I was scared watching Trump's speech last night. Not by his words, but by the reaction of the crowd of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The energy in the room was terrifying. The floor burst in cheers and applause after every euphemism to the actual Trump campaign slogan, "Make America Pure Again." We heard the most authoritarian and racist speech by a nominee to the presidency of the United States last night. But we also heard Republican party elites, one-by-one, endorsing these ideas. Beating Trump in November won't save America from this new fascist type of racist candidate. We need to find a way to beat the ideas.
The most surprising moment for me in yesterday's speech was when Trump implicitly reintroduced the immigration ban on Muslims. After mentioning Syrian refugees, Trump said, "Anyone who endorses violence, hatred or oppression is not welcome in our country and never will be." A policy that will lead to the deportation of Trump who is consistently endorsing violence, hatred, and oppression. But how would the crowd of the RNC react to this policy? A year ago when Trump originally suggested the ban on Muslims, Chris Christie responded, "This is the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don't know what they are talking about. We do not need to resort to that type of activity nor should we." The chairman of the RNC, Reince Priebus, said in December when asked about Trump's suggestion to ban Muslims, "We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values." But neither Christie nor Priebus stood in protest during Trump's speech (like brave Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK did). They were both on the floor, after praising Trump in their speeches, after applauding as the crowd chanted "send them home."
On Twitter last night, a lot of people mentioned that Trump's speech echoed Adolf Hitler. I was one of them. With chants of "send them home" and signs reading America First (the name of the anti-war and anti-semitic committee during WWII) all the was missing was "Sieg Heil." But we also didn't see a young Hitler, speaking at a Munich beer basement. We saw an adult Hitler with a following that is electrified by his every word. A following that includes former governors, representatives, senators, and the chair of the RNC. The hypothetical question "what would I have done if I was German in 1933?" came to life for me last night.
Beating Trump in November is not enough. Just like beating Hitler's National Socialist party in elections wouldn't have been enough. The seed of fascism (that might have been planted a long time ago) in the GOP has showed his first branches last night. A Hillary victory in November does not solve the problem, but only gives a four-year delay to the next time that America plays Russian Roulette while pointing the gun on its immigrants, Muslim citizens, and non-white communities. Talking about wining an election is business as usual. These times call for shaking everything up and genuinely pondering on the ability of the American experiment to sustain itself under these type of conditions.
Now comes the anti-climactic part: I don't have a plan. I do have an idea. It's small but maybe change can begin. I believe it is time to be divisive. As divisive as possible. I believe that one of the conditions that allowed extremism to grow in the American right was an attempt to avoid confrontations in our day-to-day lives. We don't want to ruin Thanksgiving dinner by mentioning Trump to our conservative family members that we see only once a year. When we meet coworkers, we don't want to be "that person" who ruins a nice outing by mentioning politics. We want to keep our Facebook clean and balanced, and we are afraid of what a future employer might see that we tweeted. But if you genuinely believe that you are seeing the rise of the American Hitler, none of these excuses are valid. In the hypothetical game, "what would you do to stop Hitler?" many times people hope they would have done extreme acts of bravery. Now it's the time for each and every one of us to be brave. Socially brave. To do everything we can to shut down the ideas, the support, the trend, and also the presidential campaign.