Less than twenty days. The road to these elections has been long and difficult. I see fearful faces, those of anguished migrants on the border with Mexico, and faces full of hatred, those of white nationalists in Charlottesville chanting: “The Jews will not replace us.”
Donald Trump has focused entirely on the fear of replacement or, as it is sometimes called, “The great replacement”.
The president has been the bastion – I am tempted to say the last bastion – of whites against people of other races.
Of the nationalists who proclaim “America first” against migrants; of heterosexual people against the LGBTQ community; of the armed people against whom they do not carry weapons. Of Trump against all those he believes would replace those who are like him.
All means have been used: lies, brutality, instigation. But fear has been Trump’s main weapon. Fear, which depends on inciting confrontation between different groups, is what prevails in Trump’s term.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the United States that is about to vote is perhaps more fractured than ever since the Vietnam War.
“The great replacement” is a phrase that is usually attributed to the French writer Renaud Camus, who stated: “The great replacement is very simple. We have one people and, in the course of a generation, we have a different one ”.
Of course, that’s a good definition of the United States.
Of its vitality, its commotion, its reinvention, its intrinsic receptivity. The United States that Trump would deny. He wants to preserve a white America intact. A strange mix between Norman Rockwell and the series “Mad Men”, In an imaginary United States that struts for a world that bends to its will.
Behind “America First” is a very un-American doctrine.
Change can be scary, and around that fear revolves the great replacement conspiracy theory. Camus grotesquely warns about a “genocide by substitution”, The replacement of an order established by the French and white Europeans with hordes of Muslims in a conspiracy orchestrated by cosmopolitan elites.
In Trump’s case, an order established by white Americans who are replaced by dark-skinned Mexican rapists and black looters.
France is concerned about Muslims in North Africa. Germans were once so concerned that Jews would replace them that they murdered six million of them. In a world of mass migrations, fear is soaring: the idea of the nation will be lost or weakened to some degree!
Today the United States is especially susceptible to fear because the world has changed in ways puzzling.
Power has shifted east to Asia. The United States has not won its last wars. By mid-century, non-Latino whites will be less than 50 percent of the population.
It’s scary to see an industry disappear, like Kentucky’s coal industry. Trump understood that he could be the spokesman for that fear. I would build a wall to keep those dark people out!
He is an impostor. He lifts his chest, Mussolini style, but he’s a bone spur coward. Her limbs tremble as she goes down a narrow ramp. It is good for rousing people. It is good to destroy. But not good for doing anything constructive.
Less than twenty days.
The United States will decide whether to opt for the future or to lock itself in a self-destructive way within a distorted fantasy From the past. It will decide whether to reinvent itself once more or to become a petty country and even more self-absorbed.
As Edward R. Murrow put it: “We cannot defend freedom abroad if we neglect it at home.”
That happened in 1954, at the worst moment of McCarthyism. For the senator Joseph McCarthy, the danger to the republic came from communist infiltration into American life.
The real danger came from his obsessions. About the purges and the blacklist that labeled countless citizens as anti-American.
The great journalist Murrow confronted McCarthy.
Donald Trump does things McCarthy-style. It deals with specters: immigrants, Muslims, brunettes, blacks and members of the LGBTQ community.
However, as with McCarthy, the real danger comes from Trump’s obsessions, not from these imaginary enemies.
American freedom is deteriorating. Freedom of thought, since thought depends on truth.
The freedom to disagree, since Trump believes he has the right “to do whatever he wants as president.” The freedom to breathe, since Trumpism — its nepotism, its desire to look good with dictators, its incessant noise — is suffocating.
The freedom inseparable from the American idea that I, a naturalized American, hold sacred with irrational fervor.
No, we cannot defend freedom abroad if we neglect it at home. Thus we only defend those who trample on dignity and human rights. Just as Trump has done with arrogant debauchery.
Is it crazy to see a renaissance in a 77-year-old Joe Biden? No. We live in the real world, where the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good.
Indecency demands restoration of decency. That is the zone of impact of these elections. The choices were very apparent at televised public events on Thursday, when Trump spilled out wild right-wing conspiracy theories while Biden had the self-critical honesty to say that if he lost, it would be because he was a “lousy candidate”.
Biden is not a lousy candidate; He is a good man, a brave man. My hat is off to any parent who survives with such dignity the loss of two of their four children.
On McCarthy, Murrow noted: “He didn’t create this scary situation; he simply took advantage of it … and with great success. Cassius was right. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not our stars, but ourselves.’
The fault is ours. It is time for Americans to look in the mirror and realize that if we lose it, we will no longer be able to replace our United States.
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