Teach-In: Fascism in America:
Could It Happen Here?
Is It Happening Here?
What Is the Danger that the Trump/Pence Government Poses?
April 27, 2017
Humanity faces an extreme emergency with Trump’s rise to power. On April 28, this nationally live-streamed Teach-In deeply explored, from different perspectives, the essential nature of the Trump/Pence Government, the relevance of the history of fascism, the threat it poses to humanity and the planet itself, and the dangers of normalization.
I hear people saying, oh, the next election . . . No, it’s not the next election—it might not be any election. I worked at the election, actually, and I woke up and I had, maybe, five minutes or so, to get upset, and then it was time to get back to work. And it’s a work, daily. And every single person—people have, for too long been in their comfort zones…we have to make a pledge to ourselves now, every single day to step out of that normal comfort zone.
Rush transcript of Rita Dentino’s presentation:
I am very honored to be invited to be with you tonight, both you who are here and you who are across the country.
Myself, I’m most at home at, maybe, 6 in the morning, on the streets with the day laborers. Sometimes when people see me there on a Sunday morning, here we are in a church, they see me out doors on the side of a street, some church people will assume that I am there as the representative of a church, which I am actually, not. I say, I am one of the workers, just the same as the people I’m with, all equal here. And Sunday for us is pretty much the same as every other day. We don’t have things called “weekends”; we don’t go out on Friday nights knowing we could sleep in on Saturday morning. That whole world does not exist for us, or any day laborer.
But right now I’d like to back up and give a piece of news I heard just today—I heard it but I hadn’t read it as fully until I got here. And it brings out some of what you were just talking about. A program was announced, today I believe, and this program is called VOICE—strange name, actually. VOICE is an acronym that stands for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. And that is supposed to be a national hotline for victims of crimes that have been done against them by immigrants and refugees. It’s part of this whole thing that’s been especially strong under Trump. It’s really been going on for quite a while, of criminalizing immigrants, criminalizing refugees. The mistake they made this time—they made a really big mistake, to me, when I read more deeply into it, is they published a list of all the people, Homeland Security, who are undocumented immigrants. And who they published in that list—little tiny babies! They didn’t make any age difference. The new born baby could be the criminal that committed the crime and made you the victim! And I looked at that and I said, What!? How far have they gone this time?!
I have been doing this work for the last 14 years and I worked with unaccompanied minors children who crossed the border by themselves hoping to make their way to some protected place, eventually. And in all that time, til today, their identity was kept private. All those under 18, their identity was kept private. Even those people who were trying to help them—that could be an obstacle (for us) a little bit, but that was OK because we understood we were protecting children. But as of today, the identity of babies and children has all been put out into the light. This is how little this Trump administration cares about these people. And it also shows how much in the front line of this whole thing immigrants are and especially, day laborers, I think, and I think domestic workers. Day laborers are visible. We see them out n the corner waiting for work. Domestic workers are more invisible. They’re in homes, they’re caring for that we love the most, our families and they’re often under the worst of conditions. We need to remember them too, and sometimes our situation as advocates, we have to go and rescue them.
That hit me with such a slap. And we talk about this crossing times, and you described it very well, sadly but beautifully, these crossing times when we come to a realization. And this today when they came out with this program was, for me, a crossing time.
Trump inherited a horrible, ready made, broken, immigration system. He really didn’t have to create something, he inherited a prison industrial complex that many of you here are familiar with, and have been fighting for some time. And we know we have only 5% of the world’s population here and 25% of the prisoners. Immigrants are part of those in that prison industrial complex, and they are people of color. And that is a point, too, that is so important in this whole Trump regime, it’ people of color. I’ve also been reading that with his order of hierarchies, and in here comes this comparison of hierarchies of what is the “purist race” or what it is you want to call it, that picking out those “chosen people”—the white male is the highest of the hierarchy. Woman is not so high. There are many people talking now about the Handmaidens Tale—certainly people of color—when it comes to the immigrant hierarchy many are saying that immigrants of color are going to take the hardest hit, and they always have. And now they will, more than others.
Those day laborers I stand on the corner with, early in the morning in my very favorite place, they are out there and they’re so vulnerable now. Sometimes I think to myself, if somebody picked me up and plopped me down on a corner in China, and I didn’t speak the language, and I didn’t know the culture, and I had the full expectation that some stranger was going to come along, pick me up, take me to work, and pay me and treat me respectfully, and at the end of the day they are going to bring me back, I’d think, I must be crazy to have such an expectation. But that is the expectation that day laborers live with every single day.
People who see day laborers, they look, maybe comfortable hanging out—they are really not so comfortable hanging out. And they have to worry about ICE showing up. And they have to worry about those bosses, whoever that boss happens to be, that comes that day, how are they going to treat them. And now, under this Trump regime, sadly Trump has empowered the worst of the worst in our country. And so, we have instances, like not long ago in the middle of the snow and the wind and the cold, I received a call that 12 workers had gone out and were left in the middle of nowhere. They had no idea where they were. And this man had just left them there. And we had to find them and go and get them back. And we have more of these kinds of things. And luckily no harm had come to them. And luckily, too, a good Samaritan came in the meantime and took them to a warm place. But we’re gonna have more of these kind of things.
I echo what my friend was saying, that we have to act daily. I hear people saying, oh, the next election . . . No, it’s not the next election—it might not be any election. I worked at the election, actually, and I woke up and I had, maybe, five minutes or so, to get upset, and then it was time to get back to work. And it’s a work, daily. And every single person—people have, for too long been in their comfort zones, whichever they are. We like to be around other people who have similar beliefs to us, we’re marching down the same path, but I think we have to make a pledge to ourselves now, every single day to step out of that normal comfort zone and begin to do that on an individual level and, then, yes, join with likeminded people, like we are with right now, hopefully, but also, go outside on the street and talk with someone you would never talk with—do that every single day. We have to make our world bigger. Otherwise it will be made very small for us.