We’re only a few weeks into the Trump presidency and everything is pretty much as bad as we thought it would be. Not only is it apparent that Trump plans to carry out much of the heinous policy he promised during his campaign, that Steve Bannon is our white-supremacist-in-chief, but also that this administration can deny facts and blatantly violate ethics without any real repercussions.
When Donald Trump declares that any news source publishing the low ratings of his presidency is ‘fake news,’ and he attempts to shut down federal employees for posting facts regarding climate change on social media, it is clear he is living in a very different reality. It is also alarming because there is a set precedent for this: the myriad of fascist and dictatorial regimes modern history has seen.
Along the campaign trail, the term fascist was used a lot to describe Trump and his policy ideas. Now that he’s in office, a lot of his supporters like to make the claim that nothing has happened that’s alarming or on par with infamous leaders like Hitler.
I would first argue it is an immense show of privilege to say that none of Trump’s policies from the past few weeks have been alarming or damaging, but it’s also inane to say that just because we aren’t all in labor camps right now that parallels can’t be drawn.
The vilification of Muslims, immigrants, and, indeed, all racial minorities is flagrantly like pre-World War II sentiments in places like Germany. Like the Nationalist Socialist Party blamed Jewish people for the woes of Germany, Trump’s followers blame America’s pitfalls on the ‘browning’ of our country, on the perceived decline of Christianity and so called white genocide.
The silencing of opposition, even if those voices are empirical, scientific voices, harkens to North Korea’s horrifying regime and sets a dangerous precedent. Since Trump took office, several states have seen proposed legislation that would infringe on the people’s right to protest the government.
The time to act is now: if and when we find ourselves in labor camps, it will be too late to fight back.
A common thing I hear in liberal circles right now is that “this isn’t my America,” that “this isn’t what this country stands for” and I think this is a problematic view to take. It ignores the fact that our nation was built on the backs of marginalized communities, and little about that has changed.
Trump’s America is a culmination of years of white fragility and xenophobia. It’s an emboldened expression of what has existed here since this land was stolen from Native Americans. To deny that is to deny the continual oppression of so many. We cannot be so naive as to think Trump happened in an ideological vacuum.
To fight the depravity and hate we are faced with now, we must refuse to normalize explicit racism, homophobia, etc., but we must also truly recognize that these beliefs have been an undercurrent in American society and politics since its inception. This is why meaningful change can only occur with the dismantlement of the toxic sociopolitical systems already in place, not through reform.