Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here? Barbarism or socialism? Chaos or community? If you’re in need of thoughtful reflection—and who isn’t?— take a moment here with Robin Kelley and Naomi Klein. It will help, I promise.
If we are to keep the enormity of the forces aligned against us from establishing a false hierarchy of oppression, we must school ourselves to recognize that any attack against Blacks, any attack against women, is an attack against all of us who recognize that our interests are not being served by the systems we support. Each one of us here is a link in the connection between antipoor legislation, gay shootings, the burning of synagogues, street harassment, attacks against women, and resurgent violence against Black people.
—Audre Lorde, “Learning from the 60s”
Trump Says Go Back, We Say Fight Back
Robin D.G. Kelley
November 15, 2016
November 15, 2016
Donald J. Trump’s election was a national trauma, an epic catastrophe that has left millions in the United States and around the world in a state of utter shock, uncertainty, deep depression, and genuine fear. The fear is palpable and justified, especially for those Trump and his acolytes targeted—the undocumented, Muslims, anyone who “looks” undocumented or Muslim, people of color, Jews, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, women, activists of all kinds (especially Black Lives Matter and allied movements resisting state-sanctioned violence), trade unions. . . . the list is long. And the attacks have begun; as I write these words, reports of hate crimes and racist violence are flooding my inbox.
The common refrain is that no one expected this. (Of course, the truth is that many people did expect this, just not in the elite media.) At no point, this refrain goes, could “we” imagine Trump in the Oval office surrounded by a cabinet made up of some of the most idiotic, corrupt, and authoritarian characters in modern day politics—Rudolph Giuliani, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, Ben Carson, Jeff Sessions, David “Blue Lives Matter” Clarke, Joe Arpaio, to name a few. Meanwhile, paid professional pundits are scrambling to peddle their analyses and to normalize the results—on the same broadcast media that helped deliver Trump’s victory by making him their ratings-boosting spectacle rather than attending to issues, ideas, and other candidates (e.g., Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein). They deliver the same old platitudes: disaffected voters, angry white men who have suffered economically and feel forgotten, Trump’s populist message represented the nation’s deep-seated distrust of Washington, ad infinitum. Some liberal pundits have begun to speak of President-Elect Trump as thoughtful and conciliatory, and some even suggest that his unpredictability may prove to be an asset. The protests are premature or misplaced. All of this from the same folks who predicted a Clinton victory.
But the outcome should not have surprised us. This election was, among other things, a referendum on whether the United States will be a straight, white nation reminiscent of the mythic “old days” when armed white men ruled, owned their castle, boasted of unvanquished military power, and everyone else knew their place. Henry Giroux’s new book America at War With Itself made this point with clarity and foresight two months before the election. The easy claim that Trump appeals to legitimate working-class populism driven by class anger, Giroux argues, ignores both the historical link between whiteness, citizenship, and humanity, and the American dream of wealth accumulation built on private property. Trump’s followers are not trying to redistribute the wealth, nor are they all “working class”—their annual median income is about $72,000. On the contrary, they are attracted to Trump’s wealth as metonym of an American dream that they, too, can enjoy once America is “great” again—which is to say, once the country returns to being “a white MAN’s country.” What Giroux identifies as “civic illiteracy” keeps them convinced that the descendants of unfree labor or the colonized, or those who are currently unfree, are to blame for America’s decline and for blocking their path to Trump-style success.
For the white people who voted overwhelmingly for Trump, their candidate embodied the anti-Obama backlash. Pundits who say race was not a factor point to rural, predominantly white counties that went for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but now went for Trump, and to the low black and Latinx voter turnout. However, turnout was down overall, not just among African Where do we go from here? | Bill Ayers: