The 4 Ways Obama Will Help Trump Be a Monster

Here are the ways in which Obama has laid the groundwork for a monstrous Trump presidency.* Thanks, Obama!

obamamama

“Welcome!”

4.) No Transparency

The Obama administration has been the least transparent administration to date. Obama makes Nixon look like an open book. This paves the way for Trump (who has been notably opaque during the campaign) to do his tyrannical bidding in total secrecy.

Unquestionably, we won’t be able to count on Trump being more transparent than Obama.

At the same time, the fates of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange all hang in the balance, thanks to Obama. The “Hope” and “Change” should have led to a dismantling of the security state and the military-industrial complex.

Rather, the empire strengthened, consolidated, and expanded. When Trump calls for the killing of Edward Snowden, we shouldn’t take this as facetious rhetoric.

lord-jesus-trump

Fascist Rhetoric.

3.) Deportation Nation

Let’s be straight. Obama hasn’t done much of anything concrete to protect people of color. Aside from a few flowery statements and a warm speech from time to time, the racist functioning of the American state has continued.

Police have been gunning down black people in the US since forever. Why isn’t Obama actively fighting police militarization? Why is he not standing with the Black Lives Matter movement?

He’s said some nice things, but what has he done?

Another clear example right now is that Obama could stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Why isn’t he stopping it? Do the lives of indigenous people matter less than the lives of white people (away from whom the pipeline was rerouted)?

When it comes to Latin@s, Obama has a particularly abysmal record.

Donald Trump is talking about setting up deportation squads.

The thing that nobody seems to be talking about is that we already have deportation squads in the United States. Obama has deported more undocumented (and sometimes documented!) immigrants than any other president in history.

This is the nice liberal face of terror.

The whole mechanism for unbridled mass deportation is already in place.

White supremacy has been the backbone of the US government since it was founded. And why has Obama not even mentioned that trivial fact?

The millions of our sisters and brothers who have been deported by Obama were certainly not white people going back to Ireland.

Indigenous people, black people, latin@s, and other people of color live under America, not in America.

And Trump intends to keep it that way.

2.) The NDAA and The Surveillance State

The National Defense Authorization Act is actually so over-reaching and invasive that at the time Obama signed it, he himself said that he would not use parts of the bill during his administration. Well what does that mean?

It’s hard to accept for those who have trusted Obama to “do the right thing”. After all, liberals for the past eight years have been reluctant to criticize him.

He’s got a good heart! The Republicans are just ruining everything!

yes-we-scanThe surveillance state is all-pervasive. Every phone call, every text, every e-mail, every photo, every tweet, every google search is marked, collected, and stored.

The internet has made people vulnerable at every junction to the endless spying of the US government.

Even those of us who no longer even live in the United States are even spied on.

This is the man who’s very first act as president was to sign an executive order to close the American gulag at Guantanamo Bay. In case you were wondering, it’s still open. Do you think Trump is going to close it?

It is obvious that the surveillance state under Trump will be expanded. And once he decides to target Muslims, he’ll already have all the information he needs, because Obama has kept Bush’s Muslim registry in place.

1.) The War Precedent

Obama’s been at war longer than any other president – the full extent of both terms. There hasn’t been a day of Obama’s presidency where the United States wasn’t at war. This is the man who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Let’s do a quick run-down: Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan. After all this is the first presidency of drones, drones, and more drones.

The United States has also been engaging in more and more high-profile and dangerous cyber warfare.

obama-war

“Bring me the oil! All the oil! Mwahahaha”

Since 2014, tensions with Russia have been high and Obama has been playing war games with NATO in order to prepare for hybrid wars. This will allow Trump to spread hybrid warfare more broadly. Along with this, the violent coup in Honduras in 2009 was backed by the Obama administration as well as the legislative coup this year in Brazil.

Which coups will we see under Trump? In Cuba? In Venezuela? In Indonesia?

And of course, Trump will be able to kill American citizens without any accountability.

For those patriots (for whom an American life is for some reason more valuable than the life of a non-American), Obama was the first president to be openly authorize the assassination of an American citizen.

*For the record, all of these things would’ve also applied to Hillary Clinton, had she won.

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¡Viva Fidel!

The man who was the leader of a revolution that provided Cuba with universal healthcare and education has died.

The Cuban Revolution lifted countless people out of poverty and now has a higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rate than the United States.

Those who idealize some fantasy about “freedom of speech” or “freedom of the press” might use this opportunity to attack the gains of the Cuban Revolution, but anyone who is concerned about an honest assessment of the the achievements under the leadership of Castro needs to take a look at the real balance sheet.

And while we pretend that democracy only takes place in the capitalist West, consider the fact that the new president-elect of the US wasn’t elected by the majority of Americans.

fidel-and-che

“Yankees don’t understand what freedom means.”

Where does Cuba rank in relation to other Caribbean nations?

Inside of Cuba, the gains were enormous. Economically, Cuba advanced well beyond other countries in Latin America. With regards to social gains, literacy rates in Cuba are now some of the highest in the world. And that’s not to speak of the other gains of the peasants and working class under Castro after the revolution.

Outside of Cuba, the foreign policy under Fidel was heroic. Cuba fought against imperialist oppression in Angola and South Africa. He embraced Nelson Mandela and the ANC against apartheid, while the West was calling Mandela a terrorist. He spoke out firmly against oppression and defended Hugo Chavez when he was kidnapped during a US-backed coup attempt in 2002.

When ebola broke out in West Africa, Cuba sent more doctors than any other country.

This heroism is not in spite of Fidel Castro. This is because of Fidel Castro.

That’s a bitter pill to swallow for those who have tried to undermine his leadership since he overthrew the mafioso military dictator Batista and his American-backed death squads.

where-batista-at

And despite the supposed overtures from the Obama administration, the United States has maintained its brutal sanctions and remains at a low-level state of war with Cuba.

This war began and has continued because Fidel Castro’s successes, not because of his failures.

That isn’t to say that their weren’t failures, but Castro was also willing to admit and accept these failures.

In the 60s and 70s, there was terrible persecution of the LGBTQ community (as there was in the US, the UK, and across Europe). However, unlike many of those countries, Cuba reversed its position. In an interview, Castro personally took responsibility and apologized. I’d challenge you to find another world leader who has done something like that.

Cuba is now one of the leading countries on LGBTQ rights in Latin America.

Since 1959, Cuba has improved by every measurable standard. Today, 48% of Cuba’s Parliament is made up of women. The total GDP has increased since 1970 from $5.6 billion to $77.15 billion today.

Cuba leads the world in most doctors per capita.

Cuba is by no means a paradise. But it would be a grave mistake to attack Cuba when it is time to defend Cuba.

Today is a day when we must all stand in solidarity with the Cuban people against imperialism and capitalism.

Today is a day when we must all say, “¡Viva Fidel!”

The Meaning of Dzerzhinsky

Felix Dzerzhinsky is a forgotten figure in the West. However, in the Post-Soviet space, his memory is alive and well.

dzerzhinskyDzerzhinsky was born in 1877 in present-day Belarus. He became a member of the Bolshevik Party in 1917, directly after being released from prison in Moscow.

He went on to become the leader of the Cheka (ЧК), the secret police for the burgeoning Soviet Union, and held various synonymous positions until his death in 1926.

So why is he important today?

For the past few years, the Russian government has been weighing its options in returning the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky to its former position in front of the Lubyanka building in Moscow. (Although, it should be noted that the most recent referendum was called off.) And a division of the Russian National Guards was renamed in 2014 and is now called the Dzerzhinsky Division (Дивизия имени Дзержинского), mirroring the name of an old Soviet division.

Dzerzhinsky was, first and foremost, a Bolshevik. He was one of the leading figures of the October Revolution and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. So it might be pertinent to ask why he is now being rehabilitated inside the Russian Federation.

After all, in 1991, as the USSR was being torn asunder by internal and external forces, Dzerzhinsky’s statue (lovingly nicknamed “Iron Felix”) was torn down.iron-felix-1991

Dzerzhinsky had become, in death, a symbol for all future Soviet state security forces. Under him, the Cheka became the GPU. After his death however, the GPU would become Stalin’s NKVD and the post-Stalin KGB.

The meaning of his name was inextricably tied to state violence and repression, regardless of whether he was associated with it or not.

The meaning of Dzerzhinsky almost immediately after his death took on a life of its own.

Today, in the Russian Federation, Dzerzhinsky is remembered with all sorts of Stalinist decorations. All of this in spite of the fact that Dzerzhinsky died right as Stalin was taking power.

Dzerzhinsky cared most about the unity of the communist party facing the capitalist/counterrevolutionary forces. That is why he made a two-hour-long speech against the United Opposition, after which he immediately died from a heart attack.

kalinin-trotsky-stalin-dzerzhinskys-funeral

Probably the only picture you’ll find of Trotsky and Stalin together – carrying Dzerzhinsky’s coffin.

What does it tell us that during this renewed period of lionizing Dzerzhinsky and re-accepting his Stalinized image into popular culture, the Russian government continues to repress Lenin?

How is it that Dzerzhinsky has become so totally de-Leninized? Dzerzhinsky no longer stands for revolution (or even revolutionary terror), but rather as some sort of acceptable stand-in for the later “stability” of the Stalin era.

Can we imagine Lenin without Dzerzhinsky? Can we imagine Dzerzhinsky beyond Lenin?

At the moment that talk emerges of re-erecting Iron Felix, the Russian press is also talking about removing Lenin from his mausoleum and burying him, insisting that the majority of Russians want him buried.

The rehabilitation of this specific representation of Dzerzhinsky is notable, because it defends the power of the state apparatus, whereas Lenin still represents state destruction, rather than state reconstitution. In other words, the meaning of Lenin retains its revolutionary edge.

dzerzhinsky-mugshot

It seems like Dzerzhinsky knew this would happen.

Lenin is that which Putin fears most.

Stalin, however, fits into the new official mythology particularly nicely. His appeals to Russian chauvinism, social conservatism, and nationalism are supported by the worst elements in society today – elements like the LDPR and the Orthodox Church.

Dzerzhinsky can only fit into this system through this Stalinization process.

Leninized Dzerzhinsky is equally feared, but a Stalinized Dzerzhinsky can be celebrated.

Even Stalin in 1937 criticized Dzerzhinsky as someone who “openly supported Trotsky against Lenin” and “wanted to use the GPU to protect Trotsky”.

Was Dzerzhinsky a Trotskyist or a Stalinist?

Was he revolutionary or counterrevolutionary?

Was he a defender of justice and the poor or simply a brutal mass-murderer?

Since his death, he has been all these things and more – occasionally simultaneously.

It seems to me that the best way to serve his memory and use this memory as a weapon is to re-Leninize him. The meaning of Dzerzhinsky ought to be inscribed with the life he lived.

Undoubtedly today in Russia, he is being heralded by those against whom he would passionately fight. Dzerzhinsky would never celebrate capitalism, especially not the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union. Had he lived longer, he would have certainly been purged by Stalin, along with the rest of the old guard in the Bolshevik party. If he was alive today, he’d probably be rotting in a Russian prison cell, labeled a terrorist.

However, since the 1920s, everyone from Stalin to Putin has successfully twisted and turned his image to suit their own desires.

The man seems to have been lost in the tornado of history.

Muslims Outside of Western Culture

American capitalism hasn’t figured out how to integrate Muslims yet.

This exclusion perhaps ought to be something we celebrate today.

In 20 years, we may very well be decrying our total inclusion into globalization.

i-forgive-trump

For the record, I don’t forgive Trump. Fuck him.

The dominant logic of liberal activism is one of perfect integration into capitalism, rather than challenging that capitalism.

Take, for example, the petition for hijabi emojis.

The struggle for inclusive emojis will have the consequence of making a more inclusive capitalism. A more inclusive capitalism will be more vicious, all-pervasive, and dynamic.

I understand that there’s an argument for normalizing hijab in order to make society more accepting of women who choose to wear hijab (or niqab or burqa).

To what lengths must we go?

Should we even be using smartphones made in sweatshops with conflict minerals?

Where’s the critical action against imperialism?

Making Facebook status updates and blog posts (like this one) are not solving the problem.

Can we normalize Islam without integrating into capitalism? If not, perhaps we should choose not to normalize and, rather, embrace our exclusion.

As Alain Badiou has argued, the ban of the niqab and burqa in France was directly related to the inability of capital forces to successfully exploit Muslim bodies to sell products. Aside from the mere desire to force women to put their bodies on display, it’s exceedingly difficult to sell Coca-Cola with a model in niqab. 

This, I think, is a good thing.

This Coca-Cola advertisement in Afghanistan was specifically aimed at Muslims celebrating Ramadan. Meanwhile, another location where Coca-Cola was widely available was the luxury hotel complex that ISIS had opened in Mosul.

Why is no one asking the obvious question: How is ISIS so easily obtaining Coca-Cola? Is it that Coca-Cola saw a wonderful business opportunity in a new market (not unlike Nazi Germany)?

As Slavoj Zizek has noted, ISIS is totally integrated into post-modern global capitalism.

Without global capitalism, there would be no terrorism as such.

Without global capitalism, there would be no ISIS.

Since this is the case, it seems to me that the true path that we (as Muslims and non-Muslims) should be taking is that against the dominant economic structures. We will never be emancipated until we dismantle capitalism and we will always be viewed as some sort of fifth column in the West as long as there is terrorism performed by Muslims.

We should be throwing away our smartphones. Not asking for ones that reflect our image back at us. We shouldn’t see ourselves in the globalized market.

Back to clothing.

bikini-top

Thus far, clothing that targets Muslims has remained isolated from greater society.

Abercrombie and Fitch isn’t selling any hijabs, thawbs, chadors, or shalwar kameezes yet.

For this, I think we should be grateful.

Update (January 4th, 2017): This process has already begun.

The Time to Radicalize is Now

I should admit that I’m among the many people who are rather surprised by the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States. However, I may be one of the few to see the silver lining here.

For the past eight years, I have had a fundamental disagreement with most of my liberal friends. It seemed to me that liberals wouldn’t admit that Barack Obama’s actions and policies weren’t always perfect and shiny and amazing.

However, now that liberals have been twice defeated (once in the defeat of Bernie Sanders), we can begin to build the necessary coalitions to fight Trump.

We finally stand together. We must radicalize together. Now is our opportunity.

Hillary Clinton lost, because of no one but herself. People want to blame 3rd-party candidates or sexism or blah, blah, blah.

This allows us to reject the election, but we need to reflect on the election.

What message did the Clinton campaign bring? Her answer to Trump’s proposed Muslim ban was to encourage Muslims to spy on each other for the state. When looking for a scapegoat in a variety of areas, Clinton harkened back to the Cold War and pointed to Russia at every opportunity. Her “path to citizenship” wasn’t a way forward for undocumented immigrants. She whispered about Black Lives Matter a few times, but Clinton has a long history of racism. And, on top of all this, by adjusting the primaries with the DNC, we know how she did actually rig one election.

This wasn’t an appealing option for any bloc of voters.

Undoubtedly, Trump was also by no means appealing. But now that he’s the next president, we need understand how to fight him and that includes reflecting on the failures of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

It also means that we need to take a harder look at how the American government functions.

In this election, we had the choice between two people who haven’t experienced poverty. Two members of the ruling class and who were competing to act on behalf of the ruling class.

Donald Trump doesn’t care about you. Neither does Hillary Clinton.

They both care only about themselves. This is patently obvious to most of the population.

The government in the U.S. is a government by the rich for the rich. And here we can also see the farce in the supposed “difference” between the two political parties. The similarities are overwhelming, whereas the differences are petty.

Donald Trump will now serve simply as the monstrous head of an even larger monster.

In order to fight him, we need to fight the institutions and ideologies that support him. Those institutions are the ones that allow him to govern. A lot of people are now making the analogy to the 1930s without asking the next question: so what do we do?

What would you do if you were living in 1930s Germany or Italy?

The American government has failed to protect us and now, perhaps, is the most important time to re-appropriate Clinton’s campaign slogan of “Stronger Together” and make sure to just delete her from the club.

Now is the time to organize.

We must organize undocumented immigrants, to protect them from the state and Trump’s goon squads.

We must strengthen Black Lives Matter, in order to fight and destroy the racist institutions of the government.

We must organize Muslims against questions of “Americanism” and loyalty.

We must organize the workers to destroy policies that rip the working class apart. We need universal healthcare, free university tuition, and environmental protection. We’re not going to receive that from a nice, benevolent government. We have to fight for it.

Now is also the moment when we need to stand against the right-wing factions in our country. The Alt-Right is real. Fascists and White Supremacists have their ideal representative in the White House.

We must fight them. We must organize against them.

The time to radicalize is now.

We will be Stronger Together, especially without Clinton.