Recently, we saw a spate of high visibility hate crimes in the United States. Two African American elders shopping at a Kroger’s store in Kentucky were randomly murdered by a middle-aged white man, who told an armed responder, “whites don’t kill whites.” Eleven Jewish worshipers were gunned down in a Pittsburgh synagogue by a middle-aged white man shouting, “All Jews must die.” A middle-aged man in Florida, a big fan of Donald Trump, was arrested after mailing bombs to some of Trump’s favorite targets: leading Democrats and CNN.
Simultaneously, an older white supremacist, Donald Trump, ordered thousands of troops to the U.S. border with México, while openly suggesting a violent response to the caravan of desperate Central American asylum seekers. Of course, it is no coincidence that Trump is attacking migrants right before the mid-term elections. He expects this will play well with his “base” and turn out the racist, anti-immigrant vote.
There can be little doubt that Trump’s overt racism played into these other hate crimes. He has given permission to racists to come out of the closet and do their thing. He suggests that violence is a perfectly acceptable reaction, especially when directed against his enemies and scapegoats. He is preparing the ground for a fascist United States.
The Jewish community has historically been scapegoated during difficult economic times. The synagogue shooter had another motive as well. He was upset that a Jewish refugee organization was expressing support for the Central American caravan.
The mainstream media, often critical of President Trump, is unfortunately repeating his false description of the migrant caravan as planning to “illegally” enter the United States. In fact, their intention is to present themselves at a border crossing and apply for refugee status, consistent with both U.S. and international law. They are traveling in a caravan for safety and mutual support. They are not an invading army as Trump and some of the media would have us believe.
“Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you,” write Rory Fanning and Spenser Rapone, two former U.S. Army Rangers in Common Dreams, while calling upon soldiers to “refuse his orders to deploy to the southern U.S. border.”
“There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down,” write Fanning and Rapone. “Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone.”
That is good advice in general, as there is definitely strength in numbers. But resisting alone is certainly better than not resisting at all. GI resisters will not be alone for long.
Veterans For Peace, along with Courage To Resist and the GI Rights Hotline, will do all we can to reach out to GI’s and educate them about their rights and responsibilities under international law, U.S. law, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. We will support GI’s who follow their conscience and refuse illegal orders.
Aside from reaching out to the troops, Veterans For Peace members are preparing to provide assistance to the Central American caravan once it arrives at the border at Tijuana and San Diego. Our Deported Veterans chapter in Tijuana provided food and water to the last Central American caravan, as it camped out a half block from their office next to the San Ysidro border crossing. San Diego Veterans For Peace raised funds to help out. Veterans For Peace is preparing to make a larger, more coordinated humanitarian effort this time around, and to demonstrate our solidarity, as are many other concerned organizations.
Our response to the illegal deployment of U.S. soldiers is to support the troops who refuse and resist. Our response to hate-filled rhetoric and threats of violence against desperate asylum seekers is to give aid and comfort to our sisters and brothers from Central América.
The antidote to racism and hate is love and solidarity. The antidote to illegal use of the military is resistance and support. Now is the time for all to step up to the challenge. Peace at Home, Peace Abroad!
Gerry Condon is President of Veterans For Peace, www.veteransforpeace.org.
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