I’ve been sitting here trying to write a blog post for two hours now. Nothing is flowing. It’s all too much. Trump is tweeting again, and he has learned nothing. It’s almost painful to see people show themselves so unwilling to listen, so set against understanding. I sometimes encounter people like this on friends’ Facebook walls. It’s hard to see one in the White House.
We can build new statues. We should build new statues. Why not memorialize the slaves who fought and resisted? Why not erect monuments to the freed slaves who built new lives in impossible circumstances, in the face of hooded vigilantes and violence and intimidation we can only imagine? Why not create memorials to white Southerners who ran stops on the underground railroad, or otherwise supported abolition, sometimes having to flee for their lives?
Why is this so difficult to understand?
Here is one thing I appreciated about Obama: When he didn’t understand an issue, he worked to change that. He sought out people with expertise, people with knowledge of the issue, and he asked questioned and listened. And then he thought. So even when he took a position you disagreed with, you knew your side had been heard. You knew he wasn’t just shooting off at the hip.
I don’t know where we’re headed, I really don’t. I worry about the campaign of misinformation being waged by those on the Right. Some large swath of this country believes that the violence in Charlottesville was on both sides, that the counter-protestors are just as to blame for what happened there as are the Nazis.
The more I think about it the more I realize that the hardest thing about living through things like Nazi Germany would be watching the misinformation take hold. The problem isn’t that they’re Jews, it’s that they’re Communists. They were probably planning an insurrection! They clearly started it! If you read American newspapers during this time, you can see them trying to sort through this. What was true, and what was not?
How do you stand up against such propaganda, when up and down start to shift, if not for you, then for others—people you know and like?
Obviously, we’re not there yet, and hopefully we never will be. But the misinformation, the propaganda, that is what terrifies me. One would think that this would be straightforward. It’s not as though the Nazis that met at Charlottesville hid their swastikas, or their plan to incite violence. Have you wondered why there weren’t any women there? Have you wondered why they came armed?