Sandra Eagle: A possible benefit to alt-right’s transparency
Alt-right is a term that was coined by the head of The National Policy Institute, a White Supremacist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, think tank that is categorized as a hate group, as a euphemism for Nazism or neo-Nazism, and indeed members engage in the Nazi salute, and recently in chanting “Heil Trump” at their gatherings.
The neo-Nazi movement here and abroad is celebrating that the American Public has now given the neo-Nazi movement a platform in the American presidency as Trump picks alt-right proponents, such as Steve Bannon the former CEO of Breitbart news, that Bannon has described as the news platform for the alt-right, to be his chief strategist and counsel, and others it sees as aligned with white supremacy such as making U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions his attorney general, and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.
As Americans one by one wake up to what alt-right means and the power it is being given, protests and petitions abound denouncing such picks. I share the grief that it would be my country to give such power to a movement of hate that our grandfathers and grandmothers fought so hard to rid the world of.
However, I think there is a possible benefit in the transparency. Up until now we’ve been dependent on authors and documentarians to expose the white supremacy at the core of certain policies. Michele Alexander, for example, in her pivotal book “The New Jim Crow” walks us through how the forces that are invested in making of African-Americans second class citizens, when forced to relinquish Jim Crow laws escalated but masked the effort in making the “War on Drugs,” which has perpetually devastated Black (and Latino) communities by putting half of all inner-city Black males into the justice system for non-violent drug offenses, while whites do drugs slightly more than Blacks but get arrested at a small fraction of the rate Blacks do.
Republican legislators often propose policy that they insist will benefit, and the community protests that it will harm Blacks, Latinos, women, the poor and otherwise vulnerable. The more the authors of the policy and the think tanks they support, e.g. ALEC, are transparently white supremacists, the more unarguable it is that the policy as currently conceived is harmful to non-whites and the poor, as that is the stated agenda of the alt-right. Now we can have Republicans who truly believe a certain approach can work to benefit everyone, revisit policy as currently conceived, and work with the community to rewrite it in a way to benefit everyone or scrap it if it can’t.
Instead of our news channels interviewing panelists to make the other side wrong, they can choose to explore with panelists what the elements of a policy would need to be to benefit all.
In 1980, Ann Wilson Schaef, an expert in the addictions field, wrote “When Society Becomes An Addict,” describing white male supremacy as an addictive syndrome that was overtaking our planet, and that like any addictive syndrome was progressively destructive, with the question being “would we hit bottom and reverse our thinking before destroying ourselves all together,” such as in a nuclear war or as in ignoring climate change, breathable air, drinkable water, or species extinction. Another important aspect of addiction, and Ms. Schaef’s message to us, is that the reversal of the destructiveness, i.e. healing, happens from breaking through to the heart.
Our president-elect made a promise of more jobs, an end to government corruption, and a better America. Let us not only hold him to his promise, let us help him forge a Way. And let us begin by holding hands in our communities. A shout-out to my hometown of Stamford for the various community meetings with police, state legislators, and community to claim our all-inclusiveness.
I think we are in a moment of decision as a people. There are forces of hate and fear, and there are forces of love, which do we choose to live by? And I believe that the vast majority of us choose love. Love thy neighbor and peace on earth are the same phenomenon. The first is the practice and the second the condition the practice generates.
Sandra Eagle, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Greenwich, and a consulting therapist to community and private organizations. She is a member of the an anti-poverty movement Results