Friends,

This week, we have five action items for you:

  1. Support the peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock
  2. Stop Bannon & Sessions
  3. Reach out to your loved ones.
  4. Learn about Michael Flynn!
  5. Support and Solidarity

We hope you’ll be able to get to as many of these as possible over the next week. And don’t forget to get friends and family involved as well- both MIT and non-MIT members are welcome to sign the solidarity pledge!

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1) Support the peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock

Donate or send supplies to help the efforts of the unarmed protesters at Sacred Stone Camp (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and the Red Warrior Camp (Facebook) that have been targeted by unethical and unconstitutional military tactics by local police. In particular, you can donate to help cover medical expenses for Sophia Wilansky, who may lose her arm after Sunday’s latest police attack. Other good places to donate can be found here. You can also send supplies to camp if you want to make a more direct gift to water protectors! Please only send supplies that have been requested or order them off of this Amazon wishlist.

Call local, state and national representatives and ask them to protect peaceful protestors and to speak out against militarized police actions and the construction of the pipeline. Click here for more scripts and information.  

2) Stop Bannon & Sessions

Contact your legislators to oppose the appointments of Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist and Jeff Sessions as Attorney-General. Phone calls work better than emails or letters. Here is contact information for Senators and Representatives. If you’re not originally from MA, call those in your previous home state!

Steve Bannon is an outright white supremacist and anti-Semite, whom even Glenn Beck has called “terrifying”. Virtually all House Democrats have spoken up against him. If your Representative is Republican, call them! Only a few Senators (including both MA Senators) have spoken up, though. If yours have not, call them as well. Scripts for calling are here.

Jeff Sessions has opposed civil rights, in particular minority voting rights; was denied a federal judgeship for racism; and opposes virtually any form of immigration. Sessions will need Senate confirmation to be Attorney-General, so focus on calling your Senators. Scripts for calling are here.

Want to do more? Keep calling! The challenges we face don’t stop with Bannon and Sessions. Go here for more scripts and information.

3) Reach out to your loved ones.

For many of us, this Thanksgiving will be a tense and stressful time, as relatives we barely know challenge our views. But it may also be an important opportunity to engage with the “other side” on the issues that matter most. Where possible, calm and diplomatic discussions may help to open doors of communication between political sides. Here are some pointers:

  • The goal is to understand each other, not to prove yourself right. As the New York Times advises, people generally have good intentions, it’s important to listen and not antagonize. This is an opportunity to encourage people to view the other side. Even if a particular family member will never agree with your political views, they may be able to understand why you feel the way you do.

  • Try to frame arguments in terms of what matters to the other person. A 2015 study at Stanford recruited liberals and conservatives and found that reframing issues in terms of the other person’s morals increased the persuasiveness of the arguments. You can read a summary of the study here.

  • If someone makes a claim you disagree with, (gently) ask why. Do they have evidence? What makes them believe the claim? This is not about being smarter or better informed, it’s about understanding where their ideas come from.

  • Find evidence for your claims. SURJ’s Thanksgiving guide is a good start to think of responses to specific statements, such as “I’m not a racist for supporting Trump.” You can also text SOS to 82623 get key talking points if you’re stuck.

4) Learn about Michael Flynn!

Awareness is a key part of engagement! Read up on Michael Flynn, Trump’s pick for National Security advisor. As NSC advisor and an influential member of Trump’s inner circle, Flynn will have the authority to make foreign policy and military decisions that affect millions of people.

Flynn has called the Muslim faith a political ideology, and in an August speech equated “Islamism” to a “vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people.” He’s written that he believes the United States is currently engaged in a “global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela,” and that “the Islamic world is an epic failure, desperately needing economic, cultural and educational reform of the sort that has led to the superiority of the West.”

What can we do? The appointment of the president’s national security advisor is not subject to confirmation, and so Congress cannot prevent Trump from inviting Michael Flynn into the White House. But we can ensure that both Trump and Flynn are aware that the American people will not stand for Islamophobia, hatred, or war. Our voices must be directed towards not just legislators, but also to the people around us.

Call your legislator and tell them that you’re worried about increasing numbers of hate crimes against Muslims, and ask them to speak out against the rhetoric used by General Michael Flynn.

Blog, tweet, and speak out! Do not allow hatred and Islamophobic language to go unchallenged. In the words of the US Holocaust Museum, “the Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words.”

Call, write, or email your local news and ask if they’ve reported on General Flynn’s anti-Muslim statements, his history, and his connections to repressive regimes in Russia and Turkey. Shining a light on Flynn’s words and actions will send a message that we are paying attention and we are ready to protect those around us.

5) Support and Solidarity

Non-profit organizations working toward social change are going to face serious (and expensive) challenges over the next four years, and donating now allows them to budget for these challenges. Sending money cannot be a replacement for action, speaking out, and the hard work of organizing. But donations make it easier for established groups to achieve results. In particular, recurring donations don’t just save you inconvenience, but also let organizations count on your continuing support, making them better able to plan as well!

We have curated a list of non-profits that are especially in need of regular donations. We hope that you will join us by supporting the causes you feel most strongly about.

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That’s all for this week. Thank you for standing with us to protect our values and promote real change. And don’t forget to share your commitment and actions with friends, both online and in person!

If you have questions or suggestions, or would like to get more involved, contact us at solidaritymit@mit.edu. We especially welcome suggestions for potential action items!

Until next week,

Solidarity MIT

tinyurl.com/solidaritypledge

 

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