My Facebook feed lately is evenly split between Donald Trump, the police murder of Mario Woods in the Bayview and tardigrade gifs, as if the first two aren’t separated at birth. I have met the enemy and it is us, white San Francisco.
Trump articulates a vulgar ideology which other GOP presidential contenders prefer to dog whistle. It energizes a popular base defined by white bitterness, but that base only flourishes in an environment of white smug obliviousness. That’s where San Francisco excels. We love nothing more than feeling morally superior to our ignorant relatives elsewhere. Our virtue is so undeniable that it requires no action to manifest.
There’s a continuous line stretching from Donald Trump wanting to ban all Muslims and deport all Mexicans back to a rehabbed Victorian in Hayes Valley. That line runs through phones built in Asian sweatshops, vegetables picked by Mexican migrants and black families who were evicted to make way for progress. Overt bigotry finds root in milder manifestations of white supremacy, like “Those cops felt threatened,” “Clean up the neighborhood,” “I use Next Door” or “It’s the market at work.”
We can’t pretend Trump is a problem that begins east of the 680 when San Francisco Police Department just executed Mario Woods in the Bayview. Chief Greg Suhr said the officers felt threatened. Obviously, if you bring a gun to knife fight, someone is getting shot. I’m sure they were facing an urgent threat, to their authority, by a black guy who didn’t obey. SFPD gets away with disproportionately killing and arresting black and brown people, losing crime data and sending racist texts. Even a whiff of accountability for the death of a person is met with threats from the POA brass. Mayor Ed Lee’s and Suhr’s solutions are Tasers and shields. Any reforms are meaningless without actual consequences for cops who kill people.
The mayor wants a new jail for a majority black inmate population, most of whom are awaiting trail and can’t afford bail, while the black population citywide sinks towards 3 percent. If we have $215 million for a new underutilized jail to replace our current antiquated jail for black people, we should simply give the money to black people. Instead, the last black neighborhood in San Francisco is jail.
San Francisco values indeed. We’re so tolerant, we tolerate mass displacement of communities of color, Gilded Age inequality and unaccountable violent police. San Francisco is the velvet glove to the Republican iron fist.
San Francisco even supplied the technology for Trump’s ascendancy. He has 5.18 million followers on Twitter, our flagship local beneficiary of taxpayer subsidies. Twitter’s clickbaitable empire is perched atop a decided lack of enthusiasm for discouraging harassment, death threats and hate speech. (Typical Twitter narcissist: He follows 48 people, 25 of whom are his employees. He is the Ouroboros — the self-devouring serpent.) If even three million of his “followers on Twitter” are “followers in RL,” that may make Trump more popular in the U.S. than ISIS is in the Middle East. It’s enough to destabilize our region. Thanks, Twitter tax break.
The Internet is buzzing with comparisons of Trump to Adolf Hitler. If we truly think we’re in a protofascist moment like Germany in the ’30s, and we’re brutally honest, then most of us are Nazis.
“I know I said that meter maid was like Hitler, but I mean it this time.”
The implication is that we would resist the next Hitler. Nah. When Mein Trumpf arises, we won’t join the French Resistance or the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. We’re not Schindler or Inglourious Basterds, saving Jews and killing Nazis. Fascism doesn’t need everyone to goosestep the Wehrmacht, merely not to rebel.
We’ll be hiding at home, Netflix and chilling, waiting for the storm to pass. As a city, right now, we find it effortless to ignore horrors inflicted on people of color mere blocks away. Why would we behave differently in President Trump’s America?
Nato Green is a San Francisco-based comedian and writer. He’ll be performing with Todd Glass at Doc’s Lab on December 18 and 19. Troll @natogreen.