Dave Zirin’s grandfather, speaking of the Holocaust, would warn him: “It will happen here.” Zirin says to us today, because it is starting to happen, “When so many groups are under attack, a collective response is the only response.”
Zirin’s proposal is a modern version of Ben Franklin’s very sobering statement about the Declaration of Independence. Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Ben Franklin knew what the attitudes were in King George’s government, and that these colonists really were in serious danger.
Here’s Zirin’s fuller quote:
When my grandfather told me stories of the Holocaust, it was never with the message of “It could never—it must never—happen here.” Instead, with the craggy grimace of a scarred cynic, his message was, “It will happen here.”
When so many groups are under attack, a collective response is the only response… This isn’t a war on any individual group. They are attacking all of us in a manner meant to make us feel as atomized and fearful as the white-knuckled Fox News viewer.
Hannah Arendt, in The Origins of Totalitarianism spoke of the Soviet creation of “atomized man” and “mass man” as ways
- to keep the terror fresh in everyone’s mind,
- to keep people feeling helpless and powerless,
- ESPECIALLY, to keep people isolated from others with the same fears, awareness, and vulnerability.
It worked – for many years.
And lest we miss the breadth of the threat, he gives us a list:
We have before us a fascist movement, an armed backlash aimed at
- and brown people,
- the LGBTQ community,
- the media,
- and also aimed at the left.
Here’s a longer list – you are quite likely to find yourself on it 🙁
But Zirin’s main point is that YOU – WE – are in fact under threat; and the only way to hope to stand against it is to stand together.
- And that means going public.
- And that means standing WITH some people we may not feel comfortable with, or whose convictions or behaviors or priorities we seriously disagree with.
It is not the case that “your community could be next.” Next has already arrived. Every community is already under attack. The president is a fascist horticulturalist, planting the seeds of violence across the country. He must be stopped.
His shock troops must be stopped.
We, at least for now, are many and they are few, but that dynamic will not last. I have never been more convinced that solidarity is the only way to win, because I don’t see another alternative, other than losing. And if we lose, we lose everything.
“We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”