Rage. Anger. Frustration. Depression. Futility.
All emotions I experience on a daily basis in America circa 2018. Once acknowledged, the following arise.
Resolution. Preservation. Action. Grounding. Resistance. Rebellion.
We often speculate about how a country allows dictatorships to rise, particularly in a country so established and “stable” as America.
This is how. Slowly. Chaotically. One liberty at a time. One hateful racist at a time. One insane news cycle and gaslighting episode at a time.
One too many everyday citizens soaking up the propaganda and saying, “yes, locking up those ‘animals’ and their children entering our country illegally is what we need.”
One too many everyday citizens saying, “yes, tell those people who worship differently than me they aren’t welcome and lock them out.”
One too many everyday citizens saying, “yes, you can’t love that person the way you do because I don’t approve. You have no rights to love as you do.”
One too many everyday citizens saying, “no, marshal law and civil war aren’t possible in America. You’re being an alarmist.”
All supported by a silent Congress, a bought judiciary and a treasonous Executive Branch. Endorsed by a complicit Fourth Estate, bought and sold by the biggest advertisers.
That’s how it happens. One chaotic daily news cycle at a time.
A body of white, rich men in one branch of government allowing a despotic man and a distant foreign power to deconstruct our country because they want to keep their golden parachutes.
God forbid those white men allow poor people to have the basic resources to simply live their lives.
God forbid those old white men allow a woman to control her own body and make her own choices.
God forbid those white elitist men show a sliver of compassion and allow immigrants to seek refuge in our country-- a concept that brought those old white men’s ancestors to this country in the first place.
God forbid we allow the citizens of this country to live a simple life free of worry from medical debt, stagnant wages and rising living costs.
God forbid we allow people to live with social safety nets that protect the very fabric of their existence on this planet.
But no, the powers that govern this country have chosen to endorse a regime that believes the everyday American is “less than” and, unlike every other developed country in the world, believes that our right to life and governance over our bodies is optional.
We’ve seen this before, folks. Historical precedence is not hidden here. It’s plainly written in the most basic history books-- you don’t even need to go all Howard Zinn to see how this ends. Our grandparents told us stories about this-- they’ve seen it happen in their lifetimes.
And now we’re seeing it happen in ours. A regime taking power-- placed and supported by a foreign country-- deconstructing the fabrics of a well established “democracy” and turning citizens against each other and against their own self-interests in the name of freedom and self-preservation and white nationalism.
If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. If you think this is alarmist, you’re not paying attention. If you think it will all just go away with the next election, you’re wrong.
If you think this is acceptable for America, be sure to check yourself when your friends, neighbors and family members go missing because their opinions were different than yours or because their skin was a little darker.
And be sure to never forget that you chose the side of the oppressor. That you, willingly and openly, chose to align yourself with racism, hatred, death and destruction. Because like it or not, your inability to open your eyes, realize what’s actually happening and speak out will have caused the death and destruction of your communities, your friends and even your family.
That is the burden you’ll bear if you continue to support the current regime in America. Ask any German who ignored the early signs of the holocaust how they slept at night when they finally opened their eyes and saw the mass graves filled with their neighbors and friends.
I bet they carried that guilt to their graves. Don’t be that person. Wake the fuck up.
Now is not the time for civility and polite discourse. Now is the time to scream out with whatever you have at your disposal. Your beauty and your insight into the world is needed to fix what is happening. Those of us who can need to speak out and resist for those among us who can not. We must do this. America was built on rebellion and the desire to live a life free of oppression.
We can not let the end of the American story happen now. We must fight for what we have and work hard to fix what’s broken. We must support those in our communities rebuilding the system from within We must offer refuge and protection for those fighting to save their children from violence and death. We must protect the women in our communities fighting to maintain governance over their bodies. We must protect those fighting to love as they wish and for those simply wanting not to die from being too poor.
We can do this.
Is it simple? No. Is it clean? No. Is it necessary? Yes.
The images in this post were created while I was working on a documentary project in Palestine. This graffiti is located on the wall separating Ramallah from Jerusalem. More images from this project can be seen here.