Barefoot Doctoring: A Night at the Museum

April 16, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Recently, I went to a free monthly open house party and social at a major museum in my area to get the word out about Bob Avakian’s film, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible, about a screening we were holding the next day, and about overall.

I wore all black with the plan to put bright orange stickers all over my body that said, “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” and the Refuse Fascism (RF) website, to become a walking billboard and point of attraction—and it really worked!

In the main entrance area they have music, drinks, and mingling... hundreds of people hanging out. As soon as I started stickering up, people started coming over. A 20-something Black man with a huge smile left his group of friends and wandered over to ask for a sticker and express his enthusiastic agreement. A middle-aged white man with his wife walked up and said, “Do you need donations?” and handed us a $50 bill. His wife compared the current situation to how the Nazis progressed and they listened as a friend who is an organizer with RF explained RF’s mission and invited them to view the upcoming livestream launching RF’s new Call to Action later that week. I told them about the film—they were very interested and left us with their cards (he is a chief surgeon at a major hospital). As we were still getting stickered, another person gave $20 and another gave $5.

We spent the night looking at some of the exhibits, mingling with people who approached us, and going up to groups of people. I led with the film—telling people what it is about and who BA is and then often one or another of my friends would follow up about the launch of the new RF Call. As the night went on, we all got bolder about inviting/challenging others to step in—drawing people out more and telling them directly that they have a responsibility to act on what they know is wrong, and that the Democrats and Mueller are not going to solve this problem for us, and that they need to watch the film and join with RF even if it’s not the kind of thing they’ve ever done before. People took us very seriously.

Almost no one had yet heard of BA (something we urgently need to change!) and almost everyone was very interested, both on the topic and in hearing about who he is. Several people, including a queer teenager from San Francisco there with her biracial family, brought up the analogy to Nazi Germany and Hitler. This teenager detailed how Hitler won his election by a tiny margin, didn’t have broad popular support and so people underestimated him—but step-by-step he fired those who disagreed with him and consolidated total power, just like Trump is doing. The mother had heard of RF and they were excited to know there is a chapter in the Bay Area. A gay Haitian man who was there with his boyfriend from a different Caribbean country brought up the word genocide (the surgeon’s wife brought up genocide as well), focusing his concern mainly on the treatment of immigrants. Other folks mentioned abortion and LGBTQ issues (including one museum employee who, rather than stopping us from flyering, really wanted one too), racism, and immigrants. No one mentioned the threat of wars, which is a stark problem and reflection of exactly the kind of American chauvinism that is so deeply promoted in this country and is challenged so powerfully by BA in his speech, but—and this we need to much more fully seize on—most responded very deeply when we called out the threat of war. Many just had all-around, nonspecific outrage and hatred for the president and regime.

I’d say, “It’s much worse than you even think—you have to watch this film from BA. He gets into the roots of this regime in the history of the Confederacy, the whole Christian fundamentalist fascist movement that has been building for decades concentrated in Pence, and the deeper dynamics of this system of capitalism-imperialism and the challenges it is confronting in the world right now...” and people would respond to, and show interest in, every part of that. Some would deeply agree this has to do with slavery and white supremacy—the Caribbean friend of the Haitian man said, “They’d like to make us all wear a symbol, like the Jews wore the yellow star, and force us back onto the plantations—literally, we will be forced to pick cotton again.” The Haitian friend kind of scolded him—half indicating this was an exaggeration, but also half indicating that it was too disturbing and he didn’t want to think that. But the friend persisted, “Don’t think it can’t happen. Nazi Germany happened in living memory to people alive today; that was just a minute ago. There are people alive still today who have tattoos on their bodies. Don’t think that times have changed so much it couldn’t happen again!”

I’d get into how BA goes at what we need to do—our responsibility in the name of humanity to REFUSE to accept a fascist America! I’d pose that this is possible, but BA shows it won’t come from the Democrats or through the elections. People loved the slogan “In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America!” Several repeated parts of it back to us: “That’s right, we can’t accept a fascist America!” Some posed they were really banking on the elections, it just has to work—but they were open to hearing that it would require more and several seemed like they might have pretty much suspected that was the case but hadn’t really “gone there” even to themselves. A young Asian man insisted that the elections really matter, but it can’t be “just the elections, we also need resistance.” Two people raised their fear that if we get rid of Trump, we’ll be stuck with Pence and he is even worse. We emphasized again the driving out of the whole regime—and rather than push back (which happened a lot, for example, from adults at the March for Our Lives), they said, “Yeah, that sounds right.”

I would tell people that if you don’t know who BA is, that needs to change—he is the most radical revolutionary leader alive today and the architect of the new communism. Watch the talk and you’ll get an understanding you need to refuse a fascist America, and you’ll also be introduced to this leader, and you can find more about him on that same website. There was no snark or cynicism among those we were talking to (aside from one idiot not worth even writing about)—a lot of “thank you” and “seriously, thank you” and “please don’t stop what you are doing.” Several folks asked if they could take our pictures (remember, we were covered head to toe in bright orange “Trump/Pence Must Go!” stickers)—they wanted to show their friends, put on social media, etc.

We met a Black youth who said he knew us, he had come to’s November 4 protest in our area and was so excited to see us again. He was wearing an anti-Trump button and wanted a sticker so badly (another young Black man got a sticker to put on his skateboard)—we talked for a while and he said he was going to come to the film showing and got on the email list.

A woman brought up the Madeleine Albright op-ed from the New York Times. She was really shook up by it and also very appreciative of it. This op-ed, and Albright’s book Fascism: A Warning, which was about to be released, is a big deal—having a generally positive effect on people feeling like a warning is being sounded and compelling them to think about fascism as a real and present danger. But, not surprisingly coming from a war criminal like Albright, her book really promotes what BA calls the “GTF” (the Great Tautological Fallacy about America supposedly being a force for good in the world). This is something more broadly we are going to have to relate to—seizing on the freedom it opens up, but also sharply contending and struggling with people over the depth of the problem and what the actual solution is.

There are other stories. In reflecting on it, we should’ve gone even deeper with some of the folks we talked to, but we can do this going forward. We got out about 400 palm cards of the film and several hundred of the RF flyers. We definitely need to go back next month and, in addition to going inside all decorated (including some with the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts), set up a big table outside with some kind of listening/viewing station (and by next month it will be much warmer with lots of people mingling outside). But also, this experience is an indication of the existing openness of a lot of people right now—far beyond the “usual suspects” of people at protests and political events. While we have to go to all sorts of events, there is something to being in places where people are hanging around and mingling, looking for actual conversation. Repeatedly we would go and insert ourselves into groups of people who were talking, sometimes outright interrupting people in the middle of telling a story, and not one person was bothered—almost all of them said thank you and talked with us.


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