“Nazis are bad,” as President Obama said recently. “Nazi” means the ideas of fascism, including, but not limited to: authoritarianism, adoring one man (Hitler, et. al.), racism, White supremacy, anti-Jewish, anti-Black attitudes/actions.
Especially important, here on the U.S.-Mexican border, Nazi ideas would include scathing, anti-Mexican prejudices and/or deeply felt anti-Latino attitudes. Most concerned, educated citizens realize this reality. But proto-nazism or crypto-fascism still exist in the world, in the U.S., even here, on the border.
Case in point: a recent poll was commissioned by local television station, Telemundo, conducted by the prestigious polling firm, Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy. Ms Dalila Garza reported the results (9 Sep 18, Rio Grande Guardian). Among those results: “Texas Hispanics (69 percent) Oppose the Border Wall.” The station maintains a campaign to promote civic engagement: “Tu Voz en Español se Eschucha Mas Votando” (Your Spanish Voice is Heard Louder by Voting). As many (68 percent) agreed: “Undocumented Workers Help the U.S. Economy.” By a margin of two to one, they support NAFTA, the current trade agreement with Mexico.
The data don’t lie. Yet, there was push-back, nasty comments on Facebook and to the editor of the RGG. A few (including some Hispanics) responded in negative ways: “What can you expect? It’s only Telemundo,” or “Tele-mintirosos. . . puro pinchefaker polls,” and some with the classy “F-word,” etc. Sad, the vast number of viewers (Telemundo) or readers (Rio Grande Guardian)who agree with the polls didn’t bother to respond. How to explain the denials, in face of evidence? One partial explanation is self-loathing by members of an ethnic minority group or “internalized racism.” That condition is one of racist attitudes toward members of one’s own ethnic group, including one’s self!
The term is old. Most studies in the past focused on Jews and Blacks (Robin Nicole Johnson, “Psychology of Racism”). Newer studies include Hispanics. Racism itself (we thought) was already well understood. But autophobia has become a more nuanced, more difficult to analyze subject. Often, proceeding from either condition, acts of hate (physical or in speech or script) develop. “Acts of hate are attempts to distract oneself from feelings such as powerlessness or inadequacy” (Dr. Bernard Golden,”Psychology Today, 9 Mar 17). Many (a majority? let us hope), through their religious faith and/or fortunate family upbringing or their education, have largely escaped the worst of the pernicious effects of racism and related fears and acts of hatred. However . . .
However, some among those many (McConnell/Ryan Republicans?) disdain Trump’s dog whistles to racists or Nazis (viz: Charlotesville). They find him foolish and embarrassing, but they continue their support. They enjoy his elite-favored agenda (cutting government regulations and especially cutting taxes for the rich). They think the Republic will somehow survive. So, did many folks in the Weimar Republic, as Hitler and Nazis grew in strength. (Don’t read the books? Then see films such as “Cabaret” or “Garden of the Fitzi-Continis.”)
These conservatives look at their liberal friends and relatives with bemused condescension as we write, march, resist, or just share our fears with them in private. Many of them are “high church,” politically tied but certainly not socially tied with hardline evangelicals who deny science and global warming. They are educated. Their children attend top universities. They are comfortable, upper-middle class. If their daughter or sister should need an abortion, they can fly to Mexico or Europe when Kavanaugh votes to violate judicial precedent and changes the 9thamendment, the right of privacy. They are not as horrified as liberals of Trump’s sexism. They are more tolerant than liberals of racism and bigotry, even if they are not among the most rabid.
Neither are they as fearful of a “wag the dog” international distraction by Trump as are liberals. They might watch a night of Stephen Colbert. If they are extra cool, they might sneak in 30 minutes of Trevor Noah or even order on their Kindle Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear. But vote to replace right-wing Congresspersons or Senators? Less likely. Let us hope they are right. Let us hope we can, we will “survive” (preventing war with Iran, etc.) Meanwhile, environmental protections are ripped up. Oceans heat up, due to global warming. International protections, long in place, for refugees seeking asylum are ignored. Children of refugees are torn from their parents.
Oh wait. Some of those families I speak of have already adopted a few of the children; isn’t that sweet? Sorry, is my point of view showing too much? Still, I will continue discussing with my more conservative friends my reasoning for opposing not just Trump but the multitude of his cabinet choices and erratic, regressive policies. But if any of them hear me now, I will remind them of a salient quote—as it applies both to pre-Nazi Germany and to the United States: “The greatest tragedy is not the strident clamor of bad people, but the appalling silence of good people” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).