Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
In the days leading up to and following the election of Donald Trump as President there have been an increasing number of physical attacks, violence, and intimidation by Trump supporters against all kinds of opponents. A Black Baptist church in Mississippi was burned and marked with pro-Trump graffiti; a sign at an Episcopal church in Maryland which advertised a Spanish language service was defaced by the words “Trump Nation Whites Only.” Another Episcopal Church was vandalized with the words “fag church” and “Heil Trump” and a Swastika. In addition there have been numerous unprovoked acts of violence against individuals across the nation. The KKK is planning victory marches, while leaders of the neo-Nazi, White Nationalists and other components of what is being called by their leaders as “the Alt-Right” are rejoicing at Trump’s victory and his appointment of former Breitbart Media chief Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist and counsel. Bannon’s methods at Breitbart can best be described as similar to Joseph Gobbels, they are not journalism; they are propaganda, not much better than the propaganda of Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer.
Silver Spring Maryland
While Trump pointedly told those committing such actions to stop during his 60 Minutes interview Sunday night, the attacks and harassment continue.
Unlike Hitler who believed what he said about the Jews and others that he considered sub-human, as well as his political opponents, I really doubt the Mr. Trump does, despite having encouraged violence at his rallies during the campaign. I could well be wrong, he may really believe such things, but regardless of his motivation, his words during the campaign have emboldened a segment of the population that most people consider a fringe movement. To some extent they are, but now their thought is becoming mainstreamed on the political right through Breitbart and other outlets.
Bean Blossom Indiana
As I have mentioned before, I do not know what will happen in the coming months. My hope is that Mr. Trump will back off of some of his more extreme positions and also do what he can to stop the violence before it gets out of hand. However, his appointment of Bannon sent a chill down my spine. Bannon’s words of the past several years make everything that Mr. Trump has said on the campaign trail seem positively tame. Bannon admits his connection to and encouragement of the Alt-Right, but he refers to them as “patriots who want their country back.” But that is not true, Bannon himself is all about destroying the United States government and he has said so, and so do many of his followers. So let’s stop being polite and call the Alt-Right what it really is, a bunch of Nazis and White Supremacists who are not patriots.
As far as Bannon and the neo-Nazis and Klansmen go I know what to expect. They are emboldened and looking for revenge. The day after Trump’s victory, Michael Hill, the head of the League of the South, a White Nationalist organization wrote:
“Once the globalist-progressive coalition of Jews, minorities, and anti-white whites stops reeling in confusion from the results of yesterday’s election, we can expect them to start striking back with trickery and violence. Thus, we as Southern nationalists face both danger and opportunity.
Now, more than ever, we need tight organization and numbers to help drive a stake through Dracula’s heart and keep him from rising once again to menace our people and civilization. No mercy should be shown to the enemies of our God, our Folk, and our civilization….”
Later that day Hill wrote:
“In the immediate aftermath of his victory, Donald Trump offered that olive branch to the left. Let’s hope he’s not serious.
So here is my warning to the victors: do not go back to sleep and think all is well. If you don’t finish the job by routing your enemies and driving them into the sea while you have the chance, they will re-group and be back at your throats in no time! You have been given a reprieve by God (probably undeservedly so); do not give your enemies and His a reprieve….”
A day later he wrote:
“If Trump is smart, he will listen to nationalists in various camps throughout America and then act on their ideas. They are the ideas of the future in the US, Europe, and the entire white world: true nations, based on the organic reality of race and ethnicity, kith and kin, blood and soil. They are the ideas that will permit greatness to re-emerge because of the unleashed genius and capability of the white race….
My advice to President-elect Trump is simple: don’t negotiate with serpents; you’ll get bitten. Listen to the truth, sir: your enemies, if given the chance, will destroy you and everything you purport to represent. Treat them like the danger they are. Serve those who put you where you are.”
I certainly hope and pray that President Trump rejects this “advice” out of hand, but with the appointment of Bannon who embodies exactly Hill and others as his chief strategist and counsel, all bets are off. I expect that between now and President Trump’s inauguration that the violence will continue to rise as racial minorities, religious minorities, LGBTQ people, and liberals are targeted. I have been dealing with their tactics of intimidation as well as death threats for years.
I guess this is what I fear about a Trump presidency, not Trump himself, but those who will use their new found status and positions in government to persecute their opponents in ways never seen in this country. But then there is something else that I fear, maybe even more than the overt racists and authoritarians; the silence of people who should know better. Hannah Arendt said, “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”
The attitude of those who should have known better in Hitler’s Germany was dramatized by Burt Lancaster in the classic film Judgment at Nuremberg. Lancaster’s character, a prominent German jurist, Emil Janning noted:
“There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that – can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: ‘Lift your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed. It was the old, old story of the sacrificial lamb. What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded… sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go forward. Forward is the great password. “
I just wonder if the unorganized attacks and intimidation by the White Nationalists and neo-Nazis of the Alt-Right become part of government policy once Trump takes office. That has to be asked, because we don’t know. Will most people go silent or even give their support if immigrants, Muslims, Jews, Gays, and liberals are targeted using the levers of government, or will they speak up. The haunting words of Pastor Martin Niemoller must be always on our mind as we give the new president the benefit of the doubt and wish him success, even as we have legitimate concerns about the role that Steve Bannon will play in the new administration and the potential influence of people like Michael Hill.
This is uncharted territory for us, and I do pray that Mr. Trump rises to the occasion and does not allow his administration to become the servant of the Alt-Right, and I think that there is a good chance that he will back off his more extreme statements and not let them take over, but I could be wrong, but I hope not.
But those that supported him, especially the huge number that do not share the ideology of the Alt-Right must take time to reflect on what they will do if things get worse. Niemoller, who had initially supported Hitler wrote something that is good to reflect upon:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
Have a great day,