Every time I sit down to write…

… about the latest outrageous comment uttered by a Republican Presidential “front runner,” something even more ludicrous or dangerous appears in my news feed. I literally cannot keep up with it all.

I’m not going to spend my evening digging up hyperlinks and footnotes to all of the craziness; if you’ve been reading the news at all, you’ve read about the dangerously dark turn Donald Trump has been making toward outright Fascism. In spite of Goodwin’s Law, it is not unreasonable to compare Trump’s tactics to Hitler’s.

Then, just when I think I’ve got a handle on an idea, we have a shooting at the Colorado Planned Parenthood. After killing a police officer and wounding many others, somehow this white suspect was disarmed and captured alive. Contrast this with the released video of Laquan McDonald’s murder by police (there’s just no other word for it), where a Black suspect is gunned down while surrounded by police cars.

I can’t keep up with this madness.

The viciousness against Black citizens is nothing new, though; it’s only new to White people who now get to witness it thanks to cell phone cameras and police videos. It’s a mistake to think that the violence is escalating simply because White exposure to it has been intensifying; Black citizens have been telling stories like this for years. This helps explain why Trump continues to lead in the polls. It’s not as if a plurality of Republican voters only recently decided “heck, a racist White strong man is better than any of these other bozos” – that attitude has been brewing for a long time. It only took one (now several) candidates to cast aside the polite dog whistle language and say what they’re really thinking.

A few postings ago I wrote a bit about practicing empathy, in particular being present to another’s repulsive ideas. I also talked about the difference between accepting a situation and condoning it. Trump is a perfect case in point. We cannot ignore him or dismiss him as a clown any longer; in particular, we can’t shrug our shoulders and say “yeah, but he has no chance of winning anyway…”

The poisonous ideologies that led to Trump being a front-runner did not appear overnight, and they will take a long time to eradicate. For that to happen will take a social movement on par with the 1960’s. (BTW, Greta Christina has posted a good blog piece on Letting go of Sixties Envy. Basically, the 1960’s are happening all over again, and if you’ve ever wondered what you might have done during the Civil Rights movement, you now have a chance to find out.)

I’m too agitated at the moment to think clearly about what my next steps should be. At the very least, I can maintain vigilance and speak up against injustice. I can bear witness. Engage the young people in my life in age-appropriate discussions of these issues.  But as sociologists have noticed, we’re tending more and more to surround ourselves with people who think like we do; I’d have to work hard to think of anyone in my social circle who even remotely supports Trump, Carson, and the like.

Coincidentally, I start work on a university campus tomorrow. I’m curious what tone the coffee house conversations will take.


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