White Silence = White Consent: Now Is Not The Time To Be Silent
Let me start this off by totally clarifying my position by simply stating, “Fuck Nazis.” Okay, now that that’s out of the way let’s do this.
Until recently it has been extremely unclear as to where or what I’m supposed to be doing, supporting, or fighting within this “evolving” political landscape we all find ourselves in. Not “unclear” as in should I just reverse everything I believe in and start supporting the rightwing agenda. But still unclear as to where I fit in today. Technically I’m registered as a Green. But on all the BIG elections I end up voting Democrat because there is ALWAYS that last minute (and well calculated) fear-mongering that whatever rightwing candidate is running will win if I don’t fall in line and support the status quo: the Green candidate could never get enough votes, you’re splitting the ticket, blah, blah, blah…. And guess what? I voted Democrat, it didn’t fucking work, and we got a racist/fascist in the White House.
Now normally this is where everyone talks of taking the government back with grassroots getting the vote out and democratic change through the normal tried and true political process… Only the megalomaniac that won the election is systematically dismantling everything (but mostly everything his predecessor accomplished because, well, because Obama’s black) and the bigots are strutting around the henhouse large and in charge. Meanwhile what are the Greens and Democrats doing? Nothing. They’re wringing their hands and crying foul while doing shit all. But what’s really telling is that after the election Nancy Pelosi was asked what the Democrats were going to change in order to come back from such a huge defeat of losing the senate, congress, and the presidency and she said, “I don’t think people want a new direction.” Shit, hearing that just knocked what little hope I still had right out of me. Unfortunately the Greens suck just as bad, Jill Stein is still pointing fingers of blame and completely ignoring what is really happening. And if you’re waiting for the Republicans to suddenly come to their senses and find those “Christian values” they are always yammering on about then you’ll be waiting a very long time. The Grand Old Party is so goddamn stoked to be doing their masters’ bidding they’d let Satan himself run the country and call it God’s work.
Sadly after the election I stopped reading newspapers, which was something I have done everyday for my entire adult life. I just couldn’t stand to see what atrocities were being implemented against the American people on a daily basis. And then there’s the president’s pompous face, his bullying demeanor, calculated inflammatory statements, and condescending attitude, and I just couldn’t start every morning looking at that. If I did my day was ruined. I wallowed in depression, and EVERYTHING felt futile. So my reasoning was that if I just ignore it all I’d be okay.
But when you have an avowed racist in charge and the media sucks up to his untethered fascist swaggering and the opposition cowers… well, it emboldens all the other racists that usually hide behind hoods and websites. Plus it further empowers the already empowered racists, the ones with money and political influence, or the ones in government, or that have infiltrated our police forces and local communities. Not that they weren’t always there. But with the president’s endorsement they now feel comfortable enough to come out publically. And when those images of tiki torch bearing angry white guys burst onto the media it was a total symbol that this had gone from obscure fringe to fully becoming a dangerous element that should not be ignored. As ludicrous as those images were—grown men in matching polo shirts and khaki pants fervently screaming about how their heritage and civil rights were being attacked—they brought home the message that the Nazis are here and worse, they’re feeling bold enough to show their faces.
So how did this happen? A moment I can’t get out of my mind was a conversation I was having with a friend of mine at a local literary event. We were talking about the elections and how racist America really was and I said, “I didn’t realize it is was this bad.” And the look of disdain on my friend’s face was like a punch in the gut because what I was really saying was: as a white person America’s racism isn’t affecting me personally—which is literally the definition of white privilege. Looking into her eyes I saw myself and it wasn’t pretty. How had I gotten so complacent, so avoidant, so uninvolved, so fucking milk-toast-middle-of-the-road-can’t-see-it-from-my-house indifferent? Because that’s “how it happened.” You stay silent when you should speak up and act against. No, let me rephrase that; “I stayed silent when I should have spoken up and acted against.” I left that event questioning what I could do to make a difference, to instigate change, and not sit back and avoid it all until it was too late.
Which brings me right back to where I fit in politically. Up until recently I haven’t been secure enough with my legal status to be politically active. I realize that this might sound like an excuse to many of you, but I’ve been in the firm grip of the criminal justice system before and I do not trust them enough to have my best interest if a demonstration did go terribly wrong and something violent or illegal happened and I was accused and/or involved. So I haven’t been there for Black Lives Matter, or immigration marches, or pro-LGTBQ rallies, or Occupy Wall Street, or anti-Trump demonstrations, or any public displays of civil disobedience. Yet what was self-preservation before had turned into complacency. But I wasn’t always like that.
In the early days of punk rock I worked for a lot of bands that for the most part were radically left wing and politically charged. Our shows were flashpoints for confrontation with the authorities, but also Nazis and skinheads, and I was in physical confrontations with them on a nightly basis. We didn’t tolerate their shit. We fought back. We shut them down.
Years later I was incarcerated in the California Department of Corrections and once again experienced racism and white supremacy on an entirely new and intenser level. The criminal justice system is teeming with white power gangs, prisons are segregated, mixing of the races forbidden, and the pressure to join in is intimidating. Out of the need for support and solidarity I sought out like-minded-non-racist cons, joined a writing group, attended recovery meetings and sat in meditation sessions, all of which were not segregated. In the words of one of my colleagues, “you leave that shit out in the yard.” By not participating in the CDC’s race baiting discriminatory policies I opposed the system and stayed sane, although it took some time to get my head right afterwards.
So really for me this Nazi shit is nothing new. It is just unnerving that right now this very vocal and visible minority feels so empowered. But yeah, if a left-wing anarchist was running the country I’d feel empowered too. Only she’s not and we’re fucked, and I’m stuck looking at images from South Carolina of neo-Nazi storm troopers with shields and clubs, and that shit sends a chill up my spine, and I’m in fear for those I love and hold dear. My community is vast and diverse; a multitude of races, genders, sexual orientations, identities, religions, and beliefs. My wife is of Lebanese descent, which translates to A-R-A-B, and for a lot of those racists, Arab is the hated flavor of the moment, and now this Nazi agenda of hate is coming at me in a multitude of levels, personally and globally, affecting those near to me that I love and surround myself with—and I’ve had enough.
During the election I posted a video on social media where this new Amerikkkan Nazi spokesperson was speaking to the camera and got sucker punched in the head and I immediately received several condescending comments and numerous private message—interesting that most closet racists want to talk to you in private—that basically said this is America and you can’t punch people for their beliefs. Ironically I was horrified by this misconception of what it is we’re actually dealing with here. Yes we have the 1st Amendment. But what part of history has shown us that Nazis just close up shop when logically reasoned with, or given a warm group hug? This is not the time for amicable communication because they are not listening. I have friends who are pacifists. I respect them; they’re beliefs, and their peaceful protest. And while it is good to get out there and represent, I’m convinced that with this new era of white nationalism we’ve got to be more proactive.
So if that’s the case, then what is the solution? For me, right now, it’s using my white privilege for the right reasons, making a stand, speaking up, and sending the message that no matter what name you label this racist faction it’s the same old diatribe of hate and it will not be tolerated. If you preach that fascist shit, you act out in violence, and you inflict your will and beliefs on others I will not stand by silently. I am not afraid of you, and you do not represent me or my values and ideologies. I am not under the illusion that we can all live together when your agenda preaches exclusion, fear, prejudice, and genocide. So do not be under the illusion that because of the color of my skin I’ll hesitate, for even a second, to confront you with whatever means necessary. There are too many people I love, respect, and believe in that you are threatening and when you threaten them, you threaten me. As for those that say, “okay, but what about the big picture, what do we do about the Republicans in charge?” Well, this Nazi shit IS THE BIG PICTURE. We take them out. Then deal with the aftermath. But being silent, letting or hoping that someone else will deal with it, and waiting for it all to just go away, is not the answer.