SYNDICATED COLUMN: The 3 Rules of Resistance to Donald Trump                To the French, it felt like the end of the world. 1940: defeated in six weeks, surrender, subjugation, overrun by German soldiers whose power of life or death were absolute and absolutely capricious. Fascism triumphant; organized resistance as yet unimaginable.

Simone de Beauvoir, who dedicated herself to the study of ethics, struggled to adjust to everyday life in Nazi-occupied Paris. On the Metro, a German soldier — Wehrmacht, low-ranking and therefore a conscript? — asked for directions. Seemed like a nice kid. Besides, refusal was dangerous. But he was an invader. What was the right thing to do: a little treasonous help, or send him to some dangerous neighborhood?

On a macro level, the French had to decide to what extent to cooperate with the terrifying new regime.

On one extreme were the collaborators and war profiteers who exploited their fellow citizens, welcomed every chance to advance their personal fortunes and thereby legitimized the Nazis and the Vichy-based puppet regime led by Philippe Pétain. Many were executed by extrajudicial tribunals after liberation in 1944.

At the opposite end of the behavioral spectrum were the Communist résistants de la première heure and the men and women of the maquis. Abandoning jobs and families, these people of principle lived rough lives underground, risking everything to terrorize the Germans and their French fascist allies. Many were tortured and murdered.

explainersmall                 Though it’s premature to draw a direct comparison between Nazi Europe and Trump’s America, it’s never too early to start thinking about the ethics of resistance in a United States whose government whose repressiveness is likely to feel unacceptably severe to a significant portion of the population.

What is the correct way to behave after January 20th? Should one Keep Calm and Carry On? (Given that those now-clichéed posters were supposed to have been plastered on walls by a retreating British government in the face of a Nazi occupation of the UK, my inclination is to say no.) Ought one take to the hills and practice shooting down drones?

Like the French during World War II, most Americans opposed to/afraid of Trump will muddle through some murky middle ground. In times that try souls, ambiguity abounds.

We Americans may not be familiar with them, but there are standards. Everything does not go. There are clear rights and wrongs. Now, as we plunge into the moral abyss, it is important to learn, spread and enforce the Rules of Resistance for people who want to be able to hold their heads high when their children ask “what did you do during the war, daddy/mommy?”

                  Rule 1: Anything for survival.

As a teacher, Beauvoir would have lost her food rations, ID papers and livelihood if she hadn’t signed an odious Vichy-required certificate swearing that she wasn’t a Jew. Though she was appalled, she signed. You’re not required to starve to death over a principle.

                  Rule 2: Nothing for Trump.

Even though Jewish writers were banned from publication, Beauvoir submitted her novel for a literary prize. “If I had been awarded the Prix Goncourt that year I should have accepted it with wholehearted jubilation,” she recalled. Disgusting. Her participation legitimized the regime’s anti-Semitism.

The Rockettees and the singer Jackie Evancho will perform at Trump’s inaugural. “I just kind of thought that this is for my country,” Evancho said. Jennifer Holliday initially said she’d do the gig as well: “I’m singing on the mall for the people,” said Holliday. “I don’t have a dog in this fight.” They are wrong: it is precisely for their country that they ought to have opted out, as Ice-T and Elton John did. The one thing Trumpism offers is ideological clarity; at times like this, everyone has a dog in the fight, ostriching not allowed.

When you’re considering whether or not to participate in something Trump-y or government-y during the next few years, get educated. Then ask yourself: what would I think if I were one of the people being targeted by Trump and the Republicans? How would an immigrant awaiting deportation feel about Jennifer Holliday while watching Jennifer Holliday croon on TV in a nasty ICE prison? How will someone dying of a disease because she can’t afford treatment after losing Obamacare feel about the Rockettes?

Normally, when your president calls, a patriot heeds his call. But Trump isn’t normal and these aren’t normal times.

                  Rule 3: Ignorance is no excuse.

Whether you live under Nazi occupation or Trumpian oppression, refusing to keep informed is no longer acceptable.

To her credit, Jennifer Holliday backed out of her scheduled inaugural performance in response to a social media firestorm, explaining that she had been “uneducated on the issues.” She continued: “Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal beliefs and be mistaken for support of Donald Trump and Mike Pence…I HEAR YOU.”

Everything is always a political act. Now the stakes are even higher.

If you’re a member of the armed forces or the police, you are morally required to resign and find another job.

If you work in a political post within the federal government — the diplomatic corps, for example — or a post that has policy implications, like the NSA or CIA, a morally upright person has no choice but to quit in protest.

If you have the opportunity to expose wrongdoing from within, you must act as a whistleblower.

If you have the chance to resist Trump’s protofascist policies, you must do so. You must hide the undocumented immigrant on the run. You cannot submit a bid to construct the Wall. You must, if you work for an insurance company, try to avoid enforcing rules that deny healthcare.

One of the things people overseas tell me they like about Americans is that we’re happy-go-lucky. That has to change.

It’s time to get serious.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


  • Mr Rall has done a great deal of research on Trump for his book, so when he writes columns like this, it is scary.

    But what have we now? A president who gives great speeches, but his actions? Is he sending the US military to murder brown people for reasons that no one understands, but the Obamabots are sure must be right, or are the incredibly smart US weapons only killing heinous terrorists with no collateral casualties, as the Greatest Force for Good in the World punishes evil and protects the innocent?

    Obama gives speeches about being fair to Hispanics, while banning Cubans (who usually vote Republican) and deporting more non-Cuban Hispanics than any other president. Is this better than Bush, jr, or Clinton, who removed many more Hispanics than Obama (but not by deportation)?

    And what would St Hillary have done? She promised regime change in Syria, and, if Putin did not agree, regime change in Russia. Will Trump really be that much worse?

    Since ’93, we’ve had neo-libs like Clinton and Obama, who are on the LEFT, so the rich and powerful and politicians must be LEFT to take everything from everywhere in the world and the rest of us get whatever is LEFT. Or we’ve had a neo-con like Bush, jr, who is on the RIGHT, so the rich and powerful have the RIGHT to take everything from everywhere in the world, and it’s RIGHT that they don’t have to pay taxes on what they take.

    Trump does not sound to me to be either neo-con nor neo-lib, but he sounds soooey generis, which I believe is a call to the pigs to come home to be made into bacon?

  • I was just going to say, “Nuts!” and leave it at that, but then I saw this:

    “Everything is always a political act.”

    I have to say that next to, “We must annihilate civilization,” this is the best encapsulation of modern Leftism I can conceive of. So you want to politicize everything (and I’ll concede you’ve succeeded), yet Trump is the oppressive one? You may realize that long ago, politicians did not have a say in every aspect of life? Or that people could live decent lives apolitically?

    F. A. Hayek demonstrated 70 years ago the contradiction and folly of granting government power ostensibly to protect the individual, i.e. the path advocated by the Left in every circumstance conceivable. When the government gains power, it is at the expense of the freedom of citizens. And governments don’t exactly have a great track record for handling power with restraint.

    Get real, Rall. You like exorbitant government power–until your opponent gets his hands on it, then it becomes oppressive!

    And looking at your list I have to ask if these “resistance rules” applied during Obama? You argued he was oppressive so were people morally required to resign then?

    Then I have to wonder at the exhortation of a Leftist to moral action. You guys aren’t exactly well known for coherent moral codes. And the declaration that not everything goes–again lackadaisical moral relativism is kind of your side’s thing.

    And in the interest of time and space, I’ll have to leave other problems here unaddressed.

    • All that power…Trump is sure to use it wrong–to enforce laws! But if only a good person like Rall had it, only bad people would have their rights violated! Property would be confiscated–for the common good!

      We’ve long established that the government has the power to restructure or eliminate entire industries and that people can be forced to serve customers against their will. Recently we have decided that government can also redefine ancient institutions and gender and even language itself. Perhaps a Rall regime could get even more creative! Just imagine the possibilities, Comrades!

      • > You may realize that long ago, politicians did not have a say in every aspect of life?

        Wait, what? Don’t they teach history at your middle school? We had a revolution a little over two centuries ago – we got our from under the king who thought he had the say in every aspect of life. Now we have “freedom” instead.

        But don’t worry, I’m sure that Trump will get right back to restricting all those freedoms you hate so much. Maybe you’ll be able to stone gays and burn witches at the stake – wouldn’t that be nice?

        Oh, but you’re an atheist. I’m sorry, buty soon the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice will be coming for you! But that’s okay – you like the idea of the government defining your morals for you. Dictating conformity is far more important than protecting the individual.

        I regret that you have but one life to give for your country.

      • Hello “Jack” – long time no see.

        I believe there is some misunderstanding here. When leftists – including Ted – talk about political actions or politics, we do not mean government. We mean acts of people such as ourselves which have consequences for others.

        Homo sapiens has been called the political animal – and this would be even more accurate in a society with minimal government. In critical times we become more aware than almost every action has a political element, including whether one wears a hat and how one says “hi”.

        (Seriously, where I am from, for most of the previous century there were two different ways of saying “hi”, which immediately identified one as either conservative or socialist. Btw Friedrich Hayek used a certain form of greeting. And was afraid of what would become of him should the people who used the other greeting win the civil war that eventually followed.

        But Hayek’s side won the civil war, and he emigrated and went on to slowly build up influence until his students and their students constructed neo-liberalism. That was so successful that by now the idea of “negative freedom” has surpassed Fascism and Soviet Communism in denying freedom to people. Maybe it’s time to try something entirely different?)

        “Politicizing” aspects of daily life can have really empowering effects – but may of course sometimes be depressing. Perhaps I’d like to just eat ice-cream and not be reminded that the corporation that I am paying is busy polluting, mistreating animals, and exploiting its workers, actions to which I am complicit now. Apart from this spiritual poison, I am slurping pure sugary and fake-sugary crap that slowly poisons my body, so at least there is balance 😉

        You’re putting words into Ted’s mouth saying that would want some centralized institution to have undue power over others (as long someone of his ilk is at the helm of that institution).

        There is a wide spectrum of leftist views on state and corporate power. Few on the left still believe that workers cannot actually be entrusted with controlling the means of production themselves but need a (leftist) elite to do it “for them”. People tend to learn from the mistakes of 2 generations past, so perhaps it is time to update your (outside) view on “the” left which are clearly a holdover from Hayek’s time.

        Also, Ted did press the technicians in the e.g. surveillance and murder drone machines to follow their conscience and did excruciate faux liberals who looked the other way just because Obama gave that machine a nicer facade than George III or Trump I (or Clinton II would have done).

        So back in the day, a court decided that people may not be denied food and sneered at because their skin color is a bit darker (as long as they have money). You’re still mad about this?

        Easy fix – why don’t you move to an expensive zip code where most minorities cannot afford to shop (and those select few who can are alright, model citizens, actually. Not like those other ones… you know, those commoners, with those diseases they carry. Another Martini?).

        But clearly you cannot afford that – nor I assume can get access to an empowering place in society… why else would you rant for the power to discriminate more openly against those who have even less?

        Meanwhile, leftists are slowly organizing to try to get the word out that maybe for all of us to get ourselves some more empowering places, the rich can’t have it all. That’s a hard slog. It doesn’t feel like the left is this cultural hegemony behemoth you are making us out to be.

        Admittedly, we did get most people on board with that it is not o.k. to deny people food because of how they look like (as long as they have money), so we do have that going for us.

      • @andreas5: +1

        However, I must respectfully disagree with the very idea of slurping “fake-sugary crap;” Real sugar and cream are essential components in real ice cream. I feel compelled to remind you of one of Niven’s Laws, Never waste calories.


      • Andreas,

        The Left never ceases the changing of its stripes, but it forever remains the same old tiger.

      • «The Left never ceases the changing of its stripes, but it forever remains the same old tiger.» And dear «Jack Heart» forever remains the lady of Niger…. 😉


      • Jack has us pegged wrong.

        Not a Tiger, Jack, Lions. Rise, like lions, from the slumber, in unvanquishable number

        Sociable cats, you see. Not stripey. Neither Hobbesian nor Calvinistic. Like the cowardly lion in that ol’ socialist fable, the Wizard of Oz. (The lion is really is quite brave, it just doesn’t realize its potential.).

        If there is a common thread throughout centuries (millenia really) of leftist currents (always diverse, Monty Python’s People’s Front of Judea vs Judean People’s Front was a play on leftist group splitting in the 70s), it would be trust in organized people and camaraderie. Roar?

  • alex_the_tired
    January 14, 2017 7:52 PM

    I always applaud the cri de coeur, but surely there’s more information to be given. Any books on resistance to recommend? And you left out some things I’d add:

    If you think Trump is dangerous, if you think Trump is going to start putting people in camps …
    1. Don’t get rid of your cellphone, don’t stop posting to your facebook account, etc. Just remember, every single thing you post, search or buy that is out of the ordinary (hmm, he bought FOUR tickets on the Greyhound to Smalltownville up near the Canadian border) will be captured by the NSA and by God, those algorithms will not only spot dangerous statements, they’ll also spot any “strange” behavior changes to your postings. The electric company can track usage changes (that’s how they catch the marijuana growers). The water company will record increases in water usage. You will have to become the absolute paranoid schizoid personality to get away with it, and if you make one single mistake, there will be a knock on your door, a hand on your shoulder, or a bullet in your head.

    2. Should the Trump Takeover actually happen (I don’t think it will, but that’s my opinion, and I could be wrong), it won’t be like back in Anne Frank’s day. Here’s why. The eavesdropping techniques are not only infinitely superior to those of 80 years ago in the technical sense, they’ve also got the good old standards: your neighbors. All your neighbors will become all of your watchers. And, oh, they will turn you in without a moment’s hesitation, it just takes one. They will keep track of every single person who comes and goes through your front door. One of my neighbors loves to say hello. I like her, she’s nice. But she is the nosiest person I have ever met (but in a nice way). “So, are you working? What hours do you work? Was that your brother?” It’s her generation, she isn’t casing the place for a break-in, it’s just her normal level of interaction. I can only imagine what she’ll spill if the police start breaking her fingers one by one. (More likely, they’ll simply put her on a short leash and demand she keep reporting on the quiet.) There’s a million traps like those.

    3. Can you be sure no electronic device in your house has a pickup mike? (I recall a friend, a number of years ago, asking me, as a hypothetical. “How do you KNOW there isn’t a microphone in your cable box?” I laughed at first. But, no, I don’t know. A pickup mike can now be the size of a grain of rice. I have a great deal of confidence that there’s no pickup mike. That’s not the same thing, though.) Now, of course, there are articles all over the place about how smartphone microphones can be turned on remotely. Remember the scene in “Snowden” where he puts the tape over the laptop camera? Here, let’s visit 2010 again. Still laughing it off as paranoia?

    4, In a few words: if you really think Trump is a danger, you can’t trust anyone. Not your oldest friends, not your closest lovers, not your priest, not your rabbi, not your barista. Don’t go to the dentist and get laughing gas. Don’t have surgery with general anesthetic because you might babble coming out of it.

    5. Good luck, Ted. If I’m fortunate, I’ll get the cell next to yours in Stalag #13. At least I’ll have someone smart to talk to. At least until they start applying the jumper cables to one or both of us.

  • Anyone in the CIA, NSA, or FIB who had any ethics whatsoever has already quit.

  • I’m going to continue resisting both parties where they are the same and whichever party is being a bigger asshole on any given day.

    Obama, you asshole, take those tanks out of Poland.

    Your party lost the election.

    Get over it.

    Don’t throw a hissy fit and try to start WWIII.

    • > Obama, you asshole, take those tanks out of Poland.

      Hey, it’s a time-honored tradition. Remember GHW Bush ordering troops into Somalia after he lost the election? He didn’t have an objective or mission plan – he was hoping for another Vietnam on Clinton’s watch. Sure, some Americans could die – that’s a small price to pay for embarrassing the incoming administration.

      • Yes, I remember that “house warming present” from GHW to the new White House occupant and reminded people of it incessantly until it was mysteriously erased out of most American’s short term memory.

        Congratulations to you on caring enough to bring that up.

        I imagine having a conversation about U.S. foreign policy some day where the people were actually conversant with obscure but relevant facts.

        I am hesitant sometimes to join in with Trump bashing because things get ugly when I introduce the fact that the whole U.S. political system is a conflict of interest in itself.

  • Old news and new news:

    Political hack John Lewis finds both Sanders and Trump lacking on their civil rights stance, in service to Hillary Clinton.

    Everybody knows about Trump’s stance on civil rights so:

    “Rep. Keith Ellison, Bernie Sanders’ lone supporter in the Congressional Black Caucus, defended the Vermont senator’s civil rights record after Rep. John Lewis said he never saw Sanders at key moments during the 1960s.”

    Thank you, John Lewis, for leading black voters toward Hillary Clinton. And thank both of you for President T-rump.

  • «Daddy, what did You do in the Great War ?» Got gassed, sweetie, what more do you want to know ?…
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori


    • I can’t begin to describe how vicious both Democrats and Republicans can be when they get their hate on for speaking the content of that Latin sentence in their presence.

      • Of course, when I speak to them in this way it is usually when they’re calling for more invasions and such.

        The anger comes when I mockingly praise them for their willingness to mount a reprise of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade against the fascists in Spain.

      • «The anger comes when I mockingly praise them for their willingness to mount a reprise of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade against the fascists in Spain.» Invasions are one thing, Glenn ; the actions of those who, like the members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, volunteered to defend the Spanish Republic quite another. Much money has been and continues to be made from the former, but I doubt if anybody made a nickel from the latter. Thus, perhaps, that anger and frustration when they realise that nobody would profit big-time from what you seem to be advocating….


      • “Thus, perhaps, that anger and frustration when they realise that nobody would profit big-time from what you seem to be advocating….”

        I believe the anger comes from my insinuation that these chicken hawks are all in favor of wars that will shed the blood of others on both sides of the conflagration with the proviso that by cheering war they have made their necessary contribution, leaving them nothing for them to do but to cheer as spectators.

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