Monday, March 14, 2016

A Fight We Need To Have

A few months ago I was present at what I hope will be considered an historic moment. Two young women, in the name of Black Lives Matter, hijacked a Seattle event at which presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was to speak. They shut him down and they were able to do it because he is a civil man who disavows violence, an attitude that pacified a disappointed audience. It was transformative for me, a process in which I explored the accusation that I was a "liberal white supremacist," finding that perhaps I am, a status I hope to spend the rest of my life undoing.

On Friday in Chicago, another event occurred that I hope is written about in history books: the people of Chicago shut down a Donald Trump political rally. Yes! I wish so much that I had been there. This is, I think, a product of the skills we honed during the Occupy Movement, refined through BLM, into this: a direct confrontation with a man who is unequivocally a racist demagogue and, worse, is the likely candidate of one of our two major political parties.

I have no doubt that the protesters provoked Trump supporters on Friday. There was some violence. I'd guess the ratio of punches thrown was about 50-50, even if most of the first punches came from Trump's violent supporters according to people who were there, including the police. This was as ugly as it was beautiful. And as a people, that's about where we stand right now: astride a great divide with extremes on either side. The middle is a chasm where no one survives. There is Trump and there is Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton may well be the Democratic party candidate, but her greatest challenge is she is still trying to find some footing inside the chasm.

I abhor the Trump side. I am completely aligned with the Sanders side. When the protesters that had infiltrated the rally chanted, "Bernie! Bernie!" I began to cry.

This is an important presidential election, I think, one that will dramatically affect the direction of our country and, therefore, the world. It's clear by now that Trump will be one of the last two candidates standing. I tend to think that either of the Democratic candidates can defeat him, but I believe that one has a better chance than the other. They were chanting, "Bernie! Bernie!"

The thousands of protesters outside blocked streets and parking garages, disrupting, making it uncomfortable for Trump supporters as they left the cancelled event, just as others have made America uncomfortable for people of color and others who are not white males.

I hate it, but maybe this is a fight we need to have, right there on an arena floor.

The Trump appeal is to our basest selves: fear and survival, us v. them. He is racist and his supporters are racist even as they take offense. He is an authoritarian and his supporters are convinced that they will always meet with his approval. He uses violent rhetoric and his supporters are taking the bait. For Donald Trump, Godwin's Law is suspended: this man is a fascist. Look the word up and tell me how I'm wrong. If Trump is elected, our grandchildren will ask us how we could have been so stupid.

This is a campaign that must be stopped. History will judge us.

"Bernie! Bernie!" This is a fight we need to have. This is the side on which I stand.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. We have a great responsibility right now to stand up and be counted against the hatred and vitriol that trump is exposing and encouraging.

Parenting with Heart and Mind said...

Hi Tom,

I stayed home longer than planned this morning to watch the most intelligent discussion on race I have probably ever heard. The divide you speak of was mentioned in this dialogue:

We are where we are, and although i surround myself with like minded progressive folks, there are thousands and I suppose even millions who are entranced with this demagogue. These are not bad people, but so disenfranchised economically and also educationally, for many reasons.

I for one, hope we can extend a hand to those who have lost their way and believe fascism is the answer.
There must be a non-violent way to move the divide toward constructive dialogue. How? is the question.