Part of what has been so important is putting a label on what this is.Dr. Bandy Lee 0:06
If we recognize what the problem is and confront it, then solutions will follow.
Maria Sanchez 0:11
If they don’t understand that it’s fascism, then they won’t be able to understand that they need to stand up and fight it.
Dr. Bandy Lee 0:19
There’s a great reticence to even naming what the problem is.
Maria Sanchez 0:23
The hope lies in the science of understanding what is going on in the society around us.
Sam Goldman 0:49
Welcome to Episode 52 of the Refuse Fascism podcast, a podcast brought to you by volunteers with Refuse Fascism. I’m Sam Goldman, one of those volunteers and host of the show. And currently, I’m uncaffeinated. I’m traveling down to Florida, to visit my grandmother for the first time in over a year and had to wake up early to record this. I want to start by shouting out the people all over the country rising up in solidarity and support of the AAPI community taking a stand against white supremacy, misogyny and xenophobia. There are many new stories to discuss that point to both the tremendous difference that makes the Trump is out of power, and that the fascist movement has continued to be strengthened, hardened and emboldened. In future episodes, we’ll dig more into some of these particulars.
I couldn’t let this episode happen without talking a bit about Georgia. This week, Governor Brian Kemp underneath a painting idealizing a slave plantation, signed a 95 page Republi-fascist voter suppression bill, affecting state and county election boards, restricting dropboxes and voter eligibility, and making it a crime to provide nourishment to voters in lines that regularly backup for hours and hours in black communities. The question is posed to all of us: are we going to accept howling mobs resurrecting Jim Crow, and the right to vote stolen by defenders of the Confederacy? What we’re seeing in this bill, along with the bills spreading across the nation, is the blatant white supremacy of the Republi-fascist program, stripping away the hard fought rights of black and brown people. It’s on all of us to refuse fascism. As Kemp’s lynching party of old white men posed for photos of the signing in his office, state representative Park Cannon was arrested merely for knocking on the locked door to gain access, as others have pointed out, when you watch the video of the police dragging her out for merely knocking on a door, you can’t help but hear the whisper of John Roberts when he gutted the voting rights act in 2013, saying “things have changed dramatically in the South.” I’ll be covering more of this in the next episode, dedicated to voter suppression, white supremacy at the foundation of this country and at the heart of American fascism. Just a note to any of my listeners that are parroting claims that the rash of voter suppression laws are unAmerican, it’s time to snap out of the self delusions. They are America. The America birthed out of genocide and slavery, the America with white supremacy in its DNA. Any solution needs to proceed from understanding this fundamental reality.
Today, I’m sharing two interviews both for mental health professionals. First, you’ll hear from Maria Sanchez, mental health professional and supporter of Refuse Fascism, on the trauma of Trump’s presidency, and the enduring fascist movement. Then we’re re-airing a clip of an interview I did an episode 47, about a month ago with Dr. Bandy Lee. Since that time, she was fired from Yale. Alan Dershowitz, a longtime prominent advocate for torture, the suppression of dissent for genocide in Palestine, and Trump’s lawyer in his first impeachment trial, complained yet after Dr. Lee tweeted about public comments he made about a sex life. Dr. Lee is working towards a truth and justice commission looking into the crimes that the Trump regime in pursuit of accountability. In our interview, we spoke about some important issues surrounding not only the regime itself, but the silencing of voices like hers that we’ve seen over the years. This last threatening turn of events shows that silencing not only continues but continues to evolve, even after Trump has left office, Dr. Lee is suing, and we want to let her know that we stand with her. We thank her for her courage and conviction.
So now let’s listen to Maria Sanchez. I am happy to welcome Maria Sanchez, a mental health professional and supporter of Refuse fascism.org on to the Refuse Fascism podcast. Welcome, Maria.
Maria Sanchez 5:29
Thank you very much, Sam. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Sam Goldman 5:34
I wanted to start with a big question that a lot of people have been trying to process, which is: After four years of enduring a fascist in the highest position of power in this country, what do you see as the effects society wide on people’s mental health?
Maria Sanchez 5:52
Well, I’m so glad Sam to be having this kind of conversation and that’s your first question, because we really don’t hear as much as we should, the devastating effects of mental health. And the fact that this country is in a mental health crisis is not very frequently talked about. And it has been horrific for many people, and in many ways. We already are starting with a system that is pounding people into the ground, the system of imperialism, and capitalism. And just to look at the data around that, and this is before the fascist state, over 3 million people in this country have a suicide plan. Depression is one of the leading causes of disabilities world wide. And then you add this pandemic, Sam, and we have horrific statistics. The Suicide lines are overwhelmed, they can’t keep up. The suicide rates have escalated because of the isolation. The depression rates have skyrocketed, anxiety, panic, insomnia is at an epidemic. People have hopelessness. And this is really across the board. It certainly is hitting immigrant communities and black and brown communities, the loss and the grief from the COVID. People are grieving their loved ones, they are hopeless. It’s hard for people to understand what’s even happening. So we are in a mental health crisis, a suicide crisis. Every day, we hear about the escalating numbers of the overdoses on opioids. Again, really hitting hard, the black and brown communities. So it’s very tragic.
Sam Goldman 7:49
In your practice, or in what you’ve observed more from society at large, research that you’ve done, can you speak to what the particular effects of having someone who was so unmasked in their genocidal racism in a position of power and what that might have resulted in in terms of the trauma, in particular, to our immigrant siblings and other people of color that had to live in constant fear?
Maria Sanchez 8:21
As you know, Sam, I’m a big supporter of Refuse Fascism. I so admire all of the different actions and from the very beginning, when Refuse Fascism was formed, identifying this regime as fascist. I was honored to be in the streets starting out in New York and marching and for the past four years, and part of what has been so important, I think, with Refuse Fascism is putting a label on what this is, and trying to educate people on how we got here. I mean, it wasn’t a coup. It got here through the workings of the system, Trump was put into power by the Electoral College. A number of people voted for him. And in the last election, 74 million people voted for this. The white supremacy, the patriarchy, the xenophobia, the homophobia, the transphobia, locking the borders, locking our Muslim brothers and sisters out, putting immigrant children in cages at the US Mexico border. All of these things are crimes against humanity, and it has caused unspeakable trauma in all of these different areas. Those children who were torn out of the bosoms of their family, this is irreparable trauma in their lives. They will never outgrow this and this kind of separation at such an early age when the child is developing and the attachment is so strong and needing security and understanding that the world is a secure place. Those are the times that these things are being implanted in the brain and the body and the psyche. These are the times that these kids were ripped away from their families. And they will have to live with this, even though they had nothing to do with that the guilt of the parents that they could not protect their children is a immeasurable. You know, and the trauma of all the lies that you had fascist and power, Trump, talking about, well, this is a hoax, that COVID didn’t even exist, you know. The refusal to look at science and the grief, the devastating grief that people are going through and suffering and that also leads to depression. Look at the health care workers and the people on the front lines. Those people are now so traumatized was already a huge amount of burnout in the medical profession. This is before the fascist regime before the COVID before the 500,000 debt before people not having PPEs. And the morgues, outside in the streets because there wasn’t enough morgue space for the dead bodies piling up. This was before all of that there was burnout in medicine, because we have such a horrific medical profession. Now, all of the frontline people, the nurses, the doctors, the EMTs, they are now having nightmares. They are now triggered with PTSD. The black and brown communities, people dying because they’re working in grocery stores. They can’t stay home and work on a computer. So many of the people in the immigrant communities, the people that were in the slaughterhouses and in the meatpacking industries and in the field, so that we had food on the table. They couldn’t stay home and do it by their computer and zoom. So they were on the front lines. And so many people have died. These are the people in our immigrant communities, they don’t have a condo somewhere in some affluent neighborhood. They are living sometimes 6,7,8 people in a small apartment. So, if one person got COVID, everybody got COVID. And they couldn’t even go to the doctor and get health care because they were so afraid that they would be swept up by ICE. And so we had people dying in their condos in their homes who were immigrants, because they were too afraid to seek out health care. Money that came in from the government, they don’t qualify for any of that. So they didn’t have food. So we were going into these immigrant communities with Refuse Fascism right there. And I was so proud to be a part of that. We had car caravans, we were trying to talk to people that the world doesn’t have to be like this. And that’s the thing that’s so devastating, Sam, as you know, being with Refuse Fascism, and what we want people to understand, because I’m also a revolutionary, the world doesn’t have to be like this. And it was so important that we had people standing up against this fascist regime, we had to do it. Now. It’s devastating to me, and I’m sure to my comrades and other people that we didn’t get the millions of people in the streets like we worked so hard to get, but this isn’t over yet. And we know that Trump is out there saying we are just beginning, he’s on his revenge tour. He’s talking about he is going to run in 2024. So we still have to build up a resistance to fascism. And this is coming from my heart. Because I see, I sit with people, I work with people in my patients, and I’m seeing them and they’re devastated and hopeless. Time and time again. And the mental health people now are becoming burned out. And mental health people. Now there are articles about that. Why? Because I love my job. I love what I do in mental health. But on zoom eight, nine hours a day, every day people talking about loss, about being hopeless about when is this going to end? About my God, look at what happened on January 6th. What is that all about? How do I understand it? People have been absolutely devastated and shocked, and many people are still grappling with how do I understand what is going on in this country? And many people whose illusions about what this country is all about are now broken down. And now they’re searching trying to figure out what do they do now?
Sam Goldman 14:37
I wanted to go back to one of the things that you mentioned was that you found it important that Refuse Fascism called for the Trump/Pence regime’s removal on the basis that they were fascist. And I was wondering if you could talk more about why was it so important that Refuse Fascism called for driving out the Trump/Pence regime because it was fascist with the potential to consolidate fascism in this country with potential catastrophic consequences for humanity, as opposed to Trump being unfit, mentally unfit? Why do you feel that that was so important?
Maria Sanchez 15:15
Well, I’m a mental health professional Sam, and I have no problem with understanding some core psychiatric dynamics that may be going on, you could probably be a medical student and go through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and label Trump as being a sociopath, and maybe add some trauma, maybe all of those things are true. But that’s not the point. The point is that he is part of an entire regime and a system built on white supremacy. And the reason why it’s so important that Refuse Fascism labeled it, if people don’t understand the truth, I mean, Refuse Fascism, as well. I’m a supporter of Bob Avakian. And I am really informed by the revolutionary theories, and by the new communism, and I work very hard and support Refuse Fascism, very much. So both of those things are very important to me. And we always talk about we must bring the truth to the masses. And if this is fascism, the people need to understand what that means, and why we’re calling it fascist and what it means and what does fascism really even mean? The white supremacy of it, the bigotry of it, the labeling the other of it, what happened with Hitler, and we have a historical precedent that people need to be able to understand. They need to know the truth. They need to know where fascism leads. And if they don’t understand that it’s fascism, then they won’t be able to understand that they need to stand up and fight it. That the decent people in this country and in other places were springing up all around the world need to stand up, because we can’t be good Germans, because we see and we know where that leads. And if we don’t label it, and define it, and help people understand that this is the danger that we’re in right now, then I think we don’t have any hope. If we can’t look at the truth and be compelled by what is true and what we know, then I think truly, the hope lies in the science of understanding what is going on in the society around us.
Sam Goldman 17:28
Next, you’ll hear from Dr. Bandy Lee. In a clip from an interview I did with Dr. Lee about a month ago in Episode 47.
I wanted to share a recent thread that Dr. Lee did yesterday, that is so important for people to understand. She wrote, “Remember I said that Donald Trump was more dangerous than Adolf Hitler, despite being less cunning, because of the power of the US presidency, the complacency of his opposition, and the obvious gullibility of his followers. He may be partially gone, but the conditions remain. I’m posting this in response to Georgia’s alarming voters suppression bill, which hands to the legislature, the power to decide who won state elections, regardless of the vote. The same governor won, quote unquote, one based on his control over votes, his own election and the Secretary of State. Our insistence that it can’t happen here, all but guaranteed it would happen, and it is happening. Dangerous personalities are present many nations but strong democracies generally keep them out of power. We already elected one to the highest office of the land.” She goes on to say that “We should recall that Hitler did not kill 500,000 in his first four years. His mass killing was much more gradual and depended on the populations normalization of evil. We were much quicker to normalize Trump’s evil, even his mass killing of attempt to overturn our democracy.” The silencing of Dr. Lee is extremely ominous. Her analysis needs to be heard. And so we’re glad that you’re able to hear it. Here is Dr. Lee.
Dr. Bandy Lee 19:18
I think the American people in general may do well to realize they need to get smarter, and they need to protect themselves better. Because there are forces out there that have even taken charge of democracy; will not allow the people’s own self governance. And I think it’s important to recognize that. I wrote ‘Profile of a Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul’ over the summer, partly to prepare the country for what would happen after the election. In other words, I stated that he would likely not concede the election if he lost, and that he would call it a fraud and that he would refuse to leave office and that he was capable of doing anything at all not to leave office. And so i was pretty much predicting something like the January 6th attack, but I also wrote that to help prepare the people for what was to come. In other words that this is a long term fight, and that the people needed to take care of themselves and to look after their own interests. If we make ourselves psychologically vulnerable to, frankly, manipulation that is happening in order for the people not to be able to claim their own power and to demand their interests and needs be met. And a lot of that is being done psychologically through the use of psychological tactics and distortion of reality and disempowering people and making people accept conditions that should not be acceptable in a democracy. It’s really, in many ways reflective of Mohandas Gandhi’s instructions for preparation. The preparation of the warrior fight of non violence, which is about reclaiming one’s power as citizens, building one’s spiritual foundation so that one could have a certainty, strength, and ability to fight the onslaught against their rights and ability to govern.
Sam Goldman 21:19
I think that this building one’s ability to see our own agency the power that we have and the power of nonviolent action is extremely important, and i i would just pair that with people understanding what it is that we confront, and not being too afraid or too uncomfortable to look at what it is. And that we have power when we’re able to fully face.
Dr. Bandy Lee 21:43
It’s not an unsolvable problem. If we recognize what the problem is and confront it, then solutions will follow, but there’s a great reticence to even naming what the problem is. I mean, there have been countless stories of attacks on people who would bring up Adolf Hitler for example or Nazism in the context of the Trump presidency…Well, there are differences of course, but there are also a lot of parallels, and if we’re not willing to face the parallels and see these very common patterns throughout history, that have repeated time and time again and even currently in several countries, then we would not be able to confront it. And just covering it up, or not discussing it, does not make it go away, it actually allows the problem to grow to the point where it’s gotten really difficult to contain right now. But, as a psychological professional, I’ve always seen this as a solvable problem because we know the means of treatment and containment and behavioral management in our own profession. And, personalities such as Donald Trump are actually very common – thought to be one to five percent of the general population – although they take on a much greater percentage of leadership positions, and that’s also something that we need to address. But, it’s not an insurmountable problem.
Sam Goldman 23:09
One of the things that some people have been talking about recently in terms of how we address this is through a truth commission or having some kind of public commission on the Trump/Pence regime’s crimes against humanity, if you will. I was looking at one of your recent tweets: “We know Donald Trump wasn’t bright enough, informed enough, or hard-working enough to achieve all he has on his own. If there were a commission looking into his deeds, I hope it will include the forces behind the enabling, which were probably those that did George W. Bush, too.” I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about this. If there were such a commission, what would be the focus? I’ll just open it there.
Dr. Bandy Lee 23:52
There has been a proposal for a 9/11 type commission for what happened on January sixth. I think the focus is a little too narrow, and I think it’s a little disadvantageous that the Democratic Party proposed it, but I do think there is a need for a commission and if one were to proceed, I would like to advise that it be more broad in conception and look at the much wider socioeconomic and cultural factors that played into enabling a personality such as Donald Trump who was quite clearly psychologically dangerous and mentally unfit from the start by the assessment of many professionals as well as laypersons. And also, why psychological professionals were silenced during the presidency. I don’t know if you were following or aware at all, but, what is called the Goldwater rule, which is the American Psychiatric association’s own trade association rule that no other mental health association has adopted was not admitted to any state licensing board because it conflicts with the first amendment and covers only six percent of practicing mental health professionals, but it was promulgated as if it covered all mental health experts, that no mental health experts who would speak up about the Trump presidency could be ethical, and so they managed to exclude all of us from the major media and then were incredibly, handsomely rewarded by the federal government for doing so; the American Psychiatric Association, that is. And, why that kind of thing was allowed to happen, because access to expertise and intellectuals, that is the best available knowledge, is just as important as access to facts for a population to be able to protect itself and to govern itself. So, I consider it truly a matter of democracy, and when the American Psychiatric Association came out to silence us, I saw it as the first sign of authoritarianism, and it turns out to have been true. If the president were not to be held accountable for the number one issue of his presidency – many have said that his mental unfitness is the defining feature of his presidency, and I have always argued that that’s the case – then he couldn’t be held accountable for anything else. And that’s turning out to be true, given two failed impeachments and none of the other human rights abuses, atrocities at the border or any other criminal actions being held accountable.
Sam Goldman 26:30
In a world where Donald Trump was acquitted for inciting a coup, somehow protected, quote, well, under freedom of speech, end quote, Yale University has fired a professor for speaking out about the danger of Trump and criticizing a prominent supporter. So much for all that free speech and academic freedom. On behalf of the other volunteers who produce this show, I want to express our love and support productive anyway. We’ve got your back. You can follow Dr. Bandy. Lee on twitter at BandyXLee1, and read more from her at BandyLee.com, and you can listen to the full interview we did with her in Episode 47 of the Refuse Fascism podcast. Thanks for listening to the Refuse Fascism podcast. As always, I want to hear your thoughts on this episode, the show in general ideas for topics to explore. And guests we should feature even better if you have a connection with one of those guests. Reach out via Twitter to me at Sam B Goldman, or write me at Samantha Goldman, or Refuse Fascism. Please rate and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen and make sure you follow and subscribe to get the latest. Stay connected with the movement on social media at Refuse Fascism. And if you haven’t signed up yet, for the Refuse Fascism, e newsletter you can do so at Refuse fascism.org. I’ve been thinking about some questions. And I’d love for you to share your thoughts with me on them. As we sum up what it was that we experienced and the continued need for a movement that refuses fascism. What would it met if Trump had won? What has changed with the Trump pence regime no longer in power? I’ve also been thinking, what might have been different in how things developed in the situation we confront today had Refuse Fascism succeeded at different points during the four years in this massive mobilization. Why was calling for this form of protest as the means to drive out the regime? Not only right, but critically important, even as we were not able to win this struggle with the masses of people. So share your thoughts with me. And the last one that I really believe out is what do we still face regarding the danger of fascism in America? And what must be done about it? So again, send me your thoughts at Sammy Goldman on Twitter, or write me at Samantha Bowman at Refuse fascism.org. We started ads recently on social media, and we’d like to continue. We also will be running Billy transcripted episodes, and hope to have Spanish translations. So please consider chipping in to help make all this possible. Donate at Refuse fascism.org click that Donate button, or Venmo Refuse dash Fascism cash app Refuse Fascism. Thanks as always to Richie and Lina for producing the show. In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America. Stay safe, not silent.
Transcribed by https://otter.aiIt’s not an unsolvable problem. If we recognize what the problem is and confront it, then solutions will follow, but there’s a great reticence to even naming what the problem is. I mean, there have been countless stories of attacks on people who would bring up Adolf Hitler for example or Nazism in the context of the Trump presidency…Well, there are differences of course, but there are also a lot of parallels, and if we’re not willing to face the parallels and see these very common patterns throughout history, that have repeated time and time again and even currently in several countries, then we would not be able to confront it. And just covering it up, or not discussing it, does not make it go away, it actually allows the problem to grow to the point where it’s gotten really difficult to contain right now. But, as a psychological professional, I’ve always seen this as a solvable problem because we know the means of treatment and containment and behavioral management in our own profession. And, personalities such as Donald Trump are actually very common – thought to be one to five percent of the general population – although they take on a much greater percentage of leadership positions, and that’s also something that we need to address. But, it’s not an insurmountable problem.
Music for this episode: Penny the Snitch by Ikebe Shakedown.