By Netdahe Stoddard
I don’t have to tell you that our current political leaders are promoting violence against, and denying equal rights to, People of Color, women, LGBTQIA folks and all political opponents of the right. Meanwhile, every shade of political moderate and lefty are expressing outrage at these things and yes, we are often angry and impolite. These are not flip sides of a coin and we equate them at our collective peril.
In an attempt to stave off further violence and bring civility, the mainstream and liberal media talk about a climate of political hostility on both sides. They are equating the threats and violence of the Right with the anger and impoliteness of the Left. This is incredibly dangerous. This makes the anger and impoliteness on the Left look more like threats and violence, and it makes the threats and violence perpetrated by the Right seem more like mere impoliteness and anger. But if murder is just rude, then it’s more acceptable and more legally justified – when perpetrated by white skin privileged men. If impoliteness is equated with violence, then being impolite can more easily be made illegal – when expressed by marginalized groups of people. If all things were equal, this would only be so dangerous. All things are not equal. This is maximally dangerous because it exists within the current and historic context of white supremacy, patriarchy and State sponsored terrorism. This is exactly how the historic enslavement of African Peoples and genocide of Jewish People, the genocides of indigenous peoples around the world, as well as the current attacks on Muslim People, were/are seen as legally and morally acceptable. This is exactly how money poor white people have been convinced to work against our own, and everyone else’s, best interests.
Hitler, Franco etc. did not find power within their weak, hateful little selves but from a manipulated populace. The “all sides are to blame/negative political climate” narrative provided by the Democratic leadership, mainstream and liberal media is every bit as responsible for our march into Fascism as Trump, Breitbart and the fear driven proud boys are. Please do not allow your fear and anxiety to push you toward the political center in search of calm and stability. You will not find these things there; we never have. Instead, I challenge you to dive deeper into a truly liberatory politic, and toward all of the challenges that doing so brings.
We are living our history now. Thomas Jefferson was a human enslaver, a child rapist and an ideological hypocrite and we are still busy recycling him into a hero within our schools. When the people of Haiti were liberating themselves and reaching out to us in solidarity, taking Jefferson at his word, he spat at them and turned his back. The lessons of history are at our finger tips and we can choose, finally, to learn from them, be nourished by them and grow. Or we can choose to walk the path ever laid out for us toward ruin, fear and perpetual violence. Please dare to be true to your heart, especially now, when it can be so dangerous.
I’m going to ask you and everyone I run into for full and direct criticism of myself always. I’m gonna go find an angry, fearful Trump supporting neighbor, and then find a self-righteous, fearful liberal neighbor. I’m going to engage each of them with my whole, truest self and heart, hold their hand and try to yank them away from the precipice – armed with a knowledge of our history and a deeply radical politic. I love you!