The rise in bigotry and hate reminds us what's at stake as the 2024 election beckons
Not that your entire post isn’t informative and telling, but the last paragraph is the perfect summation. It incapsulates all that is at risk perfectly. It brings to mind the phrase, We have met the enemy and it is us.
Your essay today is frighteningly accurate. I’ve been closely following American politics since 2012, coinciding with Obama’s last term in Office, and I have never been this worried about the future of the US or its history of democracy surviving. I’ve always had an attachment to the US because I have far more American cousins than I do Canadian ones. My worries are also related to the historic friendship and strong alliance that has developed between Americans and Canadians. My fear for the future of your country is that the friendship and alliance might disappear if Trump, his acolytes and maga crowd find their way back into power. Canada is a huge country in size, with a wealth of natural resources, but in terms of our population, the US is almost 9 times larger than we are. As Hitler invaded nine European cities during WWII, it is not difficult for me to imagine Trump wanting to expand his hold in North America by invading its closest ally. Yes, my fear is real as I have children and grandchildren who may live to see that day, and that thought is frightful to put it mildly.
Thank you for this essay today, and I hope that Democrats who might be inclined to stay home on Nov 7, 2024 for whatever reason, will have a change of heart and do their duty to vote, because your democracy is in danger of disappearing.
I will never understand the intense HATE coming out of the groups in society who think of themselves as the “most religious“. Hate prejudice misogynistic patriarchal and stunted creativity- how do they live like that??
Since October 7 I've found myself in a constant state of anxiety -- not paralyzing, but always in the back of my mind. I'm not part of a targeted group, but nevertheless I'm terrified about what might boil over. I worry for my bi-racial grandchildren, still too young to be "threatening" to the crazies who fear the browning of America, but so vulnerable as they get older. Mike Johnson's pious desire to return to 18th century values is, I hope, too extreme even for his fellow Republicans. Voting has never been more crucial.
We give 45 way too much of the credit for this divisiveness. He is just the current pimp selling power, on-top down control, anti democracy. Past forty years we've had a series of trickle-down pimps taking all the profits while moaning, "It's not enough." The FOXes are in the hen house spawning clone eggs, bigotry and hatred, so they are on top.
Steven, I feel weird bringing up history in this comment but I believe it needs to be done. For context, I am a conservative Christian minister who ministers to troubled people and mostly having substance us disorders. History has shown us that appeasement (misplaced love) to an enemy with a stated intention to kill/eliminate does not bring peace. The bible teaches that only love can overcome bitterness and hatred. That we are to love our enemies by heaping coals on their heads and turning the other cheek. What do we say when Orthodox Jews, the leaders of Israel and the IDF, who say that Hamas has a long stated intention to eliminate/Israel, has put this into effect, and can only respond (looking at Hitler) by eliminating Hamas. I am troubled to hear Orthodox Jews and professing Christians using words like collateral damage and kill the enemy. I am no less troubled to hear our education institutions, many of our leaders, saying pause (that is speak for ceasefire) and our media replaying scenes that are obviously intended to trigger our fear of death/war and motivate their viewers towards a policy of appeasement. I am not troubled to call on all America to pray for if ever we needed God's divine wisdom it is now. My prayer is that we are each reminded/convicted of how much God loves us. So much so that He have His only son Jesus to die for us so that we might have eternal life. For it is in the hope of eternal life, that death will lose its sting, and that life will be made precious, as we seek His will as to how we are to respond to this time of crisis! Both in our attitude to what is happening in Israel, and in our attitude to our politics here at home!
Sadly, as you note these people are true believers, and underneath their veneer of religious, academic, cultural, or “human rights” talk, their antisemitism, or should I better say “Jew hatred”, spews to the surface. I have been writing about this and speaking about it for more than a decade. It is frightening. As Captain Jean Luc Picard noted in the Start Trek Next Generation episode The Drumhead: “We think we’ve come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it’s all ancient history. Then – before you can blink an eye – suddenly it threatens to start all over again.”
Sadly, it has started.
Peace and stay safe,
There are much of us in tune with what’s at stake. Unfortunately, tens of millions of people eligible to vote pay no mind at all to current events and politics, never mind the perspective of history.
I hope activists, especially the young, can get people to care and vote.
I hesitated at first to comment because Steven's article is a hard act to follow.
Sadly, racism has always been an issue in America. As Steven mentions, the fight for civil rights continues to this day. White nationalism has existed in one form or another for years, though it had migrated to the fringes of society. It surged to the forefront during Obama's presidency, inflamed by the mere notion of a Black president, with the Tea Party leading the racist charge.
Enter Donald Trump, riding into politics on the back of the birther conspiracy theory, claiming Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Racists rejoiced! The birther movement largely gave rise to what became Trump's rabid group of blindly loyal followers, his base. This is not a case of syllogism; by no means are all Trump supporters racist. Many saw Trump as a catalyst for change, but as we tragically found out, the change he did bring has been devastating for our country and is an existential threat to our democracy.
America's simmering racism boiled over with Trump's ascendancy to the Presidency. He created an environment which validated racism, where it was just fine to hate those not like us, to despise and shun people from "sh*thole countries." He dined with an antisemite, a white nationalist, and refused to condemn the Proud Boys. Why would Trump condemn any of them? These were his people, as he made clear on January 6th when he ordered that the violent mob be allowed past metal detectors, saying "They're not here to hurt me."
Indeed, because that mob was there at Trump's direction to try to stop the Electoral count. They raided our Capitol, violently attacked police officers, searched for Congressional members, chanted "Hang Mike Pence!" Many in this mob were known members of white nationalist groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Many wore neo-Nazist and other racist symbols parading their white nationalist ideology. They attacked in the name of Trump.
The situation has only deteriorated since Trump left office. Trump has raised millions of dollars on his stolen election lies, his insistence that he's a victim of a corrupt administration; certainly his 91 felony indictments are all due to a deep state plan to interfere in the 2024 election, because he did nothing wrong! Mixed in with this is Trump's brand of stochastic terrorism where he uses violent rhetoric to stir up his base. He constantly reminds them "If they can do this to me, they can do it to you!" In this rhetoric, Trump speaks to the white nationalist members of his base that he hopes will rise to action again. More likely will be the lone actors who go after Trump's perceived enemies as Trump points them out by name and position.
The crowds may not rise up again; over 1,100 people who attacked the Capitol on January 6th have been arrested and charged; almost 400 are already in jail. It does appear that putting people in jail can act as a deterrent. Concurrently, however, Trump and some of his far-right sycophants in Congress treat convicted and jailed "J-6" criminals as martyrs. Trump has promised to pardon them if he's elected president. He desecrates our national anthem by playing a version sung by these very insurrectionists at his rallies.
This leads to the obvious conclusion: Trump must never hold any office ever again. We must each do our part to fight for our democracy, making sure we help get the vote out next year. I believe that Trump won't be elected president, and also agree that this won't be the end of the far-right trying to implement their plans for our government. In my last comments I wrote about the dangers of Project 2025, a right-wing coalition operating under the Heritage Group that has grand plans to turn the next Republican presidency into an autocracy and eliminate separation of church and state. We must not let this happen.
Do you think we have passed a tipping point, Steven? If so will it bring us back to our senses or inspire more violence?
I hope my fears, which are increasing, come to nothing and the struggle between decency and abject stupidity not tip into something that will horrify us all.
"There was, as Ansari feared, less and less pretending. What in another time may have been simmering—a covered cauldron of racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia—was now out in the open more and more." Absolutely BRILLIANT article! And your use of language is superb (just as I've always known from your marvelous interviews with your friend, Rachel). I'm so glad that I found my way here!
Anything that is different - religion, skin color, customs, economic/educational status - is used by many as a reason for hatred or at least , dislike. The Jews have been blamed for centuries for killing Jesus, Himself an ardent Jew. A small group of jealous, greedy, power loving men, Pharisees, turned Him over to the Romans to end His growing following. Pontius Pilate who sent Him to the Cross, had no wish to do so, washing his hands after to show it was not his will.So, it was not the Jewish people but a few envious men who are to blame. It is donald trump, today's pharisee, who is turning in democracy to be executed, who has led the secret haters to openly show their loathing for those they believe rule the government, politics, the economy with a world wide conspiracy against the nationalistic, Make America Great Again white, Christian hat wearers. Why, just look at George Soros, worth billions and billions who funds liberals, Democrats. A Jew !!! Those Jews refuse to assimilate, keep to their customs, their eating habits, their rituals, expanding through their Hebrew schools. Truth is, only .2% of the world's population is Jewish. ( Off the subject, same % as people born blonde .) Assimilation was tried on the American Indians and failed. The Jews have every right to call Israel home. In ancient times, it was called Judea from which the word Jew comes.
No doubt like wars, antisemitism will probably persist forever. How can we stop some of it? Perhaps by again supporting our public schools where those of all colors and persuasions come together and become friends. Where the very young can be taught to care, carry that on into the teens and adulthood, knowing that all have hopes, dreams, ambitions and all of every color and religion have the same 75% DNA of a chicken, 60% of a banana tree. However, attendance at charter & private religious schools is increasing and with federal funds. In 2022, the Supreme Court ruled withholding such funds from religious schools violated the 1st Amendment. Also growing is home schooling, often because of Covid and fear of school mass shootings.
And so it is with extreme emotional distress that we see on the media, heavenly light beaming down on trumps head, being called a savior, proclaiming to be the be all and end all, such a complete being that there is no need to look further. If he wins and his followers finally learn what fascism really is, they will run,not walk back to those rocks from which they came, and hide.
The popularity of populist politicians/media might not reflect authoritarianism, but the American social fabric does look like the nationalism & rebellion that would come to break down kingdoms & empires with terrorist assassinations, protests, wars & world wars, in the 19th & turn of 20th c.
Steven, you have a gift for writing about critical issues we're facing, but also bringing in a sense of optimism, personal empowerment, and even calm. Thank you so much! I love "America, America"!