I respect Veterans and their service to the country. This includes people who died in American wars. Soldiers are so often young people seeking opportunities to improve their lives and protect their families and communities. Even if they fight an unjust war, I believe they should be honored for their sacrifice and not judged by the politics of the time in which they lived. It is my opinion that that privilege should be reserved for the politicians responsible for the policies that sent them to fight.
#AmericaFirst was the slogan of the opposition to WWII. At the very least, I think it is in horribly poor taste to choose a name that dishonors the people who fought and died there. It dishonors those who fell in Vietnam to brand a political platform, a party and the country’s policies as “Make Love Not War.” Dissent is the right of every citizen, but to bring a polarizing slogan from any anti-war movement or pro-war sentiment is not responsible leadership.
At the very worst, I am convinced that the #AmericaFirst slogan is a statement that shows approval of the atrocities of that era, the holocaust and sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world about our current administration’s intentions. It blatantly undermines our alliances with countries we fought alongside only 80 years ago.
Even if Trump professes ignorance, he ran for the nomination of the Reform Party who established the America First Party shortly afterward. His appeal to ignorance is as deliberate as his adoption of the slogan.
Trust the Evidence of Our Own Eyes
The entire senior management staff of the State Department has resigned. None will provide transitional support to their replacements.
City mayors in cities and states across America with laws that grant their officers personal discretion to actively report people from other countries without valid visas have been standing up for their state’s rights.
The National Park Service has defended their right to distribute scientifically established data about natural phenomena and resisted a white house order to halt communication with public on any national policy issue.
The US Border Patrol Chief has resigned or been removed the day after the Mexican-American wall was ordered to be built.
If I have learned anything from these troubling times, it is that Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, and all the polarizing labels we use to apply to a broad political spectrum have become literally meaningless.
The Conservative Liberal Continuum and the Straw Man
American politics is awash with the fallacies of the straw man whereas we have more depth to offer each other.
When a person ignores someone else’s position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version.
Person A has position X.
Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
Person B attacks position Y.
Example One – Person A says that calling white people racist is racist. Person B hears what Person A says and accuses him of Position Y, being a white supremacist, because white supremacists don’t accept that racist behavior is immoral. Person A says to Person B that white supremacists like him ARE racist and won’t be satisfied until they kill everyone not like them.
Example Two – Person A says that Trump is a Nazi. Person B hears what Person A says and tells her that he disagrees with Position Y, because all liberals like her are crazy feminists. Person B tells Person A that she doesn’t know how much better she has it than women in other countries and should be grateful that Trump is going to help all Americans.
In Example One, A jumped the gun with Person B. Person A may have been trying to express that calling any white person a racist without reason or saying all white people are racists is stereotyping. A may understand institutionalized racism and intended to express that all stereotyping hurts people on a personal level, but Person B did not see past his poor choice of words and went immediately to attacking position Y.
In Example Two, Person A may have been wanting to explain the connection between Trump’s use of the “America First” slogan and its use in World War II. She may know the history of how the new America First Party was formed from the Reform Party by people guided by Nazi ideology, but Person B attacked position Y. Person B dismissed what Person A had to say, because he assumed Person A was liberal, feminist and irrational, you know, like all women.
Anyone can make the straw man fallacy regardless of their opinions, but these examples are extremely obvious and most of time, it’s much harder to recognize in ourselves even if its easy to identify in others.
We Must Keep Asking Questions
More than anything else right now, we need to ask questions. We do not need to ask “leading questions.” We need to ask each other real, honest, deep questions and listen to the answers. We need to keep each other thinking. We need to stop when conversations decay into personal attacks and walk away, because that behavior is immature or possibly, a sign of illness.
We need to keep thinking and find the rational part of ourselves that can see past the conflict to the real human lives involved. We do not need to ask questions to persuade people to understand us. We need to ask ourselves difficult questions about where we fail to treat others as being as complex as ourselves.
We do not need to change our opinions, our beliefs or our thoughts to hear the voices of others, but we do need to recognize how little we really ever know about each other.
We need to go from this:
To get to this:
I’ve been asked a lot lately how I can continue to speak to people who defend Donald Trump’s administration or talk to people who advocate for peaceful resistance or action by any means necessary.
I understand that people are weary. I understand that sometimes emotions take over and our higher brain functions shut down, especially when we feel threatened, but I also understand that a totalitarian government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state has taken over the white house, because the United States is divided.
There is Nothing American About a Dictatorship
I will not choose to give the #AmericaFirst administration a chance, because the assault has already begun even if I am not yet a target.
I will not unite under their banners of isolation and exclusion in the name of national security and watch a wall separate me from my neighbors.
I will not preserve internal peace through compliancy with an administration that makes its own choices about what part of the constitution to protect and who benefits from those inalienable rights.
I will not be seduced by promises of prosperity at the expense of diplomatic relations with other countries.
I will not
I will not tell you that I know how to heal a divided nation, but neither will I obey a dictator.
I will resist.
I will hug people who I disagree with and support those who seek to defend democratic principles.
I will defend the entire spectrum of our polarized political system, but I will not advocate for aggression or hostility toward any person whose actions or words disgust me.
I will look for the best in everyone I encounter, oppose actions I deem unjust and I will ignore anyone who gives a public platform for hate and fear toward a specific group of people based on a single factor of their identity.
I will cause chaos and disorder and forgive anyone who does not understand why I believe it must be done.
I will resist, because America is not a white nation, it is not a Christian nation and it is not a corporation. It is not a fundamentalist interpretation of its founder’s ideology. It is a piece of land with a diverse environment, a diverse group of people and a set of laws. It evolves. It changes.
America belongs to its future, not its past.