Post 80: #Coronavirus and a perspective.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 80.


Liberty and military power

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I have an ache in my heart and a burn in my stomach. I am angry. I am seething. My president is a narcissistic racist.

The American president’s response to the Black solidarity movement happening in America today is instigating hate. The president has called the protestors “thugs” and “lowlife scum” when he is one of the biggest thugs in office. He wants to unleash the military to quell the [protestors] “violence.”

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for this great leadership! It’s like the frustrated parent yelling at their kid to “stop crying or else I will smack you so hard you’ll really have something to cry about!”

America needs to get to the heart of the issues and address the core values that have led us to this point. Our president is a racist! Our police forces have not been held accountable for their unnecessary use of force toward African-Americans.

We are not serving anyone by sending out the military to fight their own people. Let’s face it, the military presence will escalate the deaths of innocent people.

All my life, I have been watching activists speak up against anarchy, corruption, inequality, and racism – only to be silenced by the military powers of dictatorship and fascism.

America is waking up! Let’s hope this a start of a new understanding for the downtrodden and not a backward slide into a third-world dictatorship.

Dave Granlund cartoon retrieved via Internet search.
No copyright infringement intended.

The banana republic

Wayne Wallace, McLean, #Virginia

Yesterday morning, I woke up in a free country. For all its faults, it was at least free.

Last night, I went to sleep in a military dictatorship on the brink of civil war.

I recently heard Carl Bernstein use the term, “Cold Civil War,” to describe the state of affairs in this country. He was talking about the chasm between the alt-right and the rest of us. The uneducated White Trump supporters against the rest of us. I thought it was a very appropriate term to capture the state of affairs in the U.S.

I fear it will not be a cold civil war for long. The statements and actions of the @realDonaldTrump yesterday were not only announcing the end of democracy and the rule of law in our country; they were heralding the ascension of a despotic dictator. It was a big step that is sure to widen the divisions between the different factions in America. The steps announced from the Rose Garden yesterday will make the gap between Right and Left even wider. It will make the distrust between Black and White deeper.

@realDonaldTrump seems willing to tear the country apart to ensure his own reelection. Yesterday he took yet another giant step – not for mankind, but toward outright civil war – when he used federal troops to attack a crowd of peaceful protestors. That he did it solely to enable a photo op of him holding a Bible in front of a Church because he was embarrassed about being exposed as a coward hiding in his bunker makes it even worse. This is not what the country needs. This is the national-level equivalent to the White kids driving around the protests trying to hand bricks to Black protestors. Scaring White suburbia into reelecting a despotic thug just might work. I fear for this country if it does.

Retrieved from The DCist.com

Mein Trumpf

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Yep, ladies and gentlemen, we have a Hitler in our midst and the 21st century version is living up to its name.

What in God’s name was Trumpf thinking of yesterday? Seriously, a photo op for campaigning purposes? Really? After tear gassing protestors to get there? Really?

To think of the message that Trumpf was conveying at a time like this…using a Bible to reach his base…being a hypocrite to show up at a Church he has ignored for 3 years…to spew the venom…to actually pave his way there with tear gas from taxes we pay for…is this really the time for egotistical behavior??? Is it????

And now St. Paul’s II National Shrine? Seriously?

I don’t want to lose my focus today; we have a big Thawra day coming up on June 6 in Beirut. There are also #GeorgeFloyd protestors in every city around the world, and the #Coronavirus isn’t done – but the gall. The bloody gall.

And Ivanka in the background, sporting a designer white bag? Really? At a time of pure crisis…And Jared lurking as usual? I am ranting again.

Focus. Stay focused.

My brains can’t. I have too much anger and grief. I am outraged. I must stop here because I won’t be responsible for what else I might say.


The death of democracy

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

In 2011, Syrian-American activists and supporters starting holding demonstrations – against the Syrian dictatorship – in front of the White House. I remember being so impressed with the Secret Service officers, who told us they were there to protect us. As long as we kept things peaceful, there would be no trouble.

Those were the days when one of our chants was, “This is what democracy looks like!” We were all so impressed – the freedom to speak! The respect the authorities gave us!

Of course, those were different times. We were protesting the Assad regime, under whose brutal dictatorship in Syria, holding up a sign would get you arrested. Soldiers would fire teargas and bullets. True: your arms might be cut off in the torture chamber to teach you a lesson about holding up a sign.

But in DC, far away from Damascus, in front of President Obama’s White House, we were safe.

Yesterday I watched as peaceful American protesters assembled in front of the White House. They were People of All Colors demanding an end to racism. They were peaceful: Hands up, don’t shoot!

At first I thought, this is what democracy looks like. Tensions would surely be defused. POTUS – as infantile and sophomoric as he is – would realize that his legacy could be different if he would just put country before ego. I was sure the Secret Service or National Guard would never fire on American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights – because this is what democracy looks like. Until it didn’t.

I didn’t think they would teargas their own people, or fire at unarmed, peaceful civilians. Until they did.

This is not what democracy looks like.

We’re not in a democracy anymore. Just as surely and intentionally as Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, the President of the United States killed democracy yesterday when he declared war on We the People.

Rise up, America. MAKE NOISE. #BlackLivesMatter #Protests2020

Retrieved from Newswars.com.
No copyright infringement intended.

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Post 79: #Coronavirus and a perspective

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 79.

Tonight’s topic: Civil Resistance & Revolution


Lebanon: #Thawra

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

This is what we call a revolution in Lebanon. It is something we have been doing for a short time, only since October 17, 2019.

What we are seeing in the U.S. this week is a Thawra against police brutality, oppression, inequality, and racism. I am so proud to see so many people out in the streets in many cities, speaking out for #BlackLivesMatter, but truly, ALL lives matter.

I have been saying for the past 28 years, ever since the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, that the U.S. is facing a ticking time bomb when it comes to racial issues. Beating, torturing, and killing non-White men because of their color or race is not justified by any means. No matter the situation. Why don’t we see a White American being “handled” in the same manner by the police?

You guys out there protesting, more power to ya!

So let me tell you how we do Thawra here, only to give you some additional ideas:

  1. Daily protesting in the streets and city squares til the wee hours
  2. Closing down main arteries and roads into big cities with cars and trucks
  3. Daily car and truck convoys to politicians’ and governmental officials’ houses
  4. At 8 pm daily, we take out our pots and pans and make lots and lots of noise
  5. We write songs about Thawra and we blast them from trucks carrying big loudspeakers
  6. We wear the Lebanese flag as bandanas, face masks, and arm bands.
  7. We destroy government buildings (look at how the Lebanese Parliament is barricaded now)
  8. We have DJs hosting Thawra parties in all big cities and we yell and scream against the “nizam” (the screwed up system)
  9. Watch out for fifth-column infiltrators; in your case, the Aryans.

So my dear fellow Americans, go out and make noise, because we cannot let the system remain status quo. We must, we absolutely must, make the rights of every citizen mean the same to every American citizen.

Retrieved from alaraby.co.uk. No copyright infringement intended.

Palestine: We Need #Change

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Right after the George Floyd murder by a White police officer, I made a comment to my family about how the police tactics used today are as brutal as those used by Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians.

My son responded that I should not compare this incident with what’s happening to Palestinians under occupation, because we need to address the issue of social and racial injustice in America for what it is.

I totally agree and I am outraged by the blatant discrimination and murder of Black people at the hands of police officers in this country. However, as I read the news I see a few words tucked away amidst the myriad of US headlines. I see this international headline: “Israeli Forces Shoot and Kill Unarmed Autistic Palestinian Man.”

How can we pretend that this is okay? Iyad Halak, 32, was a mentally challenged autistic man. His crime? He was a Palestinian man walking down the street carrying something that was mistaken for a weapon. When the armed forces yelled for him to stop, this mentally disabled man ran away and attempted to hide. The police pursued Iyad and began to shoot at him. As Iyad lay dying, one officer continued to shoot at him.

This happens a lot to innocent of Palestinian men, women, and children. Most of the time, it doesn’t even make the news, or the report is tucked away discreetly at the back of the paper.

Retrieved from Reddit. No copyright infringement intended.

What can be done? Just as the Palestinians who protest the mistreatment of their people at the hands of the Israeli soldiers are called terrorist thugs, the Americans expressing their frustration to the mistreatment of Black people are called unpatriotic thugs.

As we saw during the South African apartheid, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. People can only be held down for a limited time before they respond emotionally in order to be heard.

You may be wondering how this is related to America. If I told you your U.S. tax dollars help fund a violent, racist Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people, would that make a difference? What if I told you that almost all Palestinians murdered by the U.S.-funded Israeli military forces were unarmed? Would that make a difference?

The world has completely lost sight of humans and humanity, especially when we turn a blind eye. It is time to demand change and make change.


Syria: The #Revolution Continues

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

It started in early 2011 with simple, peaceful demonstrations and hundreds of brilliantly creative displays forms of nonviolent expression. Activists launched ping-pong balls marked with the words “freedom,” “democracy,” and “dignity” from a mountaintop in Damascus. There were original songs – the kinds that drew crowds of up to 500,000 in one instance, defying curfews and regime orders – about telling the dictator to get lost. Syrians held sit-ins, stand-ins, and flash mobs. They ran social media campaigns, flooding Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube with hashtags, posts, and videos. They banged pots and pans in noise demonstrations, then went totally silent in flat-out strikes. Once someone filled a water fountain in a main city square with red food coloring – the leaping, dancing water, when the water flowed, symbolized the blood of activists who were getting shot at, with increasing precision and savagery, by militarized police and soldiers. The regime released criminals from prisons, armed them, and had them infiltrate the peaceful protests to agitate and stir up violence. Suddenly, nonviolent activists were labeled “rioters,” “looters,” and “terrorists.”

Sound familiar in 2020s America?

Here’s part of an article I wrote in 2012 about the nonviolent movement in Syria:

“The cycle of demonstrations and gunfire repeats itself, every day, and we understand perfectly the need to defend against a brutal regime. We understand perfectly the urge to respond to the government’s crackdown with gunfire. Yet we maintain our position: “Violence plays into Assad’s hands. Violence begets more violence. Revenge begets more revenge.”

We are certain that if we truly want democracy, the transition must begin with us. We will not become the tyrant we are fighting.”

~ Me

That was all before the regime started using warplanes and barrel bombs to target residential buildings and schools and hospitals and markets. That was before the regime started using chemical weapons with alarming impunity.

As the police and other law enforcement in the U.S. get progressively more violent and use increasingly lethal weaponry, I hope my brothers and sisters in humanity – of all races and ethnicities – fare better than Syrians did in the quest for freedom. Trump’s calls on governors to use more force and show strength in the face of protests are reminiscent of Assad’s orders to his paramilitary troops on what to do with protesters: shoot them, arrest them, torture them, kill them.

Today, badged members of the press get shot at in crowds across the U.S. In Syria, reporting the truth is a crime punishable by permanent disappearance. Hell, you can get arrested and tortured for a Facebook post or a Tweet. Is that where the U.S. is headed?

It’s time to ask ourselves if America is any better than a third-world country led by a tin-pot dictator. Ironically, Assad also once hid in a bunker in an undisclosed location.

Syrians have not given up. Today, despite the 1 million dead, quarter-million disappeared, 6 million internally displaced, and nearly 6 million refugees, we still have a couple of favorite sayings: “Down with the dictator” and “the Revolution continues.”

And so, brothers and sisters in humanity, you must do what you must do in America, for the sake of future generations. Just like in Syria, the revolution continues.

#BlackLivesMatter #ResistDictatorship #Riots2020 #TrumpResign

Aleppo, Syria, 2014. Photo Credit: BARAA AL-HALABI/AFP/Getty Images
No copyright infringement intended

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If you’d like to contribute a post, please get in touch! Send me an email, contact me on Twitter, or leave a comment here.

Post 78: #Coronavirus and a perspective

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 78.

Tonight we’re free-form writing


Them Cats

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

Today, I want to add a little humor into our otherwise morbid quarantines and the ticking time bombs exploding worldwide. Hong Kong, Lebanon, Minneapolis, and most U.S. cities are but a few places where racial inequality, hunger, and poverty loom and are among the many issues that we will have to grapple with once we start “re-living.”

I live with 5 felines who consider us humans their staff. And each one of them has personality traits that crack me up! I just might need to change their names.

Cosi, our eldest Himalayan Lilac Point is a quiet soul who never needs anything except his treats. He meows and demands this right several times a day. The rest of the time, he contemplates and sleeps. Very much like Putin. He states his intentions, gets what he wants quietly, and retracts.

Casper, who is 4 years old, is an adventurer, a hiker, and a climber. Where there are heights, he needs to reach them. Very much like Jacinda Adern. Once he reaches the top, he will only look to reach higher.

Bambi, a 3-year-old Persian, is a cuddle of sweetness and kindness. He is very much like Angela Merkel: efficient, effective, and direct.

Jazz, a grey Persian kitten, is the epitome of a bully. He doesn’t poop in his litter box, he steals the treats from other cats, he pushes everyone out of the way to reach his food bowl, and then makes the other 4 play musical chairs with theirs. You know like ummmmm, yep, you got it…Idiot-in-Chief!

Miskeh, his twin sister, is the relentless one who lives by her rules. But she also wants to be loved and taken care of. She is the smart one, she picked whom she felt is the right person for her. She did not vote for me. She voted for my husband. It’s her right. She made a choice and in an otherwise democratic household, she exemplifies today’s poor world citizen.

Me believes me will need therapy after the lockdowns are lifted for many-a-reason!

G-5 Summit

Freedom for All

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

I want to write something lighthearted today, I really do, but I’m unable to concentrate. My brain is in mourning over the crazy shit we are seeing in America.

I finally watched the CNN reporter and crew being arrested on live TV. As they were covering the protests in Minneapolis, the police arrested the crew for no apparent reason. It did not make an impact on me a few days ago because I was fuming at the lack of justice for George Floyd. Now with all the frenzy of the clashes of demonstrators and police, we are looking at an amplified response from citizens of the United States.

Are they protestor or demonstrators? Are they making a valid point or are they “thugs”?

How can we even begin to pass a judgment? ENOUGH ALREADY. People have had enough of the inequality and the racial injustice in this “Great” country.

A physical response from the people is what happens when people are at their wits’ end for not being heard.

America has ignored racial disparity for far too long. George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As an immigrant, I stand by minorities and I stand by the downtrodden and the underrepresented. No matter how we protest our mistreatment and inequality, we are silenced and/or imprisoned.

Living in a country where we afraid because of the color of our skin is not the country I immigrated to. When prominent sports figures took a knee in silent protest, they fired and labeled “unpatriotic.”

I am reminded that I could be living in any third-world dictatorship at this point. Where the government has to control its people with might. Where curfews are imposed. Where police drive cars into protestors. And of course, where the country’s leader is justifying this ugly behavior.

But I chose America! A proud country of immigrants. The free America. The America that speaks up against injustice. Or so I thought.

As it turns out, my America is selfish and self-serving. It speaks up only when there is something in it for the privileged few.


If you do nothing else…

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

…change your profile pic. Support the Movement for Black Lives in their call for a week of action June 1-June 5. Use hashtags #DefundPolice and #DefendBlackLife.

Silence equals acceptance. Stand up for human rights. #BlackLivesMatter.


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Post 76: #Coronavirus and a global perspective.

Today’s topic: #BlackLivesMatter.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 76.


Get out there

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

#BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

People, GET OUT THERE AND MAKE NOISE.

Join a protest.
Stage a rally.
Demand justice.

Kneel. Boycott. MAKE NOISE.

Because silence equals acceptance, and silence is killing people.


There must be an answer

Wayne Wallace, McLean, #Virginia

I am tempted to start with, “When things like this happen…” Except things like this don’t happen in my world. I am at a loss. Unfortunately, “things like this” do happen. A lot.

I don’t often think about White privilege, but I do recognize it and know that I often benefit from it. I have always known that White privilege means my opinion matters more in meetings. I know that I will get more respect than my non-White (not to mention female) counterparts.

What I haven’t thought about with regard to White privilege is how it affects me in my personal life. Now, I understand, White privilege means petty offenses do not carry a death penalty for me. I’ve long been of the opinion that U.S. drug laws are racist, but now it’s clear that far more often than should ever be tolerated, basic laws and law-enforcement activity are applied differently – depending on race.

As a White parent, I fear that my children may make stupid mistakes or bad decisions. But I don’t have to worry that their choices could carry a death sentence simply because of the color of their skin.

I don’t know what can be done to fix this. There are certainly legal remedies that need to be implemented. But more is needed. We, as a society, must reject the notion that Black men are to be feared. We need to stop accepting and electing politicians who play on our insecurities, biases, and fears. Instead, we must elect leaders and promote ideas that unite, tear down barriers to advancement, and eliminate the unequal application of justice.

What is not needed is more indifference to disproportionate treatment for criminal allegations, depending on the race of the suspect. What’s not needed is for the rest of us to avert our gaze while others plead, #ICANTBREATHE under the knee of police brutality. What is not needed is more White liberal guilt that ignores the real pain and suffering while being all too willing to weaponize race for personal gain.

Much the way it took men to “allow” women the right to vote and begin to heal millennia of gender inequality, it’s going to require the conscious effort of right-thinking White men and women to stop allowing separate and unequal justice, and demand equal treatment and dignity for ALL. Not just all of “us.”

Retrieved via Internet search.

Enough

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

I have spent a lot of time pontificating on what I have learned from the #coronavirus. I’ve reflected on the impact this whole experience has impressed upon me. It’s all been a bit overwhelming, really.

Now many are returning slowly to “normal” life. How do I start to move on? Personally, I don’t want to move on. I want to move away! Out to the country and be self-sufficient and live sustainably. But I want my voice to be heard.

I’ll emerge back into full-fledged engagement with “real” life after I am assured that the government really does hold the wellbeing of its citizens as a priority.

After the police is held accountable for murder.
After “Black Lives Matter” is a slogan imprinted on every American’s mind.
After “All Lives Matter” is a slogan we all live by.
After everyone, including officers, are arrested for committing cold-blooded murder.
After my America is so longer Amerikkka!

Enough is enough. We cannot continue to allow the racial divide to fester.

I leave you with the names of a fraction of those Black lives murdered by police. May you all Rest In Peace.

Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Eric Garner. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd.

Retrieved from @MrsChrstiBerg on Twitter

My country ’tis of thee

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

My country, the one I pledge allegiance to and the one I am proud to live in, is breaking my heart.

We abolished slavery.
We claimed equality.
We call ourselves a melting pot.
Lady Liberty says she welcomes everyone.

And yet, every American who is not a WASP or an Aryan, is definitely not welcome here – be they Native Indians, African-American, Asian, Arab, Latino…

We, non-WASP or Aryan Americans, make up 30% of people in these United States and still we are considered inferior to the White ones.

We are the ones working on today’s frontlines, in grocery stores, in menial jobs that no White American wants to do. And yet we are considered second-class citizens.

Are these United States a third-world country or first? Today, after the horrifying choking death of George Floyd, we have absolutely proven that we are worse than any third-world country.

We chastise these third-world countries on their leaders and policies. We condemn terrorists, sanctioning foreign governments. We still hold our heads higher than any other country, but we spew more hate and racism than any other life on Earth.

My country, you put me to shame. You ain’t no land of sweet liberty. 

Retrieved from lightboxcollaborative.com

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