Recent Resistance Reads

First, here is the text of the White House’s statement on the firing of Sally Yates, the “weak” and “very weak” acting Attorney General who “betrayed” the Department of Justice after she instructed its attorneys not to defend the executive order banning travel and immigration to the United States from seven majority-Muslim countries and suspending the admission of refugees.

Second, here is a portion of the transcript of Yates’s confirmation hearing as Deputy Attorney General in 2015, in which Senator Jeff Sessions (Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General) grilled her on whether she would defend the Constitution and the law in the face of an unlawful order from the president, “no matter how headstrong they might be.” Yates assured Sessions of her belief that the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General must give impartial legal advice, and must not follow unlawful orders from above.

Moving on to the museum world, the American Alliance of Museums issued a statement in response to the executive order, saying in tempered terms that it is “gravely concerned” while emphasizing the importance of “welcoming international perspectives” in the museum world.

A more forcefully worded petition opposing the travel ban has garnered the signatures of over 8,000 academics and counting, including Nobel laureates and other major award winners. Among the signers’ affiliations are museums, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the Museum of Modern Art, and the American Museum of Natural History.

USHMM today published these words on the restrictions, reminding readers that the United States largely turned away European Jews because of “antisemitic and xenophobic attitudes, harsh economic conditions, and national security fears” even as these refugees were fleeing the Holocaust.

This article reports on the Peace Ball held on the eve of the inauguration, hosted by Busboys and Poets (a coffeeshop/restaurant/bar/bookstore/event venue) at a larger venue, the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Busboys and Poets stage, 14th and V location, photographed in 2012. A bigger space was needed to stage the 2017 Peace Ball, which was held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Busboys and Poets stage, 14th and V location, photographed in 2012. A bigger space was needed to stage the 2017 Peace Ball, which was held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

There are memes going around social media expressing a sort of endeared surprise at the role that employees of the National Park Service have taken in support of the environment, free expression, and striving for impartial science. I am not surprised, though – not if these park rangers were trained in the traditions of being a change agent and embracing the lofty and saving the planet. Not when NPS’s mission is to be “unimpaired” in preserving parks for the “enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Jonathan Jarvis may not have had a spotless tenure as former director of NPS, but his praise for the resistance within NPS gets to the heart of what rangers and educators do – and it’s more than just telling visitors what time the site closes.

Many, many religious communities and organizations have risen to the occasion in denouncing the executive order on immigration and travel, and affirming their commitment to helping refugees and welcoming people of all faiths. Over 250 Jewish congregations (including Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in DC, which I visited as a Weekly Museum Visit) have signed onto the Welcome Campaign.

Foundry United Methodist Church, where I have spent time as a volunteer packing donated books to send to prisoners, has a Sacred Resistance section on its website. This page is updated with statements and suggested actions in response to governmental decisions that are fundamentally incompatible with the church’s values.

Peace Pole outside Foundry United Methodist Church, Washington, DC

Peace Pole outside Foundry United Methodist Church, Washington, DC. The church’s website offers concrete suggestions for “Sacred Resistance.”

My own congregation is one of many signers to this statement by the Know Your Neighbor: Multifatih Encounters campaign, composed of a variety of religious and humanistic traditions.

And finally, for a longer read, George Orwell’s novel 1984 rose to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list since the current presidential administration started. Here, the New York Times reviews 1984 in the context of 2017.

I welcome additions to this list in the comments!


About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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