I broke down in tears tonight. I broke down, sobbing, in front of my children. I realize how irrational this is, and a part of me is convinced, hopeful, that it’s just plain crazy, but this is hard. It started with a video. This one:
I watched that video. I watched this neo-Nazi group in action. I watched them and their Nazi salutes. I listed to the leader of the group talk with pride about being the conquerers, the crusaders. I watched him dehumanize liberals as “soulless golems.” I watched him discuss how minority groups need whites, yet whites get nothing from the other groups, and that thinking otherwise is the big lie of American race relations. I watched him turn to German, with a reference to the way the Nazis talked about the press in Germany. I watched in horror.
This is the “alt-right,” and the man speaking is a leader of the group. Stephen Bannon gave the alt-right life. He gave the alt-right legitimacy. When talking about his Breitbart News in August, he proudly said, “We’re the platform for the alt-right“when interviewed by Sarah Posner at the RNC.
Of course, months after that interview, shortly after he helped Trump become the president-elect, he was named Trump’s “chief strategist and senior counselor.” Perhaps revealing, Trump announced this appointment at the same time as he announced his chief of staff, but called the two men “equal partners” in the administration.
So this man, champion of the group in the video. The group with the Nazi salutes. The group that talks about the superiority of the white race. This man is shaping the administration.
So I sat down to dinner, mind racing. Mind racing because it’s the holidays. Mind racing because I’ve had dinner with various members of my wife’s family over the past few days, and will have more dinners with them in the days to come. Mind racing because I sat there with them, and smiled, and they smiled, and we talked about football, and the weather, and work, and anything other than politics, but knowing that they voted for Trump. And I watched this video, and my mind raced because I simply don’t know how I’m supposed to act anymore. I don’t know how anybody can expect me to sit in a room with them, knowing that they voted to empower this man. Knowing that they voted to support a movement that symbolizes the desire for me to die. They voted to support a Nazi movement, and even though none of them are Jews, their son in-law for the last twenty years is a Jew. They voted to empower a man who championed a movement that calls for my death. That proudly uses hand gestures as a tribute to the largest genocide of Jews in our history. And I’m supposed to look at them and smile? And they’re going to hand me Christmas presents, as if what they did with their vote is meaningless?
And I broke down. Sobbing. Because I really don’t know how I’m going to get through this. And family is the most important thing in the world to my wife, and my wife and children are the most important things in the world to me. So I will hold it in. I will smile and hand them presents. And I’ll talk about football, and the weather, and the kids, and work, and I’ll do everything I can to hold it all inside. To hold inside that I know they voted for a man who has empowered this movement that wants me and their grandchildren dead.
And I broke down. Sobbing. While my wife tried to comfort me, and I moved away from my children. And she tried to comfort me by saying that they didn’t know they voted for this. But how could they have not. She tried to comfort me by saying that they don’t believe it’s true. But how comforting is that? She tried to comfort me by saying that if it gets bad, he won’t stay in power. But how many times has something like this been stopped from the inside? And, none of that matters, because my wife’s family. Pretty much every one of them, voted for this. And I’m supposed to sit with them during Thanksgiving dinner. And I’m supposed to sit with them during Christmas dinner. And I’m supposed to smile, and hand them gifts, and open their gifts and say “thank you.” Thank you for voting for a man who empowers a movement that wants me dead. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
I don’t know what to do with that, so I broke down. Sobbing.