This is no time to be polite.
I’m a deadly serious person. Me with my two-headed duckling, kitschy cowboy shirts, and my collection of 1950s X-rated ashtrays. Yes, it’s true I haven’t taken my “career”, doctors’ orders, dental health, or myself all that seriously. What doI take seriously? Cruelty, bigotry, injustice, pollution, climate change. I can’t just shake my head and sigh with anodyne tsk-tsking those who perpetuate these dangerous evils. I’ve been that hands-folded, straight As, worry-about-being-nice “Nice Girl” most of my life. But these times demand more than nice, I’m more than ready to buh-RRRING it.
I’m sick of meeting lies with legitimacy, malicious fables with facts. I’m exhausted trying to calmly repeat evidentiary truths, meekly using Socratic questions trying to persuade. Frankly, I am disgusted with those boasting of being Christian while ignoring Christ’s credo. His actual teachings are nowhere to be found among the MAGA-hatted. I’m especially tired of being rational, reasonable and going high while they go low…and lower, and lower.
True, judicious people can disagree about politics’ and policies’ particulars. For many years I’ve enjoyed discourse with lots of people more conservative and more liberal than I. I enjoyed dynamic, intelligentdebate. But ah, that was back in the good ole days (before 2016), when there was an assumptive espousal of common principles of democracy, the Fourth Estate, and anti-fascism. Now, if one brings up facts – not theories or perspectives, but facts – one is too-often met with spittle-infused, fact-deficient diatribes about Whitewater and Benghazi. Try to focus on recent news, indisputable facts and things said on national television for all to see, and they go back to ridiculous rumors. Ask for sources, they have none. Ask things like, “Oh, Hillary lied as much as Trump? Let’s hear 2 of those lies.” Crickets.
In the past, the robotic parroting of Fox News propaganda and Russian bots’ ridiculous clickbait might have only lead to frustration and eyerolling, and a desperate wish our public schools included Civics and Critical Thinking in their curricula. But despicable times call for disturbing measures, I cannot politely stand by smiling with gritted teeth while the vigorously uninformed natter on with contempt for democracy, ethics and standards.
OK, now I’m going to bring up Hitler, but not the way you think.
My parents were Jewish, so even as a young child I knew all about what happens when a society lets an autocrat in and too-eagerly allows their leaders to turn their simmering bigotry to a boil. I can already hear Trump’s voters frantically freaking at the anticipated hyperbole. How dare I compare Trump to Hitler! Don’t’ worry – I’m not comparing Trump to Hitler. I’m completely putting aside the dozens of Trump’s proto-fascistic similarities — the two-hour Castro-like rants, the adoration of dictators, the demonization of the press, the obstruction, the emoluments, the demand for loyalty over truth, the constant drumbeat of outlandish lies, the desire for big military parades, the racism, the camps along the Southern border, the stirring up of fear and antipathy for convenient scapegoats.
Nope, I’m not comparing Germany’s dictator to our American wanna-be. But I am comparing his supporters to Trump’s. (And it is not alarmist to compare Hitler’s support to those who mindless support Trump. History shows us again and again that fascism comes “feather by feather”. It goes without saying I would not shake Mr. Trump’s hand, and I would speak out against him at every turn. That is both my personal and social moral obligation. So, truly, what is the right thing to do when confronted with those who put Mr. Trump on this throne and seek to keep him there?
I can turn from focusing on what Mr. Trump does and says, and look instead to what his voters and supporters applaud or accept:
- Trump said over and over and over that Obama was born in Africa. His “birtherism” was built on zero evidence, only in the soil of racism and the unexamined bigotry and those who don’t believe themselves racist. (Racists seem to get extra offended when called racists. Cough – Mark Meadows– cough.) Trump’s decadesof racism is well-documented, for any who actually care.
- Trump not only sexually assaults women – he brags about it. And when some women popped up to confirm what he’d already admitted on tape, he told rallies they were too ugly to attack, that he could “do much better” with his attacks. (Trump’s ugly misogyny and his predation are also well-known – one only has to look to his own interviews if they suspect a biased press.)
- Trump’s incessant degradation of journalists and a free press. This is page 1 from the dictator’s playbook. Apparently, it works great. A Trump supporter once told me she doesn’t believe anything in the Washington Postbecause it’s owned by Jeff Bezos. She has no understanding of how real journalism works – the kind that demand multiple sources and corroboration. She prefers non-fact-based punditry that won’t rattle her own narrow echo chamber. Our democracy’s survival depends on the Fourth Estate, but polls show Trump’s base believe Russian sources more than our own leading news organs. At his rallies audiences shout “Lügenpresse!” when their sin-drenched saint vilifies the news. (Again, without evidence, with any facts, even when his own speeches and on-the-record words contradict his lies.)
- About Charlottesville, Trump said there were “bad people on both sides”. Yep, Trump believes some of those Nazi marchers are not bad, and some of those who protest Nazis are as bad as Nazis.
- The President is also quick to tweet to condemn acts of violence when a non-Caucasian is involved. But if a white man shoots up a synagogue (inflamed by Trump’s words because the temple had been housing refugees), or a white Coast Guard guy stashes weapons to go on a massive killing spree – crickets.
- He lies literally every day.
- He denies climate change, despite the fact that is a fact accepted by almost every scientist and country in the world. His reason for the denial is only to support companies that contribute to the problem. Soooo, Trump voters, the planet has maybe 20-30 more years before an apocalypse, but you’re ok with that. The damage Trump and his cronies are doing cannot be undone. It can’t be fixed with an election. And it can’t be fixed without us all working together. Your dismissal of science and facts doesn’t just make you ridiculous dumbasses, it is literally KILLING THE PLANET. (All caps warranted – it’s the planet!) And there is no Plan(et) B.
- Dozens of his “best people” have been indicted and have confessed to big crimes. There is overwhelming evidence that he has colluded with our country’s greatest enemy. He believes KGBer Putin over our own Intelligence and National Security people. This is treason. He is a traitor in a time of war. Yes, during a time of war. (If undermining and hacking our national election isn’t an attack on the US, I don’t know what is.) Oh, it’s all bullshit? Then you explain to me why Trump got rid of the Russian sanctions on the GOP platform. Explain the Trump Tower meeting to me. Explain why he tore up the translator’s notes. Make these explanations without using the words “Clinton” or “God”.
- North Korea.
- The “wall”. The emergency “invasion” that is neither.
His hypocrisy about Obama, golf, grades, women, Christianity, illegals doesn’t faze his supporters, so I’ll leave all that out. His lack of intellect, his lack of interest in reading important memos , they don’t care. People who flutter their Christianity like a fan at a debutante ball couldn’t care less that this greedy, adulterous, thieving, lying, prideful, unhingedbuffoon is Christ’s polar opposite in every way, word and deed. Nope. “La-la-la-la,” they intone with their fingers planted firmly in their ears. And on we march toward an even deeper dystopia.
Again, my genuine question is, what is the right thing to do? Despite what people might say, sometimes right and wrong is a binary. If you support racists or racism or racist policies (aka racism hiding behind politics) – guess what, you are a racist. It’s not as complex as some would have you believe. You may not be in the Klan, but the Klan isn’t the problem. It’s everyday racism that keeps racism going. It’s everyday homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia that keeps that ball up in the air, and keeps real people down. If you call Dr. Ford a liar, you call me and my sisters liars. Should I shrug that off? If someone supports people or policies that threaten the very existence of the planet (not hyperbole), they are explicitly complicit in our planet’s danger and death. Planet. Death. Read that sentence again.
Look at it this way: If someone doesn’t even bat an eyelash when they hear a candidate boast about grabbing women’s genitalia, or call a genuine war hero a loser, what does that say about that person’s character? This looks like a condemnation hiding in a question, but the inquiry is real. As a little girl I could not understand how millions of people were behind sending millions of children to their deaths. And now, I sincerely cannot get my mind around how so many people tolerate, even cheer, Evil with a capital E.
My serious dilemma lies in the fact that it’s not Trump’s capital E Evil that scares me most. It’s the evil with a small e that I find the most dangerous. And frankly, repellant.
I may be wrong about what’s right and what’s wrong when confronted by those with invisible red hats. But all my life I have reprimanded and avoided bigots and those who shrug their shoulders at sexual assault. I take all that, and the survival of our democracy and our planet, very seriously. Philosophers, and life, teach us that our actions, beliefs and words have consequences. So, if you are going to support hate, corruption, treason, bigotry, the suffering of children and migrants, the oppression of women and the dismantling of our democracy, I’m going to have a serious problem with you. You will bear the consequence of missing out on my charming company, my friendship, and my respect. (I’m sure you‘ll bear up.)
Because I am just not going to tolerate your intolerance. Because that way leads madness. And as I learned as a little girl, also to much, much worse.
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