Refuse Fascism Regional Conferences, August 19, 2017, Presentation 2: WHY
The first speech you just heard laid out what we are here to do – what it will look like to drive out the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime. I am going to talk about WHY this is necessary. Why we are right to say that the Trump/Pence Regime is a Fascist Regime and that ONLY the people in our millions – starting with many thousands on November 4th – going into the streets and staying in the streets, night after night, day after day, can drive them from power and why nothing short of that will bring this nightmare to an end.
A week ago today, we woke to images of hundreds white supremacists carrying torches and chanting KKK and Nazi slogans. These images struck terror in the hearts of Black people everywhere – people who remember all too vividly the thousands of Black people who were lynched and millions who were terrorized over generations by torch-wielding nightriders. Soon, we began seeing images of white supremacists and paramilitary thugs beating and bloodying counter-protesters. Finally, we saw that bone-chilling image of a car driven into a crowd… bodies flying through the air… and we learned the name of Heather Heyer, murdered in cold blood.
For days, the media, the Democrats and even some Republicans expressed dismay that Trump came out swinging – defending torch-carrying white supremacists as “fine people” and lashing out at the so-called “Alt-Left.” These talking heads said, “Trump is abdicating leadership…” and, “Trump is failing to unite.”
But there is no mystery. Donald Trump didn’t denounce this clearly because it was Trump that unleashed this. Trump whipped his rallies into frenzied mobs chanting for revenge against Muslims and Black people, against women and his political opponents, against Mexicans and against protesters. He said of one protester, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” For years Trump championing racist, ignorant birtherism. And he hasn’t let up. Just recently, he openly called for police brutality and terror, telling a crowd of laughing cops, “Please don’t be too nice!”
As for supposedly “failing to lead,” Trump IS leading. He is leading in ripping up the laws, the political norms, and the basic moral glue of this society. Because of people’s heroic struggle, it had become unacceptable to publicly condone white supremacy and antisemitism. Very broadly diversity had become something to embrace. Trump is not “failing.” He is succeeding at ripping up those norms and asserting new fascist norms. And Trump IS uniting people – he is uniting white supremacists, Nazis, anti-semites, woman-haters, LGBTQ-bashers, Christian fascists, war-mongers, and bigots.
Or, look at Trump’s bellicose threats against North Korea. He promised “Fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.” He’s talking about nuclear bombs and annihilation. More fire and fury than Hiroshima and Nagasaki – two cities that the United States dropped nuclear bombs on, incinerating tens of thousands of people in a blinding white explosion and killing hundreds of thousands in the black cloud of destruction that shock-waved for miles.
Here, too, the Democrats and the media went into a frenzy. But what did they say? They said Trump’s language “wasn’t presidential.” NPR – the liberal, supposedly reasonable and broad-minded radio station – had “experts” explaining that the problem with an attack on Korea is that North Korea will retaliate. No, the problem with nuking Korea is that it is a crime against humanity. That’s why it’s wrong!
But that is not all. Look at these panels. These panels detail the scale, the scope, and the nature of the crimes being unleashed by the Trump/Pence Regime.
Did you know that 431 measures were introduced at the state level across this country to restrict abortion for women in just the first 3 months of this year?
Did you know that over 200 protesters were arrested at Trump’s inauguration, charged with multiple felonies, and that 211 of them face up to 75 years in prison?
Did you know that Trump’s so-called Environmental “Protection” Agency has already moved to undo or block 30 environmental rules aimed at protecting air, water, and public health?
This is just one fact off of three of these panels – you really have to read all of them in their entirety because the scope and scale of what is being done is staggering.
And it’s not just Trump, it’s his whole REGIME. Its Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, Betsy Devos. It is the Christian fascist theocrat Mike Pence who has not only backed every outrageous threat Trump has made, but also is part of a whole movement – which includes the new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and many others packed throughout this Regime at all levels – who are working aggressively to impose a fascist Biblical literalist society that enslaves women, terrorizes LGBTQ people, erases science, indoctrinates generations of youth in Christian fundamentalist and creationist schools. This is why the whole Regime must go. And they must go BEFORE it is too late.
As we say in the Refuse Fascism Call to Action, “Fascism is not just a gross combination of horrific reactionary policies. It is a qualitative change in how society is governed. Fascism foments and relies on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of oppressive ‘traditional values.’ … What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.”
You see, Trump is not only committing great horrors – he is intentionally ripping up the norms and assumptions of how society has functioned up until now.
Trump is bringing open white supremacy back with a vengeance, he is bringing a FLOOD of undisguised and unrelenting LIES, he is bringing threats of violence against the media and the Courts and his political opponents. He is bringing Christian fascism. He is assailing science and purging scientists. He is bringing fascist thugs into the streets. His bludgeoning methods – his violating of the norms – is not inexperience, psychosis, or blundering. It is the point. The Trump/Pence Regime is a FASCIST Regime – they are remaking the governing norms of society – ripping up basic democratic and civil rights. To quote again from the Refuse Fascism Call to Action, “We must recognize that the character of fascism is that it can absorb separate acts of resistance while continually throwing the opposition off balance by rapidly moving its agenda forward. The Trump/Pence regime will repeatedly launch new highly repressive measures, eventually clamping down on all resistance and remaking the law… IF THEY ARE NOT DRIVEN FROM POWER.”
The Democratic Party can not be relied on to stop this. They not only gloss over the full scale and scope of his program and almost never mention its fascist character, but they also consistently “advise” the regime on how to govern “normally.”
THE PROBLEM is Trump is President precisely because he does not respect the norms of politics as usual – he was backed by powerful interests who recognized that he could be the vehicle to shred what have been the governing and social norms of America for decades. He was elected by a social base that has been riled up for decades behind a racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant program. They believe that Trump’s outsider outrageousness and his flouting of the norms proves that he can and will deliver. The program of the Democratic Party and their media mouthpieces is restoring the norms. So people who hate and oppose the regime are being led by them to look to elections, hearings, investigations, and protest as usual to “make their voices heard,” as if we are dealing with a normal regime. We are not.
Besides, even in normal times, change doesn’t really come about by people playing within the official channels of politics in society. The Freedom Rides and sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement didn’t “play by the rules.” The draft-card burners and soldiers who refused to fight in Vietnam and students who took over universities didn’t “play by the rules.” And again: these are NOT normal times.
This is why only the people acting outside politics as usual can create the conditions where the Trump/Pence Regime is removed from power.
What makes this possible is the very extremeness of the Trump/Pence Regime. This Regime actually IS fascist, it IS hellbent on hammering in place a nightmare, it will not relent, and all this flies in the face of and insults what millions and millions of people deeply feel is moral, is decent, is legitimate, and is the way society and the world really ought to be. It is precisely because of all this that there are millions and millions of people who can be brought forward and forged into a political force that can STOP this regime, that can DRIVE IT FROM POWER.
It is the people who are being targeted and it is the many people who cannot stand aside and let this happen. It is people who have been in the streets and it is millions more who have still not taken this step. It is the students who are just now coming of age and it is the 60s generation that wakes up once again. It is the scientists and religious leaders and local officials and neighborhood book clubs. It is the ones who want to surge to the front lines and it is those who want to open their churches and provide water and food. It is people from every walk of life standing together, starting November 4th and growing every day after that, to say: This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.
This is harder and it is riskier that other “solutions,” but the truth is it is much more realistic. In fact, it is the ONLY realistic way.
I have spoken to WHY we are right to call this regime fascist. How they are making progress in installing and consolidating fascism, and WHY – because of this – anything short of driving them from power will not stop them. And why, coming to understand they are fascist also opens up the possibility for millions to move. Finally, I want to speak to is WHY we must do this November 4th.
The simple reason is that the regime is moving fast to remake the laws, to unleash their mobs, and to make it more and more difficult for people to organize and stand up.
But that is not the only thing making the clock tick. The other thing is that every day people are getting more and more used to this nightmare, it is becoming more and more normalized. Things that once shocked people about this regime aren’t quite as shocking anymore. Refuse Fascism, in our mission statement, The Call to Action recognized that one of the ways fascism advances is that fascism advances through stages through periods of outrage, shock and intimidation, followed by periods of normalization where accommodate to the next new situation. This process is underway, but there is still a mood among people to not accept this, and especially so in the wake of Charlottesville.
But if a real way is not carved out to stop this – a way that millions can take up together and act on – people will have no choice but to find their place in the new fascist order. This is the lesson of Nazi Germany. And, the logic of waiting, the logic of getting on with your life, the logic of leaving this up to others – to investigations, to the next election cycle, to some make-believe notion that the Regime will self-destruct – these are being constantly promoted and they are having an effect. So we must act now, before people have learned to accept the unacceptable – while people are still raw with outrage and horrors, and frankly right now while this outrage is being stoked in new ways.
We have a window to stop this regime. We have a window to reach and move the people who can do this. We have an organization, Refuse Fascism, that recognizes the problem and has developed a basic plan that has room for everyone and can actually succeed. Now is the time to fight with everything we’ve got to realize this plan. If not now, when?
“On November 4, 2017, we will stand together with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to insist that: This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must GO!”