How Bad do Things Have to Get?

Poster with symbol of resistance reading "Resistance Is Not Futile"

How bad do things have to get?

You might think leftists need to stop painting conservatives as heartless bigots and stop painting the Republican Party as the Evil Empire. You might think punching Nazis or throwing milkshakes at fascists is unacceptable violence. You might think the word “fascist” is leftist hyperbole.

How bad do things have to get before you’ll change your mind?

Fascism typically turns the heat up a little at a time. “First they came for the socialists,” and all that. Each new horror is just a little bit worse than the last, normalizing the ones that came before it and numbing people to ones that are coming. It’s easy to see in retrospect that strong action should have been taken earlier — but when it’s happening, it’s easy to convince yourself that it isn’t really that bad. Especially if you’re not one of the main targets. Yet.

So how bad does it have to get? We already have concentration camps. We already have a sharp rise in violence against people of color, trans people, immigrants or people perceived to be immigrants. We already have an executive leader blatantly ignoring the Constitution and saying the law doesn’t apply to him. We already have the executive branch, the judiciary branch, and half the legislative branch corrupted and useless as a check on power. We already have serious rollbacks on women’s bodily autonomy. We already have white supremacist culture permeating police departments and widespread in the military. We already have historians who study fascism saying that yes, fascism is on the rise in the United States.

How bad do things have to get, before you’ll recognize that this is a crisis? How bad do things have to get before you’ll stop seeing this as a problem that can be addressed with civility and debate? How bad do things have to get before you’ll agree that milkshaking — a form of resistance activism that’s been shown to be effective, one of the few forms of resistance that increasingly powerless people have — is acceptable? How much violence does the regime have to inflict before you’ll accept the morality of self-defense?

I don’t want you to answer right away. I just want you to think about it.

Your position should be falsifiable. If you’re an atheist or a skeptic, you should already be allergic to unfalsifiable opinions, goalposts that keep moving. So if you think fascism is not on the rise in the United States, draw your lines. Think now about what you’d consider business as usual, and what you’d consider to be crossing a line. Don’t let the heat get turned up another degree, and another, and another, while you insist that 200 degrees is certainly very hot but technically isn’t boiling. Don’t insist that, because you don’t personally know anyone in the cooking pot, the people screaming about the heat are being hysterical. Draw your line. And make it one where the goalposts won’t keep getting moved, a foot at a time, deeper and deeper into fascism.

(From a comment made on Facebook.)

How Bad do Things Have to Get?