Friday, February 3, 2017

NYC Yemeni Grocery Stores Shut Down In Response to “Muslim Ban”, Supreme Court Battles, Frederick Douglass, and other signs of a bad marriage #BodegaStrike #NoWallNoBan #Resist

Yesterday, I was at Borough Hall and I saw a women with a sign declaring: "We may have come on different ships boats, but we're all in the same boat."  Her sentiment moved me. The fact that the government of the US is trying to ban Muslims seems beyond any recognition I have of our constitution, whose First Amendment declares:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

So people are pushing back. On Thursday, February 2, Yemeni grocery store owners across five New York boroughs closed 1,000 stores from 12pm to 8pm in response to the Trump administration’s infamous “Muslim Ban” executive order. This shutdown of grocery stores and bodegas was a public show of the vital role these grocers and their families play in New York’s economic and social fabric and, during this period, grocery store owners spent time with their families and loved ones to support each other; many of these families have been directly affected by the Ban.
Thursday evening at 5:15pm, at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St. in the back of the building facing the plaza, the Yemeni American community held a rally, where some merchants will share the impact the Ban has had on them and their loved one. The program began with the Muslim call for prayer and a public sundown prayer by Muslim rally participants. The prayer was followed by several Yemeni merchants and their families sharing personal stories of how their lives and families have been impacted by the ban, as well as stories read on behalf of families who are afraid to come forward.
“Originally, we considered starting the shutdown at 8am, but the grocers they made it clear they wouldn’t be willing to close if that meant their regulars wouldn’t get their morning coffee,” relayed Debbie Almontaser, board member of the Muslim Community Network and one of the rally organizers. “Even when their lives have been turned upside down, they refused to disrupt the lives of the very people they serve daily.”

I showed up after work, seeing kids wrapped in American flags, women in hijabs chanting "this is what America looks like, this is what democracy looks like."  Others screamed "Immigrants in Trump Out!"
"We're all Muslim" another sign read. In Brooklyn we're all Muslim.

Earlier in the week, we celebrated at Cadman Plaza outside the Federal courthouse after a Brooklyn Federal Judge granted a national stay against the #MuslimBan.  

Athena Soules

People are out every night now.

Its a hell of a moment we're in as rules we've seen are fading away, perhaps along with constitutional democracy.

But who knows.

Its been a long time watching the rumblings of this rage, this hostility to diversity.

My first political memories were of Jimmy Carter getting elected when I was in first grade. It did not take long for the South to turn on this one of their own, especially after Carter chose to sacrifice his own presidency rather than invade Iran.

A decade later, I watched the Bork nomination bounced for the supreme court. At the time, Teddy Kennedy declared:

Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.

This kindov feels like the America we are going back to with the supreme court today.
Bork asked that a full vote be taken instead of conceding him nomination.

"There should be a full debate and a final Senate decision. In deciding on this course, I harbor no illusions. But a crucial principle is at stake. That principle is the way we select the men and women who guard the liberties of all the American people. That should not be done through public campaigns of distortion."

Anthony Kennedy eventually got the seat.  I was a senior in high school.  He's still there, been there over half my life.

I've watched every supreme court nomination since then.

When Merrick  Garland was nominated, republicans failed to give him the courtesy of the kind of vote Bork demanded.  The principle he demanded was rejected. Even Neil Gorsuch acknowledged that Garland was mistreated.

If confirmed, he'll be on the court the rest of my life.

I've grown weary of living under this arrangement.  Compromise seems absent. And our system doesn't incorporate different points of view.  The south that rejected their own - LBJ for supporting civil rights and Jimmy Carter for supporting civility - seems hell bent on a politics of resentment. One doesn't ever seem to see them apologize for slavery or the other myriad of sins. They lost the war, but won the battle of the ages.  One see them simmer with tired rage and intolerance. I've grown weary of living in the same country with them.  I've grown weary of watching my civil liberties erode every eight years or so when a Bush or Trump come into office.

Checks and balances are crumbling. And people are in the streets daily in what feels like an uprising.  In California there is talk of CalExit.  And my New York, which seems to have more similarities of Paris and Berlin then Des Moines, might be next. We love immigrants and health care, reproductive autonomy and art here.  As Trump pushed to punish Sanctuary cities, states such as California and New York, which pay more tax revenue than we get back cringe and contemplate a push back.  Many of us would be fine without being part of this union.  Perhaps a nation of regions - Northeast, Southest, Southwest, California, and Midwest?  Somethings gotta give. This marriage isn't working.
But we've been through this before. Trump praised Frederick Douglass this week, without seeming to know much about his work or ideas.

"Fred - Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more"...declared our President on Black History Month.

He may not have read Douglas' oratory in the memory of Lincoln.  But maybe he should have.  Douglas writes about the passing of a transformational leader, with Andrew Johnson and the failed reconstruction, which brought the resentful South back into the Union. Substitute Obama and Trump and it feels very similar. Douglas writes:

Fellow-citizens, the fourteenth day of April, 1865, of which this is the eleventh anniversary, is now and will ever remain a memorable day in the annals of this Republic. It was on the evening of this day, while a fierce and sanguinary rebellion was in the last stages of its desolating power; while its armies were broken and scattered before the invincible armies of Grant and Sherman; while a great nation, torn and rent by war, was already beginning to raise to the skies loud anthems of joy at the dawn of peace, it was startled, amazed, and overwhelmed by the crowning crime of slavery — the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It was a new crime, a pure act of malice. No purpose of the rebellion was to be served by it. It was the simple gratification of a hell-black spirit of revenge. But it has done good after all. It has filled the country with a deeper abhorrence of slavery and a deeper love for the great liberator.

Had Abraham Lincoln died from any of the numerous ills to which flesh is heir; had he reached that good old age of which his vigorous constitution and his temperate habits gave promise; had he been permitted to see the end of his great work; had the solemn curtain of death come down but gradually — we should still have been smitten with a heavy grief, and treasured his name lovingly. But dying as he did die, by the red hand of violence, killed, assassinated, taken off without warning, not because of personal hate — for no man who knew Abraham Lincoln could hate him — but because of his fidelity to union and liberty, he is doubly dear to us, and his memory will be precious forever.

Fellow-citizens, I end, as I began, with congratulations. We have done a good work for our race today. In doing honor to the memory of our friend and liberator, we have been doing highest honors to ourselves and those who come after us; we have been fastening ourselves to a name and fame imperishable and immortal; we have also been defending ourselves from a blighting scandal. When now it shall be said that the colored man is soulless, that he has no appreciation of benefits or benefactors; when the foul reproach of ingratitude is hurled at us, and it is attempted to scourge us beyond the range of human brotherhood, we may calmly point to the monument we have this day erected to the memory of Abraham Lincoln.

Yet, we have not done ourselves proud today. Not enough are looking to the monument of Lincoln, who  would not be proud today.  Its a bad marriage.  Many of us want out.

Kids waving America flags, hoping to feel included.
Its our shame that we reject them. But in Brooklyn we're all Muslim. writes
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Andrew Boyd

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