Category: Donald Trump

The Alt-Right

November and December 2017 Donald Trump’s recent rise to power has put a spotlight on what has come to be known as the “alt-right.”  Yet the alt-right proceeded the Trump campaign and has, perhaps, contributed to Trump’s victory and also … Continue reading

White Activists and the Burnout of Activists of Color

By Paul Gorski Resources Chen, C., & Gorski, P. (2015). Burnout in social justice and human rights activists: Symptoms, causes, and implications. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 7(3), 366-390. Cox, L. (2011). How do we keep going? Activist burnout and sustainability in social movements. Helsinki: Into-ebooks. Gorski, … Continue reading

A Roadmap for Radicals – podcast

In this episode of Nonviolence Radio we talk with activist and writer, Jonathan Smucker, author of Hegemony: How To. A Roadmap for Radicals, about the opportunities for progressives to gain lasting political power, and some pitfalls to watch out for. And Michael Nagler joins us on his birthday–and the day of the inauguration of Donald Trump–to highlight some recent events in nonviolence in the news.   Listen to the show here! (Or go underneath the bio box below to find ways to download this show  or listen through our player on this page…)

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Turning the Tables – Podcast

How is the trickster archetype playing out in society today? Who is the trickster? Is dedication to truth waning? How can we, using nonviolence, “turn the tables” on the trickster, and how can we “flip the script” in situations of conflict? This week on Nonviolence Radio, Michael Nagler and Stephanie Van Hook have an interesting discussion answering these questions and more, followed by news, resources, hope, and truth in the latest episode of Nonviolence in the News. Don’t miss it! Listen to the show here! (Or go underneath the bio box below to find ways to download this show  or listen through our player on this page…)  

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Mobilization in the Trump Era

Over the course of this last year, I worked on a paper titled “Elites, Policy and Social Movements” now published in Research in Political Sociology. In short, the paper is about how challengers, over the long run, develop ties to … Continue reading

Faith in a Time of Shock & Sorrow

“If you lose,” the Dalai Lama once said, “don’t lose the lesson.” What is the lesson we must try to learn from this devastating election setback? First that the anger, prejudice, and self-centeredness in this country is more widespread and deeper than we wanted to imagine. Second, that in the days to come we will have to struggle against much steeper odds than we thought. There is a difference between wishful thinking and hope. Wishful thinking, which I indulged in in my recent op-eds about the Trump candidacy (here and here), where I assumed he had already lost, lulls us into complacency—and sets us up for shocks like this. Hope is based on the truth that we do not live in a random, much less a malevolent world, and there are unseen capacities for wisdom and compassion in every one of us. As my mentor and spiritual guide, Sri Eknath Easwaran once said, “there is no nation so strong that it cannot be destroyed by hate.” It seems like that is happening to us, but there is something in the human spirit that does not want to die, does not want to hate—and this something can always be awakened, if necessary by nonviolent resistance. There are resources in the human spirit that lie dormant until some extraordinary circumstance brings them to life. This could be one of them; we can make sure that it is. I am happy to say that while I did experience a wave of despair when I first heard the election news from friends, I felt much better when I remembered that about the human spirit, and remembered the Bhagavad Gita‘s formula to “choose the right work, use the right means [nonviolence], and be not attached to the results”—they are not in our control. I felt better still when I talked with everyone on the Metta Center staff: We are all responding with the same spirit, which is to recommit ourselves to the great work we’re already doing. Whether circumstances are favorable or very unfavorable, they are just circumstances. We are who we are; we do what we do. NY Times columnist Tom Friedman writes: “How do I explain Trump’s victory? … my gut tells me that it has much less to do with trade or income gaps and much more to do with culture and many Americans’ feeling of ‘homelessness.’” These are exactly the issues we’ve been addressing: to change the “story” of our materialist, alienating culture and point us to a world of purpose and belonging. Wasn’t it the Dalai Lama, again, who spoke of the haunting feeling of uselessness in our culture? This is an ideal time, then, to support the Metta Center’s work with a donation. Another way to support our efforts is to volunteer (email us if you’re interested). In an unguarded moment Gandhi once said, “I love storms.” We wouldn’t have wished for this one, but we’ll meet it in something of that spirit.

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“Hillary Clinton sees me:” The primaries, “identity politics,” and disability

At the Democratic National Convention, disability activist Anastasia Somoza told enthusiastic audience members that “in a country where 56 million people so often feel invisible, Hillary Clinton sees me. She sees me as a strong woman, a young professional, a … Continue reading

“Activists are on this. Let’s all be on this:” Is Gun Control on the “Gay Agenda?”

“Dear NRA, we made it through Stonewall, AIDS, DADT, and through Marriage Equality. You’re next.” This was among the many comments Jennifer Carlson and I received following the online publication of our recent op-ed in the Washington Post. For many … Continue reading

The Trump Question: Are You Listening?

Maybe, instead of rallying against Trump the man, we could connect with his supporters, instead. And maybe that’s the only thing that will do any good. Trump seems to embody everything wrong with this country, at least in the circles I run in. He’s the American Ego run rampant, an American bogeyman. Recently, I overheard my daughter and some friends having an impromptu comedy show in the living room. Suddenly, their giggles turned to raucous peals of laughter. They had decided to make Trump the butt every joke in their comedy routine. Meanwhile, my Facebook feed was overrun by post after post shaming Trump for the controversial things he says and slamming his supporters for being either too dumb or two bigoted to know any better. In the real world, protesters were turning up the heat on Trump, obstructing him in every way they could, but no matter how riled-up his opponents got and no matter what terrible things he said, Trump’s popularity continued to grow. In early April, I attended the (absolutely amazing) Person Power Yoga retreat that Metta Center hosted and, quite unsurprisingly, Trump was a topic that popped up over and over. On the second day of the retreat, at the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) presentation lead by Lou Zweier, a novel idea began to scratch at my cerebral cortex. Through the lens of NVC, behind all communication there is a need that wants to be fulfilled: security, respect, love, understanding, connection, attention, accomplishment, safety, creativity, the list goes on. I began to wonder, what are the needs that are attracting people to Trump? What would happen if instead of being shamed and called racist, misogynist and/or uneducated, Trump supporters were listened to? I think we would find that they are people who feel ignored, who are afraid for their future, who are weary of this seemingly inextricable bond that exists between the government and corporations that perpetually funnels the riches and power of the world into the hands of the those very few at the top. Maybe we would find that Trump supporters are our neighbors and friends. Maybe we would find that we have a lot in common. In New York, Trump garnered half the Hispanic vote in the Republican primary, even as one of his rivals is Hispanic. In a recent article in the Guardian called “’Not even my wife knows’: secret Donald Trump voters speak out,” we hear from a Latina woman, an Occupy protestor, a yoga teacher, a gay Muslim, a liberal sociology professor, an evangelical pastor, and a British immigrant among others. Some Trump supporters want to build walls around the country and ban Muslims, but that is not the only, or even the principal, cause of the “Trump Phenomenon.” It’s easy to write people off if we assume they are bigots or [fill in the blank], but not so much if we step past the dehumanizing labels and see the person inside. Division and alienation is the weakness of the many, and the […]

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Weaving our own safety net

The world of commerce is an important world. We need to participate and we need to reform if we want to feed hungry people. The world of politics is important–crucial–in seeing to the reform that can house homeless. But the beginning of all of that p…