So Charlottesville happened. Trump is to blame. But he was elected president; all those who voted for him are therefore to blame. Everyone could see this coming from the beginning. It was 100% predictable. The fascist marches in the streets, the gun nuts out in force, everyone who isn’t a red-blooded white American male the target. And Trump doing nothing to discourage any of it. Those who claim they didn’t see this coming kept themselves willfully ignorant, and that doesn’t make them any less responsible. “Wir haben es nicht gewuβt” is not a valid excuse, and neither is not knowing what that means.
It’s anyone’s guess by now where and when this is going to end. Even this incident didn’t lead to unanimous, unequivocal condemnation of Trump by the Republican party. Sure, a few more Republicans have voiced their disgust, a few more CEO’s have left Trump’s manufacturing council, but still no unanimous call for Trump’s impeachment or for the application of Article 25. Maybe that will happen tomorrow and by next week this piece of slime will be in jail, or it could go on and get worse and we could have a civil war.
But at some point this will be over. Trump will be out of office, along with Bannon and his other thugs, and America will have to pick up the pieces. Americans didn’t learn the lessons Europeans learned from World War Two. They didn’t experience fascism firsthand, they didn’t learn how it creeps up. They didn’t know the meaning of the word fascism and they wouldn’t have been able to recognize a fascist if one walked up and kissed their babies. Clearly.
So America will have to be re-educated. Americans can’t do it themselves, because there never has been any real history education in this country, not in middle and high school. There has never been real geography education either. During the Cold War we in Holland learned that lots of Americans didn’t even know where the Soviet Union was, that lots of folks thought it was in Canada. That was hard to believe. Until a few days ago, when people were asked on the streets of Los Angeles if they could point out North Korea on a world map. Sure enough: Canada. Because of this lack of historical and geographical perspective, most Americans also don’t have a sense of their culture and how it relates to the rest of the world. And white kids in this country certainly don’t learn where African Americans are coming from, or Native Americans. Just look at the massive incomprehension facing the Black Lives Matter movement, or the nazis in Charlottesville chanting “Blood and Soil”.
America is largely Christian, and a lot of American Christians are extremely loud and proud about it, and go on and on about their moral compass, and how others don’t have one. For all the influence they have had on this country, as far as teaching people that racism is bad, that fascism is bad, that hating people in general to the point of wanting to hurt them physically is bad, they have done jack shit. To all those Christian Trump voters: I wouldn’t touch your moral compass with a ten-foot pole. The Christian influence on American public education has mostly been to avoid all talk of “controversial subjects” like slavery, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, European nationalism, imperialism, etc. We humanists call those subjects teachable moments. Those are the subjects you use to teach kids to think for themselves about what is right and wrong and how to recognize them. If you really have a moral compass. If teaching kids right from wrong is truly your priority.
The school textbooks will have to be rewritten and teachers retrained. The politics around the content of school curriculum and textbooks needs to go. It’s a lot. Where to start? It would all have to be addressed at once. Maybe the leader of the free world could send a few of her best folks to re-educate this country. And for those of you who don’t get the joke, that’s why you need history lessons–irony is so much fun.