Rebecca Solnit: On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway

I’m loving this piece by Rebecca Solnit at Literary Hub. Let’s look at violence and the political divide in America right now as one side spirals even further into Conspiracy-Land, lies, hate, vitriol, and obsolescence, while the other has a choice: follow them by validating it even in the slightest, or reject it outright and replace it with evidence, reason, and justice.

I’ve spent much of my adult life watching politicians like Bill Clinton and, at times, Barack Obama sell out their own side to placate the other, with dismal results, and I pray that times have changed enough that Joe Biden will not do it all over again.

Reaching across the aisle to have your hand chopped off again and again? No thanks. We on the left keep trying to compromise with those who just want us gone, either by political irrelevance, or by actual violence. Solnit explains:

In the past four years too many members of the right have been emboldened to carry out those values as violence. One of the t-shirts at the #millionMAGAmarch this weekend: “Pinochet did nothing wrong.” Except stage a coup, torture and disappear tens of thousands of Chileans, and violate laws and rights. A right-wing conspiracy to overthrow the Michigan government and kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer was recently uncovered, racists shot some Black Lives Matter protestors and plowed their cars into a lot of protests this summer. The El Paso anti-immigrant massacre was only a year ago; the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre two years ago, the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally in which Heather Heyer was killed three years ago (and of course there have been innumerable smaller incidents all along). Do we need to bridge the divide between Nazis and non-Nazis? Because part of the problem is that we have an appeasement economy, a system that is supposed to be greased by being nice to the other side.

So what’s the solution? Education. Solnit elaborates:

If half of us believe the earth is flat, we do not make peace by settling on it being halfway between round and flat. Those of us who know it’s round will not recruit them through compromise. We all know that you do better bringing people out of delusion by being kind and inviting than by mocking them, but that’s inviting them to come over, which is not the same thing as heading in their direction.

Learning and connection are the way: we call this torah.

The full piece is here and a fascinating read:

I’ll leave you for Shabbat with this:

There are situations in which there is no common ground worth standing on, let alone hiking over to. If Nazis wanted to reach out and find common ground and understand us, they probably would not have had that tiki-torch parade full of white men bellowing “Jews will not replace us” and, also, they would not be Nazis.


Related: Why Republican voters say there’s ‘no way in hell’ Trump lost