In 2011 my husband and I took a trip to France. We spent a few weeks traveling around Brittany, concluding in Normandy with a tour of several World War II historical sites. We visited overgrown bunkers and abandoned machines, and collected sand from the beach my grandfather had landed on almost 70 years earlier. But by far the most arresting and memorable part of our trip occurred at the Mémorial de Caen.
In this museum we took in an exhibit describing the political climate in Europe between the First and Second World Wars. As I made my way through the rooms, I was first startled and then terrified by the parallels I saw between pre-World War II Europe and America in 2011. The economic depression, the increasing polarization of society, the prevalence of scapegoating and xenophobia, and eventually the rise of a fascist, authoritarian government.
I wish I had yelled more about it then. I wish I had come back and told everyone I know. Because frankly guys, we’re in big fucking trouble.
From The Washington Post, this morning:
Two-thirds worry about maintaining their current living standard, more than 6 in 10 say people with similar values are losing influence in American life, and about half say the nation’s best days are behind it. Half also say immigrants mainly weaken American society.
Donald Trump, who condoned the “roughing up” of a black protester at a rally in Alabama.
Donald Trump, who called Mexican immigrants “Criminals, drug dealers, rapists.”
Donald Trump, who wants to ban all Muslims from traveling to the U.S. and who not only supports the idea of requiring a register of U.S. Muslims but also refuses to even attempt to explain how this idea differs from policies of Nazi Germany.
I don’t even know what to do anymore, guys, except to yell and yell and yell some more. To try to maintain the energy to condemn and counter this fascism at every turn, to lift up my voice as high and loud as I can and say, “This is not okay.”
This is not okay.
We have time. The election hasn’t even technically begun. But those of us who know that fear must not rule us and that hatred is not okay — and I have to believe that’s most of us — have to find a way to push and push and push through, to maintain our hope and energy for a long and grueling journey.
And on the mornings like today, where it’s all I can do not to sink down into the couch with my coffee cup and my despair, I need to know that there’s someone else out there standing up straight, carrying the banner, forging ahead. Stay loud and stay strong. I’ll be there tomorrow. I’ll catch up to you.