Like my last post, I’m going to start with the important stuff, because I don’t want to be misunderstood.
Donald Trump’s recent press conference failed to denounce white nationalists, KKK, and Nazis. He went off script and demonstrated his low character, his wrong-headed approach, and just how unfit for office he is. He gave false equivalence between the Alt-Right and those of us that think Nazis are bad. He blew it. He sucks. He should be impeached and removed from office as soon as possible.
That’s the important part. I needed to state that, because there were a couple of things he said that might have been truthful. I’m going to cherry pick those points, because they are important. But I’m not letting Trump off the hook. He screwed up.
These last few days have been an emotional roller coaster. A woman lost her life to a homegrown terrorist in a car. Social media has exploded with righteous outrage and sincere grief. There have been a lot of emotional releases and some things said in haste, and I want us all to take a step back and consider a few things, so that we don’t lose our own humanity.
1. The Nazis, Alt-Right, and KKK are the Minority
There are way fewer of them than there are of us. That doesn’t make what they’re doing any less deplorable, but it should give us hope. Their bigoted, narrow-minded view cannot last, because their voice will continue to get smaller and smaller, until they’re just a dark spot in the history books.
It’s true that Bannon, Miller, and Gorka are in prominent positions, and Trump has elevated the Alt-Right’s to a place where they have disproportionate influence. But the age of Trump will end. His influence will continue to wane as his approval plummets. When it becomes obvious to the Republicans that he will sink their chance of re-election, they’ll renounce him.
And let’s face it. When things get tough, they’ll turn on each other and destroy themselves.
2. We Need to be Careful with the Doxing
In the last few days, pictures of the tiki torch wielding assholes have been appearing on Twitter, and people have been identifying them. Many have already lost their jobs.
I think it’s great that white supremacists are facing consequences for their actions. If you go out and publicly start spouting hate, I hope you get what you deserve.
Let’s just be careful, though. How hard would it be to take a picture of someone and put it out there, suggesting that they were among the white supremacists? What defense would that person have?
Or, let’s say we do take a legitimate image of someone that marched with the tiki-Nazis. Is it possible that they were there, but their only interest was in preserving the monument?
As I said in my last post, my gut tells me it’s wrong to tear down the monuments. I’ve examined that feeling, and I know that it comes from a place of privilege. To me, the monuments represent scars in our nation’s history. To other people, they represent oppression and slavery. From a place of compassion, I can support tearing them down, even if my initial instinct is to find some other solution.
But there could have been well-meaning individuals at the rally that simply wanted to preserve the monuments. It’s one of the things Trump said in his last press conference that might be true. There might have been people on the side of the Alt-Right that were not white nationalists. Maybe. And if that’s true, then getting them fired and black balled on the internet seems a little bit harsh.
Also, doxing itself isn’t cool. It was the tactic used by small-minded, cowardly boys to punish women for enjoying video games. Maybe we should think twice about using the tactic.
3. Nazis are Still Human
This point receives a surprising amount of resistance. Earlier, I tried to make this point in a comment, and I wound up having to delete it. The blow-back was “When they are acting human, we’ll recognize them as human.”
This sentiment is wrong. It is the heart of the argument of racists and bigots. It is the problem with the internet, and it is why we can’t have nice things.
Nazis are bad. I’m not sympathetic to their cause. I renounce their hatred and their methods. I do not agree with them. If I’m in a position where a Nazi needs to be fought, I will fight them. But I do not renounce their humanity, because then I’m no better than they are.
4. We are Judged by How We Treat our Enemies
I can’t find the quote, but I believe that how we treat our enemies is a reflection of the quality of ourselves and our society. We already judge the Nazis, KKK, and Alt-Right jerks by how they treat their enemies. History will judged us on how we treat them in turn.
I’ve seen a lot of people saying things about how love only defeats your enemy when they have a conscience. I’ve seen people say that love doesn’t work. I’d like to end this post with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr which is as pertinent now as it has ever been:
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (from “Loving Your Enemies”)