Yesterday there was another White Nationalist rally in Seattle. It was smaller than Charlottesville, and there was more police intervention. No one got killed. The event did not make big headlines, you had to search for it in the popular news outlets.
As extremist events go it was not so much, although it did add more evidence of the gathering storm on the far right. The racists and hate groups are getting organized under President Trump; they are bolder under his tacit protection. They are coming out.
Now, it’s not a question of whether or not they’ll be a danger to society, but how great a danger. My impression is that they have got a good head of steam up, and the marches, confrontations, injuries, and deaths will continue and most likely increase.
What will stop them? For sure, nothing will stop them entirely and forever. They–the enraged, self-righteous, and delusional extremists who cling to a fundamentalism that smears together religious, social, and political distortions and self-serving lies–will always be with us because society will never be strong enough, healthy enough, loving enough, to overcome the social problems that nurture and support them.
But Pogo had it right. They are, of course, Us. They and we together are parts of the same social fabric. “We,” the ones who oppose hating and demonizing minorities, who do not have delusions of White supremacy, and who support an inclusive rather than an exclusive social order, offer solutions that involve getting rid of “them,” just like they do. We practice reverse-demonization, and our own version of “my way or the highway,” And just like “them,” we will look for bigger clubs.
Sometimes bigger clubs have been the answer: our own Revolutionary and Civil wars were won by those who were most successful in killing their adversaries (who, after all, were them.) Opinions vary on just how successful the winners were. In both of these instances, what we did was the equivalent of amputating one of our own limbs: we were left with handicaps and scars that made the accomplishments of war harder to appreciate.
If we had a strong, healthy, loving society, I believe we could resolve our White Nationalist/Hate Group problem without bloodshed. We could apprehend the wrongness of these groups and deny them audiences at their rallies and big headlines in our news outlets. We could screen politicians at every level of government and refuse to elect those who supported hate, divisiveness, and exclusion. We could make our public school systems strong again, with real, accurate, American History, World History, civics, and ethics classes, and generous opportunities to participate in music, drama, and all the fine arts. We could, in short, re-weave the tears in our social fabric and make it strong.
But we are not a strong, healthy, loving, society. And under Trump, we are at risk for becoming a dictatorship, or worse. That is bad news. The good news is, the far right and the collective hate groups still represent a social minority. Despite all their bluster and rants, despite Trump’s thinly-disguised support, they lack the strength in numbers, the power and persuasiveness of ideology, to take charge of this country.
The bad news is, it appears they are going to try, and since we are not good enough, healthy enough, or loving enough to fix things the right way, we will probably have to pick up clubs again and beat them/us down into some degree of submission. In the process, more of us/them will be injured or killed, just like in our Revolutionary War, our Civil War, and the Southern Segregationist War of the 20th Century. We/they will martyr some of their heroes, and they/we will martyr some of ours. Just like Abraham, Martin, and John.
Will we/they learn any more, this time around? I don’t know. And Pogo is far away, poling a pirogue on a different swamp, one that is kinder, and less dysfunctional, than our own. He may no longer be able to hear us, and we may not be able to get there from here.