Comments from Coco Das on the 10/30/19 Refuse Fascism Webinar |
Hi, everybody. It’s good to be here, and welcome to everybody who’s tuning in.
I wanted to share some of my personal reflections on what I have observed over the last 2 weeks and what’s the significance of #OutNow. And I have a number of points so I’ll try to go through them and not take too much time because I know we have a lot to talk about.
What are we doing? And what have we done over the last 2 weeks?
One, we’re putting this demand, Trump/Pence Out Now, on the map – which states unequivocally that this single unifying demand is the only demand capable of actually stopping a fascist regime whose program is an absolute nightmare for humanity in every way.
So, that’s number one. This demand is going on the map. And we’re breaking out of the confines of protest as usual, coming back week after week, each week advancing toward our goal of driving out this regime. And by doing this we’re resetting the terms of opposition to this regime and preparing the ground for millions who need to step out at the soonest possible time to join us.
And every part of the resistance — people who consider themselves part of the resistance as well as people who are not hooked up to any movement right now but are feeling this in their bones that they are just unable to tolerate what’s happening under this regime — they need to measure themselves against this demand Out Now and how we manifest it in the streets. And, you know, there’s two parts to that. One is millions need to know about it and the people who do know about it need to more and more see that this is something that they need to take up. And I think that, just from reading reports, looking at the social media, looking at what has happened in the press – I think that is already starting to happen. You can see it in the number of views that our videos are getting, the people who are beginning to share it on Twitter and pay attention to it. And then also in the breadth and diversity of the people who are coming out to the protests, the way that we’re being talked about in the press – it’s a beginning and though we are far from where we need to be, because we do need the millions in the streets, just like is happening all over the world right now, we have begun to demonstrate what is meant by a sustained non-violent protest that keeps coming back and keeps raising the right demand that’s commensurate with the danger that we’re facing.
I think one thing that was very moving to me and if people haven’t seen any of the clips and the photos of the 2 weeks of actions – one thing that was very moving to me was how people are sharing why they’re doing this. We’re doing this for the thousands of children who have been ripped from their families – I think it’s something like 5400 kids who are enduring physical and psychological torture right now; and for the tens of thousands of immigrants who are in concentration camps; for the black and brown people who are going to be the targets of even more brutal police terror, which I know we’re going to talk about more today; for the millions who are being burned and flooded out of their homes right now; and for people across the world who are being slaughtered as these fascist leaders fight over territories and resources; the women who will be forced into motherhood who will die from illegal abortions – all these people suffering now. This is actually the visceral reason and expression of why this is fascism and it must be driven out. And at the same time, dissent is being criminalized, the rule of law is gutted, checks and balances are eviscerated, the courts are being stacked with fascists, and fascist storm troopers on the ground (which we’re seeing quite a lot of in LA right now) are unleashed to make violent threats and carry out violence against people from the communities they target and also against protesters and people who are standing in their way.
So we need to help people understand that this is fascism and we have to first drive these fascists away from the instruments of power and then create an overwhelming massive display of opposition that weakens the whole fascist movement and reverses this fascist trajectory. If we’re not out to do that, then what are we doing?
So I’m going to go a little bit faster. I think we’re also dislodging people’s comfort and adjustment to this regime and this has been in Refuse Fascism’s call from the beginning; it’s been part of our mission and it continues to be part of our mission where people start to see that there is another way, that we don’t have to accept this. And the way forward is this third force of people, millions in the streets and this demand The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go Now.
I think that the breadth and diversity of people that came out to the national launch last week and to NY and LA the week before—you’re beginning to see that we’re reaching into all the different parts of society that actually really form the basis of driving out this regime: the youth, the immigrants from different parts of the world, people from different professions and economic backgrounds, people with different creative skills. Chants in different languages, the songs, music, art, the videos that have been made – you can see all this if you follow @RefuseFascism on social media and on the website. It’s putting a stamp on society and reaching into that wellspring on of hatred and this other set of values that we stand for, this care for humanity.
And then just two more points. That #OutNow as a visual statement is very moving and very significant…if you look at how often it came up in the footage from the Chicago protest. And one thing I was thinking about was when this movement started you would see people in the pictures — even if the articles weren’t talking about Refuse Fascism, you’d see the NO! signs. And this is a leap from the NO! It’s stating that we are drawing the line right now, a line in the sand that this regime has to go. It’s more focused, it’s more pointed, and it’s more determined than anything we’ve done before. There’s no room with this #OutNow for equivocation about what we’re going for. And even while people right now …a lot of the press is sort of framing us as an impeachment group…with #OutNow we have this vehicle to keep struggling for an understanding that this is a fascist regime and the whole regime needs to go.
And then my final point is just to bring us back to this formulation, which maybe Sunsara will talk about more – the numbers, plus momentum, plus the single unifying demand – this is how we’re going to build this movement up to where it needs to be. And at different times, different parts of this formulation will be principal; it’s not going to be linear and that we advance on each one each week — although maybe that will happen, but probably it won’t. But from Week 1 till Week 2 we did gain numbers and momentum and we did get out the single unifying demand to more people. It’s still nascent and there’s still a lot of challenges ahead, but as Andy Zee said in the first speech at Union Square – which if you haven’t see the whole speech, you should watch it on RefuseFascism.org – that this is not the easiest but it’s the necessary road. And the important thing, I think, is that we’re on it together, and these Wednesday Webinars is a way for us to stay on that road together.
Sunsara Taylor (host of the webinar): Thank you Coco. I was going to ask if there’s anything, in reflecting and thinking about Week 2, the launch around the country…I know you expressed some sentiments about what you thought it represented, but some of the challenges you see going forward, some questions, that you’ve been thinking about or that you want to pose for others to join us in thinking about in terms of the next leaps that are needed. What do you see?
Coco: I think one of the big challenges will be to grow exponentially, and how we do that. And how do we get people to bring all their different – you know, people are working on different passions. I’ve been talking to people who are working on immigrant rights, or they’re writers, or they’re artists, or whatever – people are coming from all different kinds of viewpoints on what they should be doing with their lives – and how do we get all those people to see the necessity and how to get them to see how, you know, it’s not that… you don’t need to keep handwringing about taking this up – you bring your banner, get your group, come with your yoga mats or whatever, or your puppets, or whatever you do—that’s what is so joyful about these protests when you see them in these different countries. So, you know, I think helping to…I guess that’s the biggest thing on my mind is how do we help all these people who are not… there’s still, I think, a sense that protest is something that movement activists do, or that there’s this professionalization of protest. But I think we need to help people expand their vision of what it could mean and how you can bring this demand out in ways that maybe we’re not thinking about and taking this problem out to the people who really do want to see this regime go and breaking that divide of us and them – this is a movement for everybody. So I know that probably sounds a little bit general but I think that’s the main thing that I think is the main challenge. And getting people to see – there’s a lot of sentiment right now that Trump needs to go and the narrowness of the impeachment framing—I don’t think that’s as big a leap, though, as the first leap of how do we get to the thousands. And then from the thousands, I think, it’s less of a leap to make it grow exponentially, but I think the immediate challenge is how do we grow exponentially and put this on the map so that after these 3 weeks it is on, you know …and whatever’s next people are ready to do this in a short amount of time because I do think that we don’t have forever.
Sunsara Taylor: I think that’s something people need to understand more sharply. I think actually the last thing you said sparks in my thinking … and in this week we’ve seen outpourings , the protests that we had but also the outpourings where Trump was booed at the World Series and then they chanted “Lock Him Up!” or then he came to Chicago and there actually was significant protest, more significant than there has been. Minneapolis was very significant too. But we’ve seen now for 2 years Trump going all over the place and not being driven out of town and not being shut down and not being surrounded by protest and so this was really important what happened in Chicago, what happened at the World Series, and yet there’s a gap between that… a certain sentiment of people hopefully wanting more to be standing up but between that and a recognition of exactly the last point you made about we don’t have that much time. And we’re actually facing fascism and there’s a lot of anti-Trump sentiment but there’s a big gap between what people recognize and what is actually being done by this regime.