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Est. April 5, 2002
 
           
July 05, 2018 - Issue 749




Jackboots
Over Our Children’s Heads
America in the Trump Era


"Jackboots have been coming when institutions clamp down
on democracy while emboldening religious fanaticism and
white supremacy. Jackboots have been coming when Americans
voice a belief in a flat Earth and Mexicans rapists. They’ve been
coming when another black youth falls dead to police bullets."



We had that too, we had, had. Not to boast of it, no, but it urges us

to speak, it wants to be described, it doesn’t want to die.

It is not buried beneath the ruins.

Hans Erich Nossack, The End: Hamburg 1943

The smoke, diminishing, Nossack walks around the remains of homes and the things people, just hours before, thought they possessed. It’s 1943. Supposedly the destruction is for the good of humanity. Peace. Supposedly the fascists are dying, somewhere. But here is nothing more than the broken, cracked, charred, speaking to the writer of what has been lost.

But these things can be replaced, someone could say.

Of course! I may have lost home and possessions but not a family member. But what of our “way of living with things,” asks Nossack. “Was it wrong?” Were we wrong? Consider all the books that once surrounded us. Didn’t some, highly valued and privileged, didn’t these books speak out of “vapid” ignorance of reality? Women wanting to be possessed by men, for example, these books expounded. To be happy!

What did we learn, really?

All the things we gathered around us were no more than “guests,” Nossack writes. We never owed these things.

Nothing good can come of a loss of a way of being, remaining vigilant to the rise of institutionalized cruelty.”All the things that surrounded us were only our guests.” We never owned these things. They defended us but were destroyed in the end, and “we now stand naked and without any illusory refuge.”

It’s not things. They can defend you from nothing!

The smoke clears. The flag appears to be recognizable. There are no schirmmütze or greatcoats. Nonetheless, jackboots are making themselves known, in the images of children caged! Children kidnapped! Jackboots poised above the heads of migrant children from lands colonized and dehumanized by Western nations, including the United States.

So much in American life, in the experiences of people of color, announced the arrival of jackboots to these shores. They have been coming, one policy at a time. Jackboots have been coming when institutions clamp down on democracy while emboldening religious fanaticism and white supremacy. Jackboots have been coming when Americans voice a belief in a flat Earth and Mexicans rapists. They’ve been coming when another black youth falls dead to police bullets. Jackboots are there when liberals and progressives remain silent and when Americans consider the rights of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, mouthpiece for a white supremacist administration, over and above the rights of parents and children of color. What freedom of speech should be honored for Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen when neither, women, can stand up in anger to defend children?

So many Americans of color saw these jackboots. Felt them—even told they didn’t exist. Pray that the “enemy” is stomped out, crush, annihilated by “hailstorms.” Victory will come to “God’s people” while all manner of atrocities will befall the “enemy.” Lessons taught across the country on Sunday mornings. Make America Great!

Chaos is a necessity for restoring the racial hierarchy as it is for the Rapture. Protest, however, to end detention, to end Trump’s “zero tolerance policy,” to end inhumane and cruel policies toward people of color, is jailed. Trump, for Americans with “enemies” within and without, is doing “the Lord’s work!”

And what does it matter if the creators of this policy did so as a result of cruelty or out of competence. There are children who may never see their mothers again while these children, mind you, as young as three years old, are ordered to court to defend themselves!

I don’t see Stephen Miller or Kirstjen Nielsen sitting down to lunch with protesters of US immigration policy. It’s not a matter of democrat or republican, blues or reds, divided themselves by border walls. Break free! There’s no middle ground, except a fissure, a sinkhole, an abyss. It’s either yes or no.

What about MS-13? Trump asks. We’re watching Jefferson Sessions!

Jackboots leaving behind children and mothers crying uncontrollably, march on.

Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he’ll retire from the Supreme Court, and you can bet, the supporters of aggressive oppression are working to make sure the expression of democracy is stamped out, permanently.

Victory against the “enemy”!

In 1943, walking among the destruction, Nossack engages in critical thinking to recognize what he sees as the end. The rebuilding of structures is easy. But we must consider what’s to be learned as a result of this destruction. What’s lost in these acts of strategic cruelty? And what’s been lost—nothing short of the loss of empathy! Compassion! Kindness! How about common sense Decency!

These are values struggling to remain relevant—despite declaring, at the end of every atrocity, Never Again!

What is it that prevents us human beings from committing to the survival of all of humanity, rather than to only one’s political or cultural or social tribe? Why do we privilege, in the end, what’s antithetic to the survival of humanity?

How do we, in 2018, end what refuses to die and threatens to crush us underneath it?

Whatever it is, we must do it together, consistently, always vigilant of any disguise the jackboots take on.


BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Contact Dr. Daniels.
 



 
 

 

 

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