top of page
  • Writer's pictureRaymond Niblock

Speaking out against right wing extremism comes at a cost.

There is a price to be paid when one shares thoughts contrary to the right wing agenda these days. But some things are too important to be left unsaid. I’m not complaining about this, either, because duty and love of country compels me. If it compels you, I urge you thus: do not be afraid to raise your voice and be heard. While say this, I understand that every person must live life as they see fit. We all have responsibilities. Family. Spouse. Children. Job. Mental health. Balancing it all is difficult as it is without engaging in debate over the direction in which a vocal minority of extremists want to take our nation.

 

For years, I buried my head in the sand as the far right gathered steam. I avoided conflict beyond my day job, which is saturated with it. The last thing I wanted was more battles, especially ones I believed I couldn’t win with friends and associates. Like most people, I think I just wanted to go home at the end of the day and relax. But that mindset crumbled in the face of COVID-19 as MAGA and its cynical ideas caught a second wind.

 

We each experience moments in life that have the potential to inspire us to decide a thing. One of my moments was in early 2020, after narrowly escaping being trapped in India when her borders closed. Safe at home, I had a chance conversation about the pandemic with an acquaintance whom I appraised as a reasonable and thoughtful person. In our brief encounter, however, he dismissed the pandemic as liberal hysteria, likening it to the flu. “Not to worry,” he said. “Not that many people will die. People die of the flu every day!” His casual lack of concern and empathy for his fellow humans surprised me, especially when our local hospitals were already filling up to the point of overflowing.


There was something about Covid-19 I couldn’t shake. The feeling was that this was different. Diving into every source of information I could, I concluded Covid-19 was a serious, but I reminded myself that I am neither an infectious disease expert or nor epidemiologist. Why would I substitute my lay judgment for that of someone who had spent a lifetime studying such things? I placed my trust in the CDC and WHO, and I didn’t fight against mask mandates or complain that my “liberty” was compromised. Rather, I considered it my duty to fall in line. If that meant making a small sacrifice for the grater good, then that was my obligation.


Covid-19 became personal as it claimed the lives of some close friends, and some family, too. I was angry. I mourned my dead friends and family while the right-wing politicized precautions to stem the spread of the disease. They called it “liberty.” Liberty without responsibility. Seems as though they forgot the preamble to the Constitution they say they love so much where it says its purpose is, in part, to “promote the General welfare” of the nation. I grew more and more angry as MAGA seemed more than willing to make false claims of “liberty” at the expense of a moral duty to foster the common good. Contrary to their behavior and stated goals, we do not live in a world fashioned by Thomas Hobbes! I felt this way then, and I still feel that way about it. Shame on them. The collective MAGA notion of liberty is perverted. Liberty cannot truly exist without duty and obligation. Freedom is not license to abdicate responsibility to one’s fellows in a civilized society.

Thomas Hobbes viewed the world as a place where human beings, driven by self-interest and a desire for power, would naturally fall into conflict without a powerful authority to maintain order. His political philosophy emphasized the necessity of an absolute sovereign to prevent the chaos of the state of nature and ensure peace and stability through a social contract. This perspective laid the groundwork for modern political theory, particularly the concepts of social contract and the justification of political authority.

 The 2022 mid-term elections approached. MAGA was busy gaslighting all of us to believe a predicted “Red Wave” (that later failed miserably much to my delight) would sweep the nation. I envisioned a country handed over to white right-wing Christian nationalists as I listened to the arrogance and monstrous rhetoric. It compelled me to act, because it was obvious main-stream Republicans were unwilling to stand against it at every level of government from my city on up to the nation’s Capitol. Writing and publishing “The Last Independence Day: Secession” was my first step at resistance, because speaking out was no longer a choice. It was something I had to do. The novel ought to be required reading for anyone who wants to see what some of the right wing ideas might look like if put to policy.


And boy, oh boy, did the novel upset some people. But for everyone it angered on the right, I wager that it inspired 10 fold more to consider what our nation might look like if we stand idly by and watch MAGA take over the Reichstag. Some who read the book told me they were shaken to action, action to stand against the extremism in the Heartland that MAGA and its Republican enablers would have us think is a done deal.


Alongside many who have dared to call out the right-wing for its monstrous rhetoric, I’ve faced hurt feelings, disappointment, scorn and ostracism by a handful of scared, angry, little men. Knowing that I punched their buttons is satisfaction enough. I wear their disdain as a badge of courage.


In the beginning I tried to dress up my opposition to MAGA with a cloak of intellectual neutrality, acting almost like a judge would, giving air to all sides. I attempted to present my arguments as even-handed. It was a rather thin veneer, to be honest. I’ve never worn veneers very well. Eventually, my disdain betrayed me as my patent disdain for most of the MAGA crowd was laid bare. My low opinion of the lot often gets the better of me. I’ve given up trying to reason with them because it is personal. I’m not going to pretend for a minute that it isn’t. It is personal because of a deeply held and informed conviction that I am on the right side of history.


I am unafraid of our republic evolving into a liberal democracy, and I welcome the notion that we are becoming a multicultural, heterogenous society. At the same time, it baffles me why the MAGAs are so angry, cynical, and bitter. And why in the world would most of them who are, demographically, white rural people, place their trust in a billionaire felon fake-tanned Orange Man who has zero in common with the lot of his supporters? For what reasons are these people so aggrieved? What, because gasoline isn’t less than $2.00 a gallon? Inflation is too high? Are “they” still angry that we elected an African American president or that a woman dared to win the popular vote for President of the United States? Is it really about religion? Are they that concerned that a neighbor down the street might be a Buddhist? Or a Muslim? Do they really care that people of the same gender can be legally married? Are some books in libraries so offensive that they must be burned or the librarian jailed for lending them?


Where has right-wing populism ever served the longevity of a democratic republic in history over the long haul? Extreme right-wing populism poses paramount risks to democratic institutions and the rule of law. Movements that lean towards the extreme end of the spectrum will erode checks and balances, marginalize minority groups, and undermine democratic norms. Why on Earth would we exchange our current system, as flawed as it is, for a government that would curtail the rights of women (more than it already has), or further marginalize minority groups? While it may have meant something different to the men who wrote it into our Constitution, do we not share a common belief in this day an age that securing the “blessings of liberty” is something that should apply to everybody?


I digress. I hold no admiration for MAGA or its ideas. I will make exceptions for the rare Orange Man supporter who can civilly articulate an opinion supported by logic and facts, but those individuals might as well be unicorns. And there are also those who aren’t MAGA per se, but who can’t bring themselves to vote for the incumbent. For those people, I can brook their dissent when it is clothed in reason. People can have any number of reasons to oppose an incumbent, but as I have written before, I am unwilling to exchange abiding principles for the expedience of a policy advantage. I remind people who are on the fence about our incumbent of one important thing: if you wonder why the Supreme Court of the United States is so utterly divided ideologically and has lost nearly all its legitimacy, you only need to look to the last time the Orange Man held office. He took a wrecking ball to the court, and it will take another generation to fix it.


Our institutions, our democracy, are under threat from right wing white Christian nationalism cloaked in a term we call “populism.” MAGA has obtained legitimacy from a cowardly Republican Party that has enabled the vociferous few to enjoy a stage who do nothing but denigrate our institution and produce division. So, I will use my voice as a weapon, and I will wield it because it is my moral duty to do so.

 

Here’s something I realized. Most of the MAGA supporters I’ve encountered are thin-skinned, petty, and angry. Not all of them, but certainly most of them I have encountered appear that way. They exhibit few tools of reason, resorting mostly to name-calling in their defense of the twice-impeached and felonious Orange Man. They are fueled by something beneath intellect. It seems a feeling. They remind me of the rabble that John Adam’s warned us about. “Remember, democracy never lasts long,” John Adams once said. “It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” How his words are surely prescient today. These MAGAs seem all toowilling to place our Constitution and our institutions in the middle of a circular firing sqaud.

One member of the rabble recently called me “Hitler” and a “Nazi.” I was cast back to the seventh grade for a moment. Better yet, I was evidently transported to the Weimar Republic when the actual Hitler, not me, was given the chancellery before the Reichstag fire. The fellow who likened me to the one-armed paper hanger was obviously overcome by a form of pre-verbal rage. Reason departed him. Engaging him further was folly. Either his vocabulary was seriously limited, or he was so addled that he could not use his words. He had become a spoiled child who did not yet possess the power of speech. I had to fight off the urge not to taunt him further because blood was in the water. He was, sadly, a simple tool.

I believe that every fact-based argument or reasoned rebuttal might inspire someone to reconsider their stance or embolden some silent folk of like opinion to speak out. I know not everyone can do this, but maybe one word might spark a ripple of change, if shared? There is one of ther way of resistance: get out and vote. The best revenge will be at the ballot box, after all, when we send Orange Man’s sorry ass back to his country club where he can preside over poorly attended galas with Chicken Kiev. Once relegated to his golf courses, we will rest knowing he will never again have access to our nuclear codes.

Some people will push away from the table. I understand this. I cannot fault them, but they take a risk by doing so. They take a risk that the rest of us will carry the day. So be it. I love this country too much to remain silent as I think of Jon Freeman, my novel’s protagonist, whose journey from passive acceptance to active resistance mirrors my own. Unlike Jon, who woke up after it was too late, I still have the chance to make a difference, and I intend to take it.


If you see me out there, know that every word I speak, every argument I make, is driven by an unwavering belief that speaking out is a moral imperative rooted in love of country and perhaps more importantly, the idea of this nation as a place where all people are truly created equal and treated equally under the law. As I press forward, I will try to do so respectfully, but I suspect my sarcasm may get the best of me now and then. If I see you out there, good for you. Keep moving forward, no matter what.

58 views3 comments

Recent Posts

See All

3 Comments


dfpacheco
Jun 15

Very well said, friend. All of it needed to be said with the adept prose so few can wield. Please keep writing so that we can all learn something, maybe even about ourselves, and take the risk of considering an idea, concept, or notion that is different from out own. Your friend, DP

Like

Nathan Young
Nathan Young
Jun 15

So very well and thoughtfully worded brother - well done!

Like

VT Currell
VT Currell
Jun 15

Thoughtful and well reasoned my friend. We must not shy from speaking our truth to the corrosion promulgated by the cult of fear and hatred. VTC

Like
bottom of page