*Divest from War, Invest in People

by Kathy Kelly

January 28, 2017

All Trump, all the time. With a punishing, disorienting barrage of
executive orders, President Trump is reversing hard fought gains made in
environmental protection, health care, women’s rights, immigration policy,
and nuclear weapons reduction--with even more executive orders promised.

In his inaugural speech, Trump proclaimed "America First". The U.S. does
rank first in weapon sales, in mass incarceration and in producing waste
material. Pope Francis urged President Trump to be first in protecting the
poorest in society. But instead, President Trump has surrounded himself
with generals and billionaires in cabinet level positions.

It's true; some of President Trump's policies actually extend wrongs
enacted by previous administrations. Other presidents and their
spokespersons have championed an escalating war on the global poor under
the pretenses of humanitarianism and democracy. They wore “masks” that were
easier for many in the U.S. to look at and accept, and yet their policies
caused terrible bloodshed, starvation and death.   A widespread drone war,
annihilating civilians from the air, is an example of a brutal rightward
turn which some liberals accepted.  Was drone proliferation seen as an
improvement on previous means of warfare because it was presented in an
articulate, professorial tone? During a previous Democrat administration I
recall protesting brutal economic sanctions which, halfway through their
eleven-year reign, had contributed directly to the deaths of hundreds of
thousands of Iraqi children aged four years or younger. The antiwar
movement tends to demobilize when a well-spoken Democrat is in office.

Trump’s victory hinged on the Democrats’ refusal to offer more than token
resistance to militarism and rising inequality. To successfully organize
against Trumpism, we must move toward making actual changes in the lives of
those who are most vulnerable and unprotected, especially among the poorest
people in our societies.

Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the “giant evil triplets” of racism,
militarism and income inequality. He assured us none of these can possibly
be conquered alone. As protests erupt against the policies of Donald Trump
it is valid to question what is “style” and what is “substance”. How can
the energy generated by these actions be channeled into functioning and
effective resistance?

Trump’s executive orders have already escalated our government’s commitment
to inequality well beyond what Hillary Clinton would ever have likely
attempted. His cabinet appointments suggest he will rival or exceed her in

We must cut through the fog and recognize our collective responsibilities.
There are numerous ways to turn the energy of protests into daily action,
but they all involve organizing, not against a hated political figure, but
against policies which must be successfully reversed. One example is war
tax refusal. My own decision, made and held since 1980, is never to pay
federal income tax to the U.S. government. Our leaders depend on taxes to
continue their destructive campaigns. Monies not forwarded to the
government can be redirected to causes in support of peace, victimized
communities and the poor.

 The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
<http://nwtrcc.org/2017/01/25/public-war-tax-resister/> (NWTRCC) is an
organization that encourages interested parties to nonviolently oppose
taxation for war. This group links to grassroots communities and may
provide the basis for additional refusals of cooperation. Anticipating
resurgent interest in refusal to pay for abhorrent, discriminatory
policies, a group of war tax refusers approached NWTRCC with the idea of
encouraging people to consider war tax resistance by contacting the
network. Their “call,” posted on the NWTRCC website, is signed by a growing
list now numbering over 120 people.

Essentially, we can't afford Trumpism and we can’t afford alternatives to
Trumpism that were rejected in the last election. We need to reject Trump’s
executive orders in substance as well as style, living more simply so that
others may simply live. War tax refusal is a small gesture in that
direction, quieter than a march but potentially meaningful. It gives us a
chance to align our lives with our deepest values and welcome kindred
spirits to join us.

*Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org <Kathy@vcnv.org>) co-coordinates Voices for
Creative Nonviolence (**www.vcnv.org* <http://www.vcnv.org>*) and has
relied on NWTRCC (nwtrcc.org) <http://www.nwtrcc.org/> since 1980 when she
first began refusing to pay all forms of federal income tax.*