We are going through some horrifying times right now. The presidential win by the incompetent, thin skinned rapist demagogue (I refuse to refer to him by his actual name, nor will I *EVER* call him “Mr. President” or “President [redacted]”) has led to a government that is very much not democratic, and is in fact, in danger of becoming an authoritarian police state (one run by white supremacists and Nazis at that). Chitler and those he brought on as part of his Cabinet have no respect for the people of this nation or the Constitution that all government employees are supposed to uphold. They have a complete disrespect for the rule of law as well as disrespect for the basic standards of decency, transparency, and accountability expected from the leaders of this country. This disrespect and the trampling of the Constitutional and human rights of USAmerican citizens can be seen almost daily:
- issuing an executive order that effectively bars Muslims from seven countries from entering the United States (no, the writing of the order does not literally say “ban on Muslims”, but that’s the end result) is an attack on people based on their religion and ethnicity
- the imposition of a media blackout on multiple federal agenices such as the FDA and the EPA
- criticizing the exercise of free speech rights of USAmerican civilians (the ‘Hamilton’ cast) and attacking celebrities who express disapproval of his actions
- referring to his critics as enemies
- openly displaying aggression to private companies
- being extremely hostile to reporters and the media (signalling an opposition to the freedom of the press)
- nominating a host of appointees for government positions who are not only supremely unqualified, but also (in most cases) want to gut the departments they are to be in charge of
- continuing to associate with Russia, despite the successful cyberattacks carried out by that country
That’s just off the top of my head. There’s been so much that the Tangerine Tyrant does on a daily basis that flies in the face of human decency or respect for the founding principles of this country. What many people may not realize though, is that our current slide towards an authoritarian or fascist state are directly connected to the demonization and enslavement of African-Americans for 245 years, which culminated with the Civil War.
When the Civil War ended and Reconstruction began, racist white Southerners were not at all happy. The effects of the war devastated the South. On top of that, they lost one of the cornerstones of their economy: the free labor provided by slaves. As part of efforts to cope with their ll\oss, Southern leaders worked to revise the narrative regarding the Civil War among the minds of Southerners. Children were taught that the war was fought over “Northern Aggression” or that it was about taxes, or “States’ rights”. It was never about those things. It was *always* about slavery (and the Articles of Secession from each of the treasonous Confederate States is available online). These ahistorical revisions succeeded quite well. Such that today, many people still believe that slavery was A reason the Civil War was fought over, rather than THE reason.
Meanwhile, lazy-ass rich Southerners (who would have been thoroughly broken if they had to put up with the crap African-Americans faced as slaves) no longer had free labor, and their economy was endangered. So of course, the racist assholes exploited a loophole in the 13th Amendment, which was supposed to abolish slavery:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
The anti-black laws created as part of the racial caste system known as Jim Crow enshrined white supremacy into law. Jim Crow laws established African-Americans as second class citizens and heavily regulated their lives. These laws were often enforced through violence, and where they weren’t, blacks were arrested and “duly convicted”. Once they were convicted, they could be used as legal slaves again, though the practice was involuntary servitude. Racist rich white people colluded with prisons and thus, free labor for the state governments in the South became a reality again (the language of the 13th Amendment has, as of today, still not changed, which means that SLAVERY IS STILL LEGAL IN THE UNITED STATES IN 2017, which would probably make the Nazi-in Chief quite happy).
Social enforcement of Jim Crow laws often happened in the form of lynchings, which were carried out by white people primarily against African-Americans (though other PoC were not safe from lynching, nor were white people with pro-black sensibilities). Lynching was not just carried out by the Ku Klux Klan, but regular, ordinary citizens of this country. Citizens who viewed Blacks and other racial minorities as subhumans with no rights. And while lynching was concentrated in the Southern States, it happened across the nation (here’s a map of the documented lynchings that occurred in the United States). Oh, and just so it’s clear, the United States government was aware that African-Americans were living under the constant threat of terrorism in the form of lynchings. Aware. Silent. Complicit.
During the height of Jim Crow and lynchings, white Southern Democrats grew increasingly committed to segregation and resentful at having had to relinquish much of their power over the Southern states to the federal government, This led to the creation of the Dixiecrats in the 1948, as these Democrats felt they were losing power within their party. Over the next few decades, these Southern Democrats fiercely opposed integration efforts, and were staunch supporters of Jim Crow.
Then Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy entered the picture. Seeking to regain more political power (and not just in the Southern states), the strategy made use of a blatant racist agenda as well as dog-whistle politics. The Southern Strategy was created to exacerbate racial tensions in the south to appeal to white Southerners still bitter over the loss of the traitorous Confederate states. And it worked. It also led to the complete transformation of the Republican Party from one which advocated for ending slavery to one that embraced “States Rights” and white supremacy.
Incidentally, “States Rights” is a dog whistle phrase that is a callback to the frustrated Southern States in the Civil War who wanted to continue the institution of slavery, and were willing to commit a traitorous act (secession) to do just that.
The Republican Party thus became became the party that sought to defend the right of states to decide whether or not black people would be forced to work for white people, and the Democratic Party, which supported slavery decades prior, became the party that embraced Civil Rights (to this day, you’ll hear people–almost always Republicans–make the claim that the Republican Party should be celebrated for opposing slavery. These people never mention the migration of racist white Southerners from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. This migration significantly transformed the GOP who became the party that appealed to the racist sensibilities of white southerners while the Democrats became the champions of civil rights).
At this point, the connections should be obvious. But if they are not, there is still more history to explore, such as the rise of the Religious Right:
Paul Weyrich, the late religious conservative political activist and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, saw his opening.
In the decades following World War II, evangelicals, especially white evangelicals in the North, had drifted toward the Republican Party—inclined in that direction by general Cold War anxieties, vestigial suspicions of Catholicism and well-known evangelist Billy Graham’s very public friendship with Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. Despite these predilections, though, evangelicals had largely stayed out of the political arena, at least in any organized way. If he could change that, Weyrich reasoned, their large numbers would constitute a formidable voting bloc—one that he could easily marshal behind conservative causes.
“The new political philosophy must be defined by us [conservatives] in moral terms, packaged in non-religious language, and propagated throughout the country by our new coalition,” Weyrich wrote in the mid-1970s. “When political power is achieved, the moral majority will have the opportunity to re-create this great nation.” Weyrich believed that the political possibilities of such a coalition were unlimited. “The leadership, moral philosophy, and workable vehicle are at hand just waiting to be blended and activated,” he wrote. “If the moral majority acts, results could well exceed our wildest dreams.”
But this hypothetical “moral majority” needed a catalyst—a standard around which to rally. For nearly two decades, Weyrich, by his own account, had been trying out different issues, hoping one might pique evangelical interest: pornography, prayer in schools, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, even abortion. “I was trying to get these people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,” Weyrich recalled at a conference in 1990.
The Green v. Connally ruling provided a necessary first step: It captured the attention of evangelical leaders , especially as the IRS began sending questionnaires to church-related “segregation academies,” including Falwell’s own Lynchburg Christian School, inquiring about their racial policies. Falwell was furious. “In some states,” he famously complained, “It’s easier to open a massage parlor than a Christian school.”
One such school, Bob Jones University—a fundamentalist college in Greenville, South Carolina—was especially obdurate. The IRS had sent its first letter to Bob Jones University in November 1970 to ascertain whether or not it discriminated on the basis of race. The school responded defiantly: It did not admit African Americans.
As history can attest, the evangelicals and fundamentalists did throw their support behind the Republican Party, leading to an infusion of religion into one of the main political parties in the United States with an eye on preserving conservative ideals. In subsequent decades, they fought long and hard to do just that.
And now, with the election of a racist, rapist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic, authoritarian thug to the presidency, their wildest dreams stand on the edge of being realized. They have achieved the political power they’ve wanted (though not with their first pick of candidate), both on a federal level (the 3 branches of the US government are overwhelmingly controlled by the GOP), as well as at the state level.
What we’re seeing right now from the Republican Party are attempts to bring all their racist dreams to light. And they have a scary amount of power. Power they are likely to use to roll back reproductive rights for women (Chitler is set to appoint a very conservative justice to SCOTUS very soon, and he was able to do that bc the GOP refused to even vote on President Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland), seriously dial back on civil rights for those of us in the QUILTBAG community (any day now, Agent Orange is set to sign legislation that will have a detrimental impact on queers across the country), and who knows what else.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. Prior to the election, marginalized people across the country faced regular threats of harassment, stalking, brutality, and murder, harassed, stalked, brutalized, beaten, and killed. In the wake of the Apricot Asshole’s presidential win, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a surge in hate crimes against People of Color, QUILTBAG folks, religious minorities, and immigrants. In one day, more than 20 Jewish Community Centers around the US reported bomb threats.
After literally decades worth of work to influence local, state, and federal elections, the Religious Right and the Republican Party –in large part due to a multi-decade campaign to demonize and dehumanize minorities and convince white voters to vote against their best interests–that party of racism, composed of people who believe in the inherent superiority of white people, the inferiority of black people, and the status of white people as the chosen ones of a mythical deity, has assumed control over the US government.
Each day brings some new horror. Some new executive order that tramples upon the rights of the people of this country. Or some statement made by the White House Press Secretary. Or, hold up.
In the time it took me to write this post, the multi-dictator loving asswipe in the White House has fired the acting Attorney General Sally Yates because she refused to defend his travel ban. He also fired Daniel Ragsdale, Director of ICE.
This is not business as usual.
This is not how out political system should be operating.
This is not how the citizens of this country should be treated
But thanks to the sustained (and successful) efforts of the literal and figurative descendants of the Confederacy, a racist, power loving Republicans and racist god-bothering Evangelicals, a selfish, authoritarian demagogue has come to power, and with the backing of white supremacists and Nazi’s, stands poised to dramatically reshape our country.
Each day I wake up, I legitimately wonder “What now? What did I miss while I was sleeping? What did the Tyrant in Chief do this time?” I don’t think those worries are going to go away anytime soon, sadly.
But there’s something else that’s not going away: OPPOSITION, in the form of We, the People.
We, the people, in the form of the hundreds of thousands of who attended the Women’s March on Washington, which drew a crowd surpassing the inauguration crowd, and inspired similar marches across the country and around the world.
We, the people, in the form of the approximately 350,000 folks who donated more than $24 million to the ACLU since Saturday–an amount that is roughly six times the amount of donations they received in all of 2016.
We, the people, in the form of hundreds of lawyers who took to airports around the US to offer their services–free–in the face of Chitler’s immigration ban.
All of these people, and many more, recognize the threat this country faces with the current administration. They–WE–see the writing on the wall. We see the rhetoric used by the Right over the last few decades and see the similarities it bears to the demonization of minority groups in Nazi Germany prior to World War II. We see the barbaric acts of violence committed by Chitler supporters (or those who agree with his white supremacist ideology) against queer folks, Muslims, Jews, and disabled folks and see that the attacks mirror the attacks on such groups by Nazi Germany before WW II. We see the attacks on our human and civil rights, just as occurred in Nazi Germany before WW II. We see Cheeto Hitler’s executive order calling for construction of more detention facilities along the Mexico border, and see that these facilities, combined with the antipathy this administration has for anyone not white, could very easily be turned into concentration camps (and even if they aren’t, such facilities are already hugely problematic). We see his support of torture, and reject his claims that “torture works”.
And we most definitely saw the opening salvo from this administration against Muslims. The travel ban on foreign nationals from 7 countries does nothing to protect the United States and is antithetical to the values of this country. We see that ban, and we are reminded of a certain poem:
“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”
The Tyrant in Chief, his administration, and his followers surely know by now, but if they somehow do not know, they will learn swiftly–that we will not go away meekly.
We will not roll over.
We will not acquiesce to the demands of a tyrannical government which seeks to destroy this country and every value we cherish.
We will not remain silent in the face of any persecution.
We will continue to protest.
We will continue to flood the coffers of organizations like the ACLU.
We will continue to write and call our representatives.
AND WE WILL CONTINUE PUNCHING NAZIS. BOTH METAPHORICALLY AND LITERALLY.
*(meanwhile, there’s plenty of evidence that shows we in the United States face a threat that far exceeds the virtually nonexistent threat of Islamic extremism–domestic terrorism in the form radicalized, typically Christian, white men).