We are slowly boiling alive.
I’m referring to what is known as the “Boiling Frog Syndrome,” meaning when things happen slowly enough we don’t realize the danger until it’s too late.
Socrates said, “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” It’s not even possible to have a discussion if the word I use carries a different meaning to the other person. You end up squabbling over semantics. So I’m going to start this post by defining some terms:
Miriam Webster Dictionary defines fascism as:
—a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
—a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial controlMiriam Webster—Source
Wikipedia defines fascism as:
—a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.Wikipedia—Source
The Oxford English Dictionary defines concentration camp as:
—a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labor or to await mass execution. The term is most strongly associated with the several hundred camps established by the Nazis in Germany and occupied Europe in 1933–45, among the most infamous being Dachau, Belsen, and Auschwitz.OED—Source, emphases mine
The United States of America is descending into fascism. Period. Even the NYT reported on it, quoting the former secretary of labor Robert Reich and NYT journalist Masha Gessen, respectively:
“I have held off using the f word for three and a half years, but there is no longer any honest alternative,” Reich tweeted. “Trump is a fascist, and he is promoting fascism in America.”
“Whether or not he is capable of grasping the concept,” Gessen wrote, “Trump is performing fascism.”
As the article points out, the word fascism is often use and misused in American politics. When I made my first documentary Liberty Bound in the early 2000s, I did a tongue-in-cheek segment comparing George W Bush to Hitler, as it was on so many protest signs, as well as a segment “You might be living in a fascist state if…” followed by examples of fascist behavior. I saw the trend 17+ years ago, albeit subtly, but now this current administration is not even bothering to hide it. That’s how slowly we’re being boiled alive.
Nazis and White Supremacy
From Stephen Miller, White House Senior Policy Advisor, to Trump’s buddy Roger Stone to Police throwing up White Supremacy hand signs, the signs that authoritarianism and fascism has infiltrated our government is irrefutable.
What started as a hoax by 4Chan in 2017, has been adopted by the KKK and White Supremacist movement. Some police officers in Portland have long been known to associate with (and protect) the Proud Boys. Although the police pictured above are in Salem, that’s a mere 60 min drive south of Portland. The people to whom this officer flashed that symbol were members of Proud Boys, as if letting them know he was one of them. Of course, he could also be saying “okay” to something the Proud Boy said, but I’m cynical enough to doubt it.
This morning on Twitter, #Gestapo was trending because of what’s happening in my town, just 5 miles from my house. Federal troops are occupying Portland, ostensibly to protect federal property from more damage, but what they’re actually doing is escalating the violence with protesters.
CW: GRAPHIC VIDEO BELOW
They’re shooting them in the head with “non-lethal” ammunition (above, and video of Donovan getting shot), tackling people riding bicycles (video), using torturous tear gas and LRAD devices, and kidnapping people by shoving them into unmarked vans.
Our Senators, Governor, and even our ineffectual Mayor has spoken out against these federal officers, especially their violence. They don’t want them here. We don’t want them here. It is literally an occupation—”the action, state, or period of occupying or being occupied by military force.”
This has been reported in mainstream media as well as through scores of video documenting the unprovoked violence by these unmarked, unidentifiable federal troops as well as the Portland Police and Sheriff department’s brutality (both keeping their badge numbers covered).
Unidentifiable also means unaccountable. They are cloaked in anonymity. This is the very definition of secret police—”a police force working in secret against a government’s political opponents” or “are intelligence, security or police agencies that engage in covert operations against a government’s political opponents and dissidents.”
Sure, “Gestapo” refers to a specific police force, The Geheime Staatspolizei in Nazi Germany, but they were the official secret police of the third reich, so it’s not much of a stretch to call these secret police occupying Portland Gestapo to emphasize the danger and oppression coming to a boil.
You can see as many as you’d like on my Twitter feed, on #DefendPDX, and even more across the country on Greg Doucette’s Twitter, who upon the writing of this is up to over 785 videos documenting police brutality.
Some say using words like fascism, secret police, Gestapo, Nazis, and concentration camps are hyperbolic and only serve to raise fear or discredit those using the terms when describing what’s happening today in the United States. This is exactly why I used the definitions at the start of this post, so we can look at the definition rather than the common association with the words, namely Nazi Germany. One commenter said if they were really Gestapo in our cities, people would be found dead on the street.
I have news for you: the horrors we know of Nazi Germany before and durning WWII didn’t happen overnight. It was gradual. Much like the proverbial boiling frog, the people of Germany didn’t understand the signs until it was too late. Sure, had the level of brutality we know about that time started happening overnight, it likely would’ve been quelled quickly. It didn’t happen overnight. They weren’t rounding people up and gassing them in the first year. It built slowly over years, and that’s what’s happening here.
“When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process,” the museum said in a tweet on Monday afternoon.
“It’s important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers,” the [Auschwitz] museum continued. “This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanization & escalating violence.”The Hill—Source, emphasis mine
Don’t say “it can’t happen here”—because it is happening here.
There are literally concentration camps on our borders, and they’ve been there for years. Remember the definition from the OED: “a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities.”
“This administration has jailed children and violated human rights,” she added. “Perhaps we should stop pretending that authoritarianism + violence is a historical event instead of a growing force.”The Hill—Source
Don’t say “it can’t happen here”—because it is happening here.
Just because the inhabitants of our modern concentration camps aren’t (yet) being starved and executed doesn’t mean these aren’t concentration camps: “a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities.”
Please see this. Accept it. RESIST IT.
I challenge you to take a moment and write down your bottom line. When will it be undeniable to you? What has to happen in order for you to realize we are in dangerous waters?
- Martial Law in major cities for more than a week, two, three?
- Tanks rolling down the street and people harassed on their way to work?
- Trump refusing to leave office even if not re-elected?
- Bands of angry, armed people roving the streets? Or patrols of militarized poice?
- November 2020 elections canceled for “national security,” “safety,” or any other reason?
- Trump’s re-elected with reasonable suspicion of corruption (once again)?
- World War III?
Imagine if you could go back and talk to yourself 5 years ago, and you told yourself that by 2019 and 2020, we would be talking about Nazis in present tense—in the United States, White Supremacy would be on the rise, we’d have concentration camps on our borders, we’d have racial riots that were even bigger than those in the late 60s, people in and associated with the highest offices in the nation would be openly racists and brandishing White Power symbols, and that federal troops would be deployed in our cities, gassing, shooting, and kidnapping protesters. Would you have believed yourself? If you showed yourself proof, what would you have done? Flee? Fight? Resign or RESIST?
When will you reach your bottom line?
Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.The Weekly List—Source
Make that list today. Don’t slowly boil alive any more.
Just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. If you can’t be on the front lines in the street of our cities, that’s okay. Not everyone is emotionally or physically capable of facing that violence night after night. I can’t anymore either, but I can speak out. I can use my voice and my pen. I can call this behavior for what it is, instead of minimizing and dismissing it as hyperbole. I can boost the signal on social media. I can call my representatives while I am still (albeit poorly) represented, and I can RESIST.
You can too.