I have this friend named B*** S******. We got to know each other while we were both teaching at The American University in Cairo. I returned to the US in 2015 and he did so a year later.
When I came back, I got a pretty lucrative education and training job with the Department of Defense as a private contractor. I was hired to work with foreign military personal—both enlisted and officers. I had students from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Djibouti, Jordan, Mauritania, Togo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Georgia, Bulgaria, the Ukraine, Mongolia, South Korea, and Indonesia. I might have left out a country or two, and I apologize if that’s the case. Then, student enrollment declined, beginning in the springtime, and I got laid off exactly one year after hiring on, making me collateral damage which sounds a lot better than a bullet-riddled corpse that had been mutilated beyond all recognition. It was the first layoff of my life and it came at the worst time imaginable. In fact, it’s left me with ugly scars and something akin to PTSD.
B*** came back and got a job at a community college in some Podunk in the Midwest, an area sometimes called “flyover country,” and for good reason, because to land there puts one at risk of contracting a deadly form of ignorance, the sort that turns the brain to mush, making someone like Donald Trump look like a reasonable human being who might make a good president.
I might be giving my friend’s current place of abode away by saying it garnered national news a while back when the police arrested three scraggly, lily-white, neo-Nazi-looking guys who were in the midst of plotting to blow up a building inhabited by Somali refugees who had committed the heinous crime of leaving their troubled homeland to start life anew. I’ll go back and look at the reports again, but I believe one Donald Trump, the fellow who froths at the mouth like a rabid skunk when you suggest he’s opened up Pandora’s Box of hate in the country, had been the rednecks’ primary inspiration.
To quote one of my favorite writers of the 20th century, a kinky headed dude named Kurt Vonnegut: “And so it goes.”
B*** and I talk about politics on the phone from time to time. During one of our pre-election conversations, I said, “There might be a silver lining to the election of DT if it happens.”
“What the hell would that be?” B*** asked incredulously.
“Well, in the short run, I agree it would be catastrophic, but in the longer term, it would likely be a powerful impetus to kick start a truly robust progressive movement the likes of which American has maybe never seen before.”
Do I see such a coming together of progressives happening now that we are living in the alternative universe known as Trump Reality? Quick answer: Hell yes.
The last time we talked—about two weeks after that very flawed presidential election—B*** was terrified. (I could hear him quaking in his boots through the phone.) His fear was that we were entering a phase where the fascist brutes, aligned with law enforcement, would just start rounding people up or mowing them down—whatever was most cost-effective and convenient. I advised my buddy to get on Twitter and just have a look around at the pushback that was taking place against the Chief Nihilist of the US and his fascist minions. If he did so, I exhorted him, he’d feel a lot better.
I have always felt that STEP ONE in the resistance of despotism can only come after millions of people have linked arms—this linking can start virtually, on places like Twitter—become comrades, and have declared a common goal. This is happening as I write this. If you’re feeling alone, hopeless, and isolated, reach out to others who are your political brothers and sisters. Once you do this, you will begin to feel a part of something that is much bigger than yourself. This will embolden and inspire you. You’ll see that lots and lots of people have your back.
You will also discover resistance movements and find out about street protests and planned acts of resistance and civil disobedience. Join one and become an activist. Use your feet to move through the streets. As your feet carry you along, your voices will rise up to say “No!”
My feeling is the fascists are really mostly bluster. (It is no accident that the most obnoxious ones hide behind fake Twitter handles, afraid to show their true identities.) Stand up to them. Get in their faces. And they will ultimately slink away.