A lot of the people who have gathered day in and day out to protest against the Trump administration don’t just hate Donald Trump, they hate America. It is unclear whether they hate America because almost half of the population voted for Trump or if they hate Trump because he loves America. The most offensive words to them are “America first” or “Make America Great Again,” because they don’t believe America was ever great or ever can be.
On January 31, the Senate voted 49-51 not to call additional witnesses, effectively spelling out the end of the Senate’s impeachment trial. Outside of the Capitol Building 150-200 protestors assembled despite the rain. While some protestors called for a “fair trial,” others called for a destruction of our entire system of government. All were angry.
As senators began to vote on witnesses, about 45 police officers formed a wall between the protesters and the Capitol Building. When the Senate’s decision was announced, the protestors moved towards the wall of officers as if one unit. They shouted, “Shame, shame, shame.” They were so loud that the chant reverberated off of the East side of the Capital Building and echoed back at the crowd.
After the initial shock of defeat, a few protestors stood silent, tears in their eyes. One young woman began singing into a megaphone, “Can you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men,” others ranted at senators, and one silver-haired woman froze for several moments with her middle finger up in the air and her face raised towards the sky.
Refuse Fascism With…Communism and Anarchy
After several minutes of chanting, “This is a cover-up,” members from the group Refuse Fascism picked up a megaphone and began preaching. What they said, I’d heard before. This group is dedicated. They have been at every rally and protest I’ve covered for the past month, from the Women’s March and the March for Life to daily impeachment protests at the Senate buildings and the Capitol.
Group members told me they are primarily a grassroots organization. None could name a leader, although I noticed three people consistently running their events. The group seems to be funded via donations. One young woman quit her job in California to attend impeachment protests in D.C. To support herself, she set up a GoFundMe page.
Another protester said she also quit her job and is staying in a youth hostel. A retired woman walked around with a container around her neck, collecting donations and email addresses. She informed me that I could contribute online. One man said he drove from Indiana to join the protests. He said that he hadn’t slept in two days and had barely eaten. He shared that he walked away from his life to join the movement.
One member of the group named Chantel, who I’d seen at the Women’s March as well as several impeachment protests, said Refuse Fascism began right before Trump’s inauguration with a call to action by the Revolutionary Communist Party. Chantel said that although the group doesn’t support particular policies, they are collectively against fascism, which she described as a different form of rule, a rule that is openly nationalistic, xenophobic, militaristic, and antagonistic to dissent.
According to the group’s website, they are concerned with a “re-institution of oppressive ‘traditional values’” and with the elimination of “traditional democratic rights.” One example the group points to of Trump’s fascist tendencies is his treatment of the media and his use of the term “fake news” as well as his habit of calling people names.
The group’s primary goal, Chantel explained, is to drive Trump and his fascist allies out of office through mass mobilization. She said the group’s models are the protest movements in Lebanon, Chile, Hong Kong, and Puerto Rico. She does not believe that impeachment is the complete answer, because that would leave Vice President Mike Pence in the White House. She believes he is a Christian fascist, threatening the separation of church and state.
RefuseFascism.org states, “[O]ur single, non-negotiable demand must be that the entire regime – Trump, Pence and all their henchmen (Bannon, Sessions, Mattis, Devos, Pruitt, etc.) – must be driven out.” The group has been organizing protests in cities around the nation since Trump’s inauguration. They repeatedly call for people to “get off the couch.” I heard several themes from Refuse Fascism protestors.
Calling the Electoral Process into Question
“On Tuesday when the Senate Trial begins, we need to be there to bring the power of the people,” hundreds of Women’s March protestors repeated after a woman holding a megaphone and wearing an orange “Out Now- Refuse Fascism” T-shirt. The woman’s name is Sunsara Taylor. According to her Twitter page, she writes for revcom.us and is an activist working with RefuseFacism.org.
Taylor said to the crowd, “We cannot rely on the Democrats, we cannot rely on the election, we cannot rely on the normal channels, because Donald Trump is a fascist who does not respect the normal channels.” I heard this assertion at every protest I attended with Refuse Fascism members in attendance.
At Friday night’s protest, a man who ran the megaphone said to the crowd, “You can’t rely on the elections that they are rigging.” After the announcement of no witnesses, he led the crowd in the chant, “Donald Trump is guilty, the whole system is guilty…Republicans are fascist collaborators…”
One woman said to the crowd, “We have to cast aside the illusion that the normal processes are going to take care of this… it was through the elections [with its] racist electoral college and gerrymandering, that Donald Trump came into power.”
RefuseFacism.org states, “We recognize that the Trump/Pence Regime is illegitimate because it is fascist, that fascism must be stopped before it is too late, and that this means that the masses of people in their millions must be led to rise up and drive it from power.” The protestors gave mixed messages, one minute claiming that the electoral system was corrupt and the next telling people to get off the couch and vote or volunteer to register voters.
Many of the protestors talked about a communist constitution written by Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionist Communist Party. This constitution would form a new nation called The New Socialist Republic in North America. Its legislators would be elected by popular vote, and a majority of votes in the nation’s single legislature could pass laws. Members of this legislature would serve as an executive council. Notice there are no separation of powers, something many of the protestors complained Trump was eviscerating.
America Is Racist
Another theme was America’s innate racism. A young African American woman said at Friday night’s protest, “Not that long ago 20,000 armed white supremacists marched in the capitol of the confederacy and Donald Trump… is on the path to being acquitted, what does this say about this house, a white house, built by enslaved people, what does this say about this country that parades around as a land of so called freedom and democracy? I want people to confront the truth: America was never great.”
Standing across the street from the Supreme Court, one Refuse Fascism protester yelled at March for Life participants. He said, “Hey, MAGA, when was America actually great — when they dropped bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, when there was slavery? America was never great.”
In an impeachment protest on Jan. 29, Taylor said, “We are living in a country… ruled right now by a fascist regime. Donald Trump and his regime are intensifying the horrors that this country was founded on, white supremacy [and] the genocidal extermination of the native peoples… There is a direct line between the Confederacy and the fascism [of] today. Donald Trump is… doing damage to the democratic and civil rights we’ve been told we have.”
The Avakian solution to racism in America is two-fold. All discrimination would be outlawed (if only it were that easy). Secondly, African-Americans would be given the opportunity to decide whether to form autonomous territories, something akin to Indian reservations. The same is true for Hispanics in the Southeast. Alternatively, the new government may consider giving Mexico back the land taken by the “Imperialist United States” in the Mexican American war.
Christianity Is Fascist
Several protestors mentioned the fascist nature of people like Pence and Betsy Devos, whom they claim take the Bible literally and thus advocate for teaching creationism and persecuting homosexuals. Many were very concerned that policies have been enacted by the Trump administration that have weakened the separation of church and state.
One young protestor named Christian spoke against pro-life policies: “This is 1984 sh-t, this is Handmaid’s Tale sh-t,” he said. A protestor with the mustache commented that the March for Life was really a march for female enslavement.
In Avakian’s constitution, freedom of religion is protected just like freedom of speech. There is also a strict separation of church and state, meaning there are to be no religious symbols or ceremonies within government. Further, religion would receive no special exceptions or exemptions under the law.
In this new communist paradise all education would be centrally administered by the state and mandatory. The educational system would be dedicated to teaching “the dialectical materialist understanding that all of reality consists of matter in motion… and nothing else.” The cultural and historical effects of religion may be discussed, but that is it.
Further, the state would “vigorously propagate” the “communist worldview” founded on the idea of historical materialism. Part of this involves promoting atheism, the socialist constitution says.
Lastly, the right to an abortion and to contraception would be constitutionally protected. There are no religious exemptions, so Christian doctors would either be forced to perform abortions against their conscience or to quit.
America’s Relation to the Rest of the World Is Fascist
“What part of this world does the military not have a base terrorizing people in Yemen, Syria, and Iran?” asked one young protestor. She argued that America is a system whose function is to cause terror to black people, immigrants, and women all over the world. She said she believed imperialism, capitalism, and fascism go hand in hand.
The protestors conveyed that America is an international bully and that countries around the world are its victims. I heard sympathy and even admiration for countries like Iran and Cuba. Protestors derided America for the wars in North Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.
Further, the Trump administration and those in agreement with its immigration policies were criticized for believing in borders. Instead this group believes the nation state has outworn its welcome. “We can get to a world without borders…The bridge to that world is an overthrow of this system,” one protestor said.
The group’s pledge that they often say with firsts raised starts with, “In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America.” One girl who spoke at the Jan. 29 rally said she considers herself more of a member of humanity than an American. As the Avakian constitution states, “The orientation and principles of this state, as embodied in this Constitution, are internationalist…” The Avakian constitution says its goal is the spread of communism throughout the world and thus domestic policies must keep that goal in mind.
Decrying Capitalism in Favor of Communism
Most of the leaders I heard speak lauded Avakian’s constitution. Of this constitution, one protestor said, “There is a constitution for a new socialist republic of North America… A blue-print of how we can rebuild society on a better foundation.”
The constitution states: “In order to bring this new socialist state into being, it would be necessary to thoroughly defeat, dismantle and abolish the capitalist-imperialist state of the USA; and this in turn would only become possible with the development of a profound and acute crisis in society and the emergence of a revolutionary people, in the millions and millions, who have the leadership of a revolutionary communist vanguard and are conscious of the need for revolutionary change and determined to fight for it.”
Chantel said not everyone in Refuse Fascism is a revolutionary or an Avakian supporter, although all three people who appeared to lead the protests called for mass non-violent revolution to overturn our system of government.
This Doesn’t Make a Lot of Sense
There are many contradictions in the ideology of Refuse fascism. The group simultaneously rejects fascism while embracing communism, a system of government that has often devolved into fascism. Although different ideologies, they often produce the same results: oppression, poverty, and ultimately massive loss of life.
Refuse Fascism claims to want an American Spring, but they talk little of how the Arab Spring turned out for many countries in the Middle East. They point to Hong Kong as an example of a political uprising they’d like to emulate, but don’t mention that the people of Hong Kong are fighting against a communist government, the same type of centrally controlled government their hero Avakian wants to implement.
They decry capitalism because it oppresses the poor, but don’t consider the millions capitalism has lifted out of poverty. They naively turn a blind eye to the horrors communism wrought in Russia, China, and Cambodia, convinced they can do it better. One minute they decry Trump as fascist because he calls people names, and the next they shout over a megaphone “F-ck Trump.”
Further they can’t point to a single piece of U.S. legislation that has actually curbed anyone’s freedom of speech, forced a single child to learn creationism, or prohibited any journalist, much less all journalists, from criticizing Trump as much as they please.
Groups like Refuse Fascism act like the entire country is simultaneously living under 1960s era Jim Crowe and an Atwood-esque dystopian nightmare. In reality, things in America are pretty good. For example, black unemployment is at an all-time low and the number of black women in the workplace has increased, reports CNN.
Facts like these are very inconvenient for those who want to claim the sky is falling. After all, who would agree to a communist revolution if capitalism is working out just fine?