Some people seem to wear their political disengagement as a badge of honor. In times such as we find ourselves in, it is anything but. Apathy in the face of the current American political landscape should not be celebrated, but derided and shamed. Some would have you believe that the major parties are “two wings of the same bird,” but this is either just a lazy, or an outright disingenuous representation of where the parties currently sit. One major party is flawed and imperfect. Without being hyperbolic, the other is pulling us down a path mirrored to some of the darkest times in human history.
In the last year GOP state legislatures have introduced hundreds of new anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, most of them anti-trans. There have been no laws proposed from the other side to disenfranchise a subset of people. These laws vary in degree of depravity but they all have the end goal of erasure of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Florida has passed some of the most strikingly egregious laws on this front. Among recent laws (last 18 months) passed there are:
1. Don’t say gay bill.
2. Drag show bans.
3. High school sport ban for trans children.
4. A bathroom bill.
5. Gender affirming care bans for children AND adults without government approval.
6. A bill that allows for state removal of children from a parent or parents who provide gender affirming care.
7. Death penalty for child sex abuse perpetrators, approved by an 8-4 jury.
Please pay close attention to those last two. The state of Florida now has two laws on the books, one that allows for the forced removal of children from an “abusive” parent or parents who provide gender affirming care. And another that, as republicans are currently unable to disengage the notion of queer people from sex, allows a 2/3 jury deciding that providing puberty blockers is sex abuse and parents could be put to death. Queer people have been unjustly accused of pedophilia for decades. Florida is laying the groundwork to legally execute queer people and queer allies. Right now. And as we’ve seen with abortion bans these local legislatures take what they see other red states doing and implement it elsewhere.
Along with the rise of anti-queer legislation there has been a drastic increase in anti-semitism, shouted from the highest levels of the Republican Party. From fantastical statements of “Jewish space lasers,” to the more insidious, “Soros backed…” which is a direct nod to the age old conspiracy that Jews control everything, open anti-semitism is celebrated. That celebration has already led to radicalization of white supremacists with deadly end results.
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed coup attempt by the extremist Nazi Party in 1923. Hitler and the Nazis then were not held to account and 17 years later The Final Solution began. We watched a demagogue attempt to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021 here in America. So far the major players in that attempt have yet to be held accountable.
This all wouldn’t be so frustrating if it wasn’t so obvious. The Nazi Party rode anti-semitism and anti-queerness to power. They otherized minority groups, legislated away their basic human rights and dignity, and then they began rounding them up eradicating them. The modern day GOP is otherizing Jews and queer people. They’re already calling for the eradication of trans people. They’re laying legal groundwork to execute them and their allies. They’re embracing open white supremacy and people flying Nazi flags in their midst. It isn’t alarmist to link the GOP today with the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1920s and 30s, especially as the swastika is becoming more prevalent within GOP circles.
This isn’t to say that all people who historically identify as republicans are these things or endorse these things, but it is to say that those that aren’t need to start paying attention to what their party is doing before it’s too late.
And it is to say that those who proudly proclaim their being outside the realm of politics shouldn’t be celebrated.
Being apolitical is intentional ignorance. It’s choosing to blind yourself to the reality of what’s happening all around us. If the rise of American right wing extremism isn’t stopped history will look back and ask why so many people ignored the warning signs, especially being less than a century removed from the Holocaust.
Being apolitical is choosing to embrace privilege that will be short lived. It’s deciding that the privilege of not having to worry right now is more important than paying attention. It’s the privilege of saying you don’t pay enough attention in order to avoid hard conversations. It’s privilege because you or your immediate family aren’t under direct threat. At least not right now. Not yet. But those privileges will be short lived if 2024 is won by MAGA, because in a potential 21st century American Holocaust everyone loses.
Being apolitical is also cowardice. No one should be afraid to say that what the GOP is doing is beyond the pale. It’s avoiding the acknowledgment that right wing extremism has a chokehold on the party because doing so brings about the uncomfortable conversation of where we should go from here.
Bragging that you don’t pay attention to politics doesn’t put you above the fray. It makes you an accomplice to those with the most evil intentions amongst our political landscape. Nobody looks back at those in late 1930’s Germany who refused to involve themselves and says, “those people, the apolitical ones, they had the right idea.” We, the majority of people who look back on the atrocities of that time with abject horror, look upon those people and wonder how they could be so careless as to let it happen. And if we’re not careful here then history will look upon you the same way.