“…900 Jews who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 on the MS St. Louis in an attempt to gain entry into the United States. After having to turn back, the passengers were forced to return to Europe, where a number of countries accepted them as refugees; 254 of them were killed in the Holocaust.” -Candice Norwood, The Atlantic

Welcome to the Dictator Playbook

We’ve seen this before. Immigrants are always the first target.

When they tell you to rally behind President Trump because we’ve been hit by evil, remember how gleefully he painted the target.

If you are too young to remember how Bush and Cheney used an act of terror by Saudis and others to create a lie about Iraq, read about it. Trump didn’t ban Saudis from coming here. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because they didn’t constitute the majority of 9/11 hijackers (spoiler: they did).

Friday’s actions do not represent a sensible method to buy time to evaluate already-stringent visa procedures. They are grooming you the way a molester grooms a child. The molester tests boundaries first.

This is a test of your boundaries, my fellow American. How far can he push you before you speak up? Will you speak up? Will you fight back? You’re not a child. You have some power. Band together with others and you have more.

Trump and Pence are following a well-worn playbook. What does it say?

Blame the immigrants; label dissenters and witnesses as threats; divide.

(And conquer. That’s the best part, for guys like this.)

The power grab will not stop until leaders within the USA stand up en masse. We must pressure them endlessly.

The party of the President will not send a unicorn with dragon wings to fight him and bring compassionate conservatism back into fashion (it never was in fashion, because it wasn’t real — the modern Republican Party has never displayed compassion for vulnerable people, and it never will). Bush and Cheney were more slick and smooth in their evil, and even they weren’t too suave about it. Trump and Pence and Bannon and Conway and Spicer are madness unleashed.

The GOP is poisoned.

If we believe appealing to GOP reason or “morality” will save us, we’re rearranging deck chairs on the very Titanic upon which Trump painted a bullseye.

Everyone who voted for Trump voted for this, because he was open about his plans to do this. If these voters express remorse now, they can take it up with whatever God they think exists and listens to them. If they say they didn’t know he would do this, they’re either lying or stupid. If they’re excited about it, their excitement will dissipate after a year or two when the jobs that robots took from their dads twenty years ago don’t magically reappear, and when their kids are sent to war.

His approval ratings are horribly low at present. They will go up and down over the years. But the majority of Americans do not like what he and his people are doing right now. Remember that nearly three million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for Donald Trump. I’m not even talking about the people who didn’t vote at all, or the ones who voted for third party candidates.

There are more of us, the folks who oppose Trump, than there are those who loved him enough to vote for him. This is true even if everybody at the church fish fry on Friday in your small town thinks he’s doing just great. He’s not, and that small white town is a bubble inured from reality — for now.

If you do not know or love any immigrants (or any who are not powerful/wealthy), it will take longer for this to bite you. But it will.

When Trump moves to wage war — and he will (declared or undeclared) — he will send our friends and family in the Armed Forces where he pleases. Maybe he will send reservists or National Guardsmen. (If you are a member of these groups, thank you for your service.) He is itching for a reason to require more of our military and to take them away from their friends and family. When our military folks come back from this war, perhaps in need of services as any human would after such an experience, he will snatch funding at every opportunity from medical resources, including and especially mental health resources. He will create more veterans with PTSD, which will lead to more homelessness, which will lead to more demand for shelters and services that he will not fund.

Even now, we can all trust that the plans are being laid. They were laid during the campaign. It’s early, but it’s all being put into play now.

What else does the dictator playbook say?

Confuse the population. Point fingers at immigrants and journalists. Wait for a strike to justify military action abroad.

Or do it anyway.

The United States often just does it anyway. Trump will do it anyway time and time again. Trust that he’s already got his eyes on a land grab because it’s a resource grab. Understand that he does not care who dies. He lacks compassion and empathy for the people around him. He is incapable of feeling moved by the image of a dead Syrian child, no matter how many times you tweet it at him. The same is true of Steve Bannon, who is a successful enough puppeteer to appear sychophantic while at the same time controlling his boss. Michael Pence is the same way, but even smoother. They know very well how to manipulate a narcissistic abusive personality, and it’s quite simple: you make the narcissist believe that all his ideas are his own and that you are loyal to him without end. You flatter him until out of the five ideas he thinks he invents that day, two are actually original and three are entirely planted by you.

Reasonable people can have reasonable disagreements about policy. Trump, Pence & Co. do not deal in reason. They seek power at any cost.

If you want to make a human sacrifice his sane morality, tell him his family is in danger. Anti-immigrant action is always an easy method.

And right now, scientists whose work could’ve saved lives are stuck back home.

Right now, sick people who need to come to the US for care are stuck back home. Some will die of illness.

Right now, people who risked their lives giving intelligence that protected American lives are stuck in danger in a hostile homeland. Some will die, murdered by their countrymen.

Anti-immigrant actions and rhetoric always constitute the first step to groom the populace for open war (as opposed to the covert undeclared wars in which the United States is already engaged).

My public school took us to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The mission there is not just to teach history, but to teach the now.

They warned us.

Here is a video the Museum released in December 2016. It is about the Syrian genocide. Donald Trump signed an executive order to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to the United States. This video is less than two minutes long. I urge you to watch it.

I visited the Anne Frank House Museum during my time living in Holland. The majority of their work is about modern nationalism.

They warned us.

So did she.

If you believe that invoking the Holocaust is overdramatic, I encourage you to learn what led up to it. It didn’t happen overnight.

Demonizing immigrants is step one. We’ve seen this before. This is not new. Acknowledge it as such. Learn history. Educate yourself. Resist.

We cannot go back in time and eliminate the Electoral College. Real world evil got a blank check November 8. This is not supernatural talk.

We can communicate our dissent in different ways, but communicate it we must, loudly and often, over and over again.

This is not a four year slog. This is a two year fight to raise an army of blue fire breathing dragons in sensible suits and boring haircuts and release them in Washington DC. After that, we support them in their work. Right now, we don’t have the numbers we need in Congress, but we can get them at the midterms. That starts now.

Organize. Resist. Encourage folks to register to vote. Learn about your representatives in the House as well as your senators. Find out who is up for reelection in 2018. Keep your eyes on what’s happening nationally, of course. But keep it local, too. Don’t get comfy because you live in a reliably blue state. Who has their eye on the prize? Find out.

Consider running, especially if you are a woman. Learn more from Emily’s List. They train women like you. They just trained hundreds the day after the Women’s March on Washington.

Engage in self-care. This is tiring work. We’re in the middle of a national panic attack. To live in crisis and survive means our worry cannot constantly be at an 11. Sometimes you have to dial it down to a 7.5, even if just for a night.

And finally: if my words here hold no weight for you because I am an artist and a former schoolteacher rather than a politician or historian, that’s fine.

They are still true.

Take good care.

And resist, resist, resist.


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