It is time for white liberals to grasp there is nothing uncommon, unique, or un-American about this Trump administration’s cruelty towards human beings – children, at the moment. Yes, it can, and if continued to be left unchecked, will get worse. But there is nothing unique about it as human and U.S. history is filled with cruelty unique to humanity.
Trump is just another chapter in this book.
There is also nothing un-American about this cruelty of Trump. It is just another chapter in the horrors America has bestowed upon the “others” – those deemed non-white, those deemed outside the protection of its so-called dream.
Let go of the shock and the continuous outrage of each individual horrendous action, as these actions have been clearly predictable. There is a forest of horrors and letting yourself be outraged by each individual tree ends up becoming paralyzing. It creates the inability to truly take in the horrors of America that neither began nor will end here. The path here was laid before Trump’s election and is a growth from the poisoned soil of genocide, enslavement, indentured servitude, prison labor, and internment camps of this nation.
The acceptance of the horrors of humanity many choose to overlook every day to keep their mind clear, actually gives clarity on how to move forward to healing as a nation and a society. By seeing these everyday horrors we pass by on our way to work, some horrors many of us live, we free ourselves from the shock when a new one presents itself. This is not to say to not be upset, but to understand these things are commonplace and are wholly not unique, both to the world or to this nation. It’s to understand the acceptance of the banality of these evils in our lives and free us to take action, to heal, and grow.
To understand humanity you cannot just look at it at its best, or its ideals, but also must look at its worst – at the lies, myths, horrors it inflicts upon itself and to accept these things as wholly human.
The separation of children from families is a long-standing policy and laws of the United States. Be it separating children, born into captivity, from their parents, Native American relocation and boarding schools, and currently our juvenile detention facilities all across the United States. Or maybe we can look at the wars of destruction and violent occupation which are destroying families all across the Middle East and Africa. This trauma, this horror, has been ongoing.
An honest assessment of ourselves would show our society is one of extreme cruelty, draped in feigned civility, where saying “F*ck Trump” gets more of an ire from some so-called journalists, than the horrors this nation has continued to inflict since before its inception.
By choosing civility over justice we choose to let these cruelties happen. By telling ourselves this is “inhuman” do we let these cruelties happen. By deciding to call someone racist is just as bad as their hate, do we let these cruelties happen. By saying this is not who we are, when we glance over the trail of tears like it was just a stranger crying on the bus on our way to work … do we let these cruelties happen.
The path forward of this administration is clear so assume the worst from them and resist not just them but the lies of our own civility. For resisting those lies is where the true resistance starts. By understanding we are ripping kids from their families through legal mechanisms, which we deem less horrific, such as through juvenile “justice,” is where our commonplace cruelty exists and we begin to see where the true resistance starts.
The true resistance starts where we reject the cruelty that does not just stem from the Trump White House, but from Obama’s, from Dane County’s juvenile detention facility. It starts where we resist the accepted social cruelty we enact every day, acts that chip away at the ability to take deep dives into the best of humanity. To do that we must reject the little things that take us down these dark, wholly human paths regardless of our best intentions.
True resistance starts when we understand there are no “two sides” or just “differences of opinion” when it comes to accepting, protecting, and embracing the full human dignity of all those who reside on this planet. It means not accepting a reality where we’re okay with there being homeless, where we must not accept that it’s okay for people to work only being unable to afford to live.
It starts here. We are a cruel, evil species. Yet one capable of great love, caring, heart, of great achievements when we fully embrace all that makes us who we are. But that means we have to accept our darker parts as a people, as a species, as also part of who we are. For evil can only exist in the shadows, unconfronted. Confront your own evils, confront this city’s evils, and this state’s evils. Confront those that claim they are for the good, such as our Democratic Senators, where a 2020 prospect defends the existence of ICE. Where one of our own beloved senators keeps voting to overfund our cruel military-industrial complex.
Now, I’m not saying don’t be outraged at the separated families and the horrors. I’m not saying don’t find ways to push back against this or the Trump administration. Trump is especially cruel, deliberately so, this needs to be recognized. I don’t say this as an “all-sides,” as deliberate cruelty is different than damage done with good intent. As those with a moral center and guidance are not the same as those without. But to understand our own part and how that interacts with the intentionality of the evil of others. Even if many who support these policies do not see themselves as such, we have to accept the evil for what it is just as much as we must accept the evil or capability of such in ourselves.
We must be looking within, to look around ourselves and to find the path that led us here. As this path isn’t unique or new, or even un-American. To understand that path and the cruelty in ourselves, only then can we being to heal from the horrors that have happened and continue to happen. To understand this evil is just as human as the good, to strive for what is better every day, to embrace that struggle internally, to push back from accepting the horrors that “just are.” Like the homeless person you walk past on your way to work every day in a city that has not enacted a housing first policy. To fully resist is to looking outward and within for the evils that must be fought against.
So resist against these concentration camps, resist juvenile detention centers, resist our wars abroad, resist the NRA, resist poverty wages, resist accepting homelessness as something this city just has. Or even resist the city not building a bio-digestion facility being beyond the scope of this city, something which will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and would probably be a net energy producer for the city, but Judge Doyle Square which costs $15 million more and will do nothing but maintain the status quo is within its scope.
It’s not about feigned civility or even civility at all, because in all honesty F*ck Trump. And it’s not about pointing out the failures of Democrats. What it is about – even if we find ourselves falling perpetually falling short – is to be constantly reaching for and holding ourselves to the highest standard of humanity.
All this to say, it is not enough to just be against Trumpism and it’s not enough to take to Facebook to show we are against children separated at the border. It needs to be much more. We have to be against all human everyday cruelty and to carry that same energy to confront what lays in front of us and behind – to be for a new type of society where we thoroughly reject even our own seemingly mundane cruelty.