There’s a recurring message in American politics, primarily coming from the democratic side: that Donald Trump has “divided” us, and the only way to defeat him is if we all “come together,” and become a “united” America once again.
But let’s take a look at the people we’d be “reunited” with.
Richard Spencer, who largely faded from the headlines after his disastrous Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, South Carolina, is back in the news again as disgraced “agent provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos has released an audio recording of Spencer having something of a nervous breakdown in the aftermath of said rally.
A choice excerpt:
"...my ancestors fucking enslaved those little pieces of fucking shit. I rule the fucking world. Those pieces of fucking shit get ruled by people like me. They look up and see a face like mine looking down at them."
Now, call me unforgiving, but Richard Spencer is not someone I’m in any hurry to reunite with. In fact, there’s a great many people out there who have shown their true colors that I’m very ok with remaining divided from. Yiannopoulos, who made a career on being a professional shithead is another who I’d be happy if I never had to see their name again.
One of the main liberal lines, especially in the ongoing Democratic Primary, has been the painting of Donald Trump as this unholy demon that has bewitched the “decent folk” of the right and “stoked the flames of bigotry” in service to a political agenda. What is ignored in this claim is the fact that not 60 years ago, it was common practice in many regions of the United States to murder people of color for the act of existing. There are people still alive today who likely participated in a lynching. There are people alive today who had to flee their home because men on horseback set their house ablaze or shot up their front porch. There are people alive today who spat at a little girl as she dared to go to school with white children. There are people alive today who were born second class citizens in their own country.
Bigotry has not faded in America; it was, at best, hidden. It was hidden in the concern-trolling of Bathroom Bills and the painting of trans women as sexual predators looking to assault cisgender women. It was hidden in business owners invoking “religious freedom” to justify refusing service to someone for the simple fact of being homosexual. It was hidden in reactionary movements like Blue Lives Matter having the audacity to claim that the risks of a chosen profession are equivalent to a racially-based oppression one is born into.
Even a cursory look through United States history reveals a longstanding tradition of hatred of the “other” in society. The state I live in was founded as a “white refuge,” with anti-immigration laws written into its constitution. Some of the longest lasting white supremacist groups in the nation were founded here. This legacy is in part because of stolid resistance by the majority to refuse to confront this ideology, and instead adopt a “live and let live,” philosophy; so long as they kept it under wraps, such views would not be actively confronted. RIchard Spencer is not new to the scene, he has been active in political advocacy since his youth, and was a strong advocate for libertarian candidate Ron Paul.
The only real way to stamp out the spectre of bigotry in this country is complete and utter denial of acceptance. No more talk of compromise, or seeking to understand. There is nothing to understand. There is no nuance to be found in white supremacy, or homophobia or transphobia. Difference of opinion is acceptable concerning something like art; it is not acceptable concerning someone’s right to exist in their own skin.
There are some who would say such a position is too harsh, that by not extending an olive branch we risk driving the bigoted further away from redemption. To that I say, that is the point. Redemption is earned. It is not an obligation, especially not from the ones who face potential extermination at the hands of those needing to be redeemed. The onus is on those who have done wrong to realize it as they are shunned from society, and they are the ones who must make amends and make overtures of peace.
Because, again – I cannot stress this enough – these people believe eradication is a goal. It’s not that they don’t “understand” why someone is gay or transgender, it’s that they think they shouldn’t exist. That is an unacceptable position, and by even trying to engage with it, we legitimize it.
These people are talking about an ideology whose endpoint is the enslavement and extermination of anyone they deem “inferior;” they should not be on talk shows trying to be “understood,” they should be pariahs. Yet, every time someone is outed as a neonazi on social media, someone is quick to leap to their defence, wondering how they’re going to find work now that the “internet mob” has “ruined their life.”
People who advocate for the murder of people who are different are given more consideration than people who are living houseless on the street. The people so concerned for the welfare of those who would commit genocide, had they the power, won’t extend that same consideration to the person who lacks a basic human need. It is in that way that we reveal that white supremacy is not anathema to our culture, it is subsumed in it.
In the end, it boils down to the old issue of politics as abstraction. When one becomes too detached from living on the precariat, it becomes all too easy to forget that political decisions have real life consequences. That, down the line, the power struggles in DC determine whether someone lives or dies. This call to “come together” in the face of resurgent bigotry is a product of the frustrating neoliberal notion that decorum and compromise is more important than principle and morality. That "all viewpoints deserve to be heard," no matter how abhorrent or harmful.
It is this foolhardy belief that drives people to quest into the forgotten towns of the midwest to interview people about why they voted for a man accused multiple times of sexual harassment and who built a career off being cruel and petty. Their conclusions, about “economic anxiety,” “feeling abandoned,” “seeing no other option,” removes agency from his electorate and places the blame externally. It absolves the people who took a look at the man, everything he’s said, everything he’s done, everything he’s promised, and decided he was the one they wanted to lead the country.
This is not to say that the Democratic party is blameless. In fact, recent revelations have shown Clinton’s campaign greeted Trump’s arrival on the stage with glee, believing he would be an easy win; little did they realize their strategy of courting the mythical “conscientious republican” was doomed to fail. But lack of a better alternative is no excuse for enabling fascism. Lack of economic opportunity does not absolve one of caging children.
Even now, the Democrat establishment seems more interested in maintaining decorum and making shows of resistance, rather than actively preventing the advance of fascism in the halls of power of the US. I don't know if the reason for this enabling is out of some kind of naivete, or something more cynical, all I know is compromise with fascism is always a net benefit for the fascist. If we truly want to move past the dark history of our country and the resurgence of fascism in out government, we must be uncompromising in our rejection of both the system that enabled it and those who refuse to give it up.