In the context of a fascist regime in power, you cannot have “civil discourse” with fascists.
Conservative campus groups like the Young Americans for Freedom, an appendage group of the Young America’s Foundation, receive millions of dollars in subsidies and backing to fund speakers who do not recognize the humanity of whole sections of people, such as throughdenigrating undocumented immigrants. These speakers include David Horowitz and Ann Coulter, and act as the intellectual hitmen of the presidential administration, providing justifications for the crimes of the fascists in the White House.
To advocate for civil discourse at a time when these ideas have the backing of the state – such as through threatening tweets from the president in support of these speakers – serves to fan the flames of fascism.
The fascist President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence regime holds the reigns of power in the U.S. today. The regime is made up of outright white supremacist ghouls like Jeff Sessions – a senator condemned for making several racist comments as a U.S. attorney – and others such as Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos, all of whom intend to subordinate women or push forward a xenophobic program aimed at mass deportations.
These are anti-science theocrats threatening to destroy the world by waging a nuclear holocaust against countries such as North Korea. They have demonized, criminalized and unleashed violence against Muslims, immigrants and people in inner cities. They have taken measures through word and deed to reduce women to breeders, such as through rolling back requirements that employer-provided health insurance covers birth control methods for women and through fighting against women’s rights to abortions.
Denying millions of U.S. citizens healthcare by refusing to pay subsidies to insurance companies threatens their lives. Trump’s administration also threatened to deny any real form of aid to Puerto Rico after the two recent hurricanes that hit the country, putting Puerto Rican lives at risk. Administrators have expressed disdain for the truth, attacking the science of climate change and evolution, and the scientific method overall. They have assaulted civil rights and liberties in various ways, such as through practices that limit certain communities’ abilities to vote and attacking the press.
Trump spoke at the 2017 Values Voter Summit put on by an anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Family Research Council – an event the Southern Poverty Law Center described as a “rogue’s gallery of the radical right.” Trump told the audience, composed of anti-LGBTQ activists, that its voices would “not be silenced any longer.”
He used an expletive to describe Colin Kaepernick, the football player who took a knee during the national anthem in response to police brutality. At the same time, the FBI labels “black identity extremists” as domestic terrorists, and the administration attacks consent decrees aimed at correcting egregious abuses of police power by claiming they are part of a “war on cops.”
Refuse Fascism is putting forward a challenge on Nov. 4, and a call to all to recognize this regime for what it is: a grave danger to humanity and the planet. Our challenge is aimed at ending this nightmare by having thousands across the country pour into the streets and engaging in mass, nonviolent resistance until our demands are met. We refuse to accept a fascist America.
In Los Angeles, the sustained resistance starts at Pershing Square at 1 p.m. The following week, we at UCLA will participate in protests, including walkouts. Students have played a key role in almost every social and political movement, and their support is needed now more than ever. The future of the world is in our hands, and we have a responsibility as those being trained as the future leaders of society not only to voice our opposition to the horrors unleashed by this regime, but also put an end to it.
I am proud to have disrupted the panel, “What Is Civil Discourse? Challenging Hate Speech in a Free Society,” where good people were denouncing what they called “student censorship of ideas they disagree with.” These people make no distinction between those advocating for and those opposing reactionary ideas with state backing, and make the harmful argument that we need to hear each other out.
I agree with the university motto “Fiat lux” – “Let there be light,” but this fascist regime – not student protests – is what tramples on the light. There should be light for the millions of immigrants, for people of color in the inner cities, for women, for LGBTQ people, for refugees, for the people of North Korea – for everyone. In the face of the reality we confront, to say to students “You’ve got to hear these ideas out,” or, “You can change things with the sheer power of pointed questions,” is to normalize fascism.
These arguments are tantamount to arguing the freedom fighters of the civil rights era should have had “civil discourse” with the Ku Klux Klan instead of disturbing the air and disrupting business as usual. Pretending civil discourse will solve anything in this context only serves to put people on the defensive while the regime steamrolls over people’s lives and rights.
We refuse to go down that road. Imagine the difference it would have made if the people in Nazi Germany had sounded the alarm in this bold way and organized millions to put a stop to fascism while they still had a chance. Let us learn from history, confront the very serious stakes we face and act with all our creativity and determination to drive out this regime before it’s too late.
Deloria is a fifth-year geography student.