By Coco Das and Sarah Roark |
Why should we unite in a mass protest movement to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, when the values they represent have always been a part of American society?
Some of us in Refuse Fascism recognize that every administration has played its part in preserving American empire, white supremacy, and traditional patriarchy. Bill Clinton’s expansion of the War on Drugs with a “three strikes” provision escalated the criminalization of Black and brown people. George W. Bush violated international law to invade Iraq, codified torture in U.S. foreign policy, and normalized the role of Christian theocrats in American government. Barack Obama was the “deporter in chief,” and carried out drone wars that dropped tens of thousands of bombs on people in the middle east, North Africa, and South Asia.
We live in a country built on the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, and the theft of land from Mexico, where Jim Crow segregation gave Nazis the legal models for their racial purity laws, where mass incarceration has locked away a generation of oppressed youth, and wars for empire have taken millions of lives. Donald Trump’s mantra to “Make America Great Again” is rooted in the the 19th-century doctrine that U.S. supremacy is both justified and inevitable, destined by God. This fascist creed has deep roots in American society, and its current configuration within the Republican party has been decades in the making.
But while fascism can advance on tiptoe for years, it can also make sudden, game-changing leaps forward into a whole new stage. This is the collective shock we’ve experienced. The Trump/Pence regime does, in some ways, represent a continuity with past injustices. But it also, and more importantly, represents a dramatic metastasis of the frustrated ambitions of a white supremacist, Christian fascist movement. This movement put their hopes into George W. only to see him fail to deliver their whole agenda, and suffered some demoralizing setbacks during Obama. In Trump, however, they have seen and seized an opportunity they’ve never had before.
Why Trump? Because finally they have a leader who doesn’t give a shit about conventions, who has no allegiance to traditional democratic norms, and in fact promised to tear up these norms, who doesn’t give even lip service to human rights, equality or diversity, and who delivers one satisfying shock after another and gets away with it. He is the mad dog they’ve always needed and the outsider they’ve always perceived themselves to be. Far from being ineffectual, Trump has delivered for this movement in a way that no one else has, and now, with the latest shake-ups in his cabinet, he is bringing the world even closer to the possibility of nuclear war.
What does all this mean for the rest of us who don’t want to live in a world that returns to the worst of our history — and then goes even further, threatening the very future of humanity and the planet?
It means that our resistance must be an answer to this danger, going beyond anything this fascist regime can absorb. The fact is, the American people as a whole have accepted too much of the injustices of the past, and that is our shame to bear. But that doesn’t negate the urgency of the present. With everything at stake, it is necessary to act now and act boldly. The sins of our past are no excuse for standing by and watching this fresh disaster unfold.
And a disaster for all humanity is exactly what it is. The aims of this regime are genocidal at their core. Right now, it takes the form of denying millions of people the right and means to survival. The logic of genocide drives the deportations that tear up families and return people to desperate, deadly situations. It drives the cruelty of the travel ban, the neglect of Puerto Rico, and the crudeness of calling whole countries “shitholes” (which have gone beyond words to find real expression in policy). There is a threat of genocide in Trump’s praise for white supremacists in Charlottesville, and in his chuckling assurances that the police need not be “too nice.” It is embodied in his “fire and fury” threats toward North Korea and his attitude that the environment, the health of our planet itself, is not worth preserving.
Many of Trump’s policies do not make sense to the rest of us. They seem to most, and are largely presented in the media, as being the actions of a capricious, corrupt, or incompetent ruler. Trump and Hitler draw so many comparisons because of their similarly deranged behavior and rhetoric, where reality itself is turned upside down. There is method to this madness, however, and a comprehensible if terrifying calculation that underlies the chaos it deliberately stirs up.
We need to understand that this chaos and crisis is not a distraction—it’s a requirement. For the people who say Trump is just more of the same and there’s no need to form a different response, here is a question to consider: Did Hitler simply give more open expression to the anti-Semitism already embedded in German life, or did he prepare the German people for mass genocide and then carry it out?
In the 1930’s, fascism was unfamiliar and confusing. Many ordinary Germans were blindsided by the new ideology and way of governing. We do not have the same excuse. We have a wealth of history to compare our experiences to. We have mounting evidence that fits known patterns we should recognize, acknowledge and unite against. And we have a benefit the people of prewar Germany didn’t: we have their failure to learn from.
We also have a better understanding of the importance and power of sustained, non-violent resistance, and inspiring examples of causes that seemed, at times, to be completely hopeless … until they weren’t.
That is where our power to stop this begins. With a determination to fully understand the situation and the basis for changing it, to cast aside illusions and self-delusions and deal fully with reality. To not be blindsided. From the beginning, Refuse Fascism has identified the fascist character of this regime and is building the movement to drive it out, with an updated Call to Action and a plan to mobilize millions into the streets before it’s too late. The people of the world are waiting for us to take this stand. It is on all of us now, no matter what actions we’ve taken in the past, to claim our place in this movement and spread it to everyone, everywhere, every day.