Principiis obsta et Finem respice…
‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’
Now is the time to review how we got to this sad place.
Now-when many of those that cheered Trump on for the past 5 years are scrambling to distance themselves from this disaster, feigning shock and horror.
They want us to believe they never saw this coming, that no one could have anticipated this. This is a transparent act of desperation, they want us to believe they were blindsided.
EVERYONE saw this coming, THEY just hoped and expected it to succeed.
But it failed… and did not just fail, but failed badly… THIS time.
They knew from the start what sort of ‘man’ Trump was.
The supporters of this monster Trump Cheered when he ridiculed a disabled man and they lowered the bar, they laughed when he insulted a POW war hero -the bar was lowered again. They cheered when he spoke lovingly about committing war crimes at his rallies. And the bar was lowered. They lapped up his racist rhetoric and began regurgitating it in public, and the bar was lowered. They nodded as he talked about doing away with constitutional protections- and the bar was lowered. They listened to him- on tape- talking about sexually assaulting women, and shrugged it off- and the bar was lowered. After all of this they voted him into office. From that moment on the bar was in free fall- crime after crime, atrocity after atrocity- telling state secrets to the Russians in the oval office, praising dictators and insulting allies, caging children, stealing toddlers from their parents and losing them in the system, killing 100′s of thousands of Americans with his actions and inaction…
Why did his supporters stick with him, why did they lower the bar, and themselves over and over and over…? It is because they willingly allowed themselves to be trapped- they failed to resist the FIRST time they were asked to compromise their principles- once they made that first compromise, the second became easier. They thought less about it – as the bar fell lower, it became easier to lower it down once again… it became a habit, a reflex action for them.
Of course a large portion of Trump’s base were already the lowest of the low- neo-nazis, white supremacists, they already started off in the sewer, and they simply cheered as the the bar made its journey down to their level. But what about the rest of the traitors we have in our midst? Those that you perhaps once considered rational people, but have become vile caricatures, spouting insane conspiracy theories and advocating treason?
On occasion some of them thought to themselves ‘THIS is just too much to stomach’ – but then they looked back at all the compromises they had already made- all their principles they had already betrayed, and decided they would rather swallow another atrocity than admit they had foolishly ordered poison.
This is how fascists win- they start slowly getting you to betray yourself and your country in small ways at first… but they quickly accelerate their demands.
Its nothing new, we have seen it before- but its the first time Americans have followed that path in such great numbers. But it has happened over and over through history.
Milton Mayer interviewed Germans after WW2 to understand how such evil arose in his book : They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45
Here is what one German had to say of the compromises that lead men and women down the road to evil:
“In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.
“You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.
“Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.
“What then? You must then shoot yourself. A few did. Or ‘adjust’ your principles. Many tried, and some, I suppose, succeeded; not I, however. Or learn to live the rest of your life with your shame. This last is the nearest there is, under the circumstances, to heroism: shame. Many Germans became this poor kind of hero, many more, I think, than the world knows or cares to know.”
What can be done with these self-made monsters? They are beyond reason, they are beyond decency- they celebrate being deplorable.
They must be treated as the disease they are- isolated and contained and all efforts should be made to prevent the spread. They should be held up as an example of the dangers of fascism, their children and grand children should be taught of the evil they did.
Education is the only preventative, and I pray that the events we have just witnessed serve as an inocculation against the spread.
Some will say ‘forgive and forget’- and I cannot stress this enough: That would be the WORST POSSIBLE course of action.
Actions this abhorrent must have consequences. Consequences that serve as a lesson for many generations to come. Otherwise we will be back in this spot in a few short years.
This isn’t about vengeance, it is about survival- because NEXT time the fascists might be far more clever than they were this time.