Friday, September 2, 2016

This Cannot Be Our Legacy

Josh Marshall has thought this through and comes to the conclusion, as a lot of us have, that Donald Trump is engaging in the same kind of campaign that we’ve seen with red and black banners and brown shirts or burning crosses.

… Watch Trump’s speeches, with the yelling, the reddened face, the demand for vengeance and you see there’s little to distinguish them from what we see at Aryan Nations or other white hate rallies that we all immediately recognize as reprehensible, wrong and frankly terrifying. This isn’t ‘rough’ language or ‘hard edged’ rhetoric. It’s hate speech. Precisely what policy solution Trump is calling for is almost beside the point. Indeed, it wouldn’t be hate speech any less if Trump specified no policy solution at all.

This isn’t normal. It was normal in the Jim Crow South, as it was in Eastern Europe for centuries. It’s not normal in America in the 21st century. And yet it’s become normalized. It’s a mammoth failure of our political press. But it’s not just theirs, ours. It’s a collective failure that we’re all responsible for. By any reasonable standard, Donald Trump’s speech on Wednesday night should have ended the campaign, as should numerous other rallies where Trump has done more or less the same thing for months. There’s a reason why the worst of the worst, the organized and avowed racists, were thrilled and almost giddy watching the spectacle. But it has become normalized. We do not even see it for what it is. It’s like we’ve all been cast under a spell. That normalization will be with us long after this particular demagogue, Donald Trump, has left the stage. Call this what it is: it is hate speech, in its deepest and most dangerous form.

And it must stop.  This is not the country that we want.  This is not what we can leave to the generations who will follow us and look to us and tell us that this is the legacy we gave them.  I can’t look at my 15-month-old great-nephew or the 350,000 students of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and say, “Here you are, this is the best we can do for you.”

I grew up as a baby boomer in the 1950’s and ’60’s believing that the marches for equal rights and brotherhood were really changing America from a land that just talked of those values to one that made them a reality even as there were those who fought back with the fire of fear and loathing.  We even thought — naively — that once they were achieved in large part that as the years passed we — all of us — would accept and welcome new cultures, new voices, new names and leave the distrust of the different behind.  But human nature does not change by legislation or popular sentiment and there will always be in us the instinct to shy away from the change.  And there will always be those who will exploit it for their own gain.

This cannot be our legacy.  We have worked too hard and come too far to leave it to the haters and the fear-mongers.  The days of going to war to end discrimination and a holocaust only to return home to a land of Jim Crow and restricted country clubs is the legacy of one generation that worked to change that.  Ours must be that we shun those who would bring it back and in the name of “freedom” turn that word and its values into a cudgel or a wall.  Not now, and never again.

5 barks and woofs on “This Cannot Be Our Legacy

  1. To add some historical perspective, just ran across this post at Balloon Juice:

    This is a recurring situation in American history. It seems to us, here in 2016, that this is the worst ever, having truly appalling events in the 20th century to relate it to, but it’s not — we have a history of trying to eradicate the people who were here first, for starters. It’s just the latest incarnation of the American id, which, thinking about it, has always had a racial/ethnic basis.

    And on an even longer timeline, the only place in the world that people are native to is an area is East Africa, about 200,000 years ago. I get a sort of arcane satisfaction from throwing that in people’s faces.

  2. I feel like I just awoke from a coma. In MY mind it is 1957. Nothing’s changed. But, people keep talking about a JFK, RFK, MLK, Nelson Mandela, & I am saying, “WHO”?
    But, unfortunately, it IS 2016 It might as well still be 1957.
    WTF!! Now, If, we’ve got the Spirit, Compassion, Fortitude, LEADERS, we MUST start ALL OVER again. Going FORWARDS. I think it’s POSSIBLE. Maybe, NOT IN MY lifetime. (I’m an old). Hate makes a country WEAK. Weakness makes it vulnerable for our enemies, & YES we gottem’!
    WHAT SAY YOU , America? !!!!!!!!!!!!!


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