By Curt Strickland
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy: this nation is presently infected with Holocaust deniers. (I’m not sure how they explain away those photographs of the camps.) But, this week we were treated to a new species of deniers—Slavery deniers. Not sure who is spawning this new ecosystem, but the rot, the hate, the cowardice, the disinformation, as usual, spews out of Republicans’ mouths.
Yes people, Ron DeSantis and the Florida Education Board are disseminating the idea that slavery wasn’t so bad after all. It was just one big job-training initiative, preparing Afro-Americans for life after their bucolic existence in slave paradise plantations. In Texas, the term slavery is being changed to ‘involuntary relocation.” Can’t help but think of a George Orwell quote:
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
― George Orwell
“Libs, you’re on notice. The Mommies are now in charge. “Liberty” now means what we say it means. History is what we say it is.”
― Ron DeSantis
Further underpinning this attack on truth is Florida’s wildfire of banned books. Make no mistake, we are in a battle with fascism. What’s at stake is the very soul of this nation, the very soul of our democracy.
Our former President laid the groundwork to implement fascism, copying Hitler’s fascism manual: attacked there the press, sought support from white nationalists and white supremacists, urge police to assault peaceful protesters, canceled treaties and agreements meant to promote harmony with democratic nations, offered love to totalitarian leaders. And the list goes on and on.
In order for fascism to take root, history must be rewritten, entombed, and education white-washed. Presently, we are dealing with Trump’s Big Lie. Hitler: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” And people actually believe his lie despite the factual evidence thoroughly debunking his daily dose of lies. I mean, come on: he lost sixty-five court cases; his Attorney General said there was no election fraud; his chief election cyber chief said there was no election fraud; and the Dominion verdict lays bare the conspiracy behind the Big Lie.
But people still believe there was election fraud. Repeating a big lie over and over again does work.
It’s no surprise that the history of slavery is being rewritten—rewritten history is part of America’s DNA. There is ample precedent in America’s past. There was the famous Wilmington, North Carolina black holocaust that was waged in 1898 by white supremacists, wiping out a whole city of middle-class blacks, execution style. It was a riot, reminiscent of the January 6th riot, ignited by months of disinformation from the media and the pulpit. 300 back residents were executed. It is estimated that 2,000 black Americans were displaced, and the black newspaper building was torched. No arrests were made and there were no prosecutions.
So what did our history books say about this riot? Wilmington’s Lie by David Zucchini, page 335.
“The state’s school textbooks, presided over by white supremacists, ensured that the enduring myths of 1898 were passed down to each new generation of white pupils. A 1933 textbook placed the blame for the killing on elected black officials.”
They were the victims, not the perpetrators. This holocaust will never appear in DeSantis’s educational curriculum. Nor will the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 make it into the textbooks, another event where a black middle-class was erased, including what was then called Black Wall Street.
These acts are all part of the Fascist playbook. The parallels to the Third Reich’s ascension are staring us right in the face.
So how do you fight this evil? I used to try to have conversations with Trump Republicans, but they were incapable of having a rational exchange of ideas. They loved to send me links, but because they were members of a cult, critical thinking was no longer in their wheelhouse. Like their leader, they are shameless, and absent of integrity. Pointing out the truth or attempting an exchange of ideas can’t penetrate the epidermis of their disinformation bubble.
So what can you do? You keep exposing the lies, 24/7, because the lies never stop. We all have to fill the vacuum in the wake of disinformation and lies. We can’t depend on another person doing it; it must be done by ourselves, daily. That’s the only way you save democracy. The lies are the fuel that Republicans hope will hoist them into office. The January 6th committee simply exposed the Trump lies, and each Trump trial will expose more lies, acting as a cleansing agent for our Democracy.
Democracy is a living, breathing organism whose oxygen is truth. Democracy will wither on the vine if citizens turn away from the fight, their apathy condoning fascism, extinguishing the light.