Hair Furor and the Tiny Sausage Fingers

A few words about Trump and his tiny sausage fingers.

I'm a sociologist by training. I recall many times in college being asked about my major and told (usually with a sneer, usually by an "adult"), "great but what are you going to DO with that?" Inexplicably, no one was ever satisfied with the answer "start a company that raises big piles of cash for nonprofits, play bone-crunching rock in bands too numerous to mention, write and direct a hit off-Broadway rock opera, fight the power with a class action lawsuit against police brutality and win, travel the world, blog for the Huffington Post, and use all this to hoodwink an extraordinary hottie (let's call her Kate) into marrying me." You'd think that would have played better.

Studying sociology taught me to look for underlying causes of behavior and interaction that might not be immediately apparent. It's a perspective that is the antithesis of conservative ideology's near-exclusive focus on individual responsibility. An example - in the 1980s, there was a massive consolidation of agriculture in the United States, resulting in tens of thousands of family farmers losing their farms. A perspective focused on individual responsibility starts and ends with questions about the farmer and what he/she did wrong that caused the farm to fail. Turns out farmers were asking those same questions, and thousands committed suicide rather than face the loss of their farms, oblivious to the larger societal forces at work. But what we now know is that the decimation of family farms was the result and explicit intent of government policy promoting agricultural industrialization and consolidation. "Go big or go home" was a death sentence for thousands of family farmers struggling to keep alive the dreams of parents, grandparents, and generations of ancestors who'd farmed the land before them, a struggle in which we now know their failure was preordained. While government policy didn't decide which farms would fail, in promoting agricultural consolidation it put in place forces that ensured a lot of them would. The intent may not have been to cause a wave of farmer suicides, but the result was the same.

So what does this have to do with Trump and his tiny sausage fingers? I'm getting there, but first a story.

The year was 1995 and shit was getting real. A Bay Area rapper was bursting on the scene with mad skills and a madder attitude. That rapper was MC Justice. In bold defiance of the prevailing saturation of American consciousness with dysfunctional stereotypes of black culture, MC Justice's lyrics took on racism and police brutality and intergenerational injustice with a devastating, systemic, historical critique that placed the blame squarely where it belonged - at the feet of white America.

I recently went back to Justice's debut album Utter Subversion and listened to the song Native Son (https://soundcloud.com/adam-balm/justice_native-son_1997). Set to bone crunching rock (full disclosure: the guitarist on the album is awesome), Native Son tells the story of Colin Ferguson, a mass shooter who killed 6 and wounded 19 on a Long Island Railroad commuter train in 1993. Ferguson, a Haitian immigrant, was obsessed with racism against African Americans and cited his anger at the system as the reason for the killings. As bravely told in the first person by MC Justice, this wasn't the deranged act of a lone lunatic - it was the inevitable result of a society built on deeply embedded, multi-generational racism, deprivation, and disempowerment imposed systematically on black America. In lyrics that place the shooting in the context of countless black Americans lynched, assassinated and gunned down for the color of their skin, Justice explained: "Two wrongs don't make a right, but sometimes it's got to do/Maybe you'd go off if you were me and I was you/ It's just the cost of occupation, an Apartheid tax my man/Knock us down, but we don't always fall the way you planned."

The fact is that in a society built on injustice, built on knocking people down repeatedly, there will be unintended consequences. Racism may not have made Colin Ferguson pull the trigger and commit mass murder, but a system built on racism ensured that someone would. A rapidly consolidating corporate-controlled agriculture system may not have caused individual farmers pull the trigger on the rifles pressed to their heads, but it ensured that many would suffer that fate.

Make no mistake: there will be casualties in Trump's America - people will lose access to healthcare with devastating consequences; mass deportations will break up families and endanger immigrant children; poor women without access to family planning services will be forced to take matters in their own hands; escalating racism and anti-Semitism will put millions of Americans' lives and safety in jeopardy; and ultimately the country will pay a tremendous price.

But there's another side to this story. For every person that's pushed to the limit, thousands more will be pushed to action. Trump's election doesn't mean that everyone will suddenly recognize the dangers of racism and extremism and sexism and tribalism and hate. But the enactment of his reactionary, plutocratic, morally bankrupt agenda will ensure that many will. And the corruption and injustice increasing exponentially under Trump will not drive every ordinary person to do extraordinary things to win back our democracy, but it will drive many who would never have imagined themselves as political activists to join and become leaders in a movement for collective liberation. It may take longer for some than others, but our job is to build a movement that is strong enough and broad-based enough and inclusive enough to welcome and integrate and support a growing universe of new allies to build the power we need to stand up against Trump and his assault on American democracy.

In Trump's America, resistance = patriotism, and mass resistance = liberation. From this day forward until the day he is removed from power, I have one word for Donald Trump, his tiny sausage fingers, and his racist, sexist, xenophobic, Anti-Semitic, homophobic, reactionary agenda:

No!