When to Leave

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the possibility of Fascism or Authoritarianism in the United States, and what that means for my plans to remain in the country. I don't want to overreact, and I don't think it's inevitable that this country will descend into fascism — but I believe now that it's possible.

Looking at the history of WWII in Europe, one thing becomes clear. Survival rates were far higher those who fled the Nazis early, while it was still possible. Those who stayed until they weren't allowed to leave suffered greatly, and the majority of them died.

Will we have attempted genocide and mass executions in this country again? I really doubt it. But persecution in general? Already happening, and likely to get worse.

As a straight white male with money, I'm pretty far down the target list — I am a Trump critic, but not at all an important or prominent one. Of course, it only takes one retweet by someone prominent to put you in the cross-hairs.

Look at what happened to Chuck Jones, a local union leader who criticized Trump on TV. Trump responded with tweets attacking him, and Trump followers responded to that by sending threats to Jones.

Just this week there have been a number of incidents; one of a woman sending death threats, and another of a man who invaded a pizza parlor with a gun. Both incidents happened because the perpetrators believed right-wing web hoaxes. Or the taxi driver who threatened a Somali-American legislator because she was wearing a head scarf.

I believe it's inevitable that these threats will continue, and I believe the election of Trump will embolden some to follow up those threats with action, and murder Trump opponents and vulnerable minorities. As horrible as that is, that doesn't mean it's time to flee the country. This country has withstood endemic racism and persecution before; periodically the American people seem to rise up and lash out at a visible minority — Irish, Chinese, Poles, and the perennial favorites: Jews, African Americans, and anyone with darker skin than a Northern European. Our republic withstood a civil war; it will withstand this.

No, the time to get the hell out of Dodge is when law enforcement — at the local, state, and Federal level — stop caring about these murders.1 If the response from the police is "she shouldn't have been wearing that hijab" or "he shouldn't have criticized the president" — or if the attack is blamed officially on anti-Trump activists trying to incite the public, then we've reached a level of fascism and authoritarianism that signals to all vulnerable minorities and political opponents that it's time to get the hell out of this place.

  1. The other warning sign is if these murders become widespread — if murders of African Americans, Muslims, people of color in general, members of the LGBTQ community, and Trump critics are more than isolated incidents. But I don't think that will happen before police indifference does.