The Pittsburgh Massacre Is Why I Stopped Talking to My Trump-Voting Family Two Years Ago

Two years ago, I posted a warning on Facebook to my friends and family:

I was not kidding. While none of my friends voted for Trump (that I know of), my mother-in-law, who I know for a fact saw this post, took the insane step of calling my wife the day after the election to tell us, for the first time in the almost 20 years that I’ve been with Debbie, who she voted for. She apparently was pleased as punch to have voted for Trump.

I wrote about this back when it happened but basically when Debbie informed me of what her mother said, looking slightly ill, I explained to her that I would not be speaking to her mother for the rest of her life. When she asked why I sat her down and told her something that I had never articulated before because I had never had to. I said to her something to the effect of, “Your mother voted for a white nationalist. She knew that’s who she was voting for and she didn’t care. It doesn’t matter if they’re screaming about Muslims or immigrants right now, they always get around to the Jews. It doesn’t matter that I’m only half and that our kids are only one quarter. They’ll kill us the second they get the chance because they hate us more than anything else.”

Since then, Debbie has slowly come to realize that I was not exaggerating or being a sore loser. Watching her start to realize how much trouble the country is in has been parallel to the media’s dawning realization that Trump, the GOP, and white Republican voters are, in fact, a burgeoning movement of white nationalists.

I’ve known, for years, and long before Trump, that the Republican Party was heading down the path of white nationalism. I was thinking on a much longer timeline, something like 15-20 years before they got to this point, but I knew it was coming. The trajectory they were on was fixed by decades of Fox News, AM Hate Radio, and right-wing hate sites. You cannot have a political movement based on racism and paranoia and victimhood and not have it degenerate into rabid ethnonationalism. If this is not a law of political science, it should be.

For a while, I was actually pleased that Trump was acting as an accelerant. I thought he was moving the timeline up by 5-10 years. But then I realized the one flaw in my thought process was thinking that America would not accommodate white nationalism. I believed that, yes, America was racist as fuck, but we were way beyond Nazis and the KKK as a national force. In that, I was sorely mistaken. Once I realized just how much of an appetite white Republican voters had for white nationalism, the rest became horribly predictable; like a car crash in slow motion.

I knew the Republican Party would fall to Steve Bannon’s influence even if Bannon wasn’t there. The GOP is now fully controlled by its base of soulless white nationalists demanding increasingly vicious attacks on minorities and women.

I knew Trump would go after Birthright Citizenship a month before he made a big deal of it for the midterms. His claims about an Executive Order are garbage designed to distract from last week’s right-wing terror attacks and to boost voter turnout for election day but don’t be fooled, this is part of their longterm agenda. They’ve been taking the necessary legal steps and there will be a lawsuit in the next couple of years designed to overturn the Supreme Court decision United States v. Wong Kim Ark of 1898 that established Birthright Citizenship as we understand it.

I knew the violence would get worse because the longer Trump goads his mindless base of rage addicts with fear, the more they’re going to want to lash out at us, “The Enemy.” Wait until Republicans lose control of the House and hundreds of seats in state legislatures all across the country. Trump will try to use the Supreme Court to overturn as many of those elections as he can but if it’s too many to take back the House, he’ll just declare the entire midterm illegitimate and watch his Proudboy Brownshirts take to the streets and riot.

I knew the antisemitism would escalate because no matter how much white nationalists hate Muslims and blacks and Latinos and homosexuals, and and and and, they will always hate us Jews the most. Always. Last week’s white conservative terrorist attack in Pittsburgh was carried out by a man who did not like Trump. The soulless filth of the right have tried to use this fact to claim that the white conservative terrorist was not, in fact, one of theirs. What they leave out is that the white conservative terrorist didn’t like Trump because he didn’t hate Jews enough. They also leave out that other white nationalists tried to placate their fellow terrorist by telling him that Trump was only pretending to like the Jews until the time was right.

This is why I wrote, two years ago, that for the first time, I actually had to pay attention to being a Jew. I never had to care before:

The American right, especially in the South, still despises us. I didn’t care because fuck those guys, I lived in the North. I was safe in New York and perfectly camouflaged by my lack of distinguishing ethnic features. I got to go about my life and not think about my heritage as something anyone would care about; a variation of white privilege if you will.

But now I have to think about it. With the election of white nationalism to the White House, my heritage suddenly matters.

It was eerie to see that sentiment echoed by teens in Squirrel Hill, the community where the attack occurred:

“Yesterday being Jewish was just being a part of the Jewish community. Hearing about anti-Semitic [events] was something you heard about other places. But this is Squirrel Hill, and that didn’t affect us here,” she told them.

I’m now more aware of being Jewish than I was,” Emily says.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s just a label, but people want to hurt you for that label. But I don’t think anyone should hide who they are.”

No, they shouldn’t, but white nationalists are violent animals who will, left unchecked, arrive at the same “final solution” the Nazis did. There are over 100 million minorities in the United States. In less than 25 years, white people will comprise less than 50% of the population and they’re already producing less than 50% of the babies being born every year. The only way to “make America white again” is to violently remove almost half the country. There is no other route except genocide. This is why I keep saying that the Germans had to be lead to atrocity but white Republican voters are sprinting to it with arms wide open. They know exactly what they want and exactly how to get it. They know history just as well as we do. The only difference is that they want to reenact it.

I want so very badly to be wrong. I want us to wake up in two years with Trump having been crushed in the 2020 election, or even removed from office before that, and see 60 million of my fellow citizens snap out of whatever spell they were under and be ashamed of how they’ve acted. But that’s not going to happen. Oh, Trump is going to be crushed in 2020 and a lot of his 60 million red hats will pretend they never heard of him but that will only because they cannot tolerate losers and Trump, by the time he leaves office, will be a capital “L” loser.

Yet, even as they abandon “Trumpism,” the white Republican voter will still have a craving for white nationalism and the GOP will still be their dealer, giving them the fix they need. Demagogue after demagogue will vie for control of the base and if we’re lucky, they’ll turn on themselves like the white nationalist movement usually does. But the white nationalist movement of old didn’t have Fox News, AM Hate Radio and right-wing hate sites to keep them unified and focused and that will make all the difference.

And so the terrorism and white nationalism will go on for years as the right devolves into an orgy of violence and rage directed at America for not caving to their demands for total control. 4 – 6 years from now, after hundreds, if not more, have been killed, I’ll be right back here writing another article: “I Still Hate Being Right.”

I don’t take any pleasure from being right. It’s tempting to call my in-laws to see if they feel the slightest bit of shame over their continued support for Trump but, frankly, I seriously doubt it. That would require them to understand their culpability and they don’t. Like most Trumpsters, they won’t see the connection between what Trump says, their eagerness to hear it, and the violence those words inspire.

As far as I can tell, they’re still mystified by my refusal to talk to them, presumably chalking it up to sour grapes. I imagine they’re going to be even more astonished after Trump is gone and I don’t suddenly embrace them with joyous tears in my eyes. They voted for a monster that would enable other monsters and they simply didn’t care. They put me and, more importantly, their grandchildren at risk and they were happy to do it because Trump promised them he would hurt brown people. I could care less if they feign ignorance or, at this point, even apologize. The deed is done. Once does not figuratively don the white robes of the KKK or a swastika and receive forgiveness while the body count multiplies.

Make no mistake, there will be many more victims to come and the number of Jewish victims will grow as white nationalists continue to lash out at us. One of my few comforts is that at some point I will have one final conversation with my in-laws. During that conversation, I will explain to them that when their grandchildren are old enough to fully understand, I will explain what kind of people their grandparents were. Their legacy will be to be remembered like the people that posed for pictures with the corpses of black men they had just lynched with smiles on their faces: immoral, bereft of humanity, twisted by hate. They’ll be offended but, honestly, I couldn’t care less. They chose to vote for white nationalism and now people are dying because of that choice. I knew the bloodshed was coming just like I know more is on the way and I refuse to pretend they’re not responsible for it.