By Coco Das
We have a Nazi problem in this country. Some 73 million people voted for it. Their leader is still in power and waging a battle to delegitimize the election he clearly lost. His followers maraud through the streets and raise $2 million for a teenage killer’s bail and destroy Black Lives Matter murals and chant “Say his name, Donald Trump,” spitting on the anguished cries of Black people whose lives are so routinely cut down by police.
They don’t, for the most part, wave swastikas and salute Hitler, but we have a Nazi problem in this country as deeply as the German people had a Nazi problem in the 1930s. Their minds waterlogged with conspiracy theories, they take lies as truth, spread hate and bigotry, wrap themselves in several flags – American, Confederate, Blue Lives Matter – and use the Bible as a weapon of violence and repression. They are a grotesque expression of the worst of this country, of its ugly narcissism, its thuggish militarism, its ignorance and refusal to give a shit about the rest of the world. They carry the torch of slavery, genocide, and Jim Crow terror. Gunned up and mask-less, they exalt above all the right to kill.
Trump lost the election. They lost. We poured into the streets to celebrate but they will not go quietly into the night. Fascists have and can come back from defeat, and when they do they are stronger, more prepared, and more filled with vengeance. With his unhinged audacity, Trump still dominates the airwaves, turning an election that was decisive into a debate. Every day that he remains in power is an unrelenting barrage of lunacy. Every day is another day of the unthinkable and unprecedented said out loud and acted upon. Every day is a thousand more deaths from COVID. The humanity and morality of a portion of the 73 million people who voted for Trump is so hollowed out they can’t even mourn the dead. And what of the rest of us, who did not want this but learned to live with it?
This is what we face. Call it what you will but it’s a problem that will not go away without caring, thinking people refusing to let them have another inch. Whatever moral and political stand the German people should have taken to defeat the Nazis early, however much determination they should have shown, applies to us tenfold now. America has a MAGA problem. Millions of them believe that people who are by their very existence criminal – Black people in the cities of swing states – stole this election from their leader with the help of a band of evil conspirators, and this will be their rallying cry as they regroup to exact revenge and return to power. Hiding from them when they show up in your town, refusing to call it what it is, humoring them or failing to condemn their bigotry will not make them go away.
Recently, someone told me to treat MAGA mobs like a fire. How do you put out a fire? You deprive it of oxygen. This was his argument against a counter-protest of the million MAGA march in DC on November 14th, where thousands of Trump supporters did indeed chant “Say his name, Donald Trump” and many other things more heinous than that. Counter-protesting allegedly would give these thugs an excuse for violence, which was allegedly what they wanted, then giving Trump an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and institute martial law to remain in power.
If you recognize this as a possible danger, you know we have a Nazi problem in this country. Keeping your head down and telling the truth only behind locked doors and drawn curtains was a strategy widely deployed in Nazi Germany, to avoid violence, to keep the peace. Yes, fascists want violence and there are many ways for them to get it – tearing children from their parents’ arms, murdering worshippers in a synagogue, running their cars over protesters, telling police to stop being “too nice” to the Black and brown people they terrorize in the streets. They do not want you in your millions saying no. They do not want your voices rising together or your feet marching in unity. What they want above all is your silence – or better yet, for you to just disappear.
It is correct to view this as a fire still raging. The oxygen this vicious American fascism needs comes from the absence of millions of us in the streets, non-violent but determined to oppose them, refusing to accept a fascist America. The people won a victory by voting Trump out of power. Imagine the nightmare if he had won. But we have to stand on this victory and go all the way to bringing this fascist program to a halt. They are fighting for a future of unchallenged white supremacy, misogyny and theocratic patriarchy, and America First xenophobia, enforced by terror and violence. There is no decency in what they want. We cannot cede the public square and public discourse to fascists to air their false grievances and spread their lies, death, and hatred.
You don’t put out a fire by walking away from it.