Some Food for Thought

I am a daughter of genteel Southern Privilege. By the lights of the system–both familial and cultural–in which I was raised, I should be overjoyed that the next President of the United States was the Republican candidate, and that  the Republican Party maintained a Congressional majority. Yet, I am not. Why?

 

How Education and Liberal Elitism Are Not One and the Same

I won’t deny that I’ve locked horns with my ultra-Conservative father over the last decade. Nor that I display a certain intollerance towards acquaintances who are intolerant and come off as rather bigoted in conversation. Is that a mark of liberal elitism?

Some may say so, and I’ve given the matter quite a bit of thought, myself. But I cannot believe that an inability to agree with stances that violate basic human decency at their core and are based upon cultural or ethnic difference is an elitist perspective.

When I witness the frankly ungracious and bullying tactics of many conservatives, I cannot wonder why I should wish to shut them down. It’s not a matter of “agreeing to disagree.” Rather, what I see is a hardline attitude that those who don’t agree with conservative stances are now labeled as “sore losers” and “crybabies.”

Those who are visibly different are increasingly targeted for public displays of racist or misogynist hate speech or violence. In some cases, by people who would have considered such behavior wrong not too long ago. Am I supposed to comfortably laugh and agree? Am I supposed to be silent about that?

I can’t. I have far too much education in history and anthropology to believe that if we just relax and go with it, this will die down and soon, everything will go back to being reasonably sane. Because the recent election didn’t create virulent racism, misogyny, bigotry, and homophobia. It merely legitimized its expression. And this is not a novel moment in history. We’ve been here before, y’all.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Martin Niemöller

Fascism, Nazis, and Where We Are, Now. 

First, it’s important to acknowledge that the sociopolitical circumstances that led the German people to follow a fascist demagogue in the third decade of the last century are unique. It’s also important to understand that, like human stupidity, fascism comes in a number of flavors. But there are some common ingredients that make it instantly recognizable for what it is. So, when I draw parallels between early Nazi Germany and what is happening here, now, that’s what they are–parallels.

“[They] offered many messages to many voters… [who] voted for them out of frustration over political chaos and economic collapse, fear of the Left, and aggrieved nationalism, not just because of their [racist] commitment. On the other hand, those millions…who voted for them were not deterred by [their racism] either.”

Does any of that sound familiar? I don’t claim that everyone who supported Trump is a racist or a bigot,  but it wasn’t a deterrent.  And now that he has been elected, he’s surrounded himself with some truly objectionable individuals, not least of whom represent special interests.

Now please replace the bracketed words in the quote above with the following: The Nazis; Germans; anti-Semitic; Nazi racism.

Source:

{Browning, Christopher R., and Jürgen Matthäus. The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.} (You’ll find the quoted passage about halfway down page 8.)

Trump also follows the pattern set by Adolph Hitler in that he issues vague statements, then sets others to finding the answers to the problems they present. He rewards them–at this point by giving them political power.

So, to the conservatives who supported Trump but did not especially care about the racist or other bigoted aspects of his campaign and personality…what do you have to say about the most recent developments:

  • An elevated occurrence of nakedly bigoted language and violent action, in his name.
  • A proposed registry for Muslims, with American Japanese internment camps cited as a legal precedent for this measure by a Trump surrogate and a representative of a super PAC (read PAC: special interest groups with which politics are rife.)
  • A Vice President that has openly and unabashedly stated that he believes homosexuals can be made heterosexual via shock therapy, and expressed an intent to divert funding from AIDS research and treatment to this type of quackery. Who is an outspoken misogynist that even startles those who nominally support some of his stances with the extremism of his policies.
  • A Cabinet that bodes to be stocked with White Supremacists, Climate Change Deniers, Misogynists, and those who would break what is good and real about our country in the name of self interest.

Have a Talk With the Real You, Not the You Created as a Reaction.

These are all real things. And, I know it’s hard to change course after you’ve committed so much energy to supporting this person, to opposing in every way all that Hillary Clinton represents, but I want to ask you to think about it.  I want you to remember that yes, you are a decent human being. And then, I want you to ask that American if these things are acceptable. If so, why?

I do not believe that, among the relatively fair-minded, ethical electorate, there were any winners on November 8th. What happened was that America, or some of it, was sold a bill of goods by a person who isn’t even actually good at busi ess. If he were, he’d be worth a great deal more than his $3 Billion net worth. But be that as it may, the winners were the Alt Right, the secret bigots among us who throw temper tantrums in coffee shops and the arrogant youths who write notes to their English teachers telling them to hang themselves with their hijabs. The rest of us lost, but it may take some longer than others to figure it out.

I encourage debate. I welcome difference of opinion. Please share your perspective. However, I do ask that you maintain a respectful tone and stance of you decide to comment.

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2 thoughts on “Some Food for Thought

  1. Hey there. 🙂 What a weird ride it’s been. I feel as though I’m having a nervous breakdown, or maybe it’s just a bunch of illusions falling. The two can be very similar!

    Good and bad, but definitely a rough ride now, and in the future.

    1. Well, nervous breakdowns and watching the instantaneous evaporation of human decency and even civility in many people I know feel rather similar, I’ve noted. So you aren’t alone. There are still good people around, and some who’ve mistakenly supported Trump may come to understand that he doesn’t care about them, either.

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