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December 8, 2016

Some things are very funny about all this.

We have always wanted to play this out. It’s always been our fantasy. Who would I have been if I had been alive during the Civil Rights Movement? The lady screaming at Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine? A nondescript bystander? Malcolm X? Or someone who was afraid to die and so didn’t join the march?

And 1930’s and 40’s Germany? Would I have been Miep Gies, or would I have been that little old lady who snickered on TV about turning in her Jewish neighbors? Would I give my life for my principles?

This is almost too perfect. It’s like a movie. An historical reenactment. Almost as if we have willed this into being so that we can have the chance to be heroes too. But really folks, we don’t need to play this out. We already know who we are and who we would have been. And besides, it’s not really a fair comparison. We have hindsight. We know what’s right and what’s wrong, what works and what doesn’t. Rosa Parks and Oscar Schindler had to play it by ear. So did the cowardly bystanders.

Let’s face it: Donald Trump is no Hitler. Hitler was not funny. Hitler was organized, purposeful, focused, systematic, well-respected, trusted. He was unassailable. But Donald Trump, God bless him, has shown us all of his weaknesses. He is so, so funny. His cabinet picks are so bad that it’s almost like the King of Goblins picking a goblin squad for a game of goblin kickball. There are so many funny stories about Donald Trump it’s almost magical. Breaking his mystique is child’s play. So, no more moral outrage. Let’s just whittle away and whittle away. He’s a baby. He’ll crack, and so will his hypnotic spell. We don’t have to fear him. And when his spell is broken, we won’t have to fear his goblins either.

So, that leaves the things we do have to fear. 1.) Racial and ethnic violence 2.) Deep political divisions caused by gerrymandering  3.) Gutting of public services and civil rights 4.) Deportations  5.) Environmental harm  6.) The nuclear codes

And here is where we get to dress up and reenact and use the lessons history has taught us.

From the Civil Rights Movement: civil disobedience works. We know this. And we are already doing it or planning to do it. We need all hands on deck. We need Martins and Malcolms. We must have both, and more, or it won’t work. We need everyone to chip away at the specific injustices that fire them up. We need people knocking on the door of underfunded and abused public schools. We need people pushing for criminal justice reform and for justice for victims of police brutality. We need people to keep an eye on hate groups. We need feminists and abortion rights activists. We need intersectional feminists. We need LGBT rights activists. We need people fighting for economic equality. We need disability rights activists. We need Native rights activists. We need refugee and immigrant advocates. We need environmentalists. We need angry people. We need empathetic Zen people. We need all people working in their areas of expertise. Even if we can’t work together, we need to all be working.

From World War II: we need to craft our message. We need publicity. We need our cell phone cameras so the world knows what’s happening. We need to take the moral upper hand. We need the world to know we have the moral upper hand. Social media is on our side if we know how to use it. During WWII, the government shaped the message and got the country working like a well-oiled machine. Now, we can shape the message if we can convey clear moral differences between the sides.

So yes. We must fight. But PR is equally important. We must see the humanity in the other side. Some people among our ranks will not be able to do this. It’s hard to have a heart-to-heart with a white supremacist if he or she is verbally abusing you or trying to kill you. But a white person can sure as hell have a heart-to-heart with a white supremacist, and this is our duty. We can resist unfriending our racist acquaintances. If we can see the humanity in them, we have a pretty good chance of allowing them to see the humanity in us. I’ve seen it happen, even since the election. It can be done.

And on that note, try to picture Donald Trump as President of the United States. Scary, I know. But come on. You also have to admit that it’s kind of hilarious.

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