My father is a hardcore liberal living in Florida which is pretty tough. He’s also Puerto Rican so this has been a rougher than normal year for him. He’s slightly buoyed by the idea that hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved to Florida and that may dramatically shift the state’s electorate. Not for nothing, Trump won by 113,000 votes or so and what do you suppose the chances are of any Puerto Rican voting for him in 2020?
At the same time, Rick Scott won the 2014 gubernatorial race by only 64,000 votes so a few hundred thousand Puerto Ricans super pissed off at the GOP is going to go a long way to pushing the state towards the left.
Still, it’s been a rough year.
Being as I write about politics for a living, I read an unhealthy amount of news articles about current events. Because of this, my father occasionally calls me when he needs a question answered or just to vent. Last week it was both. He was confounded by Trump’s followers. What would it take for them to see that Trump didn’t give a damn about them?
I replied that they would never care as long as Trump was getting rid of brown people because they’re white nationalists and that’s all they care about. My father responded something to the effect that Trump was selling out the country and wrecking the economy, surely they would care about that.
And that’s when I understood that my father didn’t really understand white nationalism. Not the way I understood it.
Racism is not the same as white nationalism
I was actually quite surprised. My father, who reads my articles (hi, Dad!), is educated and quite intelligent. So ignorance isn’t really an issue for him. As a Puerto Rican who came to the mainland when he was 5 or so, he definitely understood racism. Even in New York, one the single most diverse cities in the world, he encountered racism throughout his life. As a child, he was taught to literally be ashamed to speak Spanish which is why he never taught it to me. He was so ashamed of that, he never even told me about it until I was an adult.
But it occurred to me that understanding racism is not the same as understanding white nationalism. Similarly, I thought that because I understood sexism, I understood misogyny. Then I encountered the Men’s Rights movement and learned what hatred for women truly looks and sounds like. Sexism leads to harassment, condescension, even rape. True misogyny leads to a murderous rage and burning desire to make women suffer at all costs. White nationalism is the misogyny to racism’s sexism.
I already understood that about white nationalism and my father didn’t seem to.
The Jewish Thing
I suppose that comes from me being half Jewish and him being all Puerto Rican. As I’ve written about before, I can pass for almost any kind of white you care to name so I’ve been subjected to little to no racism in my life despite being a Puerto-Rican Jew. My father, of course, had plenty of racism in his life but he never had to consider white nationalism. Sure, the Nazis would have eventually wiped Latinos from the face of the Earth if they’d had the chance, but they didn’t get that far. It’s just not something he, or any Latinos, ever really think about.
It’s a little different for me. I grew up watching World War II movies (because what kid didn’t in the 70s?). And there they were: The Nazis. The bad guys who killed millions of Jews just for being Jews. Yes, they killed millions of Roma, homosexuals, etc. but they really had a bug up their ass about the Jews. That kind of thing leaves an impression. Even though I’ve experienced vanishingly few instances of real world antisemitism in my entire life, I’ve always understood that there were people who didn’t just hate me for being Jewish, but wanted to kill me.
This understanding only grew deeper after I started writing and entered the world of white nationalist chat rooms. When people are anonymous, they’re at they’re most honest. They drop all pretense of civility and humanity and speak what is truly in their heart. After years of witnessing the absolute rage and hate of white nationalists, I can tell you unequivocally that at the first opportunity they get, they will kill everyone they consider impure, especially the Jewish people.
Trump pulls the white nationalist trigger
That’s why when Trump unleashed white nationalism on the United States, not racism, but actual white nationalism, my spider sense went off like a nuclear bomb. I knew, instinctively, that this would not be a matter of reasserting white supremacy after 8 years of a black president. I knew that this would involve ethnic cleansing because while white supremacy can tolerate Those People in a subordinate position, white nationalism cannot tolerate their presence at all.
18 months later, we have concentration camps for children where they’re being deliberately abused. Trump’s white Republican voters were ecstatic as I knew they would be. The only thing I didn’t understand about white nationalism is how widespread it was in America. Silly me.
I explained to my father that Trump’s white Republican voters will sacrifice anything, including the future of their children and grandchildren, if it means having an America free of brown skin. This is the alpha and omega for them. They’re so desperate to hold on to their racial power that they’ve turned their backs on their religion, their morality, their very humanity, and they’ve done so with a sigh of relief. They will follow any leader that delivers on this front.
Putting the pieces together
This is why Trump keeps doling out white nationalist policies like candy. He’s not doing it because he’s pacing himself, he’s doing it to keep his rage addicted base happy. They require regular fixes of pro-white policy to keep them content. A Muslim ban here, revoking a protected status there. Letting Puerto Rico drown. Undoing Obama’s policies just because Obama was involved. Trump can keep this going for years. But he’ll have to continue to escalate the violence against brown skin because soft ethnic cleansing will only work for so long. That’s what putting children in cages was all about. His base needed something more extreme and they got exactly what they wanted.
But sooner or later, white Republicans voters will demand more direct action. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough: These are people who can no longer tolerate the existence of people who do not look like them. This is not about putting the darkies back in their place, this is about eliminating them completely and the only way to do that is mass murder. After watching millions of white Republican voters literally cheer for children being tortured to punish brown parents, does anyone seriously think they would bat an eye at shipping the parents off to gas chambers?
As I keep trying to explain, the Germans had to be led to their atrocities. White Republicans voters are sprinting towards them.
Once you shift your perspective and understand that millions of your fellow Americans are soulless monsters, it becomes extremely easy to understand what’s happening and why. Of course they’re going to put up with Trump’s corruption. He’s going to build a wall to keep brown people out. Why wouldn’t they put up with his incompetence? He’s erasing that goodamn ni**er president from history. Who cares about Trump’s misogyny when he’s out there defending white culture from the “infestation” of brown immigrants? Besides, misogyny and white nationalism go hand in hand for more reasons than I care to get into here.
And even if he is working for Russia, so what? He put brown children in cages and showed those border crossing invaders not to mess with America!
Staring evil in the face
I don’t blame my father and the majority of the country who don’t quite grasp this reality yet. It’s a terrible thing to look at people and see a blood thirsty monster. But these are the same people that dragged black men out into the street and burned them alive or hung them from trees and took smiling pictures with the corpses. They took their children to these lynchings because they literally considered it a family friendly event.
That was what they did the last time they felt their whiteness was under threat. This time will be far worse if they are not stopped. Back then, angry white people were reasserting their white supremacy. This time, they want us mongrels gone from “their” white America and they will not hesitate to round us up and ship us off to the gas chambers if they think they can get away with it. No, not all of them will be the guards at Treblinka and Auschwitz but those that aren’t will simply look away as the rest of us are herded onto the cattle cars. Or worse, they’ll watch and cheer.
This is who they are. This, apparently, who they’ve always been. They’re not going to “snap out of it”. They’re not under Trump’s spell. When Trump is gone, they will look for the next monster to lead them because they have a taste for ethnic cleansing now and they’ll never go back to just white supremacy. Tilt your head. Squint your eyes. Shift your perspective. Understand what you are looking at and truly see it for what it is. You won’t thank me for it anymore than you thank your doctor for telling you you have cancer but you have to know the danger before you can face it.
I’m a stay at home dad, father to a special needs son and a special daughter, a donor baby daddy, a militantly pragmatic liberal, the president of the PTA, a hardcore geek and nerd and I’m going to change the world. Or at least my corner of it.