This is my last political post of the season.
I am repeating an argument I made on Facebook, so these words will probably wind up there twice. For that I apologize. I am doubling down on this post, though, because I feel it’s incumbent upon me–it’s my responsibilty as a writer, as a woman, as a mother, as an American, and as the cherished daughter of a man who can no longer speak for himself.
I am Doubling down on my belief that my country is skidding around a dangerous curve in the road on two wheels while some of its citizens are actively sawing away at the brake lines.
This was my childhood bedtime story:
“Pay careful, careful attention. Watch every politician’s rhetoric. Watch what they say, and watch what they don’t say.
Watch what they let others say for them. Watch how they try to muzzle the press. Watch how they pit one citizen against another. Watch as violence, at first shocking, is not only accepted but slyly rewarded by the very man who says he is not inciting it.
Watch as ordinary people–your neighbors and people you’ve allowed to look after your children–grow emboldened by this spectacle. Watch as they create greater and greater examples of vicious rhetoric and outbursts of violence to please and impress one another.
Watch how uncivil, brutal, and even deadly behavior splashes out into ordinary social discourse as people, fraught and overwrought, allow their anxiety to control them.
Watch how they threaten to jail their opponents. To jail their detractors. To use the government to clean up so-called undesirables with mass deportations, new laws, and simple street justice with the assurance no one will be punished.”
Fascism, [here defined as an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization] can happen any time a desperate populace, stirred up by a fear-fueled agenda, asserts its desire to return to some kind of idealogical purity. They will often scapegoat an ‘other’, like immigrants or people of color or people of differing religions or women who want body autonomy or individuals in the #LGBTQIA community or individuals who are mentally ill or disabled, to blame for their problems.
“The true God isn’t being cherished,” they will say. “These taco trucks and immigrant workers and beards and kippot and abaya and headscarfs and rainbow farting unicorns and foreign languages and foods and books are unAmerican,” they will say. “Illness is too expensive, and certain people are only sick because they did something to deserve it,” they will say. “Homosexuals prey on children and corrupt people who would be straight otherwise,” they will say.
“All of these things can be cured,” they will say, “by science, or law, or failing that, we must use some kind of containment, so others don’t have the choice or even the opportunity to come into contact with these dangerous, dangerous things.”
“These odd, strange people who are not like us are what is wrong with our country,” they inevitably say, “Fix them, and we will be united and successful again.”
My childhood nightmares, my father’s reality, can happen ANYWHERE.
Who are you? Are you “us” or “them”? Do you even know? Because OHMYGOD. I listen to certain people talk like they’re part of this movement and I think, look in the mirror. You might only think you’re safe.
Ironically, tragically, my father would have loved Donald Trump. Proof positive that if you don’t see yourself as “the other” in any particular context, it’s awful damned easy to lose your empathy for all the other “others” and board that fast train to oopsville.
Oops. I didn’t know they’d ever pick on me… That’s how it works, people.
We have all heard that before, too. Top of the world, Ma. I’m not the one they’re after. Yet.
I am white. I have immense privilege. And I am also other. Which will count? My skin or my ideology. My privilege or my religion or my sexuality or my ethnic background? Whiteness might keep me safe. The “otherness”…? My otherness could get me killed in many, many places around the world right now. I am a potent cocktail of ethnicity, religion, sexuality, ideology, body autonomy, and mental illness and empathy for those not like me. These things would likely tip the scales in favor of a serious heave-ho.
I am an outspoken detractor of the regime before the fact. #nevertrump
HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW?
This is our chance to KEEP America Great.