This is America-- The Rise of Fascism in the Age of Donald Trump

The Rise Of Fascism In The Age Of Donald Trump

Now you know what it's like to be a minority.

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This past week, several prominent figures within the Democratic Party were targeted in coordinated attempts involving attempted deliveries of pipe bombs to the addresses of former U.S. President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, and to the office of CNN in New York City, among others such as investigator George Soros. The primary suspect for these acts of terror was named as Cesar Sayoc, a former pizza delivery man and DJ, an active white supremacist, and a prominent Trump supporter who wholeheartedly opposed the very notion of integration within American society, as could be determined by his commentary on members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, African Americans, and other minorities. In addition, a Pittsburgh synagogue was attacked this weekend by another white supremacist whose only reasoning for his savagery was to eliminate as many members of the Jewish faith as possible.

These proponents of hatred that claim to have a love for the United States stand in stark contrast to the very notions of freedom and independence for all (regardless of race, religion or creed) that this great nation was founded upon. Moreover, they have found a political figure that has catered to their wills, a man who is willing to appeal his vilifying rhetoric towards their sick notions of supremacy based on the color of their skin-- that same man now sits as the President of the United States. The rise of Donald Trump's charismatic ascent to power was marked by increasing surges of marked resentment against minorities around the country. Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan had found a rallying point behind Trump to promote their ideology of superiority over those they considered lesser human beings, with former Grand Wizard David Duke endorsing Trump's anti-immigrant, America-first appeal. Despite the problematic nature of these relationships, Trump's fan base chose to stand firm with their candidate, pouring back years of neglect and rage at Washington's inability to help their increasingly dire situations, as many have lost their jobs due to outsourcing (a la China and Mexico) and are fearful of the growing tide of immigrants populating the country. They fear that one day their descendants will become the minority and that the power balance that has protected their interests for so long will finally be shifted.

The strategies utilized by Trump to harness this fear are the same ones that were used by totalitarian rulers such as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler throughout their campaigns. He smears the credibility of the media and encourages violence against reporters in order to silence those who would speak out against him-- a clear breach of the First Amendment and an unforgivable offense on all counts-- and routinely parrots his views by scapegoating multiple groups in order to increase a sense of hyper-sensitive nationalism within his constituents. By targeting a wide variety of minorities such as Mexicans, Muslims, and African Americans (amongst a plethora of others), Trump has normalized the style of racist belligerence that one would expect of disenfranchised citizens who have grown jealous of the leaps that people of diverse backgrounds have taken in the past century.

It is important to note that Trump himself is not the cause of this bigotry-- those seeds had been sown centuries ago during the nascent years of this country's existence, and such roots contributed to the explosion of the Civil War and the outbreak of the Civil Rights movement in an attempt to maintain the old status quo of submitting people of color and dissidents of religion to the will of the white man. Trump's consistent calling for a Muslim Ban and his consistent denigration of Mexican immigrants has simply brought the ugly truth of racism and discrimination to the forefront of the American paradigm, challenging the very notion of what it means to be a citizen of the United States.

It is this normalization of hatred that has led to an uptick in attacks against those considered deviant from what is considered "normal". Hate crimes against minorities increased approximately 10% from 2014-2016, and have continued to grow steadily as more organizations of prejudice, such as Stormfront, increase the promotion of their biased viewpoints to their expanding consumer base. Such acts of violence against minorities will only continue as long as leaders like Trump are in power-- their very appointments are an abomination of the very ideals of equality, and their hypersensitive sense of nationalism and overwhelming narcissism are extremely dangerous traits that do nothing but encourage violence against those who do not represent to them, in their eyes, the picture of an ideal American society.

It's up to us, my generation, to solve this conundrum by breaking the cycle of hatred that has bound our great country for so many decades, by choosing to believe in each other as Americans in spite of our differences. Only then can we stem the tide of fascist ideology perpetuated by Trump and his cronies that have polluted the mindscape of American society, and return to the standards of acceptance and diversity that defined our trajectory as a nation long ago. If any feel angered that I have chosen to compare the actions of what is presumed to be a few radicals as the representation of an entire group, then congratulations-- you now know what it's like to be a minority in this country, and you now know what it's like to have your identity as so-called "authentic Americans" thrown into question.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 50

Language is a powerful tool.

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It's part 50--halfway to 100! I'm so glad to still be here writing! In this section, we will talk about Dr. Shikaki's findings on how Palestinians view the state of Israel.

25 years ago, 85% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution. 10 years ago, this number decreased to 70%. Dr. Shikaki believes this was due to an increase in the prominence of Islamism in Palestinian society during the second intifada; Islamists were opposed to the two-state solution. In the most recent survey, the December 2018 one, only 43% of Palestinians supported the two state solution.

In 2000, American President Bill Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Camp David Summit to come up with a solution to the conflict. It ended without an agreement, but in December of 2000, Clinton once again proposed a resolution: the Clinton Parameters.

The content of the Parameters basically allowed Israel to annex settlements while Palestine to take 94-96% of the West Bank, as well as Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. There were other guidelines regarding territory, refugees, security, and the end of the conflict. Essentially, the West Bank would have been split up by Israeli roads and settlements--which is kind of the reality today.

Both the Israeli government and Arafat accepted the terms with reservations, and Arafat wrote to Clinton a letter asking for clarifications on the terms. Clinton and Dennis Ross, an envoy of the Parameters, publicized that Arafat had refused to accept the terms; they painted Palestinians in a negative light, saying that Israel wanted to accept the peace negotiations but Palestine did not.

American Lawyer Robert Malley was at the Camp David Summit and oversaw parts of the Clinton Parameters. In 2001, he said that three myths had come out of the failure of both negotiations, and that these three myths were dangerous to any future peace processes if people kept believing in them.

These myths are as follows: "Camp David was an ideal test of Mr. Arafat's intentions," "Israel's offer met most if not all of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations," and "The Palestinians made no concession of their own."

He said that these three statements were not true but very heavily publicized by America and Israel after the negotiations failed; rather, there is more nuance to each of these issues, and America and Israel have just as much responsibility in the failure of the Summit and Parameters as Palestine did. Malley wrote, "If peace is to be achieved, the parties cannot afford to tolerate the growing acceptance of these myths as reality."

Anyway, what does this have to do with Dr. Shikaki? He polled Palestinians not only on the their attitudes to the two-state solution, but the Clinton Parameters as well. 25 years ago, there was 60% support for the Clinton Parameters by Palestinians, but the June 2018 poll showed that the number had gone down to 37%.

The last ten years shows a significant decrease in public support for both the two-state solution and the Clinton Parameters, and it could be a result of disagreeing with specific parts of the proposals (such as how the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock or Jerusalem is delegated).

I did some further digging when I got home, and I found this data from the UN Division for Palestinian Rights website:

"A 25 December [2000] published poll found that 48% of the 501 Israelis questioned were opposed to the proposals; 57% would object to Palestinian control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound; 72% were against even a limited return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. A 29 December published poll found that 56% of the Israelis would oppose a peace agreement reached on the basis of the Parameters."

This shows that though public media--especially Western media--may have painted the Palestinian government as the villain (and Israel and America as the "victims"), the proposals accepted by either government had varied support among its people.

The Israeli civilian population did not want to accept the Clinton Parameters because of the way certain things would be resolved; their reservations lie with the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque because the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in the world for Jews, would have been given to Palestine, while Jews would have control of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (which is the status quo).

In addition, there was a section in the Clinton Parameters that dealt with the right of return for Palestinians, where there would be a certain number of Palestinian refugees who settled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while other Palestinians either would become citizens of their host countries, move to a third-party country, or settle back into the land that is Israel Proper (with permission from the Israeli government, of course); many Israelis did not support this.

That was the public opinion years ago. Today, there is even less support for these proposals. Dr. Shikaki outlined three issues as reasons for a decrease in support of compromise, which we will cover in the next section. Stay tuned!

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