The murder of 22 (at the time of this post) in El Paso, Texas, by a white supremacist supporter of Donald Trump signified the shift for me. Since Trump announced his run for the Presidency, through the date of the shooting, I’ve avoided directly confronting supporters of Trump. I’ve decided I can no longer sit on the sidelines and, through my inaction and silence, not actively ostracize those who maintain a cult-like fondness for the racist that was elected in 2016.
It was entirely predictable that Trump’s rhetoric would cause bloodshed, and El Paso is perhaps the most unambiguous example of this. One need only watch one of his rallies when Trump laughs at the suggestion that hispanics be shot for seeking asylum, then further asserts that “you can only do that in the panhandle,” to understand the naked racism that has been slowly revealed in the office of the President.
I’d be remiss, however, if I was to lay this at his feet entirely. He is, in fact, more of an opportunist than demagogue, who has been coddled by the more sinister, calculating forces of the Republican party. The election of Ronald Reagan and the rise of Fox News precipitated recent events and a cursory examination of these events reveal their causative effects.
That said, in my opinion, the United States has reached a tipping point. A point at which those of us who recognize the symptoms of fascism, indeed the frightening parallels between Mussolini’s rise (another not-too-bright opportunistic grifter) and that of Trump, have a deep responsibility to sound the alarm…at any personal cost.
I’ve been hesitant to lose friends over this, but that ended with El Paso. I will call out, and challenge any of my friends that support this man and this destructive administration. The time for silence is over, and frankly, I’m ashamed I’ve waited this long. I will mourn friendships lost, but as I learned this summer in Dr. Alexis Herr’s class, “The History of Fascism,” the most common denominator in the rise of the fascists regimes was consent. The quiet acquiescence of the populace who found the actions of their leaders offensive, but were unwilling to take the personal risks to challenge them.
I lost a friend this weekend when she took exception to a relatively benign post condemning Trump on one of my social media pages. Her objection included a personal attack (as so many of his supporters seem to favor), so it was a relatively easy decision to block and ostracize her. But I knew at that moment, that it wasn’t enough. I need to challenge these people. Not in an ad hominem manner, but in a direct, and fact-based condemnation of their support.
Frankly, based on past experience, I know how this generally ends, and I suspect I’ll be employing the block button more frequently. And that’s not something I’ve been willing to do. The lives lost last weekend changed that for me.
Consent is no longer an option.
(image courtesy of my friend Joe Rose)