By E. Faye Williams
I’m sure that in 1989, when Tom Clancy authored his acclaimed novel “A Clear and Present Danger,” he never envisioned the real threat facing this nation some 33 years later. Clancy’s threat involved the inundation of the United States with illegal drugs. Today, the threat of a fascistic takeover seems the more realistic threat — more real than could ever have been imagined. This threat was affirmed during a public hearing of the January 6th Congressional Select Committee by conservative judicial icon and retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig. His characterization of Trump and his supporters as a “clear and present danger” to the United States was a chilling prediction of a dystopian future.
Some have forgotten or will vehemently deny the accusation of Ivana Trump that her ex-husband kept a book of Hitler’s speeches on his nightstand. Her 1990 Vanity Fair magazine interview spoke of Trump frequently reading Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” but other sources suggest that it was “My New Order,” a book of Hitler’s speeches. Whichever book was his inspiration, the similarities between Hitler and Trump are eerily disturbing.
Only those more inclined toward conspiracy theories could have imagined the depth of deception and intrigue in Trump’s attempt to illegally retain the presidency. During each of the Select Committee’s public hearings, it has become abundantly clear that Trump had no reservation or reluctance to impose his own will and personal desires above the will of the American voter! More maddening is the realization of the number of accomplices who were willing to assist him in the usurpation of voter authority and the ongoing support he receives among a certain element of the population.
In the face of disclosures of sedition generated in the hearings, one could (should?) reasonably expect the rejection of support for an individual and his political philosophy that is so antithetical to the foundations of our democracy. Unreasonable as it may seem, millions ardently and unconditionally surrender their allegiance.
While my focus on the hearings is driven by curiosity and the desire to confirm my personal assessments of the “ailment” that continues to inflict our nation, I realize that the challenge of the moment is to remain forward-thinking. The damage done by Trump to our national character is self-evident. What is less obvious is the lingering impact of his elevation to the presidency. After all, it was he who unleashed what had been a subsurface and festering sense of division and latent hatred. It was he who gave the acceptance and permission for engagement in the cultural warfare we now experience.
The recent Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade foreshadows a change in the direction of the “moral arch.” It gives cause to the questions, “Does it still swing toward justice?” and “What’s next?” Six years ago, few imagined that established law could be reversed to the detriment of over 50% of the population. We must now ask what other segments of society will fall under the oppression of the Right and how regressive their agenda will become.
Those of us who have more years behind us than in front of us have less to fear than our youth who look forward to the fulfillment of a life which affords the opportunity for the realization of their maximum potential. It is for them I fear. If the functions of our government can be distorted to reflect the will of a malignant minority rather than the will of the majority, as outlined in the Constitution, I fear the reinstatement of the worst behaviors of our national history.
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.