When the former president began his trek toward the American presidency, his violent and hateful rhetoric was troubling and when I shared with a Facebook friend, a white woman with whom I had had some conversations, I was afraid that what he was saying and doing would result in the end of our democracy, she said, without a pause, “Democracy needs to die.”
I was shocked and silent. I finally wrote her that I didn’t agree and got off Facebook for the day, and I never talked with her again.
The fact that there is a move on to end democracy as this country has known it is all the more troubling because there are so many people who adhere to that desire. They say they resent big government – i.e. government that has created policies and programs that help the masses of the people, but they don’t seem to understand that an authoritarian government represents the highest form of big government – where the government controls all aspects of the lives of individual citizens. For some reason, people who are pushing for authoritarianism do not seem to be concerned that some in the government are already stepping on the freedoms Americans have held dear – including being able to teach or read what we want, the right of women to make decisions about their bodies, and even going so far as to intrude on the privacy of young women by asking those who play sports about their menstrual cycles. Some of our most beloved books have been banned, and more will come. (https://www.nbc4i.com/news/local-news/freedom-to-read-books-on-lgbtq-racism-banned-in-32-states/) (https://www.nbc4i.com/news/local-news/freedom-to-read-books-on-lgbtq-racism-banned-in-32-states/) (https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-desantis-florida-sports-female-athletes-160560972802) (Florida has recently backed away from this plan.)
Adolph Hitler wanted complete control; he was able to inspire millions of Germans and other Europeans as he blamed Jews for everything that was “wrong,” even if “wrong” was tightly defined by the Germans. As German Jews faced mass murder and sought to come to the United States, this country, sadly, was not as open as we would have believed. (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/us-government-turned-away-thousands-jewish-refugees-fearing-they-were-nazi-spies-180957324/)
From the way history was taught to me, the fact that Hitler did not win his war meant that Hitlerism and Naziism had died along with him. As a child and young student, I believed the Nazi threat was gone.
But it did not die; it has evolved. We see Swastikas appearing, and we hear angry white people shouting “Jews will not replace us.” They are serious. Naziism appeals to them and they make no secret that they want “white power,” meaning, they want this country to be inhabited and controlled by white people. Many are unafraid to flash the “white power” symbol, something most recently reported as having been done by George Santos as he took his oath of office to be a US Representative. ( https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2023/01/did-rep-george-santos-flash-the-white-power-symbol-in-the-house-chamber) (https://abcnews.go.com/US/symbols-hate-extremism-display-pro-trump-capitol-siege/story?id=75177671)
The anti-Semitism that is a core component of Naziism is still very much alive. The former president is said to have slept with a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf at his bedside. (https://abcnews.go.com/US/symbols-hate-extremism-display-pro-trump-capitol-siege/story?id=75177671) Modern-day believers in Naziism are not being subtle about their support of the ideology, much to the chagrin of many.
But this country decided what it would be at the outset. From our beginning, the primary value was capitalism; enslaving people of African descent had proven to be a cash cow, and the framers were unwilling to let it go. Even after the Emancipation, whites found ways to re-enslave Africans, primarily through the Convict Leasing program, but in later years, through putting Blacks in positions where they could make good money – but make even more money for those owners of football and basketball teams that operate much as plantations did before the Civil War.
Slavery is yet evolving, as is Naziism. Black and brown people are still working for wages that do not allow them to have quality lives and in essence, be free. We have wanted to believe – and we have touted the narrative that this is the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” but it is neither. The “free and the brave” tend to be a very small group of wealthy, white people who also call themselves “Christian” to give their ideology more validation. Still, nothing that Naziism or enslavement stands for has anything to do with what was taught in the Gospel.
Though it is troubling to see elected officials willing to stomp over and dismantle American freedoms, and in fact dismantle the government, it is not a new thing. Those who have adhered to racism and sexism and are anti-democracy have walked into this country and served in its government from our beginning. They, like my Facebook friend, do not want democracy. They don’t want the masses to have liberty and justice, they don’t want everyone to vote, including Black and Brown people, students, and women.
This country may never have been a democracy; it feels as though it never was in practice, but only in verbiage. Both slavery and Naziism are still evolving. Patriarchy and sexism are still evolving. Those in power are working to keep the evolution going. We are not “united,” nor were we meant to be.
That truth works to the detriment of far too many in these dis-United States of America.
A candid observation …