September 13, 2020

Making America White Again

Making America White Again

I came across an article the other day that said that many Trump supporters are more interested in keeping America’s power structure white than they are in preserving democracy.

With the natural evolution of things, and America’s gradually shifting demographics toward a more diverse society, these two things may be mutually exclusive.

Here’s a fragment from the article:

In a January 2020 survey fielded by YouGov, a slim majority of GOP voters agreed with the statement “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” Nearly three-fourths agreed with “It is hard to trust the results of elections when so many people will vote for anyone who offers a handout.” More than 40 percent agreed that “a time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.” More than 47 percent concurred with the premise that “strong leaders sometimes have to bend the rules in order to get things done.” And on all of these questions, most of those who did not agree were merely unsure.

Those white people who see America’s rising diversity as a threat to their social and political position may be attracted to Trump because that is exactly his pitch to America from the day he rode majestically down the Trump Tower de-escalator to declare his candidacy for president.

“Mexico is not sending its best people, he said, “They are sending drug dealers, criminals and rapists.” That set the tone for his whole campaign and it continues into the second campaign. He followed up on his campaign promises by cruelly treating refugees coming into the U.S. at the southern border by taking children, putting them in cages where some got sick and died, many were sexually abused and many lost. None of this seems to have registered in the minds of Trump supporters.

People who lost their jobs through NAFTA and other laws that favored corporations off-shoring their operations to save on labor costs, or who lost their homes through shenanigans on Wall Street that caused the economic system to collapse in 2008, may not have a very sophisticated view of what happened to put them in the bad position they are in. So when a demagogue gives them a target for their fear and tells them their problems are caused by immigrants coming from “shithole” (meaning “nonwhite”) countries, they may believe it. And obviously many do.

There’s also an undercurrent of fear from people who have been in a dominant situation, kept others down (people of color or women) and now fear that if they lose their edge, they may suffer retribution. What if they are treated the way they have treated the oppressed in the past?

As the country becomes inhabited by an increasingly diverse population, the percentage that is white is declining. Obviously the power is shifting. We have women and people of color in Congress in increasingly high numbers, as well as throughout the other power positions of society.

That may not bother you if you are secure in your share of the world’s bounties. But if you hit hard times in 2008, and were then persuaded by Tea Party propaganda that it was not the financial industry and the Wall Street operators who robbed you, but was “the other,” the Black people, the immigrants, the leftists and socialists, etc., then you may be persuaded by Trump’s pitch.

Some white Americans who have fallen into hard times are rightly afraid of what is going to happen to them, and it’s possible to arouse those fears and channel them into political advantage. That’s exactly what Trump has done. He may be ignorant of most world affairs, may have never read a full book and can’t spell on Twitter, but he has an unerring instinct as a demagogue.

His success is astounding. He has become the Grand Wizard of the United States, untouchable by any of the laws or norms that have previously restrained politicians who would abuse power and proclaim themselves autocrats.

His followers are impervious to any suggestion that their leader is not the immaculately created messiah they see him as.

That’s about a third of the country, apparently. Someone said that Germany discovered that one third of its people would murder another third while a third watched.

This, along with countless other parallels with Germany as the Nazis took control, are truly frightening. Every day it creeps further.

Today I see that Roger Stone, Trump’s felonious friend and partner in crime, is suggesting that if Trump loses the vote count he should declare martial law and imprison the Clintons and Mark Zuckerberg.

This is one of those “trial balloons” that are used to get people used to thinking of things that would previously have been considered unacceptable. Now it is no longer unspoken, and maybe it can be turned into action.

A very human reaction to this is a quick flash of panic followed by the reassuring thought, “Well, at least it’s not me. I am still safe here. Who cares if he imprisons that prick Zuckerberg or those arrogant Clintons?”

But that’s how it happens, that’s how fascism creeps. I hope everyone has heard the quote by the German naval officer turned cleric Martin Niemöller. Even if you have heard it before, it bears repeating at this moment.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

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

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

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

In the US today this progression has already proceeded a good bit. We already have concentration camps at the southern border. But they are just immigrants, just refugees, what do they matter? Trump said, “They are not people.” And besides we’re desperate. It’s kill or be killed.

We’ve already had strange paramilitaries going into cities to beat down demonstrators with tear gas, clubs, and guns with supposedly “nonlethal” rubber bullets, but if you’ve seen the effect of those bullets, it’s nothing to take lightly.

Trump says openly that he will cripple the post office to prevent people from voting by mail. Why? Obviously to ward off any challenge to his power. He speaks openly of ruling for life. He expresses open admiration for autocrats like Putin, Mohammed bin Salman and Kim Jong-un and his desire to wield that kind of power. And he is going for it. Can there be any doubt about this?

We have progressed many steps down the line toward fascism, almost the same model as in Nazi Germany under Trump. And this is how he behaves when facing an election. When this one is over, and he has retained power somehow, do you expect him to suddenly moderate himself?

It really is time to consider our actual options. Many have said we are in a battle this time for the soul of the country. Armed conflict and civil war are not impossible. When Trump stood up for the Kenosha kid who killed protesters with an AR-15 and said the kid was defending himself, he sent the message that he will support vigilante killers. We are truly facing a battle for the soul of the country.

On one side we have whites who do not want to lose the advantage they have had, and if it takes fascism to maintain their superior position, then that’s okay with them.

On the other side you have those who still love the ideals embodied in America’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and they think maintaining those ideals in this country is more important than maintaining white supremacy. They would rather hold onto the ideals of democracy and equal justice than a power structure based on race.

It’s unlikely that the original authors of the founding documents envisioned a pluralistic society in which people of many ethnicities shared in the benefits of democracy. But they did lay down a framework for a democratic republic that became the model for people and countries around the world.

Today I see people coming into this country from Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as Europe, who come here because of that ideal, because it inflamed a passion in their hearts to be part of that American dream.

I find the new generations of immigrants to be the ones who actually do believe in those ideals. Many of those who are established here, who have benefited from those ideals in their lives, don’t want them to be extended to others because they think it may threaten what they have. They are the ones who want to pull the ladder up behind them, keep what they have and hell with the rest.

So it’s the people from the “shithole countries” who are the real believers in democracy, and the established people who support Trump, who would rather see autocracy, as long as they can be in the favored group.

This is hard stuff to swallow, but it’s one of the only ways I’ve been able to make sense of why so many people support a conman who is so obvious in his immorality and criminality.

So there it is. That’s the choice that faces us now, in November if we are lucky enough to have an election, and beyond, no matter how the Battle of the 2020 Election turns out.

Those who wish to keep America a white majority will not succeed. They are on the wrong side of history. The evolution is happening. It doesn't mean white people will be oppressed by other ethnic groups. It means we'll have a pluralistic but democratic country.

Do you want a white-dominated America? Or do you want a diverse democratic American republic “of the people, for the people and by the people”?

I know where I stand, and if voter turnout is huge I will be in the majority. And hopefully then that democratic ideal will not “perish from the earth,” or from America.

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