Two Kinds Of Resistance

“This barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of cold hearts and muddy understandings.”

—Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

At different times today I saw protesters on television, clearly outraged over our inhumane treatment of desperate and frightened migrants, marching with signs that had the F word scrawled on them. “Fuck Tr-mp” said one sign. “Of course I fucking care,” said another, an obvious reference to Melania Tr-mp’s creepy jacket message that she fuck trump 2deliberately sent to us as she recently visited Texas, allegedly to learn what was going on at the border. Famously, three weeks ago Robert De Niro also said, not once but twice, to a large national television audience, “Fuck Tr-mp!” He was praised by some for expressing what many of us feel, and condemned by others who were either feigning outrage or genuinely concerned about the deterioration of our national discourse.

The protests and the profanity do raise questions, obviously. Are they counterproductive? Is cursing Tr-mp, even in the context of his expressed cruelty, itself a form of incivility, of indecency? Do the protests, profane or not, do more harm than good? More important: do they feed the beast of Tr-mpism and make it stronger?

We shall soon see, I suppose.

The corruption and indecency we have witnessed since the onset of Tr-mpism—which actually began before Tr-mp rode down that infamous escalator in June of 2015—has been largely fueled, as I have tirelessly and tiresomely argued, by anxious white people, people who feel a loss, or coming loss, of cultural power. And with that loss of power a kind of violence fills the vacuum, and in the case of Tr-mpism, part of the violence is directed against many of our democratic institutions and the norms that support them. But a bigger part of that violence is directed against what once was a national virtue of welcomeness to people outside our borders, people fleeing oppression and misery, or simply trying to feed their families.

Thus, I’d rather overreact to the dangers and inhumanity of Tr-mpism than look back and say I wasn’t sufficiently vigilant and responsive. If I say I love this country, love the idea of humane self-government on which it is based, love important national symbols like the flag and the Statue of Liberty, love national institutions like a free press, then when there is a genuine threat against these things I say I love, the proper reaction is not to sleepily express concern or mildly criticize the offenders. It is fierce resistance and outrage. Protest—and civil disobedience if it becomes necessary.

But being part of a collective resistance to the beast of Tr-mpism is not enough. In fact it may not be the most important part of the battle against a purposeful—and burgeoning—indecency. There are the everyday interactions we have with our neighbors and friends and coworkers and, of course, our family. It is through those relationships, as people naturally come into and out of our life, that perhaps the most effective form of resistance is waged.

How much good does it do for me to show up at a march or protest against some ugly form of Tr-mpism and then go to a family event and ignore outrageous remarks made by a pro-Tr-mp uncle or aunt or brother or sister or mom or dad? What good does collective action do if a colleague feels free to rhetorically embrace Tr-mpian indecency in my presence and I am unwilling to speak up? It seems to me that our first responsibility to defend decency is, as Tolkien put it, “by uprooting the evil in the fields that we know.” What fields do we know better than the ones in which we till and toil, live and work and play?

Among other things, Donald Tr-mp is an enemy of decency, which necessarily makes him an enemy of America. That is so because despite its pockmarked face, America has been an fuck trump signunquestionable force for good in the modern world. It is a shame that one has to say that Tr-mp, or anyone else who has held the office he holds, is an enemy of America. But that’s just it. No one in our history, at least in the history of this and the last century, who has held the office he now holds, has been such a clear enemy of decency, of the larger humanitarian good, in the way he has. Nobody. He is sui generis in that respect. And thus our reaction has to be sui generis, too. It’s that simple for me.

In these perilous times, we can and should take part in collective action, like protests and marches and contributing money to democracy- and decency-defending politicians and organizations. But we also owe it to the country we say we love to speak to those most directly connected to us, who are woven into our personal lives for better or worse, those who have lost their way by defending the indefensible acts of constant cruelty and corruption and incompetence that are visible to those with eyes to see. If their vision is cloudy, we must try to help them see. If they refuse to see, we have to call out their callousness. If they spread lies and misinformation, we have to first gently correct them. If they persist, then their ignorance and complicity must be named for what it is. In some cases, each a personal call, we may have to shun some of those around us who, for whatever sad reason, simply want to be part of a culture of indecency and fear and hate.

The fight against Tr-mpism will not end well if we only fight on a Saturday in June, or even a Tuesday in November. Every daily encounter we have with our fellow Americans—those who either ignore or embrace corruption and openly mock evolved American values—must be part of that larger fight, part of the resistance, too. Such encounters may be awkward or make us feel uncomfortable at times. But if we are to recover the integrity of our institutions and raise the flag of American decency again—and keep it waving over a free and moral people—we have to win the big fights and do the best we can to win the small ones.

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8 Comments

  1. Ben Field

     /  June 30, 2018

    Duane,

    Sad but True!

    When dealing with these lost souls, I just listen to the following song about people’s blind faith in religion, and the lengths they will go to in practicing their faith.

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    • Yeah, Ben, people will go to just about any length to justify their religious beliefs, that’s for sure. And some rock stars will go to any length to sell out concert venues. James Hetfield says he wants to keep his nose out of politics and doesn’t want to comment on Tr-mp. Why? This: “But, yeah, politics, we try to stay away from that ’cause it polarizes people. If I sit here and say that I hate Trump or I love Trump, someone will think, ‘Oh, I don’t like his music anymore.’ It’s silly. So I like to keep it about music.” Just like a white man of privilege, after Tr-mp’s election he said, “I can only say that Donald Tr-mp as the American president won’t change my life. Not even a bit.” Yeah, well, everyone should be so damned insulated. What a guy. I’m glad a few other members of the band haven’t been so cautious. Geeze. $$$$$$

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      • Ben Field

         /  July 1, 2018

        Duane,

        You can’t condemn the whole band over the inactions of one, anymore than you can condemn a whole family over the actions of one. Others in the band spoke out about Trump, loudly. I have argued fiercely with my NRA brother over Trump, but you can’t disown him and the rest of your siblings over his ignorance, nor should you. People you thought intelligent friends, you can disassociate with over disagreement.

        The point of the “Sad but True” mention is that people are taking as gospel the statements by Trump. MS 13 is using children to enter the US, illegal aliens are receiving welfare, Obama split families, is what I’ve heard. You can tell them “Google it, moron” and they stand down, but only temporarily. I dare you to try to comment on KZRG’s website on any topic about Trump, I think you know what will happen, like Trump, ad hominem attacks, but no logic.

        It’s too bad the schools aren’t the liberal bastions the GOP makes them out to be, or every person that went to school would be liberal. Almost half this country bought into Trump, and that’s the sad part. There won’t be any protesting in SW Missouri, until they criminalize abortion and shut down Planned Parenthood. You can rage against the machine, but the only change will come by the vote. I’m just going to hold my wife, three kids with spouses, and six grandkids a little closer and give my opinion where I can.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ben,

          I didn’t condemn the whole band, just the frontman.

          I remember Tiger Woods, who refused to join in the opposition against Jesse Helms when he had the chance, allegedly saying (he denied it), “Republicans by shoes, too.” I can understand the reluctance of some folks, who are in the business of attracting customers, to take political stands, which is bound to cost them. But there are times when one shouldn’t duck the responsibility, especially when someone is in a strong position to do so. I offer you the Dixie Chicks, who suffered from taking a stand against Bush’s Iraq war. I will always have the utmost respect for them (which I demonstrated by purchasing their music and videos) not backing down, after the dust had settled. 

          What I am mostly talking about in terms of shunning is what happened to Alan Dershowitz and others. Of course you shouldn’t “disown” your own brother or sister or mother or father or son or daughter over Tr-mp. Of course you shouldn’t divorce your spouse over him. And on and on. You make your case, and if you can’t make any progress, you have to decide how to handle it within the confines of the family. I’m not advocating for an anti-Tr-mp cult that nullifies family ties. But even close family members need to know where we stand and know that there is at least some loss of respect involved in supporting someone so obviously destructive to the norms we have developed for a couple of centuries. At least that’s the way I look at it. 

          As far as the locals, I used to try to engage them on some forums but, you are so right, that was almost totally a waste of time. KZRG is, perhaps, the most embarrassing and corrosive thing around here. It has poisoned minds for years, all day every day. But if I had the time I wouldn’t hesitate to interact with KZRG listeners or Globe readers or others who spout the Tr-mp nonsense. I think it’s important to defend our side, even if the other side won’t listen. There may be some on our side who need the encouragement to know others like them are out there willing to fight. So, I admire your willingness to give your opinion and keep fighting. 

          As for the schools, even the good work done there is undone when parents drag their kids to right-wing churches. I’ve seen it first hand. It’s a powerful method to indoctrinate children and turn them against the wider culture and our evolved values. For instance, Tr-mp wasn’t the first American of our times to revive the idea of the media and the culture it represents being the enemy of the people. A version of that idea has been propagated in conservative churches for decades. 

          And I’m with you on the vote. But there is a culture in which the vote takes place. And voices like yours help, in some way, shape that culture so fewer votes are cast in a sea of ignorance and bigotry. Thanks for all you do in that regard.

          Duane

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ben Field

             /  July 6, 2018

            Duane,

            I’m not the one publishing my viewpoints on a regular basis, that numerous people await with bated breath, so the thank you is to you alone. Your communications do influence opinion for myself and a host of others. Riding around with ProtectMoFamilies bumperstickers, sniping at my GOP Congresspeople, and generally being a smartass, pale in comparison to your efforts.

            As I’m sure Anson, his 4 (now disgraced) heroes of the Joplin tornado, my brother and his NRA friends, and former friends I no longer associate with will tell you that I’m an asshole. That’s okay as their opinion holds little value to me. My GOP Congress creatures do not receive your articulate reasoning, they get an asshole’s complaints.

            I consider myself fortunate that the woman I married 38 years ago, my children, and most of my family do not share the repugnant values of Trumpism. I’m not sure one could live with someone so diametrically opposed with your own values. You are probably right about commenting in the Globe or KZRG, as you can see that others like your comment, in spite of the trolls. At any rate, I remain a faithful reader that enjoys and agrees with your opinions and relay them to those I can influence. Thank you for that.

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            • Ben,

              Thanks so much. I appreciate that.

              By the way, I brought back from my state union convention several “Vote NO on Prop A” signs and gave them to some of my neighbors. In my ‘hood, you can see them from every direction. I was wondering if you have seen any “Vote YES” signs around town. I know I haven’t, at least not yet. I am hoping that means we have a fighting chance next month.

              Duane

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              • Ben Field

                 /  July 10, 2018

                I’m in Leawood, across the interstate from you, I’ve got mine up too, but there are no others in the hood, too many Republicans. I get more interaction from my bumper sticker. It’s sad that most people have no clue as to the issue, but most understand my assertion that everyone already has the right to work, and this is the “Right to Freeload” off other workers efforts. I haven’t seen any, but would love to ask a “Vote Yes” homeowner if he always wanted charity from coworkers.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Ben Field

     /  June 30, 2018

    It’s really the same thing with Trump as their religion.

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