How I Prepare To Protest

I mentioned in my Beginners Guide to Protesting that it’s a good idea to carry food and water to a protest. This is true, but it’s not really the whole story. There are more things that many people recommend having with you, especially as you get more serious in terms of how long you want to spend out at a protest or how much risk you are willing to take on. I’d like to share here a bit more about what I wear and bring currently to a protest march, and what I’m going to start doing in the future.

I want to be clear here that these are my own choices, and reflect my own risk tolerance. The risks you are willing to take on may be higher or lower than mine. Your financial means may be higher or lower than mine as well.
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How I Prepare To Protest

A Beginners Guide to Protesting

If you have never attended a protest before, doing so for the first time can be kind of daunting. I was lucky enough to start as a teenager, before I was afraid of much, but I definitely sympathize with those who find the idea intimidating. I wanted to put together some of my perspective as a regular participant in, though never leader of, mass protests.

A little about my experience: I have participated in both spontaneous and well planned protests. I have been in big mass marches like the Millennium March on Washington and in many small marches and protests. I have participated in one large-scale occupation, at the Wisconsin Capitol in 2011. Some protests I have been in have been unchallenged by police, while others (especially BLM protests) have been more adversarial, though I have never been in a situation where riot control tactics like tear gas have been used. I have taken one official training on civil disobedience, but have never been arrested. Yet.

In fact, for many people my experience may be exactly what you hope to gain – participation in protests without ending up in dangerous situations. That’s pretty reasonable. While movements sometimes need people who are willing to take more serious risks, they also need boots on the ground, bodies in the crowd, people willing to show up and be heard. Protesting is less dangerous than many people think, and it is absolutely possible to do it and protect yourself at the same time. Once you’re comfortable with the safer parts of protesting you may want to re-assess your risk tolerance and decide if you are willing to take on more risk for greater possible impact, but I want to encourage you to get out there for the first time.

Continue reading “A Beginners Guide to Protesting”

A Beginners Guide to Protesting

A Reading List On Fascism

Reading about history, and specifically the history Nazi Germany, has been a hobby of mine for several years. A few people have asked me for some suggestions on reading material lately, due to the rise of fascism in the United States, so I decided to put it here. Please consider contributing your own suggestions in the comments!

Books I have already read:

Fascism: A Very Short Introduction is an excellent and quick basic introduction to the primary aspects of fascist movements. It will give a solid understanding of how to define fascism and some of the similarities and differences between the major fascist governments of the World War II era. It’s academic in nature, but actually pretty approachable.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany and The Coming of the Third Reich are both good introductions to the basic history of Nazi Germany. They both have weaknesses and strengths. The first is a complete history through the end of the WWII, while the second is the first in a series. Also, the first was written decades earlier than the second, and therefore more was known by the time Evans wrote his series. Either would give a stronger understanding of the basic history of how the Third Reich developed and gained power.

Nazi Years: A Documentary History provides a lot of first hand sources of writings from the years leading up to and during the Third Reich. The thought of trying to read through a lot of the original texts myself was staggeringly daunting, but this text is an excellently curated sampling that gets right down to the important parts.

Online resources worth reading:

Honestly, the Wikipedia page on German resistance is totally worth a read and a good way to figure out what further you might want to know. While any Wikipedia information is only a start and not the end to research, this article has been built with detail and care. On the other hand, there are areas that require more cited sources and I’d love to see those sources provided.

Technically a listening, rather than reading recommendation, but the Stuff You Missed in History Class has a good episode on the White Rose resistance within Germany. There’s a transcript there too if that is better for you. In general the White Rose resistance movement is something I want to learn a lot more about right now and that podcast is only a start. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also has an article about the White Rose group, with a resources list I intend to dive into.

My new reading list:

I have just begun reading The Origins of Totalitarianism as it came highly recommended. So far I’m finding it a little dated but I hope to gain some insight from it.

To The Bitter End is a first hand account of the military resistance to Hitler. I can’t wait to read this. Although none of the assassination attempts on Hitler succeeded, I hope this account will provide insight on what else could have been done to stop the Nazi’s at any point before or during their power.

A Reading List On Fascism

Your Vote is Oppressive if The Effects Are Oppressive

Back when the Brexit vote happened I saw a lot of people saying that they voted for Brexit but simultaneously claimed that they are not racist. They argued that their reasons for supporting leaving the European Union were other than xenophobia, and therefore they should not be held responsible for the racial consequences of the voting results. However, many of the arguments for Brexit were overtly racist, leaving the EU may have major ramifications on immigration, and hate crimes have skyrocketed since the vote.

When the effect of an action is increased power for a majority group and negative consequences for oppressed groups, it doesn’t matter what the purported reason for that action is. If your policy, action, or vote has racist, sexist, or ableist impacts then it doesn’t matter what your intention is – you are responsible for the oppressive impacts of that action. It doesn’t matter that pro-Brexit voters think of themselves as not being racist, they supported a racist action with racist impacts and that is what matters.

Tomorrow the United States will finally conclude a long election process. A Donald Trump presidency has the potential to be the most actively oppressive presidency in memory. A vote for Hillary Clinton is the only action that can have the effect of avoiding that future. Any other action – voting third party, refusing to vote, or writing in a candidate – has the effect of increasing the risk of an oppressive future. While Clinton’s policy positions and record may not match yours, or my, preferences perfectly, it is the EFFECT of our votes that matter. A third party vote, for example, may have the effect of putting into power a fascist demagogue no matter what the voter’s intention may be.

Furthermore, this same is true for elections for Senate, Congressional seats, and state and local elections. Our actions in this election matter only insofar as the effect they have. Certain votes will increase the likelihood of a seriously frightening future, while others decrease that risk. I will be voting on Tuesday with all of this in mind. I will vote to block a Donald Trump presidency, and to attempt to deny the GOP control of the Senate. I will vote in my state and local elections for a future that doesn’t uplift the extremists that Trump has emboldened.

Your Vote is Oppressive if The Effects Are Oppressive