Posted on July 18, 2019 in Countdown

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But Still, Like Air, We’ll Rise

Telling you about Trump’s racism isn’t news. After all, his birther conspiracies about President Obama go back many years before his own presidency. But something happened this week that isn’t your run-of-the-mill bigotry; it’s a dark and despicable escalation that calls for alarm. Trump called on four black and brown women in Congress (the squad), three of them American born, to “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Trump doubled down with a follow up speech which included a lie so dangerous that it really amounts to incitement to violence: He falsely accused Ilhan Omar of praising Al-Qaeda. These are not dog whistles anymore, these are sirens of an impending danger to everything our country is supposed to stand for. Think about this: it’s 2019, and a racist mob surrounding the President chants “send her back” in reference to a member of Congress on account of her national origin. We’re at a moment in the 21st century when Congress votes to condemn the President’s racism, and only four Republicans join in that condemnation. This is a moment that requires us to put country before party, and the Republican Party’s leadership is failing us in this moment, tolerating racism for politics, and it’s shameful.

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Making Sure the 1st Amendment Isn’t Collateral Damage

Whenever Congress decides to take on Israel/Palestine, you know it’s time for some pandering that ranges from the hilarious to the infuriating. Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee took on a package of five Israel/Palestine-related bills and resolutions, and they were all approved. If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the kookiness here. If not, here’s a quick summary: Two resolutions, H.Res.138 and H.Res.326, offer Washington-standard support for a two-state solution, affirming a special relationship with Israel and only leveling criticism of Palestinians. Shamefully, language about “bringing an end to the occupation” was removed H.R.1850 and H.R.1837 were about sanctions on anyone connected with a designated terrorist organization, and about greater US-Israeli cooperation regarding military technology, respectively. And then there was a particularly terrible one: H.Res. 246 is an anti-BDS resolution mischaracterizing the BDS campaign with distortions and flat-out lies. But if you don’t like the assault on our rights, you’ll want to hear this: Rep. Ilhan Omar offered H.Res. 496, a resolution which simply affirms the First Amendment-protected right of all Americans to engage in boycotts. That resolution has six cosponsors, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis. This is an important one, so take a minute to tell your representative to join them in affirming our right to boycott.

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Keep Away the Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses...

This week, the Trump Administration issued a rule which will deny asylum to migrants at the US-Mexico border on the basis that they should have claimed asylum in the first country through which they passed. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi expressed concern, stating that the rule will “...put vulnerable families at risk…. This measure is severe and is not the best way forward.” The UNHCR stated it is “..ready to play a constructive role if needed…” This is where we are, folks: The UN is concerned about human rights in the United States, and is offering to help. Various organizations are calling the move illegal; the rule cites Section 208(b)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which provides specific, limited exceptions to the allowance of asylum application at the US border. As such, Trump’s blanket denial of asylum application appears to be in clear violation. At what point is Trump planning to go to the Statue of Liberty and wipe out the “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and replace it with a slogan more befitting of what he’s turned us into? Maybe then, everyone can feel the full weight of his policies and what they are doing to our country. 

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An Eye on Sudan

The toppling of former Sudanese strongman Omar Al-Bashir in April brought hope that Sudan would see freedom soon under civilian rule. But negotiations between leaders of the popular protests that brought down the government and the military generals who stepped in to fill the power vacuum collapsed back in June, leading to a brutal military crackdown on protesters in the capital, the killing of over 100 demonstrators, and various other atrocities. But the persistence of the Sudanese people in demanding civilian rule forced a new round of negotiations, leading to a preliminary power-sharing agreement a couple of weeks ago between the military and the civilian opposition. But another civilian was reportedly killed and several others wounded by paramilitary forces this week, leading to renewed protests amid further delays in negotiations for finalizing the preliminary power-sharing agreement. The future is far from certain, but the Sudanese people’s steadfast commitment to their struggle is a light of hope amid troubling developments throughout the country and the region.

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Hunter’s Hunt for Bigotry

Remember California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter? When his seat was first challenged by Arab American Ammar Campa-Najjar, Hunter resorted to a campaign of bigotry, releasing an ad portraying his opponent as a member of a plot by “radical Muslims… trying to infiltrate the U.S. government.” Hunter managed to hold on to his seat. But now that prosecutors are accusing him of using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions on personal expenses, including (get this...) multiple affairs, Hunter’s wife is cooperating with prosecutors. All of this is really bad for Hunter, which means he must be getting desperate. And what does more desperation mean? You guessed it: more bigotry. He just sent out a mailer to voters with pictures of Campa-Najjar, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, with the text reading: “These three radical Democrats want you to forget their anti-semitism or family-terrorist ties!” Boy, Hunter is a piece of work (we went for “work” because the Countdown team is polite). But as Hunter’s luck would have it, not only is the Democrat challenging him an Arab American (yes, Campa-Najjar is still gunning for it), but Arab American Republican Sam Abed has also filed to run for the seat should Hunter be forced out. Juicy! We’ll keep an eye on this one for ya.

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