BFP Teach-In Reflects Huge Upsurge In Activism!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Note: Photos from the BFP Teach-In can be viewed HERE.

Well over a hundred people filled up the auditorium in Touhy Hall at St. Joseph’s College in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brookyn.

There were there to attend an all day teach-in. The event, titled “The People Or Trump,” was called to examine Trump’s projected aggressive approach to using military solutions in international conflicts, his calls for a huge buildup in military expenditures and his beligerant approach to many different countries. How would this affect our communities? Could we expect more cutbacks to vital social services? Where will challenges to peace most likely occur?

The Teach-In consisted of two sessions. In the morning session, experts focused on the military budget and the Mid East.

The afternoon panel. Community activists in various areas of work shared their ideas on how to build a united movement to defeat Trumpism.

The morning’s first speaker was Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor of History at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He painted a realistic but gloomy picture of the conflicts in the Mid East, pointing to a very aggressive stance by Trump and others in and around his administraton who, he asserted, can be expected to engage in provocative actions to justify a war with that country. He felt that they wouldn’t “tear up” the Obama-negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran since it had the support of so many other nations but would work to isolate Iran and bait the more conservative elements, empowering them inside Iran. “One could expect them to respond to Trump’s baiting in order to prove their nationalistic bona fides.” Therein, he said, lies a profound danger of war with Iran.

The second speaker, William Hartung, Director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, talked about the military budget and Pentagon priorities which he said foreshadowed a huge increase in Pentagon spending at the expense of social expenditures. But he was greatly heartened by the emergence of a new and massive movement that has taken to the streets to defend the gains of the past and resist attempts to take the country back to an earlier time.

After the presentations by Abrahamian and Hartung, the audience participated in a discussion with questions and statements. This was followed by lunch, provided by Zaytoon’s, a local restaurant.

Following lunch, a cultural offering with video and interactive audience presentation was presented by dancers and choreographers, Despina Stamos and Jill Woodward.

In the afternoon session, local activists from various organizations spoke about their areas of work and offered ideas on how to conduct successful defense and offense to Trump’s assaults on democracy and our standards of living. This was also followed by a lively exchange by people in the audience.

The event was indicative of the growing activism that is spreading rapidly in communities and campuses across the country. Many people, who had never participated in social struggles, are now stepping forward in a movement that is reminiscent of the 60’s and earlier periods of popular upsurge in our history when people’s well-being was threatened as it is today.

Co-Sponsors of the Teach-In were Fort Greene Peace and St. Joseph’s College organizations: Social Thinkers, Students For Justice In Palestine and the college’s Office of Campus Ministry. Big thanks go to them and to Sister Susan Wilcox.

Note: Photos from the BFP Teach-In can be viewed HERE.