Nazis, Republicans, and Donald Trump

Dear Rebecca:

Here’s what I wanted to say yesterday, but a technical error prevented it:

When conservatives complain about the horrors of Nazi authoritarianism, they’re referring to universal health care.

When liberals complain about the horrors of Nazi authoritarians, they’re referring to … Nazi authoritarians.

Pithy. Clever. But, frankly, cheap.

In the last 24 hours, we’ve seen Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain both call out the evil in Charlottesville for what it is: The work of white supremacists at odds with what’s best in American culture. Good for them.

Don’t get me wrong: Both have enabled Donald Trump at various times. And that enabling led to yesterday’s shameful equivocating by the president. But it’s not so easy to say Republicans = Nazis and leave it at that. So let’s not make this so easy on ourselves.

What we can say, however, is this: Donald Trump, in his inability to ever denounce the David Dukes of the world — or to do it grudgingly on the rare occasion he has — has revealed to us who he is. Racist? I don’t know that man’s heart. But his actions say this: He is reluctant to denounce the clearest examples of racism that exist in American society. And the people he is reluctant to denounce proclaim him their leader.

We know how such silence would be met if, say, left-wing eco-terrorists proclaimed themselves to be acting in the name of Barack Obama.

I have been reluctant to say that Trump supporters are objectively racist, though many of my friends on the left have felt no such compunction. But at this point, again, Trump has revealed who he is. If you endorse him, you endorse racism.

And because, again, this seems to come down to religion and abortion for so many of the president’s supporters: To be silent or neutral or equivocating on racism is not pro-life. You cannot lament the black babies killed by abortion, suggest that it is racism, then stand silent when clear racism declares some lives — black lives, Latino lives — less valuable than others. This president does not deserve your support. Your continued backing of him will be your witness.

We know who Donald Trump is. Who are you?

Respectfully, Joel


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