It is mid-afternoon, you are driving on a residential street, going a little faster than you should—upper 20s mph. You’re meeting a gorgeous new love interest at a restaurant at the other end of this quick shortcut. As happens in this neighborhood, squirrels dart hither and thither across the road and often one of these bastards stops to admire the view… such as right now. You know the rule. Don’t swerve. But for some unknown, reflexive reason you do. You blow a tire and lose control and you kill a ten year old kid walking home from school.
We’ll revisit this disaster later…
In 2015, the New York Times included in a retrospective section newsprint from a November 1922 edition in which they describe Adolf Hitler to their readers for the first time. Whatever the Times motives for including the copy, at that moment, one could not help but recognize the similitude to one Donald J. Trump. In hindsight, the 1922 article highlights the Times’ lackadaisical response to Hitler’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, painting it as some Machiavellian maneuver to build disaffected support. American intellectuals did not—or did not want to—believe Hitler was who he said he was. And millions upon millions of lives evaporated in the heat of that short circuit.
'Confession: I did not read the article at the time of its republishing.
Confession number two: Even after writing this and this, I voted. And I voted for Hillary “Always Second Worst” Clinton. We’ll get back to her later…
Confession number three: I am still curious as to how fragile this democracy is...
I had to vote, even after my argument against altruism by coercion, a delinquent argument at that. Then Stephen Bannon joined the Trump campaign one month after I wrote those pieces. This was a confirmation of what most of us suspected. To some who already knew, it was a messianic flare shot into the dark night of American politics. Here I am. Trump really does want to ensnare 11 million Latinos and somehow catapult them across the border. He really does want to deny access to Muslims—and as of today he is considering a registry. He’s serious about limiting the power of the press. He’s serious when he says climate change is a fiction. He’s serious, he really does hate disabled people and black people and women and to cap it all he projects himself as a genius when anyone with half a brain can see he knows nothing unless he’s concocted it in his own head or someone else has arranged for Trump to believe he’s the author of what he says.
It took ten minutes. I skipped all the down ballot nonsense and I got out. What else was there to do? The vote is the only bullet we’re allowed in the system. Most of my friends voted the same way. Some voted against both of them via third parties. The most conservative person I know, my father, a Republican elected official did not vote for Trump. Why? I don’t know but I suspect it’s for the very same reason I voted against Trump. History. This is not 1922. We do not allow radical nutcases near the levers of power. Unfortunately, most of you have proven again and again that you are fine with plain jane nutcases in any elected seat.
Donald J. Trump is no plain-jane nutcase and neither—as we now read the historic parallel details—was Adolf Hitler. The Times described Hitler’s rhetoric as “not so genuine or violent as it sounded.” I need not go into the moderate conservative poo-pooing of Trump's outlandish proposals. History is desperately trying to sound the alarm on this man and less than half of us are listening or don't give a shit or maybe it's just flatout ignorance. Who do we blame for that? Can we blame anyone? Is there an institution we can point to? The demographics are clear. The majority of people who voted for Trump, voted on economic grounds, rust belt anti-intellectuals who felt Clinton took them for granted. What does that mean? It literally means that those who swayed this election voted to endorse dangerous, fascist rhetoric for the sake of a tax break or a promise of returned prosperity. They voted for a man who told them over and over—along with the fairytale that he could bring their jobs back—that he pines for an authoritarian, exclusionary administration.
Who do we blame? The media is complicit in a portion of this. When instead of doing your job, you just call the horse race, you wind up with a fucking horse, the Trojan flavor.
Is this a fascist/racist renaissance? I don’t think we can call it anything but a rejuvenation of white nationalism. David Duke endorsed him. White nationalist, William Johnson, paid for thousands of robocalls in support of Trump. Trump received endorsements from scores of white nationalist/racists organizations, literally too many to list in this space. Steve Bannon, whose credentials and all the spinning that have come with them, is now within a whisper of the oval office and text away from a capable propaganda apparatus in Breitbart. Trump wants Jeff “The Nigger” Sessions as his attorney general. He and at least one surrogate have suggested a Muslim registry and internment camps might be in order. Trump has denied he ever suggested these things but like so much of what he denies there is actual video of him saying it. Oh sure. Let's use our poisonous history to justify slavery, genocide, and child labor too. The memorial Adam Yauch park was recently vandalized with pro-Trump and Nazi graffiti. Racially motivated violence has seen a sharp increase since the election. The steering of the national mood into dark waters began the moment we tabulated the election results. Hate moves fast.
“But I’m not a racist!”
Maybe, maybe not but if you voted for Trump, you endorsed racism at the highest level of power in this stupid system. Trump stood on stage after stage, behind a hundred podiums and told you to your face, this is who I am. I am a serial sexual predator. I am intent on locking up women who have abortions. My vice-presidential candidate wants homosexuality declared illegal and “cured” with extraordinary pseudoscientific techniques. I endorse violence at my rallies. I’ve told black activists that I will personally, physically attack them. I abhor dissent and freedom of the press. This is me. Whaddyathink? But those who voted for Trump looked past all of this for promises to cut their taxes, give them jobs, and protect their families from boogie men.
Hillary Clinton is a piece of shit. No doubt. But she is a piece of shit in the same vein as any elected official who has pandered to one side or the other to get her way. She is far more complicit in the deaths of innocent brown people than she is in the death of any sworn diplomat and his staff. She railroaded Bernie Sanders, the only truly honest and compassionate candidate this country has seen in five or six decades, and the DNC suffered chronic cognitive dissonance and that was that. She has probably committed crimes in the name of politics and there can be no doubt her dishonest treatment and political exploitation of the black community in this country but she’s no racist, one of two reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton. The other reason: Donald Trump is a racist.
Remember that disastrous scenario I gave you at the beginning of this piece? You swerved. You knew the rules and you swerved anyway. The New York Times piece from 1922 and everything that followed it anchors any decision in an endorsement of racism and violence. You may not be a racist but you told the world that your money means more to you than the lives of your neighbors. Your money means more than the progress women’s rights have made for the last thirty years. Your money means more than the well-being of people fleeing horrific wars where hundreds of thousands of people die yearly. Your money means more than the lives of millions of hardworking people who came to this country in search of safety, stability, and education. Your money means more than black lives taken by police at twice the rate as whites. Your money means more than the long term future of human existence on this planet. Your money means you get to look the other way when white nationalists are orchestrating the reversal of every correction this culture has made since the 1860’s.
History screams at us from other end of a very long tunnel and you baby boomers should have heard it. One would think you have no excuse for voting Trump. You grew up with the “heroes” of the 20th Century. Your parents killed Hitler, shivved fascism in the gut, sniped authoritarian aggression and genocide from a muddy foxhole, remember? Remember? Maybe some of you don’t remember.
In truth, we can’t blame anyone.
No. I can’t blame you.
But I can shame you.
Confession number four: I will enjoy it. Not because I get off on it but because it works.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.