Remarks delivered at the “Protect Our White House (from Racism, Sexism, and Bigotry)” rally, December 9, 2016
There are not simplistic solutions or places we can point the blame–even as we grapple with the fear and the danger of this election, we ought to contextualize and not demonize every last Trump supporter. Neither should we idolize Clinton. She was no savior. We must examine the election as revealing the failure of the corporate Democratic Party as well and understand–as students, as marginalized people under threat, as the left wing, as people of conscience seeking justice–our role in building a viable alternative where there is now a vacuum.
Beyond ideology, though, we need to survive the Trump regime.
There must be no compromise or acquiescence. We can analyze all we want and should, but can’t mistake nuanced analysis for acceptance of all viewpoints and act as if this is an equal-sided, normal debate. It is not normal. The hate is appalling and ubiquitous and dangerous. Even in Newton, rich, white, and liberal, hatred has been validated. Hotlines have been deluged, hate crimes have spiked. Meanwhile mainstream media like CNN allow a platform to neo-Nazis who question if Jews are people.
Trump’s appointees, who we are here to protest, are toxic and terrifying: they advocate a Muslim registry, spew hate via right wing cesspools like Breitbart, are seriously unqualified, and stand to destroy protections and social services for vulnerable people. But fundamentally they are symptoms. They will have power which makes them dangerous, but they are also threatening in that they validate expressions of hate in general society and continue a trend of a slide to the far right, as has been seen in Europe with the rise of parties of fascists and racists and neo-Nazis.
We cannot fall for the branding of the alt-right — New York Times prefers to call them innocuous terms like populist and combative, instead of proto-fascist — and we cannot make any concessions. They will not be moved by heartwarming stories or respond to open dialogue or respect our politeness. We can understand some Trump supporters as people to talk with or offer real redresses to their real grievances and recognize the ways in which the capitalist system is failing people who the corporate Democrats have alienated, but for Bannon and Sessions and Flynn and all their ilk, we can have no unity, make no compromises, and give no platform.
This is a matter of survival and not giving ground. This is not a matter of winning their hearts and minds. I can tell endless stories about immigrants’ contributions to this country and why xenophobia is bad; I can share how my own grandfather, who was an immigrant and never a citizen, had the government go after him because he did not have a birth certificate, because it was burned during the Nazi occupation of Norway. I can talk about how as a person with disabilities I need good health care and a sustainable, stable climate. I can argue for my human rights as a queer woman — but it does not matter to them. The strength of our morality will not convince them to not attack us.
We are under no obligation to be idle, polite, or equivocating when our lives are at stake. We are under no obligation to demonstrate good sportsmanship with fascists.
Similarly, though, we are not obligated to settle for less than justice from the so-called liberals, supposedly on the side of marginalized people. If the Democrats are supporting wars and pipelines, selling out the working class, deporting immigrants, resisting wage increases, refusing to address police brutality — then they are not our allies either.
We deserve better. We can have better. We can demand it and we can build it, through solidarity. We can not settle for any less than justice and liberation.