Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted November 5, 2018

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An open letter

Dear, Dear Americans

by kiwisteveh

Dear, dear Americans,

Your country has so much to be proud of. Your forefathers had the strength to carve out a new nation from the untamed wilderness, enduring unimaginable hardships just to survive and then to take those first faltering steps towards nationhood and eventual greatness.

You had the desire for independence to see that you could once again beat the odds and throw off the yoke of colonial oppression. Your people rose up to fight against the injustice of having to serve another country's king.

You recognized a great leader and followed him in the battle to stamp out the iniquity that was slavery.

The world called for help in the struggle against the forces of darkness and you answered that call, sacrificing many thousands of your best and brightest young men to fight for what you knew was right.

More battles followed. Inspired by the integrity and rhetoric of Martin Luther King you rallied for civil rights. Then, against the background of a tragic and unwinnable war, your young people found the passion to protest in their hundreds of thousands against the horror that was Vietnam.

Where is that strength now? Where is that burning desire to do what is right? Where is the passion that drove the Vietnam protests and the great civil rights marches?

You have elected a snivelling wretch of a leader, a vainglorious fool who is dragging your country down into the mire, destroying more than two centuries of proud tradition. And worse, he is changing the character of the nation. The shocking is now so common that it has lost its power to shock; the ever-repeated lies destroy your capacity to understand truth; the blunt weapon of divisiveness turns you against each other so that even the good and the honorable on both sides of the political spectrum do little more than scream insults at each other.

I have written before comparing this situation with that existing in Germany in the years when the Nazis rose to power. Trump is no Hitler, but he uses many of the same tools: the emphasis on nationalism, threats and sabre-rattling, slogans in place of coherent policies. Above all, he has created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. Then he has named and demonized scapegoats: the press, the Democrats, the immigrants, the fake news, Hollywood...

Having created fake fears and imaginary foes, he now presents himself as the strong man, the saviour of the country, the only one who can deliver you from this peril. It is a familiar tactic employed by the Who's Who of dictators and despots: Mussolini, Franco, Stalin.

Now comes the violence as the bullies, the bigots, the racists and xenophobes creep out from under their vile rocks, emboldened by a leader who condones their attitudes, encourages them in their desire to lash out at opponents and even provides them with a list of appropriate targets. Is it any wonder that the last few weeks have seen bombs delivered to Trump critics, Jews massacred in their own synagogue and coloured men killed simply because they were coloured?

A tyrant does not appear overnight. He is granted small permissions first, pushes boundaries, changes accepted precedents. There is an escalation. Trump was the first President to decline to reveal his tax return on assuming office. Perhaps you thought that was no big deal. Less than two years in power and here he is inciting the military to fire on unarmed refugees and declaring he will remove the 14th Amendment to the Constitution with a simple flourish of his pen.

Where is the outrage, where are the marches, where are the decent politicians in the Republican ranks who will risk their career to stand up to Trump's bullying? Where are the impassioned writers on this site prepared to do more than just make the odd joke at Trump's expense?

I know there are many Americans who share my views, but the polls tell a terrifying story - Trump's approval rating has actually risen in the past few weeks. This at a time when he sat on his hands and mumbled platitudes after the Saudi government brazenly tortured and murdered a well-known journalist, resident in the USA. Mustn't upset the Saudis, you know. We do good business with them.

When Germans were asked after WWII why they had followed Hitler, their responses were frequently either "We didn't know." or "We couldn't do anything." Surely there is no one now who is blind to the monster that is Trump, so the question becomes what can you do. Here is my answer: you must summon up every scrap of patriotism (as opposed to nationalism), every shred of pride in the history and tradition I mentioned above, and reach deep into the well of courage to oppose this man, this administration.

Write letters and emails. Organise opposition groups. Write to the newspapers and fill social media sites with your clamour. Risk the backlash from Trump supporters on sites like FanStory by boldly stating your thoughts and your fears. Do whatever it takes within the bounds of law to cripple or bring an end to his presidency.

Perhaps you can draw inspiration from two heroes of your own great literature. In "To Kill a Mockingbird", Atticus Finch fights the bigotry and racism of 1930s Alabama to defend a black man unjustly accused of raping a white girl. Finch knows he has no chance of winning, but he gives his all to do the right thing. In Arthur Miller's play, "The Crucible", John Proctor refuses to sign a confession, during the Salem witchcraft trials, even though by doing so he could save his own life. When asked for a reason, he replies simply, "Because it is my name," and goes calmly to his death.

Dear, dear Americans, do the right thing this Tuesday.



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