On Refugees, Repression, and Resistance in Times of War

The world is in upheaval and all of us–we who are agents of change, healers, lovers, people who care about building a just and sustainable world–are called both to grieve and to take action.

The news is full of terrorism and refugees. Vicious attacks on non-combatants in Mali (yesterday), Nigeria, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and France just in this past month have left millions in mourning.

Mainstream news is advancing Islamophobia to heights we haven’t seen since 9/11/2001, while avoiding the underlying story that the rise of Daesh (aka ISIS, ISIL or the Islamic State) is directly tied to U.S. war and imperialist policy in the Middle East/West Asia. Independent media provides the bigger picture, amplifying Arab voices on the ground, and stories from whistleblowers like these 4 former U.S. drone operators telling how the U.S. drone war drives global terrorism.

We must address the root causes of this horrific violence and the role of our government in perpetuating what it claims to be fighting, both abroad and at home.

It’s time to name the connections between the racist U.S. militarism that robs people of safe homelands, and the racist U.S. militarism that criminalizes people inside the U.S. who have been displaced from those homelands– including refugees of war and of economic policy, indigenous people whose land was stolen, and descendants of people who were enslaved.

Right-wing pundits and politicians are drumming updangerous hysteria about Muslims and immigrants, just as they claim that Black Lives Matter is encouraging people to kill police. They’ve got money, power, and policy on their side, as demonstrated in this week’s bipartisan move by Congress to increase the level of overt racism we can expect from lawmakers. They intend to enroll white people as the foot soldiers of violent military and economic policies, at home and abroad. While mosques are bombed and refugees are shunned, Black churches are burnedand Black activists face retaliatory charges and fines for civil disobediences.
They are turning up the volume on the hatred becauseliberation movements are getting stronger.
Just this week, Black-led student groups from Mizzou to Harvard disrupted business as usual to demand their colleges implement racial justice policies. Migrant justice organizers are leading a national week of action against deportations and detentions. A petition demanding release of the video of the Minneapolis police killing 24 year-old Black man Jamar Clark has gathered over 50,000 signatures. And yesterday’s annual Transgender Day of Remembrance was evolved into a Day of Resilience (#BlackTransLivesMatter), answering the call from the trans youth leaders of New Orleans’ BreakOUT!

Catalyst calls on our communities nationally to support these struggles, and to be alert and ready to use privilege strategically as a buffer against the violence and political repression facing communities of color right now.

We at Catalyst remember how decades of movement building work and efforts to create community safety and liberation were shredded almost overnight after 9/11. This moment recalls the rush to bomb and invade overseas– and at home, the PATRIOT act and silencing of political dissent, border militarization, targeting of people perceived as Muslim with hate crimes and roundups and forced registrations …we know where this road has led us.

May we take a different branch at today’s crossroads.

Clare Bayard, for Catalyst Project