Newsletter #4, July 10, 2020
CRISIS: Fighting racist policing and governmental mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic
(also available as a pdf for downloading and/or printing)
Engaging in the Current Struggle
On June 4, the Steering Committee of H-PAD issued “A Statement of the Historians for Peace and Democracy (H-PAD) on the Current Struggle” (here).
In our last newsletter (#3, June 7, 2020–here) we offered “7 Suggestions” on how historically oriented activists and progressive intellectuals can use our particular skills to take individual and collective actions in this crisis.
In this newsletter we make additional suggestions, report on H-PAD-related actions, and offer resources for our political and intellectual work.
Update: Faculty Network for Student Voting Rights (FacNet)
H-PAD-initiated FacNet is growing rapidly, with about 180 members in 24 states. We hired an Organizing Intern this week, who will focus on recruiting in targeted states and building state networks of faculty as public allies. For background information, check out our website, which, while still under construction, is up and running. Contacts: Van Gosse (firstname.lastname@example.org), Margaret Power (email@example.com )
Join us! Pass the word!
Legislative Alert: Make the Defense Budget an Issue!
The military budget and associated expenses consume two-thirds of the U.S. discretionary budget. But although the pandemic has underscored the weakness of our domestic services— on public health, education, housing, medical care and the environment, few politicians of either party are challenging this misplaced priority (see here).
This choice does not reflect public preference, but relies on the inattention of the American people. Last week the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 25-2 in favor of a $740.5 billion Defense Authorization Act for 2021. Without significant opposition, this measure will sail through the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Two useful steps:
- Using the Capital Hill switchboard, 202-224-3121: Call your Senators and ask them to vote YES on the Sanders-Warren -Markey amendment which calls for a $74 billion cut in the 2021 Defense Authorization Act and transfers the money to education, health care and poverty reduction in America’s most marginalized communities (On the Sanders Amendment)
- Call your Representative and ask them to co-sponsor Barbara Lee’s non-binding Resolution H Res 1003 proposing $350 billion reduction in the Defense budget. Here is a list of co-sponsors so far.
From the H-PAD People’s History Working Group
The Working Group wants to remind everyone that our one-page, printable Broadsides that summarize important historical events, movements, and crises can be useful resources for organizing during the current struggle. Currently there are ten Broadsides. Among those particularly relevant now are Ellen Schrecker on McCathyism, Linda Gordon on the KKK, Geoff Eley on Trump and fascism, and Kevin Young on our debt to Central American refugees.
Another organizing resource is our emerging “Liberating History” video series of brief interviews with historians on key topics. For our present context, we recommend “The Structure of Punishment: Crack and the Rise of Mass Incarceration” with Historian Donna Murch. All of these resources can be found on the H-PAD website here.
Finally, a request: The People’s History working group is seeking volunteers to write “broadsides,” short (900-1,000 words) pieces that use history to help readers understand present problems and how to address them. At the current time we’re especially interested in broadsides on pandemics, antiracist movements, ecological disasters, and related themes in U.S. and world history. If you want to pitch an idea, please email Kevin Young at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Radical History Review – Free Articles on Race, Politics, History of Policing
In solidarity with current struggles, and as resources for movement activists, Radical History Review is offering free downloads of a range of articles including:
- The current issue, RHR #137: Policing, Justice, and the Radical Imagination.
- “Reading Towards Abolition: A Reading List on Policing, Rebellion, and the Criminalization of Blackness,” compiled by the co-editors of RHR’s Abusable Past Collective.
- “Resources on Policing and State Violence” from RHR, including ten articles from back issues dating back three decades
All the above are free to download through September 30 by arrangement by Duke University Press.
The COVID-19 Global Solidarity Coalition
The Coalition was launched by an international campaign to collect signatures on its Manifesto. According to one of the authors of the manifesto, Peter Kuznick of American University—and a H-PAD activist—the document offers “a vision of the world we are building, the world we are demanding, the world we will achieve.” To date, at least 3,200 people in more than two dozen countries have signed; the Manifesto appears in seventeen languages.
As the Progressive put it, “The manifesto itself is structured in many ways like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations more than seventy years ago. The points are simple and universal—all people deserve health care, there should be a cessation of global military conflicts and an abolition of nuclear weapons, all workers have a right to protections on the job, and there must be a guarantee of freedom of expression and an end to ‘surveillance, detention without trial, and restrictions on basic human rights to assembly.”
But the manifesto goes beyond the UDHR in calling for a “fundamental redistribution” of economic wealth to address many of these issues.
H-PAD supports the manifesto, and a number of H-PAD members are involved with the coalition. We urge you to check it out further.
American Historical Association Statement on Racism
In an important development, the American Historical Association has issued a Statement on the History of Racist Violence in the United States (June 2020). Ninety-three scholarly organizations co-signed this statement at the point of its publication (the Statement and signatories are here). H-PAD did not sign the statement, because we are not an official affiliate of the AHA (although our ally, the Radical History Review, is an affiliate and did sign). Nonetheless, we in H-PAD should support the statement and use it in our organizing and advocacy work.
Two Recommended Webinars
“Defund the Police: A Scholars for Social Justice SSJ Webinar on Police, Race, and the University.” H-PAD sent a last minute notice to our membership about this webinar when it streamed on June 20, 2020. For those unable to connect with the streaming, it is now available on YouTube.
“Authoritarianism or Democracy?” A webinar with Noam Chomsky and a panel of activist intellectuals including H-PAD co-chair Van Gosse, sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action, June 29, 2020. Available on YouTube.
… and join the H-PAD task force on the current crisis!
If we are going to maximize H-PAD’s contributions to the current, crucial struggle, we are going to need volunteers to help. The H-PAD Statement and the 7 Suggestions indicate the direction we are attempting, but, frankly, we are not so sure how we can best move forward. Our conception of the task force is fluid. If you want to explore joining us, and have some ideas about how you can contribute, let’s talk. Also please send comments on this newsletter, and on possible items for the next one.