The legendary singer, actor and activist, Harry Belafonte, recently referred to the advent of the Trump presidency as the Fourth Reich, the heir apparent to Hitler’s Third Reich. Others have expressed similar sentiments. While the nature of Trump’s campaign and the dark forces it has helped to unleash, along with the composition of his cabinet, are harbingers of challenging and difficult days, his administration is not and can not be the Fourth Reich.
Demographic realities work against the creation in America of the kind of social solidarity which undergirded the Nazi state. There are far more white Americans who are at odds with the worst aspects of Trump’s agenda than those who favor it. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Native peoples, African Americas, Latino Americans, Asian Americans and other minorities who are collectively close to becoming the majority in this country would vehemently oppose the imposition of a fascist program. The American polity itself along with its institutions at the federal, state and municipals levels is far too deep and multivariate to evoke any comparisons with the Weimar Republic. Saying that, however, does not mean that we must not be extremely vigilant going forward. History has a way of bringing the most startling surprises at the most unexpected times.
So what is to be done? The people of good works must continue to do the good works which define and distinguish their lives. Strive to be a better person, neighbor, coworker, fellow student as well as a more conscientious and well-informed citizen. The loving people whose actions are motivated by love must continue to love and work from the foundation of their love. We cannot allow the merchants of hate to purchase our souls for a trifling price. No price can be put on our love and we should proclaim to anyone caring to listen that we will not auction it off to the lowest bidder. The times are not bad until we allow them to change who we are.
Most importantly, we cannot allow veiled threats or overt acts of intimidation to silence us or remove us from the arena of struggle. Difficult times call out the best in us. Abraham Lincoln would likely not be considered the greatest American president were he not challenged by the circumstances of the Civil War and the threat of the dissolution of the Union. The oration and character of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have been so sterling had they not been exposed to the tumultuous caldron of the 1960s.
Our times do not call for us to be Abraham Lincolns, Malcolm Xs or Dr. Kings. They do demand that we all play our part as courageous, visionary citizens responding to the call to preserve the foundations of our republic. Those of us who are Muslims should join our fellow citizens in glorious peaceful protest, such as the historic women’s march tomorrow in Washington DC. We should never lose sight of the fact, however, that while Islam, to a certain extent, was born in protest, it is not a protest religion and that the primary purpose of our community is to help people remove the stain of hatred, racism and xenophobia from their hearts and minds freeing them to become filled with the love of their Lord. That is ultimately the foundation for peace, brotherhood, sisterhood and a good life in this world. It is also the key to salvation in the next.