Originally published November 10th
Liberal Fear and Disgust in the Face of Fascism
Last night was the anniversary of Kristallnacht and also the election of our President Donald Trump. Kristallnacht, also called The Night of Broken Glass, was a brutal assault on Jewish People on November Ninth in 1938, 78 years ago, a person’s life time if they are lucky. Kristallnacht is known to history as the opening curtain call for what would bring us the Holocaust, the most devastating and heartless human on human assault in our living human history. Some glass was shattered last night.
I might be crazy, you can call me crazy Claire, but I felt fear and disgust and hatred in the air last night and this morning and this afternoon. What does a Trump presidency mean to all of us?
I’m a white woman living on the Northshore. I’m very white, burn in the sun white, baptized Catholic and confirmed Presbyterian white. And I was raised in Highland Park, a large and influential city, about 12 miles north of Chicago on a beautiful spot of high land on the Lake Michigan Shore. It was a wonderful place to grow up, I got a great education and I was raised with great people. I was privileged and I am still privileged partly due to the education I received. A good education is as priceless as it is rare. There are a lot of rich people who care about their children and they send them to private schools. They will get a good educations there and they will grow into affluent and effective members of society. Some rich people in Highland Park send their children to private schools, but a lot of rich people there don’t even have to because the public schools are so superb. I went to public schools. We grew up with options, choices, possibilities, and I thought Free Will was a tangible thing that I could touch.
I think it was in the seventh grade that I read Elie Wiesel’s Night and I got to hear him speak. It is a beautiful book, devastating and poetic and it haunts me. It is a book about the Holocaust and concentration camps and senseless murder. There is a scene in the end of the book that reminds me of that Van Gogh painting with the guitarist. I grew up learning Jewish history and histories that we don’t like to think of as Americans, like our own concentration and murder of our Native Americans and Japanese populations. The phrase “Never Again” is etched somewhere in the flesh of my brain and it pulses when I hear antisemitism and racism and misogyny. I’m sensitive about it.
I used to be a sort of Liberal Nihilist. I couldn’t really be bothered too much about politics, I cared more and most about whatever I was doing to amuse myself. Where was the bar? Where should I eat? What should I wear to that? I dealt with my own dueling feelings of misogyny and misandry. I liked the people I liked, I did what I wanted to do, I had options. I never feared for my own whiteness. I only feared for my whiteness when I was searching for the shady side of a building or trees to cast their shadow on me. I never felt hatred for being white, or being a woman, or being privileged. But I have felt people’s fear of me. Empowered people can be scary. What will they do with that power?
I have evolved from Liberal Nihilism to more radical ways of social organizing. Everyone, most especially the powerless, should be empowered.
I could feel the fear and disgust and hatred in the air last night. I’m sensitive to it. We are confused. We are uncertain. Some people think it’s funny, but it is not funny. Who leads us? Where are they taking us? What does this all mean? Is Donald Trump a fascist dictator or a benign personality? Who are the people that are afraid right now? Who is truly in danger? It certainly is not white privileged Liberals. Those that are in danger are the same ones that have been endangered before this election. And we must ask ourselves this, What do we do in the face of fascism? Is a new leader or no leaders the answer?