UPDATE: This is my original take on events. For a reassessment, see: https://theneedlefish.com/2019/01/21/mea-culpa-my-rush-to-judgment/ As the controversy over the objective reality of the event churns, I find I can go back and forth by the hour.
I’m sure every amateur pundit in the whole over-stuffed blogosphere is busy writing about yesterday’s incident at the Lincoln Memorial, and I’m sure I add nothing new or worthwhile here. It’s just that it’s hard to contain the torrent of thoughts that cry out for expression at a time like this, because this is both terrible and just exactly what we feared, and if we’re hardly seeing it for the first time since Trump began his ascendance, this instance seems particularly horrifying.
Take your pick as to what makes you the most ill. Maybe it’s knowing that all these MAGA fanboys are otherwise ordinary students at some Catholic high school or other in Kentucky, where I guess the compassion of Jesus was taken off the curriculum. Maybe it’s how very white almost all of them are, and how downy-cheeked in their angry, corrupted adolescence. Maybe it’s the way they seem to be in uniform, with all the stupid red and white Trumpy hats and MAGA paraphernalia. Maybe it’s just that this time, it was caught so vividly on camera. For me, it’s that sneering, tight-lipped, contemptuous grin on the kid who’s closest, plus all of the above, I guess. When I had a chance to linger on this video for a while today, I felt like I’d seen it before, only in a different setting and filmed in black and white, and this was the first thing that sprang spontaneously to mind: Hitler Youth.
No, I’m not saying it’s exactly the same thing in scope or degree, or even close, or that these kids are every bit as brainwashed as the Third Reich’s child soldiers, or even close, or that anybody organized them or ordered them to do this, or that this minor incident of non-violent sneering somehow equates with the murderous Holocaust, blah blah blah. Some of them are oblivious, actually, and some are just assholes feeding off the energy. It’s more the feeling that’s triggered, the unease. It’s the hate on that one kid’s face – it’s disturbingly familiar, isn’t it. Have another look. You’ve seen it before, right? The smug, bullying contempt. The absolute moral certitude with which they taunt this poor Native elder, while the crowd mocks his chanting and several make the vile “tomahawk chop” gesture. The heartless mirth. The racism. You’ve seen it wearing white hoods, and standing around grinning at lynchings, posing for the camera with the wife and kids. It might not be so wicked a strain, but it’s the same virus, and it spreads in the same way, for the same reason: they know it’s OK. Dear Leader, buttressed by whole communities of like-minded extremists who yell and froth in the fetid social media forums where these kids live, have given them licence to act on their cruellest, most atavistic fears and hatreds. They’ve been handed a cause to support, an enemy to fight, and the symbols to rally around, and it’s made them feel as if their small, petty viciousness is actually in service of something bigger than themselves, something vital, true, and noble.
How easy it was to set these demons loose.
Republicans deny it, or at least dodge the issue, but this MAGA business is all about racial dominance, and I’m tired of arguing about it. “Make America Great Again” is just code – barely – for “Keep America White While We Still Can”. The whole dirty business of gerrymandering and voter suppression at which the GOP has excelled these recent years ties right into the program, as does all the President’s rabble-rousing rhetoric, right up to today, when his latest televised plea for border wall money yet again tied immigration to violent organized crime and drug smuggling. That’s right kids. Clem over there dropped dead from Fentanyl because of a mother and her kid crawling barefoot all the way here from Honduras. I think the kid is a rapist, too, or a junior member of MS-13, I think somebody is saying that.
So now it comes to this. Taking their cue from the man in the Oval Office and all his miserable supporters and enablers, and no doubt steeped in the toxic hatred that seems to be the internet’s main product these days, a self-satisfied pack of teenage hyena harasses and intimidates a Native American on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Could the juxtaposition be any more obscene? As they gleefully indulge themselves in their racist taunting, they stand in the shadow of the President who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry – both, I guess – that these little pukes are chanting “Build that Wall!” at the one guy there who isn’t an immigrant, or descended from immigrants. His people should have built a wall to keep them out.
It almost goes without saying that these kids were in Washington to take part in the March For Life.
This would break my heart, except it already broke long ago. It doesn’t do me a lick of good, either, to know that the horrid wrath of the internet will now almost certainly descend upon these kids, all of whom will be identified, hunted, and tormented where they live, along with their parents and siblings, as well as a bunch of other innocent and unrelated people with similar names and faces who’ll be mistakenly swept up in the net. That just makes me even more sick. These boys are just a symptom. They need a stern lecture and some community service, not the always disproportionate excoriation of the on-line vigilantes. I don’t want them destroyed. I want to excise Patient Zero. Only the ouster of this foul Trump regime can mend me, and restore my peace of mind. Courage. That time is coming, soon.
If you want more details on this story, here’s a link.