Ijeoma Oluo nails it when it comes to the problems of Trump’s presidency campaign. People have been giving Trump supporters wiggle room for them to say, “well, I’m not the bad guy, so I can continue supporting Trump!”
Oluo points out that no, supporting a White Supremacist means that you are, at best, indifferent to White Supremacy, which means you fail at ethics: (emphasis mine)
Now some of you may be asking, as you have on Facebook and Twitter: “Ijeoma, are you really willing to call half of the U.S. population White Supremacists?” And to that my answer is hell yes. This may seem like a bold statement to some, but honestly, I can’t see why.
Human beings can quite easily fall in line with violent hatred and oppression; any quick glance through world history will show that to be true. Do you think that the Nazis came to power against the will of the German electorate, or with the support of the German people? Do you think that slavery was upheld purely by the few rich enough to own slaves, or by an entire society that even erected armies to defend it? And no, none of this can be excused away as “a product of the times”—humans are not like wine grapes; we do not have a few “bad years” that we can blame on the soil. If you recognize that these horrific systems of abuse, oppression, and even genocide were upheld by everyday people, then you have to acknowledge that everyday people are capable of some pretty heinous shit. You can be in the PTA and you can pay your taxes and you can volunteer at your local homeless shelter and at the same time you can be actively upholding the oppression of others. It has been done before and it is being done now.
I’d like to draw your attention to the last bit I quoted there. You can look at someone like Hitler and point out that he kissed his wife on the cheek and painted nice things and drank his tea with his pinky finger sticking out and probably cuddled with his dog. We need to dispel this notion of “Bad Guys” altogether, because it allows us to put distance between accountability and our ideas. If we support Trump, we support White Supremacy. That isn’t cancelled out by running a cat rescue or housing an estranged member of the family. You can be concerned with the welfare of certain people whilst being a White Supremacist.
History has shown us that those principled enough to accept the consequences of defiance in the face of a violent authoritarian regime are in the minority. Most of us will kowtow to violence. Most of us can be convinced to uphold a war machine. After all, every great crime against humanity was carried out and supported by the average Joe. If we understand there is a tremendous capacity for violence in all of us, we are better equipped to see the world not as Good vs. Evil–which is exactly the simplistic narrative authoritarians want you to believe–but instead to see the world as a collection of largely mutually exclusive ideas, with different goals and different degrees of effectiveness.
That’s why I’m not interested in the biography of any given White Supremacist. I don’t care about the individual. I care about the idea, and what it represents.