Pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill:
“We’re gathered to usher in a new era; a new era of strong, powerful resistance; an era of cooperation and communication”

January 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


The night before Trump’s inauguration, there was a Musicians Against Fascism concert at Symphony Space in New York City featuring outstanding jazz musicians. This was a benefit for refusefascism.org. The host for the evening, five-time Grammy winner Arturo O’Farrill, made these opening remarks:

Tomorrow a very bad man will take the nation’s highest office. His biographer called him a sociopath. His behavior towards women is lamentable. His racism is legendary, He has lied repeatedly. He has questionable ethics and the conflict of interest between his ill-gotten office and his business dealings is shady at best, and criminal at worst.

By his own admission, he reads not and has never held public office. In press conferences and debates he has shown a limited vocabulary and a mean spirit; threatening to prosecute his opponent if victorious, in the best fashion of dictators and fascists. He treats the press with disdain and has no regard for the need to communicate policy. Instead his chosen method for communicating with the American people and the world is through petty tweets that show a fragile ego and a disposition towards simple insults. He mocks the disabled, wants to register millions based on their religious conviction.

Frighteningly he leaves a trail of catastrophic business failures—tens of thousands of lost jobs and ruined lives. He has surrounded himself with billionaire boyfriends, mostly white, mostly male and no Hispanics. Together they represent the worst of humanity. Vulture capitalists. Anti-Semites, racists and disturbingly, mostly unqualified for the jobs he has bestowed upon them.

Tomorrow America enters into alien territory. A fascist regime poised to do away with women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights and the right to affordable healthcare. Tomorrow we enter the dark ages.

But that’s not why we’re gathered here today. We’re gathered to usher in a new era; a new era of strong, powerful resistance; an era of cooperation and communication. We’re not here to be sectarian, denominational, ideological or political. On this stage tonight you will see atheists, Christians, Jews, conservatives, liberals, communists, socialists and capitalists. But this is not a platform to convert. This is a call to check your agenda at the door and join together and ask how a very bad man with no moral compass and no intellect was allowed to take the nation’s highest office.

We ask every human being in the room to search their souls and really face the issues. The manipulation by the very greedy to divide and confuse. The corporate media’s use for ratings that allowed a neo-fascist cartoon character to be considered a legitimate human being, despite an epic history of failure. Those of us who grew up in New York know all too well the effect of his colossal business failures. How did the nation get fooled???

We [have] gathered to put aside all that divides us and ask our art and our artists to help us find a reason that this happened and most of all help us find a way back to a time when our lives and our worldwide reputation weren’t defined by fear and failure. We also gather to give voice to a rage that many feel and don’t know what to do with. A sadness that is so deep. An illness that has no cure except in when we take action. And act we must. We must organize, demonstrate, be disobedient to our deluded, self-entitled masters. They feel that they have won by installing a silly puppet to satisfy their need for engorgement. But what they’ve done is embolden us to take the battle beyond the obvious.

And instead of being angry and hateful towards each other, we’re going to work intelligently past our dogmas to agree that we can no longer accept this system. We can no longer sit in silence as we live in our comfortable dogma prisons. We will demand the right for ourselves as we call this day to accountability.

We have an enemy and he or she is not black, white, gay, straight, liberal, conservative. Nor are they American, Syrian or Russian. They’re not communist or socialist or capitalist. Our enemy is our indifference to the suffering on this planet. Our enemy is our inaction and our divisiveness. Our enemy is the distraction of the smartphone, the tablet, the computer and our aversion to look one another in the eyes and converse about the true nature of suffering perpetrated by the powerful and the greedy. That’s why we gather on this stage.

At the end of the concert we’re going to ask everyone to connect, share contact info and to organize a new group of citizens under the name of one people, for whom revolution is not a partisan or political word, but a tenet for our very survival.


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