Rosa Parks and the Power of No

In 1900, Montgomery, Alabama passed a city ordinance for the purpose of segregating bus passengers by race

Conductors had the power to assign seats to carry out that purpose; however, no passengers were required to move or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and there were no other seats available.

Over time Montgomery bus drivers adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move or stand for whites.

Blacks had the ‘right’ to stay seated, but they had no support from law enforcement for exercising that right.

A right that isn’t enforced by law is useless.

In the South, when Blacks asserted any of their God-given rights under Federal law, the result was an arrest, a beating, or a murder.

When he (the driver) saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And he said, ‘Well if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’ I said, ‘You may do that.” Rosa Parks

I live in San Francisco and use my legs for transportation.

My favorite walk is the five miles to Precita Park which takes me from the Fillmore District, through the Castro and into the Mission District.

Along the way, I see what we San Francisco old-timers call Reagan’s Children; ragged bundles of suffering, huddled on corners, under sheets, shoving carts, or motionless under the glaring sun.

Reagan's Children
Rand’s Children

President Reagan had a grand utopian vision of a shining city upon a hill, but he didn’t want to fund it.

Reagan's Shining City on A Hill
A shining city upon a Hill found at GIPHY

One would expect the citizens of a shining city to know how wrong it is to let the elderly and the disabled die on their streets.

One would expect these citizens to pay any expense to bring back the light.

I am no fan of Ronald Reagan, but he left office decades ago.

The United States can’t be the light of the world if we live in darkness at home.

Our leaders prance around the globe to promote the values of democracy.

But if we’re too cheap to feed our own children; if we allow a class of billionaires to incarcerate the poor for profit, if we allow racism to create an underclass trapped in a generations-long cycle of poverty, we look like hypocrites and hypocrisy breeds cynicism.

I think this is one of the many reasons we have a president like Trump: a cynical ideologue who uses the power of the federal government to enrich himself and his cronies. Trump expects us to accept his corrupt and empty vision of America and laud him as a great president when he lies.

We have a history of doing that.

Back in the before times, (Before COVID19) I boarded a crowded bus and took a seat next to a young mother who sat her daughter on her lap.

The child was about six.

She gazed out of the window and asked her mother about a man sleeping barefoot on the sidewalk.

“Mommy? Why is that man sleeping there?”

“He doesn’t have a home.”

“Why doesn’t he have a home?”

“I guess — because he decided he didn’t want one?”

“Why would he do that?”

A homeless man asleep on concrete

I smiled as I remembered a similar conversation with my grandmother when I was six.

We were walking through a park in Kew Gardens, New York.  I saw a man of about 50, in filthy clothes, stretched out on a bench.

“Grandma, why is he so dirty?”

She whispered: “He’s sick in the head, Robby.”

The man suddenly sat up and muttered to himself.

“Grandma, where is his family?”

My grandmother sensed my anxiety. She knelt and looked into my eyes: “If he doesn’t not have a family, Robby, America is his family. We have hospitals for people like him. The police will see him and take him to one of those hospitals. The doctors will clean him up. He’ll be safe. He’ll get treatment. We take care of each other, in America, Robbie. That’s what makes us great.”

My grandmother’s words made me feel safe.

Freedom from Fear-
“”Freedom from Fear” Ours to Fight For

If we are to restore our democracy, we must decide to live our principles in our daily lives: it’s the small acts of integrity that count.

Today I can marry my gay partner because I belonged to a generation of queers who said no to living like criminals.

We Americans are called to a mission, whether we are born here or come
as immigrants.

That mission is spelled out for us by our founders and the greatest President of the 20th Century.

To promote the idea that all people are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Those principles became FDR’s Four Freedoms:

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Freedom of worship
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

The New Deal was an experiment in regulating capitalism to fund federal and state programs specifically designed to prevent the conditions that breed fascism.

Roosevelt believed that access to the the kind of education that promotes class mobility is the best defense against fascism and the inequality that breeds it.

Most of the allied nations adopted some form of the New Deal, and some
of them kept it and are doing quite well.

The United States chose to dismantle the New Deal beginning with Ronald Reagan, and now we’re in the grip of tyranny, so I guess FDR was right.

The underlying premise of our system of government is that every citizen deserves of a chance to succeed at building a life worth living.

The U.S. Constitution was established to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare.

A President incites violence against his own citizen violates the fundamental the basic duties of his office. This must not stand.

We must say no to the hypocrisy and corruption that drains us of our lives.

We must do as Rosa Parks did.

“I did not want to be mistreated; I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time… there was an opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.” Rosa Parks

(c)Rob Goldstein 2020
‘Freedom from Fear’ by Norman Rockwell and Fingerprinting Rosa Parks are public domain.

“On Concrete’ and ‘Rand’s Children are (c)Rob Goldstein 2012-2020

Keep the Faith: 6 Stories of Faith and Perseverance.

The outcome of this year’s U.S. elections will define the United States for the rest of the 21st Century.

The stories below are of courage, faith, perseverance, and hope. You can choose to believe the absurd lies promoted by Putin’s toxic propaganda, or you trust your eyes and use the gift of reason to vote to preserve one of the greatest democracies in the history of our species.

Don’t let Trump and his corrupt enablers steal your power.

Vote early.

Vote for Democracy.

Vote for Biden.


August, 24 2020: Edited to add Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 Democratic National Convention Speech. If you don’t believe you can change our system of government just speak to any #LGBTQ civil rights activist who remembers when being gay was a crime.

Nothing will change if you don’t vote.

To learn more about early voting in your state visit Vote.org.

You can also register to vote as a Democrat at voterizer.org

To volunteer to be a poll worker visit the U.S. Elections Assitance commission.


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Pride: We Are Family

I first made and posted this video in 2016 — I was going to reprocess the images and add new photos to the video. Still, I decided to leave it because there is an Easter egg in this video, a moment that seemed curiously out of place at the time, but only evident as disinformation in retrospect.

The photos in the video were taken in 2015 when Pride celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

I used “We Are Family”  by Sister Sledge because in the 1970s, ‘We Are Family” was an anthem for the Gay and Feminist movements.

In 1970, Gay Liberation said we are everywhere: all religions, races, and
nationalities.

“We Are Family” celebrates solidarity.

If I turned around every time somebody called me a faggot, I’d be walking backward – and I don’t want to walk backward.”
– Harvey Milk

We are everyone, and we will not go back.

Art by Rob Goldstein
Clarion Alley 2012 (c) Rob Goldstein

 

Photography and Video by Rob Goldstein
‘We Are Family” by Sister Sledge

 

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Trump’s Torture Monkeys

‘Torture Monkeys’ prey on pain.

The U.N. defines torture as follows:

“Torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

Trump and his enablers torture us with corruption, disease and economic calamity.

Becoming numb to it is normal, but it prevents us from acting to defend ourselves.

The narcissist wants us to normalize abuse and suffering, to accept it as a
‘new normal’ but that only leads to more suffering and pain.

In cases of domestic violence, the first step in ending the torture of abuse is saying no.

The news clips below date to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic starting with the news of today.

100 days in isolation because your President chose to let his people die is torture.

Watching a parent or a child die because our President is morally deranged is torture.

Watching your President ridicule the government’s best people because they are not corrupt is torture.

Yesterday,  Trump and his Republican Torture Monkeys succeeded in their weeks-long crusade to spread Covid-19 to kill more people and drive us into more calamity and isolation.

Friday saw the highest single-day total for coronavirus cases in the U.S., with more than 43,000 new infections. Those numbers are worse than the pandemic’s previous daily peaks. And that’s leading to fears that hospitals in Texas and Florida could soon resemble New York’s during the worst days of its outbreak.

The New York Times reports that U.S. intelligence told Donald Trump in March that Russia was paying bounties to Taliban fighters to kill coalition troops, including U.S. troops. Trump has done nothing about it and instead advocated for Russia’s return to the G8

 

This is what American carnage looks like.

President Trump’s reluctance to endorse wearing masks to prevent Covid spread has inspired a nation of maskless culture warriors who are putting everyone’s health at risk, including the President’s own Secret Service detail.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says the system of checks and balances in the US government is only effective if other leaders speak out and act when they see blatant abuses of power.

Chaos is Trump’s plan and chaos will worsen between now and the election. Expect Trump to cower in the chaos, delight in the discord and prey on your pain.

There is no real plan coming from the White House. Instead every night, carried on this network and others, there’s a two-hour pathological, narcissistic propaganda show in which the president feels some fleeting sense of satisfaction because people are watching.

“America is acting like a failed state”

“So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light. And I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it. Then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you could do, either through the skin or some other way and I think you said you were going to test that, too. Sounds interesting. Then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside, or almost a cleaning because you see it gets on the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it will be interesting to check that. That you’re gonna have to use medical doctors. But it sounds interesting to me.”

Former Health and Human Services secretary and Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius discusses the White House’s “very troubling” suppression of the Center for Disease Control’s 68-page reopening guide.»

Donald Trump has lashed out at Democrats who have questioned his handling of the coronavirus threat, calling it their new “hoax”.

Donald Trump is the President of the United States.

His decision to politicize wearing a mask to prevent the spread of disease, and his sabotage of successful measures adopted by states like California and New York, wasted months of isolation and the expense of living in isolation and caused the deaths of over 128,089 Americans.

128,108 Americans dead from neglect.

Now we find out that Trump knew months ago that Russia is offering bounties to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops, and he did nothing to protect them.

The Trump Administration is torture.

 

Updated July 1, 2020, to add these two videos:

Charlie Savage joins Andrea Mitchell to discuss his new reporting in the New York Times that American officials intercepted data showing large financial transfers between Russian intelligence and Taliban-linked accounts.

It now appears that Trump received written intelligence about this in early 2019 – but did not act on it. The White House claims that Trump knew nothing about it until stories about the alleged Russian plot made the news.

Header image,  ‘Torture Monkeys’ (c) Rob Goldstein 2014-2020

This was originally posted in 2015 as an image only post, ‘Torture Monkeys’. I
was going to delete it but wrote this instead.