Gaslighting the Left

On election night 2016, I was at the Mod Club (RIP). When the results became clear, there was a real sense of tragedy in the room. But there was also a feeling of hope. We were united by the love of writers with such a wealth of empathy, John K. Samson and Christine Fellows, singing "I know this world is good enough / because it has to be." 

This hope evaporated when the concert was over. The world outside was a scarier place than the one we had left a few hours earlier. But a clear message emerged almost immediately: "It's the Left's fault Trump won. Leftist 'identity politics' are the cause of the division in our society." 

Enough. After yesterday's attempted coup, I never want to hear this bad faith argument again. 

The 2016 election empowered racists and bigots on both sides of the border. It made things worse for the Mi'kmaq fishers and for Indigenous women. It made things worse for Black and LGBTQ people. It made North America a more dangerous place for anybody who's not a straight white male. And claiming that the Left was responsible for Trump's victory? It's classic blame-the-victim. 

The road to Trumpism is long. It's easy to trace it to 9/11, with the radicalization of many whites and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theory. In the 80s, Reagan planted the seeds that led to today's out-of-control wealth inequality. And between the two we had the emergence of the climate change crisis, which inspired the Right to break up with science and build the "alternative facts" playbook that is their secret weapon. 

But still, I still didn't believe Trump would win. I thought Bush was rock bottom. I had hope. And then he won. I called it a tragedy, and people called me crazy, told me I was being dramatic. People said that politicians change and daily life stays the same. "It's all just a show. And besides, that's just America. We're in Canada. We're different. We're better." 

For the past four the past four years, things steadily escalated. The Trump administration is now responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, disproportionately affecting non-whites, and has dragged the country's international reputation through the swamp. 

It is a tragedy. We were never overreacting. And the hate doesn't stop at the border. 

Yesterday's insurrection in Washington came straight out of the American playbook, a fascist coup modeled after the dozens that the US military has successfully orchestrated in South America and around the world to protect the interests of wealthy white Americans. The difference, this time, is that when the insurrectionists took the capitol, they didn't do anything about it. They were decorated in imagery that showed their intentions – some were explicitly Nazis, some explicitly pro-slavery, some explicitly trying to incite a civil war – but they didn't defend their prize with bullets and barricades, and a few hours later they just went home. Why is that? 

Peaceful civil rights movements like Me Too, Black Lives Matter and Antifascism get violently suppressed while violent white supremacists get peacefully escorted. That's not just injustice – it was the whole point of the show. 

The message of January 6th is this: Look what we can do. We want you to know what we can get away with. We (the white supremacists) want you (all non-white, non-cis people) to know whose side your police are on and whose side your government is on. 

This morning, not even 12 hours later, the House and the Senate have adjourned until after inauguration (the 20th) and January 19th respectively. There will be no consequences. 

And this morning I already hear a familiar refrain: the Left is responsible. It's the fault of progressive people that this happened. Putting aside liars and delusional conspiracy theorists claiming that it was literally "fascist antifas" that stormed the capital (you're half right!), I've heard people blaming leftist identity politics for laying the track for this insurrection. It's nonsense. 

Listen, it's very simple. The Left believes that everybody, all people, deserve respect. The Right wants to protect the systems of power and privilege that benefit the white, the male, the cis and the wealthy. If your argument is that progressive people should be less inclusive – and more forgiving of bigotry – in order to prevent white supremacist uprisings, then you need to rethink your priorities.

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