Tag Archives: trump

Look Back in Anger


Laurie and Debbie say:

It’s been 48 hours or so since the Capitol Building was cleared of domestic terrorists. Thanks to curfews and other factors, we have been spared much of the immediate violent fallout that could have occurred: Black churches and synagogues in DC and other cities suffered no serious harm, and no violent street protests appear to have made much headway.

The voices of our political “leaders” and our self-appointed pundits are loud and constant. All of them are prepared to tell us what the right punishment is for Donald Trump, what the DC police did or didn’t do that they should or shouldn’t have done, who should suffer consequences (and what consequences), etc. Most important, they all want to tell us what’s going to happen next–something no one knows.

We’d rather look at what did happen and offer some thoughts about why.

Even though many women participated in the rampage, and even though the Proud Boys are uncommonly diverse (and uncommonly proud of it) for an all-male far-right neofascist organization, this was basically an explosion of enraged white men. The Proud Boys were by no means the only instigators of Wednesday’s violence.

What are they angry about?

At base, they are angry because they are losing the privilege they believe is their birthright. In the last forty years, they and their fathers have lost a lot of power over women. In the last sixty years, they and their fathers and grandfathers had the opportunity to see what might happen if Black people actually made gains in education, employment, and affluence. They have always been told that they are the only people who deserve status, of wealth, and of power.

Watching what you have been told is your unquestioned birthright slip away from you will make you angry. This anger, by definition, has to be unexamined, because examining it can make it disappear: examined loss of privilege can result in a greater understanding of what you have that other people don’t, and what might be productively shared.

Add the election of Donald Trump to that pile of kindling, and you get a rage bonfire. Trump is a perfect example of the man born with everything and is constantly enraged because he doesn’t believe he has ever had enough, and — say what you like about his intelligence in other contexts — he is uncannily good at speaking to the unexamined rage, inflaming it, and directing it. This explains much about the last four years in the United States.

So he becomes not just a leader and an instigator, but a father and almost a deity to people who feel that he understands them when no one else does. He takes an entrenched American habit of expressing our anger outside our borders and brings it home to lay at the feet of his admirers. Then he loses an election. And, true to form for people whose ascendancy is unchallengeable, he refuses to admit that he lost. He marshals all his incendiary skills to inflame the only people who could conceivably save him …

… and they storm the U.S. Capitol. This is historically unprecedented, and happens in our very visual, news-in-your-eyeballs world. The people who hate, despise, and fear Trump react as if this mob of terrorists, armed with AK-47s, Molotov cocktails, and pipe bombs, has stormed our own houses. And we respond with two emotions: fear and our own rage.

Fear makes it harder to examine rage. Rage, by its nature, resists examination. If it cannot be expressed, it strives to be denied. Nonetheless, quieting our fear and examining our rage is what we must do. Anger denied is powerless; anger expressed without examination is purely destructive. We need only to look to real leaders like Stacey Abrams and Rev. William Barber to see what happens when anger is acknowledged, contained, and directed. Examined anger is effective. And effectiveness, above all else, is what we need right now.

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Living in Weimar 8: Stark Days


Laurie and Debbie say:

Valencia St, San Francisco 5/16/18

Since the very beginning of our Weimar series, we have stressed that Trump is not Hitler and the Republicans are not Nazis. The shameful things being done by our government have their own repulsive flavor.

And yet, the parallels are hard to escape. Right now, two pieces of news have made our blood boil.

U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions has announced a new immigration policy: if a family with children is apprehended trying to enter the U.S. “illegally,” the children will not be permitted to stay with their parents. The children may be kept on military bases.  The parents will, presumably, be placed in the current horrible immigration detention centers.

Let us be clear: There is no distinction between this policy and creating child-only concentration camps, as long as we understand that a concentration camp is not necessarily a Nazi-style genocidal death camp. Some children will die in these military camps, and virtually all of them will experience unnecessary trauma and suffering. Others will be “lost”(as more than 1500 have already been “lost” by this administration and the Obama administration) and some of them will wind up destitute on the streets, or victims of human trafficking operations, or both.

This is inexcusable cruelty. Sessions’ “justification” that it will act as a deterrent to illegal immigration is whitewash, which fails to cover his and his colleagues’ racism and complete lack of compassion.

At the same time that the U.S. government is planning on shamelessly warehousing children, the Israeli government is shamelessly slaughtering protesters at the Gaza/Israel boundary fence.  At least 60 people have died and another 2700 (no, that is not a typo) have been injured. We are completely appalled by Israel’s actions: we bring them up because the Trump administration is more or less alone in the world defending Israel’s actions.

What are they defending atrocities? First of all, the inhabitant of the White House probably thinks it’s a pretty cool reality TV show. Second, as American Jewish support for Israel decreases, evangelical Christian support for Israel holds strong, so Trump’s base is right there with him. Third, we’ve written here before about David Friedman, the Trump administration’s ambassador to Israel, and how repulsive he is. And finally, you never know when you might want to open fire on protesters in your own country, so you might as well have an example that you’ve already lauded to back you up.

Thomas Jefferson famously said,

Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events …

Unfortunately, we don’t even have to be theists to agree with Jefferson on this one.