Trump, His Virus and the Dark Age of Unreason


Excerpt from: Bill Moyers & Company

Trump, His Virus and the Dark Age of Unreason

By Bill Moyers
Created Jun 17 2016 – 7:59am— from Moyers & Company [1]

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

There’s a virus infecting our politics and right now it’s flourishing with a scarlet heat. It feeds on fear, paranoia and bigotry. All that was required for it to spread was a timely opportunity — and an opportunist with no scruples.

There have been stretches of history when this virus lay dormant. Sometimes it would flare up here and there, then fade away after a brief but fierce burst of fever. At other moments, it has spread with the speed of a firestorm, a pandemic consuming everything in its path, sucking away the oxygen of democracy and freedom.

Today its carrier is Donald Trump, but others came before him: narcissistic demagogues who lie and distort in pursuit of power and self-promotion. Bullies all, swaggering across the landscape with fistfuls of false promises, smears, innuendo and hatred for others, spite and spittle for anyone of a different race, faith, gender or nationality.

In America, the virus has taken many forms: “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, the South Carolina governor and senator who led vigilante terror attacks with a gang called the Red Shirts and praised the efficiency of lynch mobs; radio’s charismatic Father Charles Coughlin, the anti-Semitic, pro-Fascist Catholic priest who reached an audience of up to 30 million with his attacks on Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal; Mississippi’s Theodore Bilbo, a member of the Ku Klux Klan who vilified ethnic minorities and deplored the “mongrelization” of the white race; Louisiana’s corrupt and dictatorial Huey Long, who promised to make “Every Man a King.” And of course, George Wallace, the governor of Alabama and four-time presidential candidate who vowed, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Note that many of these men leavened their gospel of hate and their lust for power with populism — giving the people hospitals, schools and highways. Father Coughlin spoke up for organized labor. Both he and Huey Long campaigned for the redistribution of wealth. Tillman even sponsored the first national campaign-finance reform law, the Tillman Act, in 1907, banning corporate contributions to federal candidates.

But their populism was tinged with poison — a pernicious nativism that called for building walls to keep out people and ideas they didn’t like.

Which brings us back to Trump and the hotheaded, ego-swollen provocateur he most resembles: Joseph McCarthy, US senator from Wisconsin — until now perhaps our most destructive demagogue. In the 1950s, this madman terrorized and divided the nation with false or grossly exaggerated tales of treason and subversion — stirring the witches’ brew of anti-Communist hysteria with lies and manufactured accusations that ruined innocent people and their families. “I have here in my hand a list,” he would claim — a list of supposed Reds in the State Department or the military. No one knew whose names were there, nor would he say, but it was enough to shatter lives and careers.

In the end, McCarthy was brought down. A brave journalist called him out on the same television airwaves that helped the senator become a powerful, national sensation. It was Edward R. Murrow, and at the end of an episode exposing McCarthy on his CBS series See It Now, Murrow said [2]:

“It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”

There also was the brave and moral lawyer Joseph Welch, acting as chief counsel to the US Army after it was targeted for one of McCarthy’s inquisitions. When McCarthy smeared one of his young associates, Welch responded in full view of the TV and newsreel cameras during hearings in the Senate. “You’ve done enough,” Welch said. “Have you no sense of decency [3], sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?… If there is a God in heaven, it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further.”

It was a devastating moment. Finally, McCarthy’s fellow senators — including a handful of brave Republicans — turned on him, putting an end to the reign of terror. It was 1954. A motion to censure McCarthy passed 67-22, and the junior senator from Wisconsin was finished. He soon disappeared from the front pages, and three years later was dead.

Here’s something McCarthy said that could have come straight out of the Trump playbook: “McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled.” Sounds just like The Donald, right? Interestingly, you can draw a direct line from McCarthy to Trump — two degrees of separation. In a Venn diagram of this pair, the place where the two circles overlap, the person they share in common is a fellow named Roy Cohn.

Cohn was chief counsel to McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the same one Welch went up against. Cohn was McCarthy’s henchman, a master of dark deeds and dirty tricks. When McCarthy fell, Cohn bounced back to his hometown of New York and became a prominent Manhattan wheeler-dealer, a fixer representing real estate moguls and mob bosses — anyone with the bankroll to afford him. He worked for Trump’s father, Fred, beating back federal prosecution of the property developer, and several years later would do the same for Donald. “If you need someone to get vicious toward an opponent,” Trump told a magazine reporter in 1979, “you get Roy.” To another writer he said, “Roy was brutal but he was a very loyal guy.”

Cohn introduced Trump to his McCarthy-like methods of strong-arm manipulation and to the political sleazemeister Roger Stone, another dirty trickster and unofficial adviser to Trump who just this week suggested that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was a disloyal American who may be a spy for Saudi Arabia, a “terrorist agent.”

Cohn also introduced Trump to the man who is now his campaign chair, Paul Manafort, the political consultant and lobbyist who without a moral qualm in the world has made a fortune representing dictators [4] — even when their interests flew in the face of human rights or official US policy.

So the ghost of Joseph McCarthy lives on in Donald Trump as he accuses President Obama of treason, slanders women, mocks people with disabilities and impugns every politician or journalist who dares call him out for the liar and bamboozler he is. The ghosts of all the past American demagogues live on in him as well, although none of them have ever been so dangerous — none have come as close to the grand prize of the White House.

Because even a pathological liar occasionally speaks the truth, Trump has given voice to many who feel they’ve gotten a raw deal from establishment politics, who see both parties as corporate pawns, who believe they have been cheated by a system that produces enormous profits from the labor of working men and women that are gobbled up by the 1 percent at the top. But again, Trump’s brand of populism comes with venomous race-baiting that spews forth the red-hot lies of a forked and wicked tongue.

We can hope for journalists with the courage and integrity of an Edward R. Murrow to challenge this would-be tyrant, to put the truth to every lie and publicly shame the devil for his outrages. We can hope for the likes of Joseph Welch, who demanded to know whether McCarthy had any sense of decency. Think of Gonzalo Curiel, the jurist Trump accused of persecuting him because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. Curiel has revealed the soulless little man behind the curtain of Trump’s alleged empire, the avaricious money-grubber who conned hard-working Americans out of their hard-won cash to attend his so-called “university.”

And we can hope there still remain in the Republican Party at least a few brave politicians who will stand up to Trump, as some did McCarthy. This might be a little harder. For every Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham who have announced their opposition to Trump, there is a weaselly Paul Ryan, a cynical Mitch McConnell and a passel of fellow travelers up and down the ballot who claim not to like Trump and who may not wholeheartedly endorse him but will vote for him in the name of party unity.

As this headline in The Huffington Post aptly put it, “Republicans Are Twisting Themselves Into Pretzels To Defend Donald Trump [5].” Ten GOP senators were interviewed about Trump and his attack on Judge Curiel’s Mexican heritage. Most hemmed and hawed about their presumptive nominee. As Trump “gets to reality on things he’ll change his point of view and be, you know, more responsible.” That was Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Trump’s comments were “racially toxic” but “don’t give me any pause.” That was Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Republican African-American in the Senate. And Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas? He said Trump’s words were “unfortunate.” Asked if he was offended, Jennifer Bendery writes, the senator “put his fingers to his lips, gestured that he was buttoning them shut, and shuffled away.”

No profiles in courage there. But why should we expect otherwise? Their acquiescence, their years of kowtowing to extremism in the appeasement of their base, have allowed Trump and his nightmarish sideshow to steal into the tent and take over the circus. Alexander Pope once said that party spirit is at best the madness of the many for the gain of a few. A kind of infection, if you will — a virus that spreads through the body politic, contaminating all. Trump and his ilk would sweep the promise of America into the dustbin of history unless they are exposed now to the disinfectant of sunlight, the cleansing torch of truth. Nothing else can save us from the dark age of unreason that would arrive with the triumph of Donald Trump.
_______

About author Bill Moyers is managing editor of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at http://www.pbs.org/moyers

Democrats: Words Matter. Don’t validate Trump’s Hate.


Excerpt from: CREDO Action

Stand up to Trump’s Hate
Donald Trump’s racism has the official stamp of approval of the Republican Party establishment, and their leaders have been hard at work sanitizing his toxic message to justify their support of his hateful platform.

With a fascist assuming the leadership of the Republican Party, Democrats must call out and denounce Trump’s racism and xenophobia, and refuse to accept hate becoming part of mainstream political discourse. They must hold themselves to a higher standard and refuse to stoop to Trump’s level.

That’s why it’s so troubling that some Democratic leaders are making statements that seem to normalize Trump’s views.

Within hours of this weekend’s horrifying massacre at an Orlando LGBT club, and far before we had clarity on the killer’s motives, Trump was bragging about “being right on radical Islamic terrorism” and challenging Sec. Clinton for being unwilling to use the phrase.

Last December after the San Bernardino attacks, Sec. Clinton gave a strong explanation for why she did not: “The problem is, [radical Islam] sounds like we are declaring war against a religion. That to me is number one, wrong. It doesn’t do justice to the vast numbers of Muslims in our own country and around the world who are peaceful people.”1

But on Monday morning, Sec. Clinton said:

“From my perspective, it matters what we do more than what we say… I have clearly said… whether you call it radical jihadism or radical Islamism, I’m happy to say either. I think they mean the same thing.”2

With those comments, Sec. Clinton appeared to be caving to the unrelenting campaign by Trump and the extreme right-wing to use the phrase “radical Islam.” It’s part of their larger effort to scapegoat Muslim communities and play into the Republican base’s racism and xenophobia.3

Sec. Clinton’s change from her earlier position also put her at odds with President Obama who – with good reason – has gone to great lengths to stand firm on not using the phrase. On Tuesday, he gave a powerful speech where he once again took a stand against the right-wing’s desire to prioritize the racist marginalization of Muslims over the real fight against terrorism.4

Sec. Clinton’s campaign said she was trying to neutralize Trump’s critique and show she is more equipped to fight terrorism, but her willingness to use Trump’s language actually cedes the terms of the debate to Trump and other bigots and helps validate their hate.

It’s not only disappointing when Democratic leaders cede talking points to the right — it’s a reckless and dangerous stance to take with a demagogue like Trump. It’s not a high bar to stand on higher ground than Trump, and we fully expect Democratic leaders to do so, and do so consistently.

Sec. Clinton is not the only Democratic leader whose actions have played into Trump’s rhetoric. Recently, Sen. Jon Tester, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – whose home state of Montana is likely to vote for Trump in the fall – has not only said he’s “sure” he can work with Trump on some things, but has characterized Trump’s hateful rhetoric as “some pretty goofy opinions.”5

Trump has called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. He has proposed banning Muslims, including U.S. citizens, from entering the United States. He has encouraged his supporters to target protesters at his rallies with violence and has justified and endorsed the violence his supporters commit.

This rhetoric is not goofy. It is racist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim hate speech. Every Democrat should be exposing and standing up to Trump’s hate at every turn, and never giving credence to – or cover for – it.

  • Tell Democratic leaders: Words matter. Don’t validate Trump’s hate.
  • Tell Democrats:
    “Donald Trump’s campaign is based on racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and hate. Don’t validate or legitimize him or his platform.”
  • Go to the link below to sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/dems_hate_speech?t=7&akid=18543.7785905.430O51

Thanks for everything you do,

Heidi Hess, Senior Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

References:

Abby Phillip, “As Clinton shifts on ‘radical Islam’ label, Trump claims credit,” Washington Post, June 13, 2016.
David Wright, “Hillary Clinton: I’ll say the words ‘radical Islamism’,” CNN, June 14, 2016.
Andrew Prokop, “Why Republicans want Obama to denounce “radical Islam” — and why he won’t do it,” Vox, June 13, 2016.
Bill Chappell, “President Obama Slams ‘Yapping’ Over ‘Radical Islam’ And Terrorism,” NPR, June 14, 2016.
Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim, “Centrist Democrats: We can work with President Trump,” Politico, May 16, 2016.

© 2016 CREDO. All rights reserved.

Tell Democratic Leadership: Force A vote On Gun Control Now, Including A Ban On Assault Weapons


Excerpt from: CREDO Action

On Monday, directly following an official moment of silence for the victims of the tragic Orlando shooting, Democrats in the House of Representatives shouted down Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in a bold, public display of disgust with his and his party’s devotion to hollow and empty gestures instead of real action on gun control.1

On Wednesday, Democrats in the Senate, led by Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, launched a talking filibuster to try to force a vote on universal background checks and closing the terror watchlist gap. After a filibuster of nearly 15 hours, Republicans reportedly agreed to vote on narrowly focused bills to require universal background checks and close the terror watchlist gap.

We appreciate these Democratic members for their public stands against the NRA’s lock on the Republican party, and want to make sure they know that there’s massive grassroots support for them to do more, and do more now.

With public outrage and attention focused again on the issue of gun violence, now is the time for Congress to go big to stop the massive wreckage and violence inflicted by guns in our communities. The leaders of the Democratic Party – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and President Barack Obama – should build on the momentum of their colleagues’ actions, put aside business as usual, and use every tactic at their disposal to force a vote on comprehensive gun control legislation that includes a ban on assault weapons before ANY other legislative action occurs in Congress.

They have the power to force this issue and make it their absolute top priority. Now is the time to do exactly that.

Tell Democratic leadership: Force a vote on a comprehensive gun control package, including a ban on assault weapons.

It’s painfully clear that Republicans are too firmly in the grip of the NRA to even allow a vote banning military-grade assault weapons that have absolutely no business in the hands of ordinary citizens. But Republican intransigence is no longer a suitable excuse for Democrats to accept the status quo – not after 49 Americans were shot and killed, and over 50 wounded, in a horrific hate crime against the LGBT community.

Democratic leaders have the tools and leverage at their disposal to elevate this issue and make it the top priority in Washington right now. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi can force a vote in the House through a tactic known as a “discharge petition,” which would force every member of Congress to take a position and vote on an assault weapons ban. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid can deploy a number of procedural votes to force every member of the Senate to go on record on whether an assault weapons ban should be considered. And all three, including President Obama, can pledge to take up no other legislative business until this critical issue of American safety and security is addressed. We need to make sure they know we’ll have their backs if they lead in this bold way.

In addition to advocating for narrowly focused measures such as universal background checks, Democrats should forcefully push for a comprehensive gun control legislation package that includes banning the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines for civilian use; banning convicted domestic abusers, stalkers and people convicted of violent hate crimes from buying guns; and ending the ban on gun violence research.

A national tragedy and public crisis like this calls for leadership and clarity. With public opinion strongly on Democrats’ side, there is absolutely no reason why they can’t take bold, extraordinary measures to ensure the safety and security of Americans while forcing every member of Congress to go on the record about whether they care more about American lives or the NRA’s political support.2

  • Tell Democratic leadership: Force a vote on a comprehensive gun control package, including a ban on assault weapons.
  • Tell Democratic leadership:
    “Do everything in your power, including halting all other legislative business, to force a vote on comprehensive gun control reforms, including banning the sale of assault weapons.”
  • Go to the below to sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/Democrats_Gun_Control?t=7&akid=18593.7785905.ijOdlg

Thank you for your activism.

Heidi Hess, Senior Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Rebecca Shabad, “Democrats shout down Paul Ryan after Orlando shooting moment of silence,” CBS News, June 13, 2016.
Reena Flores, “After Orlando, do Americans support assault weapons ban?,” CBS News, June 15, 2016.

© 2016 CREDO. All rights reserved.

Want to know how Republicans ended up with Donald Trump? This is how Republicans ended up with Donald Trump


Excerpt from: VOX

A Republican senator just prayed that Obama’s “days be few.” This is how the GOP got Trump.

Updated by Ezra Klein on June 10, 2016, 11:40 a.m.

Georgia Republican David Perdue offered a rather ungenerous prayer for Obama.

Sen. David Perdue is the junior senator from Georgia. He’s known in the Senate as a nice, modest guy — not one of the bomb throwers, by any means.

Here is how the prayer he encouraged the audience to make for Obama continues:

Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.

Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.

Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.

Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.

You don’t have to believe Perdue literally wants Michelle Obama to be a widow to think that invoking this psalm toward the president of the United States is, perhaps, a bit inappropriate. (Perdue isn’t the first to suggest Psalm 109:8 is an appropriate prayer for Obama; it’s become a meme in hard-right circles, where you can buy bumper stickers and shirts that say the same thing.)

The Republican Party acts shocked by Trump — like he is some alien parasite who has taken over their party without warning or precedent. They shouldn’t be so shocked.

Comments like Perdue’s are the context in which Trump ran. For years, Republican voters have been told that the president is a Muslim, a Kenyan, a socialist. They have heard Newt Gingrich fret over his “Kenyan anti-colonial mindset,” Mitt Romney worry that the United States is “inches away from no longer being a free economy,” and, yes, Donald Trump argue that he’s hiding the true circumstances of his birth. They were thrilled when Ben Carson called Obamacare “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery” and pleased when Ted Cruz agreed to look into whether Obama was planning an armed takeover of Texas.

And those examples are limited to national leaders in the Republican Party. The rhetoric coming from state senators, talk radio hosts, and local Tea Party chairs is much worse. Grassroots Republicans have been told for years that the struggle with Obama is existential and civilizational, that the disagreements are fundamental and scary, that the future of the country they love dearly is in doubt.

Republican leaders are not responsible for all of this rhetoric, but they have consistently indulged it and rarely challenged it. Rather than fighting the hysteria, they have sought to harness it for their own ends.

In some ways, the strategy has worked. Republicans control the House and the Senate. But they face a base continually angry over their inability to stop Obama, and one that punishes them severely when they try to compromise. And now the base has lost faith in their quisling leaders and turned to a guy who seems like he really won’t give up, who seems like he really isn’t cowed by the media or Washington elites, who seems like he believes what they believe and recognizes the stakes are high enough that something needs to be done about it.

 

Speech Rabbi Lerner’s Funeral Speech


“Here is one of the MOST POWERFUL peace messages I have heard to date. If you have not heard Rabbi Learner’s peace message at Ali’s funeral, it is an ABSOLUTE MUST!” Gale Audia, PDA

Gun Control Now: Congress Must Ban Assault Weapons


Excerpt from: CREDO Action

Another horrific mass shooting happened yesterday, leaving at least 50 dead and 50 more wounded at an LGBT club in Orlando.

As the death toll from the tragedy in Orlando continued to mount, Republican politicians were quick to offer their prayers and condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

Coming from politicians who not only refuse to act to reduce gun violence, but who also foster and promote anti-LGBT bigotry and hate through their words, their party platform and their legislative actions, those “thoughts and prayers” don’t mean much.1

Breaking the NRA’s chokehold on Congress will require massive grassroots pressure on our elected officials, demanding they deliver more than thoughts and prayers in the face of our epidemic of gun violence. Can you add your voice today to tell Republican leaders to vote on a meaningful package of gun control reforms, including an assault weapons ban?

Republican members of Congress respond to gun tragedies while they’re in the news. But, they don’t take responsibility for how their actions, and inaction, lay the groundwork for hate crimes and gun violence, nor do they take action to prevent these tragedies from happening again. Instead, they offer up either fleeting sentiments or xenophobic and racist policies.

They need to pass real gun control now, including:

  • Closing the terror gap by allowing the Department of Justice to block guns sales to anyone on the terror watch list. Between 2004 and 2014, more than 2,000 people on the list purchased guns in the U.S.
  • Closing the loophole that allows people to buy guns without undergoing background checks through private sales, at gun shows and online. An estimated 40 percent of all firearms transferred in the U.S. are transferred by unlicensed individuals not required to conduct background checks on buyers.3
  • Banning convicted domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.4
  • Prohibiting the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and “large capacity” magazines for civilian use.

In 2014 alone, the gun lobby spent over $30 million on political advertising and lobbying to influence legislators in Congress and state capitals across the country.5 If Republicans really want to protect Americans, they need to break their blind allegiance to the NRA and pass gun control legislation. But they’ll never act unless we force them. Can you add your voice today?

Tell Republicans in Congress: It’s time to pass real gun control legislation.

When Republicans disagree with advances in women’s rights, LGBT rights, or civil rights, they don’t just offer their thoughts and prayers, they push legislation. In just the last year, Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures across the country have worked to make abortion impossible to access, to discriminate against LGBT people, and to take away voting rights. At the same time, they have aggressively pushed the NRA’s agenda to weaken gun laws, from campus carry to permitless carry to stand your ground.

If all Republicans can offer after this weekend’s massacre are their thoughts and prayers, or misguided scapegoating of Muslim communities that plays into their base’s racism and xenophobia, that speaks volumes. It shows that current Republican leaders in Congress lack the care, or courage, to act.

  • Tell Republicans in Congress: “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough. We need real gun control. 
  • “It’s time to put your constituents before the NRA. Bring a real gun control legislation package, which includes a ban on assault weapons, to the floor of the House and the Senate.”

Go to the link below to sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/Orlando_Gun_Control?t=7&akid=18521.7785905.Uxp2aq

Thank you for your activism,

Heidi Hess, Senior Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

References:

David Weigel, “Few Republicans mention LGBT community in Orlando reactions,” Washington Post, June 12, 2016 and Jennifer Bendery and Matt Fuller, “Republicans Kill Spending Bill Over Its LGBT Protections,” HuffingtonPost.com, May 26, 2016.
“Closing the Terror Gap in Gun Background Checks,” Everytown for Gun Safety, July 21, 2015.“Universal Background Checks & the “Private” Sale Loophole Policy Summary ,” Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, September 10, 2015.”Gabby Giffords, National Domestic Violence Prevention Leaders Applaud New House Legislation to Keep Guns out of the Hands of Abusers,” Americans for Responsible Solutions, July 22, 2015.Ben Geier, “NRA’s Massive Political Spending Gains Attention,” Fortune, December 3, 2015.

© 2016 CREDO. All rights reserved.

Humanity And Dignity Under The Gun


POSTED BY MIKE HERSH  JUNE 12, 2016

As a federal political action committee, mainly focused on electing progressive candidates to federal offices, Progressive Democrats of America has generally not weighed in on gun violence issues. That changes today. We have always held that an injury to one is an injury to all. Today, even as we grieve about the tragedy at the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, we are expressing our deep commitment to doing all that we can to end the severe and nearly constant level of gun violence in our nation.

Fifty people are dead in Orlando.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, more than 60 people were shot in Chicago. Unless we stand together to break this cycle of gun violence, tomorrow we will await the next breaking news story about the latest gun tragedy. While we have not yet formulated our specific position on gun control, we will be engaging our leadership, our chapters, and our base in this process. We simply cannot and will not accept a society in which mass shootings have become so commonplace.

As the horrendous massacre in Florida demonstrates, intolerance and hate as well as too-easy access to weapons of mass murder make a deadly combination. No other major nation on earth suffers from the unrelenting onslaught of mass murder by gunfire. Nations most-similar to ours–such as England, Canada, and Australia–have taken necessary steps to prevent mass-shooting tragedies as well as rampant gun violence. Only the United States has refused to act.

Our elected officials have failed to act, largely because of powerful special interests including gun and ammunition manufacturers. PDA calls upon these industries and their political operatives to stand down. In the name of common sense and human decency, stand down and let rational, thoughtful people address the epidemic of gun violence.

While, fortunately, horrendous hate crimes of this magnitude are relatively rare, abuse and crimes of hate occur daily. PDA calls upon the President, the Congress, and all state and local officials to finally treat this national emergency with seriousness and effectiveness. We also call upon all civil society leaders to condemn hate crimes and bigotry of any kind.

Together, we must defend ourselves against all forms of hate. From the bullying a gay or non-gender conforming child suffers, to Swastikas painted on the doors of a synagogue. From anti-Muslim words and even physical attacks, to the centuries of racism against people of color. From the virulent sexism targeting women to the nativism and xenophobia oppressing immigrants. All these acts of hate strike at the very heart of the American Dream.

Today we stand with all who value peace. We stand with all who value justice. We stand with all who support equality. We grieve for Orlando today as we have grieved for so many communities in the past, and we commit ourselves to ending the stranglehold the gun lobby has on American society and our democracy.

In solidarity,

Donna, Mike H, Judy, Mike F, Janis, Deb, Kim, and Conor
PDA’s National Team