A lot has happened in our nation since my last blog entry. 1) We had an attempted coup. 2) We got a new president.
Both problems should make us a little nervous.
Re: The Coup: On January 6, 2021, white supremacists escorted other white supremacists into a building where white supremacy has more or less been legislated for 200 years. White liberals were especially distraught, caught by surprise because… well, I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps because they were forced to confront truths about this nation they had somehow been able to ignore to this point. And through the enduring power of denial, many have come to believe that Problem 1 has somehow been solved by Problem 2.
January 6 was a dress rehearsal. And things are going to get far worse before they get better. Here’s the data that lead me to this somber conclusion: A week after the attempted insurrection, more Republicans approved of the attack on the Capitol than disapproved. In the aftermath of the failed coup, DJT’s disapproval rating (60%) remained distressingly low, failing even to surpass MLK’s disapproval rating in 1966 (63%). And only 10 of 211 Republican Congressmen broke party ranks to vote in favor of impeaching the president for his role in instigating a violent attack upon the U.S. government with the intent of overturning an election.
What does this mean?
I believe it means the fascist, pro-Trump, faux-Christian, white-nationalist movement in America already has more than enough support to claim political legitimacy. Moreover, this movement is poised to overrun the G.O.P., especially as more and more centrist Republicans flee the party. Republican losses in the November election (which were far smaller than pundits predicted) should offer little solace. Recall that the Nazi party also lost elections leading up to 1933, when they rebounded to gain 43.9% of the vote. That was the foothold that allowed Hitler to ride to power and declare the Third Reich.
We are close to seeing history repeat itself, in more ways than one.
Specifically, I’m thinking of how the U.S. government exploited the tragedy of 9/11 to declare war against an enemy that was not responsible for the attack. Weeks after the January 6 attempted coup, we appear to be traveling down that familiar road. Already 40% of Americans blame Antifa for the Capitol attack. It is therefore not surprising to hear growing chatter that President Biden, a historically pro-police, pro-law-and-order legislator, will use the failed coup as a justification to enact new measures—a Patriot Act 2.0—to crush all “violent protest.”
History has taught us that (nominally) ideologically neutral enforcement measures will be applied asymmetrically by the state to silence its enemies. The Guardian recently cited a report indicating that police in the United States were three times more likely to use force against individuals protesting issues on the political left as compared to rightwing protesters: “In the past 10 months, US law enforcement agencies have used teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beatings at a much higher percentage at Black Lives Matter demonstrations than at pro-Trump or other rightwing protests.”
Granting the state even more power to crush protest and dissent will simply serve to silence the Left and strengthen the Right. The political fault lines created by the Biden administration and its response to January 6 will help pave the way for a re-invigorated Fascio-Republican Party (headed by Trump or his successor) to inherit control of the nation in two to four years.
I hope I am wrong. But I admit that I have an uneasy feeling of inevitability about the path we now find ourselves on. Because the enemy is not simply at the gate. They are the gatekeepers. They are our police and our military and our intel community. They are our legislators and our judges. They are our neighbors, our friends, and our family. They are our doctors, our lawyers, our teachers—pillars of local communities.
So what do we do?
What does my faith call me to do at this hour?
First and foremost, as a follower of Christ, I believe I am called to love my enemy—especially my enemy who happens, also, to be my neighbor. But I have certainly never been called to love my enemies more than I am called to love those who are crushed under the heel of my enemies. As the prophets have declared for centuries, the downtrodden and oppressed are God’s chosen. And so my loyalty and first love belong to them.
Moreover, I do not affirm the definition of “love” brought to us today by the Hallmark Corporation. Love is not a toothless, anemic sense of warmth toward another individual. Love is not the pursuit of tranquility at all costs. Love is not “niceness.” The basis of Christ’s love is found in the radical empathy of the golden rule. Love is acting towards others as I would have them act toward me. And in the case of my enemies, I will endeavor to treat them as I would like to be treated myself, were I in their shoes. In other words, were I committing inhumane acts of harm against other children of God that jeopardized the sanctity of my own soul, I would wish—above all—to be stopped.
Love for both victim and oppressor demands that we act to stop our enemies, whose sinful behaviors have served to create these two classes which so grieve the heart and try the patience of a righteous God.
So how do we stop them?
I believe we must commit ourselves to the active, tactical liberation of hearts minds that have been captured by the cult of Christian White-Nationalism. Our enemies—who are also our brothers, sisters, and siblings—are lost. They have been lied to for a long, long time. And we are fragile beings, susceptible to believing any falsehood repeated enough times. This is why the Bible repeatedly warns us to guard our heart—because the heart desperately wants to believe.
I am not suggesting that we throw ourselves headlong into more shouting matches or Facebook arguments. Actually freeing individuals from a carefully constructed universe of lies and false ideologies requires a skill set that most of us simply do not possess. This kind of operation, particularly on a large scale, will require psychological deprogramming that most of us are not equipped to provide and tactics that are far beyond our zones of comfort. So the first step is to begin earnest conversations now about how this is going to happen: what research will be used, how will it be funded, what roles each of us will play.
I understand how frightening this all sounds. And a first reaction from many will be to shirk away. But I promise you that we cannot ignore fascism into submission. And if we are not prepared to liberate the hearts and minds of our enemies, then our only recourse will be disarming and overpowering them.
Choose your hard.
So now is a season of preparation. For now, continue cultivating a deep love for your lost family. Pluck up your courage to do the hard things we will be called to do in the dark days to come. Resist calls to cede further power to the state. Stay hydrated. Read Bonhoeffer. Breathe.