FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

10 Good Things About the Not-So-Great Year 2015

It would certainly be easy to do a piece about 10 horrible events from 2015, from the ongoing war in Syria and the refugee crisis, to the bombings in Beirut, Paris and San Bernardino, to the rise of Donald Trump and Islamophobia. But that wouldn’t be a very inspiring way to bid farewell to this year and usher in a new one. So let’s look at 10 reasons to feel better about 2015.

1. Iran nuclear deal: Despite significant political opposition and millions of dollars spent to try to quash the deal, the nuclear agreement with Iran was passed and the possibility of another US military entanglement was narrowly avoided. The powerful lobby AIPAC had its wings clipped, as did Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu (except that the deal unfortunately came with a payoff of even more US tax dollars going to the Israeli military).

2. Cuba thaw: It’s official! The US and Cuba now have embassies in each other’s territory for the first time in over half a century. The year has been marked by a UN meeting between Castro and Obama, more travelers to Cuba and more trade between both countries — but Congress still needs to lift the trade embargo, fully lift the travel ban, and return the Guantanamo naval base to the Cubans!

3. Keystone pipeline ain’t happenin’. After years of stellar grassroots activism against the Keystone pipeline (and years of lobbying by the oil companies), President Obama finally took the side of the activists (and the planet) by shutting down the project. And while the Paris climate talks did not result in the dramatic commitments we need to stop global climate chaos, they did raise consciousness and move the global community in the right direction.

4. The Black Lives Matter movement gets results. This incredible uprising has forced issues of racial injustice into the national spotlight and created real reforms within communities across the country. The Movement for Black Lives got its momentum in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri and spread throughout the nation. Cops have been convicted, police chiefs have been ousted, citizen review boards have been empowered, confederate flags have come down, buildings named after racists have been renamed, presidential candidates have been forced to talk about race. Kudos to the many young black activists leading the way.

5. Canada welcomes refugees. While Donald Trump threatens to ban Muslims from the US, newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed the rest of the world how a country can open its doors –– and hearts –– to Syrian refugees. Trudeau and other smiling officialswelcomed the first batch of Syrian refugees with flowers, toys, clothing, goodwill and the heartfelt declaration, “You are home.” “We get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations…because we define a Canadian not by a skin color or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams,” Trudeau proclaimed.

6. Jeremy Corbyn heads UK Labor Party! Running on an anti-war, anti-austerity, and pro-refugee platform, longtime progressive parliamentarian Jeremy Corbyn earned a whopping 59% of his party’s votes. In an interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, Corbyn voiced his support for diplomacy and his aversion to airstrikes in the Middle East: “I want a world of peace. I’m not interested in bombs. I’m not interested in wars. I’m interested in peace.” Wouldn’t that be nice to hear from Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi?

7. Same-sex marriage was legalized in the US! In a landmark and long-awaited decision, the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage a federal right. On June 26, the LGBTQ community and its allies rejoiced and took the streets to celebrate the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. While there have been some minor setbacks since then (primarily due to bigots like Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis), there is no turning back now.

8. Ten years of BDS wins. The non-violent, non-sectarian, Palestinian-led movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel has seen a decade of victories. Key this year was the decision by the European Union that goods produced on land seized in the 1967 war must be labeled “Made in Settlements” (not “Made in Israel”), which will deprive Israel the corresponding tax benefits. The former Israeli intelligence chief Shabtai Shavit is convinced that BDS has become a “critical” challenge to Israel, while the former prime minister Ehud Barak admits it is reaching a “tipping point.” In a desperate attempt to counter the momentum of BDS, Israeli Embassy officials in DC sent holiday gifts exclusively made in settlements to the White House this year.

9. Marijuana becomes mainstream. What a year of momentum to end our country’s disastrous war on drugs and mass incarceration. Marijuana is now legal in Colorado, Washington. Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C., California and others will hit the ballot box in 2016 to hopefully push us past the tipping point on marijuana legalization. President Obama, the first president to visit a prison, spoke out forcefully against mass incarceration and for criminal justice reform, and is helping formerly incarcerated people re-enter society by “banning the box” for those applying for federal jobs.

10. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign! The energy that Bernie has mobilized, especially among young progressives, has been phenomenal. While the media is obsessed with Donald Trump, droves of people have been flocking to hear Bernie talk about breaking up big banks, a financial transaction tax to make college education free, single-payer healthcare and other ideas to make our society more just. Wouldn’t it be great if this movement could continue after the race is over?

So while this holiday season the nation is obsessed with the latest Donald Trump insult and the special effects of Star Wars, may we bring in the new year truly striking back at the injustices of the empire. May the force be with the grassroots activists trying to build a more peaceful world.

 

More articles by:

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human right organization Global Exchange. Follow her on twitter at @MedeaBenjamin.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail