Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Shape of America to Come

Some people feel safe.  White, cis, hetro, conservative Christians feel safe. Sooner or later, however, it'll be them.

First They Came For The Jews

by Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

People I know feel safe... people I don't think are safe.  Trans men and women who say that the country would never really legislate them out of existence. Young people who say voter suppression happens in other states. Patriots who believe the nation can stand forever with a chasm deeper than the grand canyon dividing, not the land masses, but the hearts and minds of the people themselves.

Some people don't feel safe.  Some people feel "woke".  Some people have always been woke, because if you're Black or Muslim you've been hated on and threatened throughout history in this country and in Europe (and beyond).  People who feel safe are generally people of privilege.  They're people who don't have to worry that they'll be kidnapped off the street and deported to a country they hadn't lived in since infancy, leaving behind spouse, children, home, job. They are people who can "pass" as white, regardless of their bloodlines.  They're people who don't have their voting rights revoked because the government has decided that since the communities they were banished to under Jackson et al. have homes with P.O. boxes, not street addresses, but who have been here before Trump, before Jackson, before the Mayflower dropped off a boatload of undocumented immigrants on our eastern shore. They're people who don't have to worry about being shot by a police officer for simply being.

Now the president himself has made it clear that he is a "Nationalist", a word that is etched in blood throughout history, yet one he proudly claims for himself and his followers.  He refers to the opposing political parties as "crazy" and "violent", when in fact the very people he is calling out to have been the ones who are the Becky and Cornerstone Carries, who've run down peaceful protesters in cars, who march with tiki torches lit and surround Black churches menacingly.  They're the ones who are armed and dangerous.

This is a nation who kidnaps children from asylum seekers and gives them to White American Christian families... this might as well be the Handmaids Tale, without the need to provide for an actual Handmaid.  This is a nation which has all but raised a swastika above the White House... although the Stars and Stripes have come to be used by the empowered few to represent the kind of white power that is being wielded by the politically and socially narrow minded.

There is talk about "delegitimizing" the midterm elections result in Democrats gaining ground.  There are plans to pass laws to eliminate rights for transexuals, including denying them ID in their true genders, and requiring "proof" of gender in terms of genetic testing.  Of course, the genetic testing could also be used to determine things like ethnicity, something else the Trump administration and his cronies are concerned about.  Even here in California there are politicians running on same anti-semitic rhetoric we heard from Nazis in Germany.  People are openly blaming Jews for just about everything, including the accusations against Kavanaugh, and these flyers have recently been spotted on campuses in this liberal state:

Anti-Semitic fliers found at two University of California campuses as well as at Vassar College on October 8, 2018. (StandWithUs via JTA) [The Times of Israel]

We can't deny what this nation is becoming anymore.  Every day I look at my blue eyes in the mirror and wonder if I should just keep my head down and hope this all blows over... waiting on the world to change... but that's privilege talking.  That's the kind of thinking that allows white people who don't have a particular anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Jew, anti-woman agenda to sit back and let Nationalists turn this nation into a fascist regime. I know I need to march, need to vote, need to speak out.

At the same time, I also want my children to be safe.  I don't know if there's safety anywhere, but I particularly fear for my children in red states, especially my FtM trans son, who is out and proud.  The rhetoric has already turned violent.  Those of us who march with signs and songs have been labeled "crazy" and "violent" while those who march with torches and guns are "very fine people". 

I'm not sure, not confident, that there is anything we can do that will change what we're becoming.  At the same time, I know we can't not try, or we will be complicit in these crimes against humanity.  We are, ultimately, not defeated until we stop fighting.  I don't know how bad it's going to get, but I do know that fascist regimes also fall.  No matter how bad the oppression becomes, we need to continue to resist until that day, and in the mean while, we need to do everything we can to shield and protect those vulnerable targets in our society, and mold our nation into a nation which truly stands for liberty and justice for all.

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.” ~ Theodore Parker, 1853

I don't think the arc of the moral universe bends on it's own. I think it takes many hands to bend it toward justice. America will ultimately be shaped by many hands... many hands at the polls, many hands carrying signs on the streets, many hands helping distribute food, comfort, building homes... and many voices decrying nationalism.

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