Excerpts from a speech by Fred Kowal, President of the United University Professions, to the union’s delegate assembly on January 29, 2017. UUP represents 42,000 professors and other academic faculty and professionals in the State University of New York’s 29 campuses, and is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO. Kowal has taught political science and Native American studies at SUNY’s Cobleskill campus.

             So, here we are. Our nation listened to the words of one who in his life has shown no deep appreciation for the truth. One who has expressed heinous statements regarding how he sees and treats women. One who sought to destroy the legitimacy of the first African American President with lies, in what I call a political hate crime. One who mocked disabled people, referred to all of those in one ethnic group as rapists, and called for the removal of those belonging to a certain religious faith from the Land of the Free. One whose ambition, narcissism and manipulation of peoples’ fears and insecurities through a masterful understanding of the shallowness of so much of the media today have resulted in the rise of a government, elected by a minority of Americans, that will pursue the most extremist agenda in our nation’s history...         Democracy is fragile. As is justice. And equality. The arc of history may bend to a better world, but that arc is also easily bent back to oppression, isolation, mistrust and cynicism. We are seeing it now. A secretary of education who knows nothing about education - certainly not higher education - and rejects the Jeffersonian precept that a democracy demands a public education system to bring forth an enlightened population. A secretary of labor who despises labor, the work we do and the need for just wages. A secretary of energy who doesn’t even know what the department is or does. A secretary of health and human services who opposes science and the right to health care. A director of the environmental protection agency who wants to destroy the agency he would lead. This is a total rejection of the role of government, and thus a rejection of the reality that government is the creation of the people to reflect the highest aspirations of self rule. It is a rejection of democracy. It is fascism...

            The night is dark. And dawn is far off. Some say we should not resist this calamity. Some labor leaders, even some progressives in the Democratic Party say that we must work with Trump where we can, to get what we can, for our constituent groups. Some say that we should simply accept reality and go about our days with the understanding that this man is now the leader of our nation. Get over it, they say. Whiners, they call us. I’m not a whiner. And I refuse to get over it. What is the it? Donald Trump was elected by an 18th century, undemocratic, constitutional provision which southern states insisted upon to defend the racist institution of slavery. Ironic, isn’t it?

            ...To win, we must resist from beginning to end, strategically and consistently. We must through it all remember that we are the majority. We have the power that Trump and his followers only dream of and wish for. We will win because hope always wins. And what will we win? We will win back not “our country,” but everyone’s country: Black, white, red, brown, gay, straight, trans, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, secular - laborers all. This is everyone’s country and we claim it in the cause of justice!

            ...When Native Americans stood their ground on the plains of North Dakota to stop an invasion of their land by oil pipeline companies, an invasion that threatened their water supply and their sacred land, UUP joined them and I was proud to write to the Tribal Chairperson to tell him that THIS union would stand for justice for our sisters and brothers and not be blinded by short term economic benefit for the few. And when Donald Trump announced that he will push for the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline to continue, despite widespread opposition, I readied myself for the inevitable trip to Dakota to stand with our sisters and brothers. We will not back down. No, we will rise up because justice does not discriminate base on race or on power....

            So let the clarion call ring forth. We hear it. We heed its call. We rise up - in the face of the hatred we’ve heard directed at our sisters and brothers. We rise up - in the face of the division we’ve seen sown amongst us. We rise up -- in the dawn of the new day that summons us as few times have summoned us before: To hold high the banner of Justice, Equality, and Peace. Rise up, Today...Tomorrow... and till the end of time in the name of hope and solidarity forever.

(The above article is from the February 15-28, 2017, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)