US elections: This is not a time for jokes
If you believe in America, if you love this country, then the founding ideals are what you should be fighting for.
White supremacy in the United States is dying. Many, including me, have said this before.
White supremacy – the implicit acceptance of the superiority of white people and culture – is slowly being pushed aside as people (themselves slowly) accept the reality that “white culture” is nothing more than one stop on the global tour of humanity.
The fact that, in the US, white is the default definition of “normal” is a historical accident, and that pillar of history is falling. That makes this a very dangerous time.
The mind of a white supremacist
The death of white supremacy is dangerous because of the depths of fear into which some white people have fallen.
This is unfortunate because white supremacy’s demise in no way implies a dying white race. It does not even imply the actual death of white supremacy itself.
That venomous serpent, as we’ve seen in the 1800s and the 1960s, suffers only a metaphorical death, shedding its skin and returning in a different guise.
What a dying white supremacy does mean is a death of the acceptance that white lives are any more valuable than others.
That higher value of white life is all that some people have to hold onto, and the loss of that value is so difficult for them to accept that it amounts to an attack.
We are on the cusp of a historic decision in the US. We can make history and transition from the first black to the first female president. The alternative is to make history by electing our first fascist demagogue.
Thus we see the rise of radical white supremacists like David Duke, currently seeking a Senate seat in Louisiana on the platform that there is “massive racist and racial discrimination against European-Americans”, which is what radical white supremacists call it when you suggest that Black Lives Matter as much as theirs do.
White supremacists are so afraid of being treated the same as everyone else that they feel like they are backed into a corner, accompanied by only their fear and their guns.
And they have a lot of guns.
No more acceptable
This is, of course, a fact that their ideological leader Donald Trump knows quite well. This is why he has called on them to follow him, why he has chosen to legitimise their use of violence.
He knows the history of white America; he knows that violence is a valid option for white radicals.
This is not a joke.
We are long past the time when laughing at Donald Trump was acceptable. In fact, it was never acceptable.
David Corn noted this in Mother Jones immediately following the Huffington Post decision to report him as entertainment.
Still we laughed. Even after Arianna Huffington later stated “we are no longer entertained”, laughter and disbelief – or worse, resolved acceptance – were our response to his rise.
While we follow news outlets, read bloggers, and laugh with comedians like John Oliver, we find Trump’s increasing power distasteful, sure, but still an entirely consumable media diet.
Our demand has only justified the supply. Our laughter and consumption have fuelled his fire, and now people will really start getting burned.
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This last call by Trump to the unhinged radical wing of his followers, openly legitimising violence against his political opponents, is a warning sign we never should have needed.
But having come this far, one thing should now be crystal clear: If we are still laughing, or silent, or anything other than actively engaged in the disruption of this man’s rise to power, then we are doing little more that fuelling the fires of fascism.
And if you are in the media, whether a professional or an amateur, whether a journalist, blogger or comedian – whatever your role – you have a grave and serious responsibility to help quench this fire.
We have to stand up
We are on the cusp of a historic decision in the US. We can make history and transition from the first black to the first female president – a noble and glorious step even accepting the great struggle still required for our equality. The alternative is to make history by electing our first fascist demagogue.
The US was founded on the principle of equality, liberty and justice for all. Yes, we have a great deal of work ahead of us to make that a reality.
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But if you believe in America, if you love this country, then that founding ideal is what you should be fighting for.
Because if you love this country, “for all” means for all. It is not limited by religion, or skin colour, or gender, or physical ability.
Either “for all” means for all, or it doesn’t, and “it doesn’t” means “patriarchal white supremacy”. There is no middle ground on this.
That is why Black Lives Matter is a patriotic movement. That is why the fight for indigenous rights is a patriotic movement.
That is why the fight for the rights of Latino and Chicano people is a patriotic movement. Because America means “for all”, or it means absolutely nothing.
And that is why Trump is not someone to laugh about, but someone to fight. Because if we do not stand up for what America means, if we do not stand up “for all”, then what we have to fear is Trump and his army of white radicals rising up and making us all kneel.
John Metta has worked as a cook, groundskeeper, store clerk, park ranger, Navy submariner, Army wartime medic, hydrologist, school teacher, software developer, mathematical modeller, and underwater archaeologist. Before any of these jobs, and during them all, he was writing. Always writing.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.