Monday, November 14, 2016

Join the Resistance

Annamaria on Monday

I am lucky.  I am a lover, not a hater.  I don’t think I can help it.  Sitting here, feeling my own insides, there doesn’t seem anywhere within me where hate could find a place to hide.  I take no credit for this condition.

From birth, I was primed to oppose any group that wants to damage or subjugate people who are not like them.  When I was barely a toddler, my father and my uncles were enlisting and leaving home to fight fascism.  My Uncle John, my godfather, died on the push to Berlin, after having fought in Patton’s army in Sicily and at Anzio—in the country my grandparents had left to find a better life in America, the land of freedom and opportunity.

My Uncle Johnny (l.), with Patton's Army in Italy.
This Johnny never came marching home.
For the past week, stunned like most people I know, I have been unable to think coherently about the blow the election dealt to my ideals.  And I have been arguing with myself about what to say here on MIE today.  Then it occurred to me that I have been a member of the resistance for years and that I could ask you to join too.

This is not a group with rifles in the mountains or safe houses in the cities—like the French Resistance or the Italian Partigiani in WWII.  God, I hope it doesn’t come to that.   I ask you to join me in backing an anti-hate group with a proven track record: the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In 1980, when I first learned about the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center, I was a leftwing activist and the mother of an interracial eleven-year-old daughter.  Their first fund-raising appeal, which defined the organization’s goal, was one that resonated with me.  They were combatting the Ku Klux Klan by suing them in civil court for damages, on behalf of the families of people lynched by the Klan.  What a novel idea.  SPLC was out to weaken the KKK by taking away its funds and assets.  Sounded like a splendid tactic to me.  So I sent money.  Twenty years later, I received a certificate from them thanking me for having donated every year since 1980.  How nice, I thought, with a touch of pride.  That day, I left for the airport to go and visit my 83-year-old father who was living in Florida.

When I arrived at my dad’s house and went in through the side entrance, he was sitting at the counter in his kitchen, reading his mail.  And there in front of him was an identical certificate to the one I had left on my own desk at home.  We had never spoken of our involvement, and I was surprised, not at his espousal of leftist causes, but of that particular one.  Then he told me of an early childhood memory that I had never heard.

It took place in 1917, in the Western Pennsylvania coalfields.  He then lived with his family in one of eight houses along either side of a dirt road, adjacent to a coalmine.  He was three, barely tall enough to see over the windowsill.   In the night, in the bedroom, with his father just outside the closed door, sitting on a chair with his loaded shotgun and rifle across his lap.   Outside the window, men in white sheets rode on horses.  Crosses were burning on the mountain.  “We were immigrants.  And Catholics,” my father told me, eighty-five years later, with tears in eyes.

Those men burning crosses would not have cared that all but the oldest child in that family had been born in the United States.  Or that, in a few years, the father of that family would die of black lung disease, because he took coal from the earth for the profit of some tycoon.  Or that all three of the little boys hiding in the bedroom with their pregnant mother would one day fight for the USA.  In the minds of the men in sheets, my family were sub-human trash.

So I learned that my father and I had both donated to the same organization for twenty years for the same reason: to combat hatred.  I urge you—in the face of this week’s reality—to do the same.

Morris Dees

Founded by Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin, Jr. in 1971 in Montgomery, Alabama, the Southern Poverty Law Center began as a civil rights law firm.  In 1979, they started their first big suit against the Klan, and they went on weakening that hate group with such success (until now) that they branched out into combatting all sorts of discrimination.  SPLC defines hate groups as ones that “attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”


 SPLC takes no government support and no fees from their client groups.  They raise funds from private donors.  Full disclosure: between 1998 and 2007, a few articles were published calling attention to the Center’s fund raising efforts and sometimes accusing it of garnering donations by exaggerating the dangers of hate groups in the USA.  Others said that there were more important issues, like homelessness, that merited all the money SPLC was raising.  The naysayers posited that almost all hate crimes were committed by “lone wolves,” and no such effort against them was actually needed.  (I guess/hope that this week those critics are rethinking their assessment of the actual perils from hate groups.)

The SPLC itself and its founder Morris Dees have been targets of violence.  Their headquarters were bombed, their building and records destroyed in 1983.  More attempts and threats have been made and indictments of anti-SPLC conspirators handed down.

The Center’s main efforts, in addition to litigation, are two: To track hate groups and their activities and to share the information with scholars and law enforcement.  And their “Teaching Tolerance” effort—which prepares and distributes materials for schools and parents to help children grow up without hate in their hearts.  They also offer training to law enforcement—both local and federal on how to track extremist groups.

Here, taken from the SPLC website is some of their information.  

Hate Groups

Each circle designates a hate group

 (Please note that the Swing States are covered with these cells of hatred.  More about that issue in another blog soon.)

Go to to see more data and to see the map for each state.

As a donor, in the past week I have been getting emails from SPLC, which have given me chance to appeal to the Mr. Trump, asking that he cool his hate rhetoric and take stands against discrimination.  They have also informed me about the postelection hate activities.

I give $10 a month, hardly noticeable on my credit card bill.  I invite you to join me in this support.  One thing I can tell you for sure: Taking action—whatever action you take—will help you get over your shock and dismay.


  1. Thanks for the suggestion, Annamaria! I am about to leave for a long-planned trip to Sweden and I was horrified to read that neo-Nazis there have been rallying in support of you-know-who:

    I would also recommend people check out Lambda Legal. I am a longtime supporter of theirs and they do amazing work to protect the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans. My LGBT friends are feeling particularly vulnerable right now and I want to ensure this vital organization stays strong.

    1. Sue, thanks for your support. The whole thing horrifies me. I heard on the radio yesterday, a man say, "When it comes to being a multi -ethnic, multi-cultural nation, the USA is still a developing country." Here's hoping we grow up soon.

  2. I agree that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a very good organization, doing essential work to expose hate groups, and more.

    My mother, I discovered, while dealing with all of her mail and files, also donated to the SPLC and had a certificate thanking her for her donations.

    Yup, this last election was a doozy. The appointments in the White House so far are horrific, a GOP leader who wants to privatize Medicare, destroy the Affordable Care Act and who knows what else. And an ultra-right racist and anti-Semite.

    There have to be protests from everyone everywhere. So far, the media has been relatively acquiescent. The Democrats, except for Bernie Sanders, have also been quiet.

    Sanders wrote an excellent op-ed in the NY Times on Saturday, about standing up to hatred.

    And I just love it that young people were out protesting for five days across the country saying, "He's not my president," and "Impeach Trump."

    We all have to get involved to push back the growing disaster on every level.

    People have to speak up and not tolerate any bigotry. (And I cite J.K. Rowling's excellent Twitter posts.)

    I will send a donation to the SPLC, too.

    1. Thank you, Kathy. We need to empower the people who know how to fight back with the law and education. Your mother and my father did it. We must carry the torch in memory of them and for the generations to come.

  3. Thanks for this reminder of a good way to oppose what is happening. I just joined SPLC with a monthly donation.

    1. Carol, your response increases y still breathing, but threatened hopes. THANK YOU!

  4. I had friends who left Wall Street Law Firms to work at SPLC--and similar organized efforts during those supercharged Vietnam War years. Remember the Wall Street riots of those years, pitting demonstrators of one view of American values against another? I was right in the middle of them--literally trying to keep one side from killing the other--and had hoped we'd learned from those times. Evidently not.

    1. Bro, you may remember from a previous blog of mine that I was watching that riot from the second floor of the Bankers Trust building on the corner of Wall and Nassau. That experience radicalized me. The images of that day are indelibly imprinted on my soul. Gabriel Garcia Marquez said "Human Beings are not born once and for all on the day their mother's give birth to them. Life forces them, over and over again, to give birth to themselves." Evidently the same applies to societies learning right from wrong.

  5. Time to write another check. We need organizations with clout and money.

    1. Thank you, Shiela! I love your perfect statement of what we need.

  6. Thank you for this, Annamaria. The resistance will have to take many forms -- I am thinking of the environmental damage that these cretins will try to inflict on the planet, for another front.

    I still can't really process this. The problem is that I live in CA, which as you know is as Blue as it gets these days. The way my state voted it's like we live in a different country. I was proud of our state legislature, did you read their statement?

    This isn't the whole thing but it's a good chunk:

    "California has long set an example for other states to follow. And California will defend its people and our progress. We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility.

    We will be reaching out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how a Trump Presidency will potentially impact federal funding of ongoing state programs, job-creating investments reliant on foreign trade, and federal enforcement of laws affecting the rights of people living in our state. We will maximize the time during the presidential transition to defend our accomplishments using every tool at our disposal.

    While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.

    California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future."

    1. Lisa, what a great statement by the California legislature. My home country--NYC--voted 79% for Hillary, 2% for third parties, and 19% for President-elect Voldemort. This from the city that spawned that creature. As Mayor Bloomberg said at the Democratic convention, "I'm from New York. I know a con artist when I see one." I am counting on there being too many of us--all over the country--to be ignored and that we will remain stalwart in the fight. Let's keep in mind. Texas came closer to going for Hillary than Ohio did. And that if the 18-24 voters had had their say, she would have gotten 504 electoral votes. Your legislature is absolutely right. The future of the country belongs to us. As long as we stick together.

  7. This is a terrific post. Thank you for sharing the story. We were SPLC members for many years. If it has lapsed now, I will correct immediately. Another organization on the same fight - often colleagues of SPLC- is the Anti Defamation League where my daughter used to work. The new (old) motto has to be, "Don't mourn. Organize."

    1. Yes, Triss, I read on their website that they partner with the Anti-Defamation League. We are fortunate that our country has a well-organized phalanx of groups ready to take up this fight. More power to them.

  8. Thank you, AmA. I've been largely silent the past week, processing and internalizing things. I'm recovering from the shock to my system, and your column is an excellent pointer to something I can do to help. I'm not a big 'actor' myself, in terms of organizing others or helping day-to-day in organizations, I'm too much of an individualist (a poor word, but for lack of a better one...). But I can certainly contribute to the work of others who DO have the "group organizational" get-up-and-go. Thank you.

    1. EvKa, to paraphrase John Milton: "The also serve who stand fast and donate." Thank you for doing so.

  9. That slogan, "Don't Mourn--Organize" is perfect for now. In fact, there will be a big counter-inaugural on Jan. 30 in D.C.

    I think J.K. Rowling said that the "president-elect" is more evil than Voldemort.

    And going back to the anti-Vietnam war protests, I don't think I was at the one where fights broke out, but I was at the Stop the Draft protests in October 1967 where I saw police grab young men peacefully marching and take them into a building lobby, take out their billy clubs and start beating them. That radicalized me for life.

    It's definitely for everyone to protest however they can and support organizations that do.

    And that quote of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez is brilliant and beautiful -- and true.