Photos: This is NOT the Face of America – Resistance to Donald Trump on the Women’s March in New York, Jan. 20, 2018

Some of my photos from the Women's March in New York on January 20, 2018, via Flickr.

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Last month, when I was discussing with Debra Sweet, the national director of the campaigning group the World Can’t Wait, how long to stay in the US on my annual trip to call for the closure of Guantánamo on and around the anniversary of its opening on January 11, we decided that it was worth staying for the Women’s March on January 20. Debra has been coordinating my January visits to the US since 2011, and I had stayed until January 21 last year, and took part in the colossal 500,000-strong march in New York, and we both felt that there was no good reason to miss it this year, as it promised yet again to be an opportunity for millions of women — and men — to tell Donald Trump what they think of him.

Last year, there was a huge outpouring of anger at the arrival in the White House of Trump, who had somehow become president despite his extraordinary unsuitability for the role: his complete lack of political experience, and his very public deficiencies — his rudeness, his vindictiveness, his inability to complete even a simple coherent sentence, his sordid history as a sexual predator, and the groundless illusion of his success as a businessman. This thoroughly unpleasant figure had particularly appalled women because of his “grab ‘em by the p*ssy” comment that had been revealed during the election campaign, but that had somehow failed to derail him.

A year on, the anger against Trump is surely more palpable, and more based on experience, than a year ago. This president is a bitter joke, the dysfunctional head of a dangerously right-wing version of the Republican Party, who governs by tweet, and constantly threatens,and tries to deliver on policies that reveal a profound and troubling racism: his attempted Muslim travel ban, for example, and the marked increase in his assault on the most vulnerable members of US society — the immigrants on whom the US economy depends, but whose presence, as with Brexit and immigrants in the UK, is perceived by self-pitying white people as being the source of their economic woes, rather than the truth: that it is the fault of the neoliberal machinery of political and big business, a world which, fundamentally, Donald Trump is as much a part of as the “elites” for which his supporters have nothing but contempt. Read the rest of this entry »

Trump’s Victory Confirms 2016 as the Year WASPs Began, Alarmingly, to Embrace the Far Right in Significant Numbers

A photo taken by Andy Worthington in New York in January 2016, used as the cover image for Andy's band The Four Fathers' song "Neo-Liberal Bullshit Blues," which features a verse about Donald Trump.

Please listen to “Neo-Liberal Bullshit Blues” by my band The Four Fathers, with its verse about how “Donald Trump is no answer / He’s just a selfish and dangerous fool / He’s just another version / Of the Neo-Liberal Bullshit Blues.”

Like June 23, 2016, November 8, 2016 will go down in the history books as a day when dreams of progress and tolerance and hope were brutally dashed. On June 23, in the UK, a slim majority of voters who could be bothered to turn out to vote in the EU referendum gave a kicking to the British establishment and endorsed racism and xenophobia, damaging the economy for no discernibly important reason whatsoever, making us a laughing stock around the world, and resetting the UK’s default position on tolerance to one in which foreigners can be openly abused, and anyone foreign-born, or appearing to be foreign-born, can be treated as “the other.”

In the US, as Jonathan Freedland wrote for the Guardian today, “We thought the United States would step back from the abyss. We believed … that Americans would not, in the end, hand the most powerful office on earth to an unstable bigot, sexual predator and compulsive liar.”

And yet, that is exactly what happened, and the parallels with the UK are, unfortunately, illuminating. Voters gave a kicking to the establishment, represented by Hillary Clinton, and white voters turned to Trump, the showman who, like Nigel Farage, pretended to be a “man of the people,” even though that was patently untrue. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama’s Failure to Close Guantánamo: Revisiting a Major Article in the New Yorker

"Inaugurate Justice, Close Guantanamo": a message from Witness Against Torture activists outside the White House on January 13, 2013, the 11th anniversary of the opening of the prison, just a week before President Obama's second term inauguration (Photo: Andy Worthington).With just over 100 days remaining for President Obama to fulfill his promise to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay that he inherited from George W. Bush, where men subjected to torture and other forms of abuse are still held without charge or trial, undermining the US’s belief that it is a nation that respects the rule of law, I continue to work to close the prison, through my writing here, and through the Close Guantánamo campaign that I established with the US attorney Tom Wilner in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the prison’s opening.

A specific initiative of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign is the Countdown to Close Guantánamo, in which, every 50 days, those who wish to see Guantánamo closed have been submitting photos of themselves with posters reminding President Obama how many days he has left. Please print off the latest poster, marking 100 days remaining for President Obama to fulfill his promise on October 11, take a photo of yourself with it, and send it to us to add your voice to those calling for the prison’s closure.

This January, as President Obama prepares to leave office after eight years as president, it will be 15 years since Guantánamo opened, unless he somehow manages to close it — by executive order, perhaps — in the brief period between the presidential election in November and the inauguration of the next president in January 2017. That seems unlikely, however, because Congress has, for years, imposed bans on spending any money to bring any prisoners to the US mainland for any reason, and overriding lawmakers will unleash a fury. Read the rest of this entry »

“Pragmatism Over Ideology”: Obama’s Failure to Close Guantánamo, and His Love of Drones

Last week, a major article in the New York Times painted a grim portrait of how President Obama has taken over from George W. Bush as the “commander in chief” of a “war on terror” that seems to have no end, and that not only appears to be counter-productive, but also, at heart, illegal.

Understandably, critics have been alarmed by the article’s revelations about a President who holds regular meetings to decide who should be on a “kill list” for drone strikes — in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — and who insists on approving the targets of drone raids, which is his primary method of dealing with the perceived terrorist threat, by “poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war.”

As well as claiming the right to kill people (including US citizens) in drone attacks that seem very clearly to do away with notions of national sovereignty — and which therefore play into George W. Bush’s dreadful notion of the entire world as an endless battlefield — the Times article also noted that President Obama has also “embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties,” which “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” Read the rest of this entry »

With Osama bin Laden’s Death, the Time for US Vengeance Is Over

Just four months before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the reported death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan ought to signal an end to the “War on Terror” declared by the Bush administration in the wake of the attacks — the “war” that led to “extraordinary rendition,” the establishment of secret American torture prisons around the world, and the imprisonment without charge or trial, and, initially, without any rights whatsoever, of 779 prisoners at Guantánamo, 172 of whom remain.

The reported death of al-Qaeda’s leader also ought to signal an end to the “war” that led to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians and of nearly 6,000 US soldiers, but it is unlikely — extremely unlikely, I would suggest — that anything significant will happen, apart from increased security alerts in the West, and — though let us hope not — some sort of terrorist reprisal.

A preservation of the status quo or even an attempt to ramp up the rhetoric of the “War on Terror” — along the lines of Hillary Clinton’s announcement that “the fight continues and we will never waiver” — would be, to put it mildly, a great, great disappointment, as the death of bin Laden ought to bring about, at the very least, an end to America’s occupation of Afghanistan and its expansion by drone attack into Pakistani territory. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer (The State of London).
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