By Lillian Forman
As the 2020 election draws nearer, I‘m increasingly preoccupied with the horrors of fascism. After all, if Trump wins another four years in the White House, those horrors will be our everyday reality. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture what a firmly ensconced fascist regime will look like. We have had a dark foreshadowing of what Trump’s dictatorship will be like. In the first term of his presidency, we’ve seen accelerating attacks on vulnerable groups such as the Muslims, the refugees from Mexico, Central America, South America, Native Americans, and, especially, African Americans. Many of us have been appalled at his putting refugee children into concentration camps, often separating them from their parents, his having dog whistled the attacks on Muslims and Jews. But the blatant murders of black people by the police (especially the cruel, nine minute killing of George Floyd) have driven both white and black people, to hold daily massive protests. These protests, in turn, have led to even greater displays of police brutality. Trump has even sent quasi-military forces into such cities as Portland, Oregon, Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Chicago, Illinois, against the wishes of those cities’ mayors.
Trump’s use of the paramilitary troops is, to date, the clearest indication of his desire to establish a police state, so typical of other fascist countries. In a police state, one has no freedom of speech and one’s actions are spied on and reported to the fascist leaders. Trump’s declarations that he will be the “law and order” president, that he will protect the white women living in the suburbs hint that he will increase his persecution of African Americans, Latinos, and white Americans that rise up against his policies.
Some citizens, however, will not suffer physically under Trump as some Germans did not suffer under Hitler during the Nazi era. These untouchables will win their status by complying with Trump’s policies, by passing information against their neighbors on to the authorities, or by hunkering down into obscurity. Many of these will, however suffer — not by being slowly killed in concentration camps and by torture or quickly killed by bullets but by life poisoning shame. Not a bad option, you will say. But have you ever spent a night tossing and turning in your bed because a memory of some ugly action you’ve done is haunting you? Even the memory of having embarrassed yourself in some avoidable way can torment you.
I’ll admit that shame isn’t as frightening as death or imprisonment; it evaporates in the morning. But suppose you see the results of your inaction or downright compliance all around you everyday, you might immerse yourself in your business and pleasures, and still be unable to shake off corrosive shame. Today, so near the election that might allow Trump to establish fascism, many of us are guilty of inaction.
Refuse Fascism has for years told us that Trump means to be the worse kind of dictator — cruel, death dealing, destructive of our beautiful Earth, mocking our science and humane feelings. At first a large number of people refused to see this as fascism. It was simply a bad administration that could be voted out. Now, with the police murders of young black men and women, more people see that Trump is ushering in fascism and have mobbed the streets in protest. These people are heroes. They are risking their lives for what they believe is right and I have nothing but the greatest admiration for them. Unfortunately, too many still believe fascism can be voted out. I think everyone should vote for Biden and Harris, but we should back this up by pouring out into the streets both before and during the election. Think how shamed we feel now in the eyes of the free world to have Trump, Pence, and the other fascists in our governments. Then imagine how searing that shame will become when the rest of the free world sees that we brought a deeper shame on ourselves, just because enough of us couldn’t be bothered to get out into the streets in enough numbers to prevent a fascist America.
This cannot be stamped into the history books. Refuse Fascism is a movement for all and will not stop mobilizing people into the streets, but the demand Trump/Pence Out Now must spread everywhere so that the whole world can hear us. If we don’t stop this regime, humanity will suffer, and even if you survive, you will become someone you don’t want to be.