by Larissa Shmailo
(With Art by Chris Mansel)
This November, Americans experienced an unnatural transition from a democracy to a country led by a fascist president. Swastikas, church burnings, hate writings on walls marked with “Trump,” are sanctioned by our new president-elect; indeed, the alt-right (a sanitized term for white supremacists) is lodged next to the Oval Office. We are ripe to be pussy grabbed, placed in conversion therapy, registered, and deported. Oh, and torture is in. (If you do not know anything about fascism, don’t worry: you are about to learn.)
So, many of us in the humanities, artists, poets, writers, historians, social scientists, scholars, linguists, critics, journalists, oppose this. I know: even now, Steve Bannon is slugging down an extra shot to stop his trembling, and is telling Trump, “Mr. President, we’ve got a problem.”
Artists!!! Scholars!!! Sociologists!!! Be afraid, Donald Trump, be very afraid!
Well, yes, actually, he has cause to be. Fascists are afraid of vibrant, truth-telling humanities, which is why they arrest their makers so often. One of Trump’s earliest encounters with defiance was from the cast of Hamilton, who used their stage to confront our homophobic VP-elect.Apologize, the Donster demanded. No, the cast answered. There was more here than a distraction from Trump’s business conflicts of interest (which are actually bribery, explicitly cited in the Constitution as impeachable). The president-elect wanted the cast of Hamilton to obey, and the arts and humanities rarely do.
What do we in the humanities do that threatens demagogues, authoritarians, Hitler-wannabes? (“I alone can fix it” was a direct quote from Fuhrer by the Donald.) We record, parody, inspire, inform, debate, debunk, analyze, summarize, translate, abstract, respond, journal, categorize, report, opine, educate, satirize, uplift, mobilize, underscore, energize, review. We bring forth new ideas and data, show people how, when, and where to resist, and keep up the spirits of people oppressed by their selfish and erratic leaders.
And we continue to do so in the face of the angry tweets and the red face of the Orangeman. And we are legion. So indeed, it is rational, to paraphrase National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, to be afraid of the humanities and their practitioners. So, yes, Trumpetters, do be afraid.
Chris Mansel, Untitled