Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
The Jews, my people. Such a stiff-necked people. You want to own the Holocaust, I get it. You don't want to share the word "concentration camp." Yeah, that makes sense. Those little children at the southern border aren't being forced to do labor, so we can't call them labor camps. They're not being exterminated or worked to death, so we can't call them extermination camps or death camps. We can call them "internment camps," because it's like they're in prison. But not concentration camps? Because that's our word? Even though they're being concentrated into a camp? That's not enough for you? You think they invented the concentration camp just for Jews in Europe in the 30s and 40s? I won't go into the historical error you're making, there's a Slate article for that.
What I'm going to beat you up about is, just don't be so morally superior. Don't hold your suffering over others. We're on the verge of losing the special victim status associated with the Shoah, and holding onto "concentration camp" doesn't really help. All over Europe and here in the US, new rightwing nationalist groups are firmly establishing themselves. It's not just anti-Semitism they're peddling, either, it's anti-foreigner, whatever they decide a foreigner is. And I want them to know that, if they're concentrating people in camps, or if they're beating people up, or making anti-foreigner laws aimed at "strengthening the borders," whatever they want to call it, it does resemble the rise of fascism in Europe in the 20s and 30s of last century. This is what it looked like.
They want to say, "Look, this is a special problem, these Latins or Muslims, or whatever, so a little nativist suspicion and anti-immigrant rhetoric here or there is okay, it's not a sign we're on the slippery slope toward Hitler, Franco, Vichy or Mussolini. Let's at least rehabilitate love of country! Our country for us! America first. Is that so bad? At least we're not keeping people in concentration camps." Bee ess. It's the same old fascism they're constructing, and if you aren't behind calling them out for their attempts to put a white Christian dictatorship in place of our nominal democracy, take your silly asses home. Don't worry, they'll come for you later. Want to wait till you're packed into a cattle car to Wyoming to call them what they are? More fool you.
And my black friends, is it really so important, as we're heading down the street to beat up the KKK, to stop the conversation and talk about the white privilege of those marching beside you? I believe it's necessary to remind everyone of the very special racist dependency the US has, and capitalism has had, since the beginning, on the owning of, domination over, freedom to murder, and dehumanization of black people. We must know this, it's important knowledge. We have to know all the details of capitalism's crimes if we're going to tear it apart and build a new thing that doesn't commit the same ones. But right now we're swinging baseball bats, can we just be one force as we wade into the ocean of creeps?
And everyone, do not forget the singular structure of the Holocaust. It was the systematic dismantling of citizenship and status as human. Very instructive. Instructive how definitions transform the humanity of people. Yes, from the beginning, when black people were brought as slaves to labor in the Americas, back in the 16th Century, they were defined as less than human. And they're still defined that way in the USA today. But how does such a thing start? Watch how quickly an otherwise stable society of citizens can choose one characteristic and define as subhuman any group bearing it. Watch the lead-up to the Nuremberg Laws. And Jews, look at the Black Codes. Wonder how a cop gets away with an obvious murder right there before your eyes on video?
Remember. And listen. Remember. And listen. We're all targets of the fascists. We teachers, we queers, we advocates of the poor, we whistleblowers, we women, we white Christians who resist. Shonda Rimes is many things: a producer, a performer, and contingently a first-class citizen, when she's in the right room. What would it take for her economic privileges to be stripped entirely from her, when white male privilege officially becomes the only privilege? Will it be Whitelandia? Will it be Atwood's Gilead? Shonda knows the signs of current racism. But will she see the signs of a coming Kristallnacht? I assume she will. She's astute and aware. Let's all be that aware.
So can we not, with the hypotheticals? I know, that was just a hypothetical, but just bear with me. "If he'd been white, he'd be alive today." Probably. But does that change anyone's mind? All a fascist has to say is, "Not my cousin, the sleeveless tweaker." Or just make up some lie. Or another hypothetical just as imaginary, if not as persuasive to someone who already agrees with you.
Last week we talked about how pride and heroism were hallmarks of the ongoing Black Captivity. Black people are both victims of oppression and heroes that triumph over it, and it would be absurd to ask them to relinquish either aspect. On the other hand, the Jews of the Holocaust, though there were many heroes among them and much brilliant and brave resistance by them, are hanging onto their special victimhood, and not without reason. It's crucial that we not lose sight of the unique break with a certain type of functional peaceful civilization that the rise of the Nazis became. It's like when someone goes from being a functional alcoholic to a full-on raging drunk. Or some white community goes from being everyday racist to wiping out an entire black city in Oklahoma. It's an important change to recognize!
No, nationalism is not okay. Walls are not necessary, unless you seek to abuse people on the other side of them without the repercussions being felt within your borders.
We need to learn from all oppression and all resistance to it, and we can't afford to divide our ranks when Dump decides it's an emergency and we must forego elections for now, at least until this or that issue is resolved.
From the moment the founders allowed slavery to exist in the new nation, the Constitution was infected with a fatal flaw. Black people are still suffering from it. Jews, is it as important to you to hold onto the word "concentration camp" as it was for the colonies to hold onto slavery? Are you willing to scuttle the possible triumph over tyranny so you can continue to profit... from what? What doth it profit a Jew to maintain a monopoly on concentration camps?
From the moment the founders failed to guarantee economic equality to all, the Constitution was infected with a fatal flaw. The poor are still suffering from it. Is it really necessary, person of color with a place to live and a salaried profession, to tell a white working-class woman that she's privileged? What doth it profit you?
And while I'm at it, hey, dude, is it really necessary to assert "not all white people" or "not all men," when people who are not white or men are trying to address, or even just point out injustice? Just ask yourselves, all of you, is it necessary, or is it petty? I know sometimes others seem petty, but just think how much less petty you are by not engaging them at that level.
But if you're really just a petty person deep down, think of this: by keeping silent, you're actually being patronizing, because you know that bringing up your petty thing will be too much for them to ignore, and lead both of you into a fruitless battle of pettiness. See how superior you are, saving them from that? It's all in how you look at it, ya petty prick.
We need everyone. If you could get all the victims of barely restrained capitalism to march with all the victims of white privilege and all the victims of queer-phobic discrimination and violence, and all the people against gender discrimination, and all the men and women who would rather do something worthwhile than merely contribute to the girth of a stockholder's portfolio, and all the people who oppose war, you would have a confrontation to end all confrontations. There would be no stopping us.
We have to start calling out the needless use of victim identity to make useless points. Oh, sure, it's easy for me to say, I'm white. Well, then I guess the conversation is over, because I can't not be white. At least not till the cracker army notices I'm a Jew.
We need the heroism and pride inherent in the resistors of the Black Captivity and other ongoing systemic oppression, and the stigmatizing indignation of the righteous victim of the unique historic moment, to sound the alarm when the Cross starts to bend its arms into a swastika.
From the moment Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, our government declared it official policy that treason was permissible for those of a certain status. From the moment the Supreme Court made its decision in Bush v Gore, we saw the last pretense fall away that the Constitution was a functioning safeguard of the people's voice in choosing who occupied the top executive office in the land. From the moment Mitch McConnell refused to even hold a hearing for a nominee for SCOTUS brought forward by the first black president of the United States, we saw the racist far right tear the dry paper mask of the rule of law from the already fleshless face of democracy.
Whoever was supposed to look out that such things not happen, the Democrats, the press, or us, allowed them to happen. Now the slope is so slippery we can't get a grip. We'll need to salt it, carve stairs in it, or just burn it down, to even get back to where we started, which isn't where we want to be anyway. So let's agree to disagree on all but this: things have been wrong and getting more wrong at least since the rightwing assassinated the threats to their power back in the 60s. We're going to make a whole new, better, more inclusive, equal, and kind society. And we're not going to let petty differences divide us. No, not all the differences mentioned above are petty. But almost any difference, no matter how serious, can be wielded in a petty way by a small-minded person. Don't be that person!
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!