Let me say from the outset that Donald Trump’s executive action targeting Muslims is an affront to anyone who cares about the values of freedom and liberty. By arbitrarily singling out a class of people for state sanctioned discrimination, Donald Trump has joined the club of despots throughout history who have turned turned to xenophobia to implement a systematic rule of repression. What is even more shocking is that this man is able to do so in a country that supposedly has checks and balances and limits the power of the presidency. Our system of governance is supposed to prevent the tyranny of the majority and limit the powers of any one man or party.
It is helpful to go back in time in order to give a perspective of the political paradigm we are currently living in. I know what I am about to say next will raise a few eyebrows for I am about to trample on the sacrosanct dictate of “Godwin’s Law”. A theorem which states that whoever brings up a Nazi analogy first loses the argument and is not to be taken serious. But this theory is flawed in one glaring way, to treat what happened in Nazi Germany as an outlier and to never analogize it again to shed light to present injustice is an injustice to itself. What happened during the rise of Hitler in Germany is more commonplace than we think. In fact, Hitler rose to power by following the footsteps of Mussolini. Throughout history, contemptible men have whispered hatred and antipathy into the ears of the public and played on the anger of the populace as a means of amassing political capital and eventually to become heads of state.
I often wondered how it is that tens of millions of everyday Germans could have allowed Hitler to become their neo-Caesar. How could a once starving artist go from a sideshow to somehow becoming the quintessential tyrant? The answer is simple; what happened in Germany is what happens all the time when the citizenry gives allowance to hatred as a norm. What took place in German during the reign of Hitler is not the exception, sadly the emergence of the Weimar Republic is more often the rule than it is an aberration. Nation after nation has allowed grand scales of injustice to blot its moral fibers by letting malice and prejudice be the guiding light of their generation.
During the ascendancy of Hitler and the madness of brown-shirt thugs loosened to terrorize Jews in Germany, Martin Niemöller inked a protest poem where he presciently described what would come next:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
What happened in Hitler’s Germany is what happens in any country when a tyrant is permitted to ratify bigotry, hatred, and xenophobia as a rule of law. All Americans should rightly be revolted by this turn of events and stand up to speak for those who are being targeted illegally and immorally for harassment and persecution. We are letting Trump play with fire at our expense; it is not too far of a stretch to realize that we too can be Weimar given the right set of events and if an “unforeseen” calamity which could give credence to the iron fist approach that Trump is clamoring to take. We are a modern day version of a Reichstag fire away from living in an Orwellian society.
Let me pause here though for a second and part company with some of the current protesters who are hooting and hollering about injustice and the excesses of Trump as they were not too long ago celebrating the executive overreach of Barack Obama. Too many are in the habit of outrage hunting as a means of sport and use injustice as a shtick to further their own agenda. Those who view justice through a partisan lens and rage against the system by parroting political talking points are not interested in justice at all—they are using the pains of the people as a way to gain stature and status. Those who fight hatred with yet more hatred and divisiveness are the very same things they fight against; they are fracturing society and only adding logs to the fire of animus that is consuming our nation and inflaming the world in the process.
Let me speak for a minute to Trump’s supporters. Understand one thing, when I condemn Trump I am in no way condemning you. I am not going to be pious and pretend to be outraged by your loyalty to a cult of personality when I myself not too long ago was loyal to an equal hope hustler by the name of Barack Obama. I understand why you support Trump in all honesty, when people feel marginalized and blamed for all the ills of society, they tend to gravitate towards firebrands and hate mongers who give voice to their frustrations and resentment. After all, Trump is using the same playbook that Obama perfected and politicians before Obama used in the past. I know it might feel good to have your grievance heard by someone who you think cares about you, bu the history of Trump has always been that of a double forked snake who knew how to bend with the political wind. Those who speak to your resentment are only feeding you false hopes and empty calories, in time Trump supporters will wake up to the duplicity of Donald the same way rational folks who once supported Obama woke up to the fraudulence of Barack. Nonetheless, I will not sugar coat things for “the right” or “the left”, maybe the truth that is needed most is one that does not cater to political sensibilities.
To my friends on the “left” who are now outraged over Trump, weren’t you the same crowd who have been silent after Obama droned countries around the world as if he was a teenager playing Saga? Trump is only continuing the executive overreach of Obama the same way Obama continued the monstrous and illegal wars of Bush. Most on the left are so blinded by partisan blinders that they at once praise Obama and condemn Trump—a potent mix of situational morality and Stockholm political syndrome. Where was the outrage as Obama set the precedent of extra-legally assassinating US citizens and combatants alike without a hearing or habeas corpus? Where was the outrage as 20,000 bombs were dropped in Syria alone on Obama’s watch? Where was the rage and protests as countless Syrian, Yemeni, Libyan, Somali and innocent Muslims were getting slaughtered at the behest of our military-financial complex and at the orders of Dear Leader Obama? Is a Muslim life worth any less when it’s a Democrat ordering the bombings and worth more when a Republican bans them from entering the country.
The truth is that we have been strolling towards fascism for a very long time. It started a long time ago, but 9/11 injected a mix of steroids and nitrous oxide to governmental overreach in ways the founders of this nation would have been aghast at. With each successive year, we the people kept allowing bureaucrats in DC—empowered by their corporate patrons on Wall Street and their billionaire class benefactors—to take more and more freedoms away in the name of security. People might think it is a far stretch to compare our time to that of Germany in the 1920s, but Germans back then did not think they were going to one day be remembered for giving allowance to a heinous tyrant whose hateful rhetoric would be the ember that would set the world on fire. Fascism never flares up immediately, it’s always a slow broil that eventually engulfs society in the inferno of state-sponsored totalitarianism.
Again, let me beseech my friends on the “right” to think twice about supporting this double-dealing snake and enabling his excesses. Germans once applauded Hitler because he too spoke to their anger and catered to their resentment. But that did not end well for Germany did it? Those who speak to our darker angels eventually unleash hell on all of us. Are you not outraged when “big government” uses their boots to step on your freedoms and take away your pursuit of happiness? Hasn’t the conservative mantra always been to speak against governmental overreach? Well then how do you allow Trump, in the span of two weeks, to abrogate the Constitution and in the process enact executive orders without consent from congress or the people who he supposedly leads? Was your outrage against Benghazi just political sport? Was your stance against executive overreach just for show? Heed the warnings of Martin Niemöller for the same way they come for Muslims is the same way they will come after your ranches in Idaho and your property in Colorado.
The same goes for those who identify themselves as “the left” or “liberals”. Please stop using the pains of people as billboards to push your political ideology and promote your agenda. Please stop following the prevaricating assholes from Hillary Clinton to Michael Moore to the political pundits who go outrage hunting like grotesque versions of Elmer Fudd. Remember Flint Michigan? Funny how the elitist left forgot about Flint the minute November 8th came and went. Do you really think the clown Senator Schumer cares about Muslims? Where was his outrage when Obama was bombing Aleppo back to the Stone Age and committing a drone genocide over the past 8 years? You are being led by carnival barkers and con artists into the gutters and cauldrons of victimization while the rich make millions using the suffering of folks in the inner cities and “minorities” in order to further their own interests. If you speak up against injustice, do so on a universal and inclusive basis because the minute you pursue justice through exclusionary means for exclusive ends, you are no better than the people you love to bang on continuously. Either stand for all regardless of color, gender, race, or creed or else join the league of our hideous President for you are pandering as you pretend to care for justice.
Injustice will continue to fester as long as we see iniquity through our pains only. I will keep on saying this all the time, the masses in Chicago suffer the same as the masses in the Appalachian. So please stop with your vacuous talk of “white privilege” or “minorities living off the dole”—instead of condemning your fellow strugglers why not unite with folks who are different than you who suffer just like you. If not, we will keep devolving into the abyss and one day soon the implicit fascism that is enveloping America will morph into explicit autocracy. We have already let the avaricious 1% bleed us from our savings, put us into the ghetto of perpetual financial anxiety and turn this nation into 50 franchised oligarchical states. Our disunion empowered the previous president to reward the same pricks who bled us in 2007 with $14 trillion dollars worth of bailouts and giveaways by means of monetary and fiscal thievery. So are we about to double down as a public and allow this new con artist president to subvert the pretense of freedoms we do enjoy into a Weimar nightmare for us and the world?
I promise you one thing, the “establishment”, the ‘status quo” or any other adjective you might use to describe the “powers that be” have no interest whatsoever in ending injustice. Democrats and Republicans alike, yes your favorite politician included who rants like a juvenile brat on twitter like he/she is a hapless by-standard, is part of the establishment too. From politicians to pundits to media stars who love to feign outrage are all knee deep in the very injustices they rage against. Too many pigs eat at the trough of iniquity for inequality to be lessened. As long as we depend on them, the rich and the powerful, to lead us, we will ALWAYS remain mired in the poverty of hope and the paucity of opportunity that keeps mugging more and more of us. The change will have to come from us, the people, or it won’t come at all. Maybe we need to stop being less revolutionary and more solutionaries, as in finding the solution within us. That solution is love, I know it sounds quaint, but the only weak spot of wickedness is love, only love can drive out hate. Until we unite through love to defend ourselves from the onslaughts of the powerful, we will forever remain slaves and property of the 1%.
If we don’t speak up on a united front as a people and stand up against this overgrown and over-bloated government of ours, which is transferring our wealth and opportunity directly to the robber barons on Wall Street, all of us will one day be Niemöllers wondering with distress why no one was left to speak up for us. Martin Luther King once said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. If we don’t speak up against injustice being committed against anyone whether it’s against a Muslim in Lansing, a brown person in Baltimore, or a “white” woman in Boise, then we end up being part of the very injustice we rage against. After all, one innocent life lost in the name of greed, power, or a deity is the same as six million lost in the name of bigotry.
Evil is evil, speak up against atrocities without respect to politics and for God’s sake stop using the suffering of people as a means to promote ideology and bankrupt dogma. When brown shirts were loosened in Berlin and Warsaw against Jews, most Germans chose silence either out of fear or out of affinity to a monster who spoke to their grievance. Silence in the face of injustice is compliance and so is partisan pursuits in the name of justice. We have the power to stop this madness but that power is nullified when we choose to be splintered. It took fires of hell unleashed on the Weimar Republic for Germans to understand the the evils of malevolence of Hitler, if we don’t wake up soon and put aside politics to fight for each other, it will be fires that will likewise educate US. #Broil2Weimar
“Justice for all or justice not at all” ~ Dan
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.