A Time for Heroes… Which Side Are You On?
June 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This is a time for heroes. Heroes like Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, Ricky John Best, and Micah Fletcher. They put their lives on the line. Two of them gave their lives to stop a violent fascist from terrorizing two young Black women on a Portland MAX train who he took to be Muslims.
Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche’s last words were, “Tell everyone on this train that I love them.”
In a video posted on Facebook, Micah Fletcher, the stabbing victim who survived, challenged people to not just support the stabbing victims, but to put themselves in the shoes of the young Black women who were terrorized. On Facebook he posted, “They are the real victims here as well.” And, he posted, “Imagine that for a second—being the little girl on the MAX. This man is screaming at you, his face is a pile of knives, his body is a gun. Everything about him is cocked, loaded and ready to kill you…. There’s a history here with this, you can feel this has happened before, the only thing that was different was the names and faces. And then stranger, two strangers, three strangers, come to your aid, they try to help you and that pile of knives just throws itself at them, kills them…. I’m pretty sure my blood got on at minimum one of the so, so brave young girls that experienced that and still find ways to wake up in the morning and put smiles on their faces and trudge through the day and make their parents proud. And we need to remember that this is about them.”
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This is a time for defiance and courage in the face of howling beasts. Kathy Griffin, in the face of a barrage of vicious attacks and threats, including from Donald Trump himself, refused to crawl under a rock, and instead came out defiant. LeBron James, after his house was viciously defaced by racist slurs, refused to be silent and instead called out the pervasive white supremacy in America and invoked the legacy of Mamie Till, who herself had refused to be silent and held an open-casket funeral for her son Emmett after he had been horribly disfigured in a lynching.
Three months into the Trump presidency, and frustrated with the pace of implementing a fascist agenda, Trumpite fascist thugs are off their (already very long) leashes. They are violently attacking protesters. They “doxx” dissidents (publicizing details of their personal lives to threaten and enable violent attacks). They carry out random acts of terror and murder.
In the face of the whole avalanche of attacks on the oppressed and humanity by the Trump/Pence regime, it is crucially important to grasp the potential impact of a small number of people taking a defiant stand in the face of outrageous injustice. Shaun King has compared the heroes in Portland to Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, who were lynched by racists during Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964. The Black and white youths and older people in the Freedom Summer project did not back down. They persevered and fought. They refused to be muzzled. They reached millions and more around the world.
In one form or another, it will take that kind of courage to confront fascist violence today and to actually bring the millions into the street needed to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime. Courage in the form of everyday people putting their bodies on the line. And courage in the form of all kinds of people not blinding themselves to a reality that is shocking to confront, but looking it in the eye and acting on that basis.
Martin Niemöller, a German clergyman who resisted the Nazis—and who later became famous for criticizing himself and other “good Germans” for waiting too long—wrote, “I ask myself again and again, what would have happened, if in the year 1933 or 1934, 14,000 Protestant pastors and all Protestant communities in Germany had defended the truth until their deaths? If we had said back then, ‘It is not right when Hermann Göring [a top official in Nazi Germany] simply puts 100,000 communists in concentration camps in order to let them die.’ I can imagine that perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 Protestant Christians would have had their heads cut off, but I can also imagine we would have rescued 30 to 40 million people, because that is what it [cost us].”
Bob Avakian has written:
There is a place where epistemology and morality meet. There is a place where you have to stand and say: It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable. And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable. (BAsics 5:11)
That is a critical principle under any circumstances, but it takes on extreme urgency at this moment. Fascism has direction and momentum. The time to stop it is now. And that will take physical, and intellectual, courage.
Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, Ricky John Best, and Micah Fletcher didn’t ask to be heroes. But when they found themselves in a situation of choosing between silent complicity or courage, they chose to do the right thing.
On a large scale, everyone in this country now faces that same choice.