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Can We Really Come Together As a Nation?

In July I wrote about the necropolitics revealed by the actions of political leaders and political parties who clearly don’t care about inflicting death on others; those who actually succeed politically by subjecting others to violence and torture and unspeakable suffering.

As I was drafting that earlier piece, it was perfectly apparent to all that Trump and the Republicans were practicing necropolitics by ignoring science and refusing to mask and observe social distancing. But far worse is how they were unbothered—how they were even somehow gratified—by the extreme agony of low-income communities of color; communities whose members can’t work from home, whose kids can’t do distance learning, and who increasingly suffer hunger and homelessness as the pandemic raged on. A fair summary of the Trumpians’ ethics during the time of Covid 19: Better them than us. We owe them nothing.

Fast forward to this very day. All of the statewide election results may not be in, but the big election result—the mind-boggling result—is already plain. This election finds close to half of American voters still rallying behind Trump and hate and exclusion and death.

What does this tell us? I’ve been hearing from a number if BIPOC colleagues in religious leadership who aren’t calling me to complain about misleading polls but who do have a need to vent about the manifest white supremacy and misogyny that animates Trump’s enormous base—a base that has grown over four years despite the kids ripped from their parents’ arms, the ongoing police murders of Black people, the graft and self-dealing, and the never-ending cascade of lies and venom.

To Black/Indigenous/People of Color the message of this election could not be more clear, regardless of whether Biden manages to squeak through and get himself sworn in. The blunt message from more than half of their white American neighbors is get out – you don’t matter – we don’t need you, and you won’t replace us. And it isn’t new.

This was always Trump’s message, but many progressives were nevertheless pleased to think that Trump had somehow conned or hoodwinked 63 million people to vote for him in 2016, but that this time—after all of the atrocious and dangerous behavior—a significant number would turn away and vote for a return to conventional presidential leadership.

Where are these defectors? As I write this, election boards around the country have already counted the votes of over 67 million people who want more death, more deception, and more openly racist and exclusionary public policies. And a huge number of these voters identify as Christian.

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And we’re supposed to find a way to reconcile with them? I can’t, and I won’t. The only path forward I can see is the path of confrontation and struggle and relentless organizing for power—nonviolently, of course, but without the genteel gestures toward bipartisanship and compromise centrist Democrats are so fond of.

We who believe that everyone belongs didn’t seek this war, but we now have little choice but to fight and win it.

Commentators who have been saying for some time that we’re already embroiled in a slow-rolling civil war have got it mostly right. And today’s secessionists very much resemble those of the 1850s inasmuch as they adamantly reject the idea that all are created equal, that everyone counts, and that we have a responsibility to create more, not less, opportunity for all of our neighbors to flourish in safety. They have seceded from civil society.

We who believe that everyone belongs didn’t seek this war, but we now have little choice but to fight and win it.

Joe Biden has no interest in fighting, and he certainly won’t lead in this one. Joe Biden wants to be a healer, even with all the knives circling his throat.

I’m all for healing, but not at the price of accommodating secessionists and haters and authoritarians. This election tells us that a powerful white supremacist minority intends to keep imposing its necropolitics on the rest of us, using every means at its disposal.

Hillary Clinton Not Progressive

And if we don’t fight back, using every means at our disposal, we will lose every claim to self-respect, let alone the respect of generations to come.

Peter Laarman
Religion Dispatches