Your Trump will do the same; they'll just swap out the groups. "Sure, I believe in freedom of the press, but these articles are hateful, and must be removed using any means possible. Sure, I believe in freedom of assembly, but these guys are misogynists."
All of it comes with the unspoken, indefensible assumption that protections don't apply to people who themselves don't believe in them. "No one who wants to take rights away from others should be allowed free speech!" "There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia." You can, of course, use that same twisted logic to make all rights go away -- and there will always be someone eager to do it. "Why should a criminal get a trial if they didn't give a trial to their victim?" "Why should freedom of religion apply to atheists if they just use it to attack other religions?" "Why should freedom of the press extend to an outlet that demeans journalism by printing trash?" "Why should we extend the right to vote to people who will use it to kill unborn future voters?"
"Did you hear California is prosecuting a guy for posting hateful messages on Facebook? It's about time! I mean, I'm all for the First Amendment, but this is hate speech! Allowing Nazis to have free speech is exactly how Hitler came to power!"
They Will Encourage Personal Cruelty
We all know why hate groups are a thing. The world will always contain a certain number of shitty people who define themselves by what they're not. "I'm not great because of anything I've accomplished, but because I'm not a Muslim." They hang around the fringes of society until their Trump comes along and stokes their rage. This is why so many of you still don't think you're in danger here -- you can't get sucked in by a Trump because you're not one of those people.
My argument -- the one I keep coming back to -- is that all of us are "those people" under the right circumstances. If you take any human and make them feel powerless and desperate for long enough, then start pumping up their anger, they'll change. You too.
You won't even feel it. You'll say the world is what changed. Then you'll have someone granting you permission to take all of that fear, self-doubt, and insecurity and unleash it on the enemy like a blast from a goddamned flamethrower. They don't even make a drug that feels that good.
Your Trump will carefully select and highlight the worst of the worst from the other side -- the most petty, disgusting, pig-ignorant cockroaches -- and hold them up to your eyes, every day. They will say that every common courtesy granted to them is a self-inflicted wound, that every act of petty meanness is a victory, every cruel joke an act of courage, every misfortune on their side a cause for spiteful celebration. This is war, they'll say, which means all rules go out the window. Even though real war actually has lots of rules. Whatever.
This is the final lie of a demagogue -- that deep down, we're all no better than them, that the only way to win is to be even worse. I don't want you to believe that lie, to let Trump bring you down to the slimy pit of petty meanness where he dwells. There's no coming back from it.
"Fuck 'em. They did it to us first."
For more on this subject, see 6 Reasons Good People Turn Into Monsters, 5 Things To Understand About Modern Hate Groups, and 5 Reasons Humanity Desperately Wants Monsters to Be Real. David Wong is the author of the bestselling John Dies At The End series.
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