I’ve often thought that the best way to measure a person’s character is to see how they act when (they think) nobody else is watching. Social pressures and censure can mitigate the extremes at both ends of society. When you need the permission of a higher authority to take open action and then need force (intimidation, coercion and violence) to support those actions, you are literally and actually an extremist. That label is not dependent on those actions being based on religion. Any ideology or none at all will do. Needing approbation before being willing to embrace or own your own actions displays both flaws in character and disconnection from concrete reality.
The nation celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. yesterday. A burgeoning culture of dedicating the day for service to others is especially inspirational in Trump’s era of bigotry and racism. In two days he will be out of office, but the trends he brought out of hiding still have to be addressed. I have white privilege and have really only understood that as part of my daily life in the last decade or so.
I just finished listening to Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism by Seyward Darby. The presentation of three female figures in the white supremacy movement along with historical and contemporary data and correlations was really striking. I recognize how Trump and his ilk have managed to get so much general and voter support from white women … but I will never understand it.
So much of the splintered and amorphous movement seems determined to declare white people sovereign in countries stolen from their native populations. All the talk of sending people back to their original countries, if actually carried out, would result in all but Native South and North American people going back to other continents. By this I mean Native Americans, Native Alaskans and all the actual aboriginal peoples of both continents. This would return all the Europeans to Europe just to start with. Of course, this isn’t practical despite how equitable it would be. We can’t return or restrict people to specific areas of the Earth based on their skin color or ancestry.
On the other hand, I’d be happy to place them in places dedicated to their governing philosophies. For example, all the fascists could go back to Europe. All the plutocrats could congregate in Russia. The Muslims could have the Middle East and the Christians could have Italy. None of this is reasonable or feasible. It is, however, congruent with the magical thinking of white supremacists, literal Christians and fundamentalist of all types.
The man posing as President for the last four years has made public displays of this type SEEM normal by making feelings facts and anything truthful is you just say it loudly often enough. Our country is based on as many awful tenants as inspiring ones. It’s a work in progress. Progress is the critical concept. We who know enough to do better, need to both model our ideal and correct those stains. Quiet is acquiescence. See something, say something, do something. None of us will be perfect at it, but we all need to keep trying until we get as close as we can.