’s grows best under certain socio-economic conditions. Trump’s open advocacy for race-based exclusion and politically motivated violence on matters both foreign and domestic cannot be separated from the historical and day-to-day inequalities endured by people of color, women, and religious minorities living in or migrating to the United States. Concerned less with Trump as a man than with “Trumpism” as a product of history, this course interrogates the connections between wealth, violence, and politics.

The weekly readings are organized by themes captured by Trump’s own statements on the campaign trail during the 2016 presidential election. The syllabus is built for flexibility. The recommended books may be used in whole or in part. Primary sources can work under one theme or across weeks. A collection of assignments to accompany this syllabus appears on the website of the African American Intellectual History Society – with the contributing faculty member’s name provided for attribution.

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Coda: The Antidote Starts Here

So, you may be asking: Where’s the hope? Go here to read an interview with the very astute and hope-positive U.S. social justice activist Van Jones called “Only a ‘Love Army’ Will Conquer Trump,” conducted by Rolling Stone journalist Tim Dickinson. Van is right on the mark here…

Van Jones: Only a “Love Army” Will Conquer Trump
December 6, 2016

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Sasha Arutyunova/Redux

Excerpts:

There were five things on the ballot on November 8th, 2016: the presidency, the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court and the character of the country. Progressives lost all five. But the thing that hurts the most is losing on the character of the country – the idea we’re going to be divisive as a country. So we have to start there, and reassert that we want to be an inclusive country where everyone gets treated with dignity and respect. I’ll tell you this: If you believe that “love trumps hate,” you can’t be marching around saying that and looking more hateful than Trump.

The problem is not the abundance of people with bad intentions; it’s the superabundance of people with good intentions who don’t know what to do yet. The Dream Corps is where I work, and we’re going to launch a campaign, #LoveArmy. We have got to bet on the good in people, including people who voted for Trump, and build up a big Love Army.

How do you do that? We’re going to do national teach-ins starting very soon – once a week, every week, standing up for the most vulnerable people: Muslims, the DREAMers, Jewish people, women, trans people, black protestors. And once a week, give the whole country a chance to show a whole lotta love – both to demonstrate and deepen a solidarity with those groups, all under one hashtag. #LoveArmy is an opportunity to reassert at a values level….

Everyone is going to want to fight – as they should – at the appointment level, the policy level. But it’s at the values level that we need to do a reset. And it has to be inclusive, by the way, of rural poor people, of people in coal country, red-state and industrial Heartland voters who are also going to be let down by Trump, who are also going to be in a lot of pain.

If you’re building a Love Army that includes all of the usual suspects that Trump went after and also people that Trump tricked, you start building a majority movement. That’s what I’m trying to do. The people that Trump attacked, but also the people that Trump duped….

Both political parties suck right now. The Democratic Party has become a hidey hole for all kinds of elite snobbery, and Democrats won’t confess to it and deal with it. The Republican Party has become a hidey hole for all kinds of bigots, and they won’t confess or deal with it. It doesn’t mean that every Democrat is a snob or every Republican is a bigot. What it means is that neither political party seems to respect all Americans – and that is a big fucking problem. And people need to deal with their own party’s crap. And that’s the challenge.