John McCain is many things, but he is not a traitor. One may disagree with him politically, but he has never betrayed the United States. He served and sacrificed.
During his campaign rally Tuesday night in Phoenix, President Trump talked about the failed Republican effort to kill Obamacare, noting that the Senate fell “just one vote” short, referring to McCain, whose one vote scuttled the GOP push.
It was at that moment that someone in the audience screamed “Traitor!” apparently referring to McCain, a Navy veteran who spent several years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp.
It’s hard to take President Trump seriously when he said, during his campaign rally in Phoenix Tuesday night, that his “movement is built on love,” that he loves all Americans, that all Americans should love each other, and that we should all have “affection” for each other. Then he went on to spend almost all of his time expressing hate and condemnation of American reporters and journalists, and inviting his supporters to boo and shout obscenities at them for several minutes.
Also, I lost count of how many times he’s complained CNN isn’t carrying his speech live…. live on CNN.
Some are advising people to not counter-protest when Nazis and white supremacists demonstrate or have a rally. Some are advising people to not pay attention to them or give them any more publicity. Let them shout into the “empty air,” as Tina Fey put it.
I understand the sentiment, I really do. If we were dealing with any other kind of loud-mouthed troublemakers, that is absolutely the right response.
But what about when Nazis start running for office? Do we speak up then or stay quiet so as not to give them undue attention?
What about when they start taking over local and state governments? Do we speak up then?
What about when they take over the national government?
It’ll be very easy to stay quiet then because the punishment for counter-protesting or speaking out will be jail… or worse. Make no mistake. Just as Hitler’s ultimate goals were quite evident years before he took over Germany, so the goals of the white supremacist movement are clear now: The elimination of non-white people from the United States “permanently.” If you’re listening, that’s what they’re saying, and I have no doubt they’re telling the truth about that.
When this kind of barbarism raises its ugly head, it can be truly said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” We’re not even a hundred years away from the last example.
I do not advocate for counter-violence. Ultimately, that serves the goals of the white supremacist movement. They copy the tactics of Nazi thugs in the 20s and 30s who sought to provoke violence to justify brutal retaliation.
I do, however, advocate wholeheartedly showing up, speaking out, raising our voices. Do not be intimidated into either silence OR counter-violence.
“I’ve caught you with your hand in the cookie jar!”
“No, you haven’t!”
“Dude, yes I have! I’m looking at you right now! You literally have your hand in the cookie jar!”
“I don’t! This is not even a cookie jar!”
“Dude, it says ‘cookie jar’ right on it!”
“Fake labels! Besides, just because I have my hand in it doesn’t mean I’ve got a cookie.”
“But you’ve got cookie dust on your tie, so obviously you’ve been eating them!”
“Witch hunt! Look, can you see my hand inside the cookie jar? It’s not a transparent jar, so you don’t even know that it’s my hand.”
“But it’s connected to your arm.”
“You’ve got hands on your arms, too! So does almost everyone else. What about them? Why aren’t you investigating them for stealing your cookies?”
“BECAUSE I’M LOOKING AT YOU RIGHT NOW WITH YOUR HAND IN THE COOKIE JAR!!!”
“There aren’t even any cookies in this jar. You’ve really got to stop with this obsessive persecution of me to distract from your own crimes.”
“My own crimes?”
“Yeah! You put cookies in this jar and did NOTHING to stop people from stealing cookies! THIS IS YOUR FAULT!”
“But just a second ago you said there were no cookies in there.”
“I did not. I don’t know where you’re getting this fake news from.”
(The sound of bloody squelching as I repeatedly bash my skull into a wall.)
It’s not the first time. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.
There is a misconception that if we lose our rights life will grind to a halt. It’s not true. As we lose the right to collectively bargain, the right to have our votes counted, the right to say what happens to our own bodies, everything will still seem almost normal. As we lose the right to a clean and healthy environment, the right to safe food and water, the right of a free press, the right to not be discriminated against because of whom we love or what religion we believe in (or not at all), life will go on. Reality shows will continue to air, the latest fashions will still be in the stores, and pop stars will still lip-sync forgettable ditties. Life will go on. We’ll hardly notice the important things we’ve lost until it’s too late.