Remarks from the January 7 Refuse Fascism Press Conference



Editors’ Note: The following are short excerpts from rush transcripts of remarks by some of the participants at the January 7 press conference by Refuse Fascism. The press conference announced plans for protests on Saturday, January 9, demanding: Now is the Time to Act. TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW! In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America.

The complete press conference.

Hear from: Coco Das, writer, Refuse Fascism Editorial Board; Andy Zee, co‑initiator of and host of The RNL – Revolution Nothing Less – ShowLilly Wachowski, filmmaker; Rosanna Arquette, actress and activist; Cornel West, author, activist, scholar; Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC; Arturo O’Farrill, musician; Ruchira Gupta, Indian journalist and activist; Steve Hofstetter, stand-up comedian; Jodie Sweetin, actress and activist.

Andy Zee, co-initiator of and host of The RNL – Revolution Nothing Less – Show

This press conference today is for Refuse Fascism to really bring out what we have to do and what has just happened. Look, we've just gone through a milestone in U.S. history—an attempted self-coup organized by the president. And that is unprecedented. For now, and overwhelmingly likely, this coup has been defeated. But the fascist movement that we have been enduring for four years, at the highest levels of power in the U.S. and thus a world power, will likely be set back for a while, but that may only be a matter of time. We face real danger in the next 13 days and a very stark reality for the whole next period. So the message of today's press conference is that decent people—all those who are opposed to injustice, who care about and who want to work for the future of humanity that is in real existential peril, and is in even greater peril under the rule of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, and whatever formation this fascism might take in the future—now at last, people do need to stand up again in appropriate ways in the public square.

(Rosanna Arquette, actress and activist, reads a statement issued by some signatories of the Refuse Fascism Pledge to the People of the World.)

Lilly Wachowski, filmmaker

Here we are at this moment in time where the threshold has been crossed. And what that allows is for a critical eye to be cast on what this movement is, what this fascist movement is, where it’s origins have come from. And that is the Confederacy. This is a white supremacist movement and it has direct ties to the Confederacy… It’s about all of us participating and standing up in this moment. And hopefully we will all have the backbone to do this.

Cornel West, author, activist, scholar

This is a moment in which we have to exercise our own personal integrity in a collective way, grounded in a solidarity with the least of these, those Franz Fanon called the wretched of the earth, because fascism is about the rule of big money and big military, that convince everyday people to scapegoat the most vulnerable rather than confront the most powerful, to downplay the predatory capitalist core of it, to downplay the white supremacist public face, and the other vicious forms of xenophobia. It is anti-Jewish, it is anti-Muslim, it is anti-Arab, it is anti-Palestinian, it is anti-trans, it is anti-gay, it is anti-lesbian, it is anti-all those cast as the degraded “other.” And because the milquetoast, centrist neo-liberals in the establishment of the Democratic Party have not been able to deliver the basic goods of food and shelter and education and Medicare, you end up with these fascist and neo-fascist fellow citizens, many of them catching hell, but directing their rage against the vulnerable rather than being part of a multi-racial struggle trying to overcome the predatory capitalism with its imperial tentacles.

Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC

You saw all of the symbolism yesterday, Confederate flags, Trump flags, all of the other symbolism, they raised a cross, and they also put up a noose. And let me be very clear that they were deploying symbols; they were dispatching symbols to communicate that these were the theological and the philosophical, the impetus behind what it is that they were doing… it is very clear that this movement is not so much about liberty, not so much about freedom, not so much about God, as it is about fascist leadership and purging undesirables. The American thirst and hunger to what I call “niggerization,” creating undesirables, dehumanizing Black, Brown, Native, LGBTQIA. We have to be clear that that is underneath what is happening… Our work is to continue to imagine the new world, to disrupt the present order by mobilizing and by turning out human beings willing to risk, willing to put their lives on the line. And finally we must construct together the new world. It is not enough to imagine, not enough to disrupt. But we must build together what is possible and our gathering today of atheist, of Christians, of people of all faith, shows that that is possible regardless of what we see.

Arturo O’Farrill, musician

We’ve got what, 13 days of this mad man—he needs to go. Pence needs to go. The whole thing needs to be thrown out. Every single one of those representatives that contested the election needs to go. And the idea that Black Lives Matter protesters would be met with military style policing, while these protesters were allowed to calmly walk into the Capitol, is just beyond belief. It is complicit, don’t fool yourself. This is complicit violence by the people that are in charge of our lives, and it’s based on racism and on a socio-economic terrorism. And so I urge everyone here to do all that they can, to go out and peacefully march, with masks, but be present, be present in every way that you can. Speak, speak loud, speak often and let people know that this is a fascist regime and it must to go.

Ruchira Gupta, Indian journalist and activist

I'm a journalist. I was born in India, lived in India, and saw the rise of fascism in India… The one thing that I have learned from my experiences, and which is what I want to share with all Americans who are listening in to today's press conference, is that if those who have come out so openly today to attack Capitol Hill are not taken seriously, are not held accountable, then you will fight for every inch of democratic space in the years to come. In India, the same thing happened 25 years ago. We did not take it so seriously. We said: Oh, India is too chaotic for fascism. Every Indian is very argumentative, so we will not allow the fascism to happen. Our democracy is too entrenched. One group of people cannot take over… They did. Because we did not hold them accountable. They were never punished for the demolition of the mosque. They were never punished for the race riots or the caste riots, and the religious riots that were unleashed on minorities after that, to the point that the one year that I've just spent in India, I have had to see every journalist friend who speaks up against this regime being interrogated. Some of them are in jail. One journalist friend was shot dead for investigating a story against this regime on the porch of a house while she was turning the key… And so opposition has been decimated as I speak. And this is the fascist label that I see being replicated in the United States….



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