In the months since our current president was elected, those who oppose him have been using the rather clever motto/hashtag #LoveTrumpsHate as a way to express their belief that common sense and decency will prevail under a fascist regime. These people are, I’m sorry to say, rather stupid. Or at least they haven’t been paying attention to the course of human history.
I understand the appeal of believing in your heart of hearts that all people, deep down, are good. Or that, if they aren’t, people who are better than them will be able to teach them the error of their ways or triumph over them based purely on their innate goodness. It doesn’t matter if half our country are bigots or cowards, the other half aren’t! Love wins!
This is a privileged, ignorant, pacifist mindset that is getting more and more dangerous to buy into.
In the months since the President took office, despite the vocal opposition against him, things haven’t magically gotten better—they’ve actually gotten a whole hell of a lot worse. This weekend there was a Nazi rally that made international news. Do you understand how crazy that is? The country that fiercely opposed the Nazis in World War II is now their most fertile breeding ground. That is, excuse my language, fucking terrifying.
“Many sides” didn’t do this. pic.twitter.com/4zJFyxzb1J
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) August 12, 2017
It’s easy to say that it will all be alright if we keep loving each other, if we simply show them the power and beauty of tolerance and equality or whatever. But did the Allied Forces tweet #ThisisNotUs when the Third Reich was killing anyone who didn’t look like them by the millions in concentration camps? Well, no, because there was no Twitter, but even if there had been, they’d have been too busy fighting a war to fire off any inspiring tweets. And that is the thing that I think Americans—especially white Americans—have a hard time understanding or admitting. We are at war, but it’s not with an enemy who is conveniently thousands of miles away. The enemy is here.
I’m a white person living in America, so I have had the privilege for most of my life of staying blind to how much hatred exists in our country. But I’m also a trans woman, a queer woman, a woman. I’m Jewish, so the legacy of the Nazis is particularly frightening to me. In fact, I’m sitting here writing this in Berlin, where just a year ago I was flabbergasted to learn to there was still a vocal, if small, active Nazi presence. I couldn’t believe it, because Nazis were supposed to be monsters long defeated. But those monsters are still alive, and they’re living down the block, or down the block from our parents’ house. For some of us, those monsters live in our parents house.
Thinking that we can simply love the hatred away isn’t just foolish, it’s dangerous. It keeps us from actively engaging in the ongoing battle of a conservative white America that sees itself dying and wants to take as many of us with it as it can. We can’t dismantle bigotry, but we can let it die out. We can teach our children the things our parents taught us or the things we wish our parents had taught us, and shape a better world.
But in the meantime, we can’t stand idly by and hope that tweeting #ThisIsNotUs is enough to make a difference. We have to literally fight this battle. White people need to be using their bodies to shield people of color on the frontlines of protests. We all need to be calling our representatives and pushing for harsher punishments for hate crimes. We need to be dismantling the police force that has been killing black men for decades yet did not lift a finger to stop the angry white nationalists with tiki torches who left three dead and 35 injured in Charlottesville. We need to be out there punching Nazis and white nationalists in the face. We can’t dismantle bigotry, but we can dismantle bigots.
Love doesn’t win, but we might—if we’re willing to actually fight.