Art ~ Awareness ~ Action
‘a world without facts means a world without truth and without trust.’— Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner
- Misc. Resources
- Gaslit Nation Action Guide by Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa
- On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
The idea of fascism can feel overwhelming, and knowing where to fight back in protecting democracy is a real challenge. The items on this page offer a few ideas on where to place our energies in fighting fascism. There are many approaches and organizations. We can’t all do everything, but most of us can do something. Here’s a start on finding our way.
FIND and CONTACT U.S. Senators, track bills, etc.
Call Senate – 202-224-3121.
FIND and CONTACT Members of Congress, track bills, etc.
READ the six-part series, “Future-Proofing the Presidency”
The Editorial Board, The Boston Globe, June, 2021
See If America Fails’ Fill Thy Cup Page
A collection of books, film, music, and other informative and stimulating aids.
On winning the Nobel Peace Prize: ‘This is a recognition of how hard it is to be a journalist today. How hard it is to keep doing what we do … It’s a recognition of the difficulties, but also hopefully of how we’re going to win the battle for truth. The battle for facts. We hold the line.’— Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner
Democracy is a lifestyle:
Trump is a symptom of the corruption, institutional failure, and indifference that we can no longer tolerate.
Get a Guide.
- Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story by Martin Luther King Jr. is an essential guide to self-management, managing others, and building teams. This inspirational case study of resistance, written by a young MLK after successfully leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, shows how smart organization took on the authoritarianism of the Jim Crow South. Never forget that MLK was considered a radical in his day even though there’s nothing radical about demanding human rights and dignity. Today, the same remains true: it’s not “radical” or “socialist” to demand that corporations stop polluting for profits and to call for an end to tax breaks, like for sending jobs overseas, that worsen the income inequality crisis.
To help communicate these urgent issues, another essential guide is The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff.
Focus on State Races.
- Grassroots power is one of the strongest forms of power we have left in America, especially with Mitch McConnell and Trump packing the courts. Don’t succumb to savior syndrome by expecting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — or whoever else you admire — to do all the work. Representatives are human and need our help. Fulfill the far-right’s worst nightmare by creating generations of AOC’s by helping build a more progressive union.
Join a local group from any of these great national organizations for important action-alerts like demonstrations and getting out the vote: Indivisible, Swing Left, Sister District, MoveOn, Flippable.
Fight Global Warming.
- Sunrise Movement is a grassroots organization demanding a Green New Deal. There are a lot of other groups working to adopt urgently needed green initiatives: C40 Cities connects cities around the world committed to taking climate action; 350.org helps activists rise to the challenge of the climate crisis; and here are more trusted organizations that need our support!
- In the age of Trump, there should be no more fear of starting or joining a union: just tell your boss that you saw how unions protected workers during the universally unpopular Trump shutdown. Fight for 15 and its local variants are also working to ensure a fair wage and strengthen unions in the service sector. Don’t know how to get started? Read Organizing to Win: New Research on Union Strategies and No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age.
Run for Something.
Protect the Vote.
- EveryDistrict Action Fund just launched a “report card” identifying states with enough progressive support in the local governments to push through important voting reforms like automatic registration and the abolishment of racist voter ID laws. Is your state on the list? If so, EveryDistrict Action Fund empowers you to help your state reach the gold standard of voting.
Concerned about vote hacking and Ivanka Trump-branded voting machines? Secure Our Vote provides background info and other resources to take action.
Other groups to check out are Spread the Vote, Let America Vote, and Project ID which help people get the information they need to register, vote, and get an ID.
Launch Ballot Initiatives and Laws.
- Why not launch a ballot initiative? Katie Fahey turned her Facebook post into the movement Voters Not Politicians to end gerrymandering in Michigan. It passed overwhelmingly. Read more on her story here!
Or you could build a grassroots coalition to get a law passed in your state. In our episode on how to “Pass a Law,” Andrea interviewed her mother about how she, while pregnant with Andrea and a young mother without any political experience, mobilized a grassroots army to pass the child carseat law in California. Yes, it can be done!
End Terrorism in America.
- To say that art cannot make a difference stems from a tone deaf attitude of privilege: Ukraine’s EuroMaidan revolution of 2013-2014 relied on art and artists of all kinds to sustain protesters living in arctic-cold temperatures and under the threat of government-sanctioned violence; North Korean dissident Yeonmi Park said that Orwell’s Animal Farm helped her heal after escaping the cult-like dictatorship; and in our episode “The Blue Wave Continues: Kansas Rising” we share Davis Hammet’s account of how painting a rainbow house created a ripple effect in Kansas, leading to major electoral victories. We need the artists and storytellers of all kinds more than ever.
This is not a comprehensive list of suggestions on how you can create a more progressive America and stop entrenched corruption. There are many paths you can take, and we encourage you to think for yourselves and work together. There is no one solution. Whether you’re in a blue state or red state, these ideas apply to you — do not take any of the freedoms you have left for granted. Never underestimate the power of hard work.
It’s also essential to read widely to understand how we got here and the best ways to navigate the challenges of the 21st century. Check out our Reading Guide for some books that we have found helpful. — Gaslit Nation
“You must fight for your rights while you still can.”— Maria Ressa, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner on DemocracyNOW!
From On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
“Do not obey in advance. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given…A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do.”
“Defend institutions. It is institutions that help us to preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of ‘our institutions’ unless you make them yours by acting on their behalf…choose an institution you care about—a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union—and take its side.”
“Beware the one-party state…support the multi-party system and defend the rules of democratic elections. Vote in local and state elections while you can. Consider running for office.”
“Take responsibility for the face of the world. The symbols of today enable the reality of tomorrow. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away, and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.”
“Remember professional ethics. When political leaders set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become more important…Authoritarians need obedient civil servants, and concentration camp directors seek businessmen interested in cheap labor.”
“Be wary of paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.”
“Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, may God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no.”
“Stand out…It is easy to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. Remember Rosa Parks. The moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.”
“Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. Make an effort to separate yourself from the internet. Read books.”
“Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.”
“Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism…Realize that some of what is on the internet is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate propaganda campaigns…Take responsibility for what you communicate with others.”
“Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is part of being a citizen and a responsible member of society. It is also a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down social barriers, and understand whom you should and should not trust…”
“Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.”
“Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware on a regular basis. Remember that email is skywriting…Have personal exchanges in person…resolve any legal trouble. Tyrants seek the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have hooks.”
“Contribute to good causes. Be active in organizations, political or not, that express your own view of life. Pick a charity or two and set up autopay. Then you will have made a free choice that supports civil society and helps others to do good.”
“Learn from peers in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends in other countries. The present difficulties in the United States are an element of a larger trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.”
“Listen for dangerous words. Be alert to the use of the words extremism and terrorism. Be alive to the fatal notions of emergency and exception. Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.”
“Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial…is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.”
“Be a patriot. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.”
“Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny.”
Many thanks to Dr. Timothy Snyder for this handy, pithy collection of lessons, much-needed in today’s world – On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
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