Dear liberals, stop asking us to make nice with Trump’s defeated army

BLM Protest
Kerry-anne Mendoza

Before the Biden win had even been declared, liberals were calling on us to make nice with the Nazis who just lost. We are being called upon to ‘reach out’ and ‘find compromise’ with people who see us as sub-human. They have been harassing, falsely imprisoning, under-paying, and killing us. And treating that like some trivial difference we need to get over is, frankly, fucking offensive. It also belies the central problem with liberalism: toxic positivity. Quiet over peace, appeasement over justice.

Hug a Nazi

You might think this an exaggeration, but it isn’t. Prominent liberals are really out here calling for us all to start hugging up to those Nazis, and think about their injured feelings.

It’s tempting to see this as a healthy, hopeful initiative. But African-American artist Bree Newsome Bass explains the immense harm such compromise has wreaked on marginalised communities throughout US history.

As did attorney Preston Mitchum:

It’s not just wrong-headed but dangerous to appeal to a group whose fundamental goal is the subjugation of another. If history has taught us anything, it’s that you cannot appease fascists. You can only fight them.

You cannot appease fascists

There is no middle ground. And this is why Liberal Centrists lose against them time and again. Professor Sunny Singh highlights this eloquently:

Prof Sunny Singh tweet

Prof Sunny Singh tweets

Liberals choose their ‘harmonious society’ fairytale over reality every time: this myth that if they ‘give a little’ (meaning sacrifice the very voters that put them in office to appease those who didn’t) then the other side will. But the other side never does, because they don’t seek compromise; they seek total domination. And they know exactly how to work the levers of the compromise-seeking liberal. Because liberals hate to be seen as dogmatic or ideological.

In pursuing the path of unity at all costs – a unity that will never materialise anyway – liberals paint those opposed to that ‘compromise’ as intransigent. We are dismissed as political purists who don’t know when or how to be pragmatic. But it’s easy to ‘make tough choices’ when it’s not you paying the price. America is no safer for Black, Brown and LGBTQI+ people today than it was a week ago. More dangerous in fact. MAGA goons are freely walking the streets with automatic weapons, and calling for the beheading and hanging of scientists and journalists.

There has been a storm of white supremacist terror across the US before and during the Trump presidency. And trivialising the trauma and fear within the target communities is doubling down on those attacks. It is akin to asking a woman to return to her abusive husband for the sake of family unity. As if her safety and happiness comes second to your fantasy about the nuclear family.

Polarisation isn’t the worst thing

There’s a lot of nervous talk about polarisation of society, and how dreadful that is. But it’s not the polarisation that’s bad, it’s the resurgent fascism. If our societies united harmoniously behind fascism, that would not be an improvement. That would be far worse.

There are times when compromise is appropriate. Just as there are times when it is not. And right now, it’s not.

The Biden win was significant, if only in that it has slowed the rise of the populist far-right. But if the Biden presidency fails to fundamentally shift America away from disaster capitalism, fascism will be back in the White House come 2024.

Occupy Wall Street rose up under Obama-Biden. The Black Lives Matter movement rose up under Obama-Biden. And minority voters held their nose and put Biden in office regardless. If liberals repeat the same mistakes now, they will break the coalition that put them in power. And they will not pick up fascist voters in the process. Fascists will never acknowledge or reward any offerings made, and will get right back to fighting for a win-lose scenario in their favour.

It is vital that liberals centre the voters that made this victory happen. Their needs must come first. They should honour and enhance the coalition with progressives, not the right. That is the only path that leads America out of fascism.

Featured image via Flickr – David Geitgey Sierralupe

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  • Show Comments
    1. I agree that there can be no unity, no peaceful co-existence, if it is based on lies, inequality and turning a blind eye to evil. A society can reunite but only if there is a peace process that allows the truth to be told, witnessed, aknowledged, justice done, and a new concensus formed based on a shared history and a shared experience of justice done and seen to be done. A ‘truth, justice, reconciliation’ process has been tried (South Africa, Rwanda on a national scale, Northern Ireland, in some regions of Canada on a sub-national scale). Maybe USA (or individual states, regions, communities) could do this?

      If Biden supports the idea with necessary resources (funding, legal framework etc), I think it would still have to be actually implemented and led from the grassroots up. The people themselves have to engage because you cannot create unity as a presidential policy and then have it ‘helicoptered in’ or left to ‘trickle down’. If you try to impose reconciliation then you are just creating agrievance against yourself. Reconciliation is sincere or pointless and there is no shortcut but only personal efforts.

      Right now, I see no great appetite from any side for reconciliation. Maybe we have to start by creating the conditions where alienated people can begin to see a common cause. I think the secret might be for Biden to focus on relieving poverty. Then all poor people see they gain from a Biden govt and need to keep voting for it in 2024 and onwards. To vote for it, all demographics of the poor have to unite their votes. If they think ‘I wont vote to help a poor racist, even if it would also help a poor person of colour’ (or vice versa) then they see how failure to reconcile is self-harming so the hunger for reconciliation grows, and as it can only happen if there is truth and justice too, then we see how a poor community might decide to run a ‘truth, justice, reconciliation’ process in order to help themselves, all of themselves. Build up from that grassroots and you get a new concensus amongst a large block of the electorate united by a shared process, a new found identity as survivors of that process, a new kind of American.
      Sure, its not easy. But its not impossible.

      The ‘Pollyanna tweets’ rubbished in the article are childish because they want to fast forward to the new America without any of the hard work, sweat, blood, tears. Nothing comes from nothing. Lazy builds nothing. I hope enough Americans can find a way forward based on truth, justice, and real human connections. That is not easy.

      I am in the UK. I see a country at least as divided as the US. And no Biden to give even a glimmer of hope. Do I see any evidence of ‘truth, justice, reconciliation’ between the divided communities within this small island? Nope. Not yet. I see ever rising levels of suffering, frustration, powerlessness, anger, hate – austerity, poverty, brexit, corvid, environment. British society is totally fragmented. I think it will get worse before it gets better, if it gets better. Does Labour offer hope of a Biden-style victory against the UK mini-Trump (or ‘shape-shifting creep’)? Not yet. And no sign at all that Labour or Starmer sees the need for a two-pronged strategy of (1) leadership from top to help poor (2) resources to assist leadership from grassroots to bring justice, reconciliation, unity. The political class seems stuck in a bubble of privilege. The grassroots are stuck in a bubble of fury and despair.

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