Around this time four years ago, while I was wading through the sudden gush of sewage and horror on the internet, I stumbled across some skinhead’s comment on a news site. “You’ll all see now,” he boasted. “The race war will start within a month.”
It scared me at first. Briefly. Then it actually had the reverse effect, and snapped me out of my spiraling mood as reason, my erstwhile and ever-reliable ally, just refused to stay quiet. My reason wasn’t scared. It actually laughed.
“30 days? This dumbfuck actually thinks he’ll get his race war in 30 days?”
It was awful that anyone would wish for such a thing. It’s a very real desire in this country that has to be fought every day. But for just a second, I actually felt the tiniest bit sorry for the guy. Here was this wide-eyed idealogue, this new inductee to politics, who had finally been lured out of his cave by a candidate promising him the world—and he’d believed him. He’d trusted Donald Trump to do what he promised, to bring on the race war, to reinstate slavery, and all within 30 days.
“Oh, you poor skinhead,” I remember thinking. “You’ve been had.”
Donald Trump was (Was! How marvelous the past tense can be) an accidental fascist. The authoritarian who could have seized permanent power in America if he’d just ever developed the competence to do it. But while he was a heartless racist narcissist who craved adulation from any corner he could get it, he was the wrong guy for these Nazis to pin their hopes on. Because he didn’t actually share their goals. Because he was just using them. Because, as we repeatedly tried to warn them, he was a serial liar.
There is a delicious irony to the fact that after all those years we spent calling out his lies while his starry-eyed followers hung on his every contorted word, it was his followers who were lied to last. Right up to the end, he lied to them. He promised them jobs and walls and hoaxes, revolution and race wars and fascism. He would tell them the sky was blue one minute and red the next, and they would follow along.
The last four years have not been easy, certainly, and there continues to be a race war of sorts underway in this country—as long as it is not safe for people of color to walk the streets, there will be. But it’s not the open war Mr. Skinhead so naively hoped for.
Now that the inauguration is done, now that all Trump’s opportunities to whip up a race war from the oval office are over, I wonder if that stupid Nazi I saw four years ago in an internet comment thread is feeling a little disillusioned with politics. Maybe feeling a little raw. Maybe starting to realize that—oh my god, could it be? Say it ain’t so!
Donald Trump lied to him.