Saturday, November 12, 2016

Quote for Day: "Deny Them That 'We' — That Vast and Inclusive Plural"

How do we fight back now? Fred Clark's suggestion, as a white evangelical Christian who moves against the pro-Trump tide of his white evangelical community: Deny them the use of the word "we" to describe all of us:

On election day, they [the nearly half of citizens who voted and elected Trump] heard the opposite [that targeting minority groups is unacceptable]. Very loud and very clear. They heard it from white people — rich and poor, educated and uneducated — all over the country. And they heard it loudest and clearest of all from white evangelicals. The message of election day has already emboldened and energized them. They are convinced that their "we" has the numbers, and the power, to act with impunity. They now believe, as someone once said, "You can do anything. … Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything." 
We tried, and failed, to shout down their triumphant "we" on election day. Rather than revealing them to be a "pathetic rump faction," we learned that they are a full half of the country — our neighbors and co-workers. And they're just getting started. 
And so, after the uncertain trumpet of election day, it is more important than ever to deny them that "we" — that vast and inclusive plural — everywhere else. All the time. In person. At work. At the store. In church. Online. Everywhere. Deny them the illusion of unanimity. Deny them your consent. Do not allow them to mistake silence for agreement.

What I think is difficult for many Americans — we're in the majority, by popular vote — who rejected a man obviously unqualified for the presidency to understand is that about half of our citizens want authoritarian rule. And their religious leaders, who are highly influential in that half of the population, encourage the authoritarianism, because they believe they'll be permitted to play a select role in crafting the laws of an authoritarian regime that they have put into place.

They believe that they themselves will never be targeted by this regime, since it's indebted to them for the voter base that put it into office. It will target only "enemies" — liberals, those who are foolish enough to be angry that straight white males claim such astonishing unmerited power and privilege with the backing of religious authoritarians, people of color, immigrants, poor people, LGBTQ people, etc.

They rail against the "rage" and "violence" of protestors marching to demonstrate their refusal to accept the new status quo, while, of course, they shut their eyes to the flood of incidents of outright hatred and violence now beginning as a direct result of the Trump election — incidents in which one person after another is targeting members of vulnerable minority communities while chanting Trump's name and slogans. 

From Trump's followers, we hear not a peep about all of this very real rage and about whom it's now targeting.

We hear nothing about any of this because the intent of these followers in voting for Trump was to target people they perceive as the enemy. Truth be told, they are jubilant that African-American children in schools now have to go to restrooms in which they see the N- word scrawled across toilet paper dispensers, and in which Latino children are told to go back home, and gay young people are told that filthy F-s deserve everything coming to them.

This is the America these folks want to build. It's why they voted for Donald Trump. And they want to reserve the right to laugh at and mock anyone protesting at this utter debasement of a democratic culture. They believe they themselves or people like them will never be targeted in this way. This country belongs to them, after all, and that's the message they have sent in electing a totally unqualified authoritarian, with the blessing and encouragement of their religious leaders (who also will not be targeted, they believe). 

Because they now have control of the White House and Congress and will also control the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future, any and all acts of defiance on our part count for little, ultimately — unless we can redirect the political life of the nation. And that becomes a very difficult task when the mainstream media, which belong to economic elites, want to normalize Trump, and when the big economic players of the global economy welcome Trump with open arms, as they do the increasingly right-wing law-and-order groups and governments we're now seeing proliferate in Europe (see: Brexit), which give the super-rich the very direct kind of control they want over the structures of government.

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