Beginning on May 24, 2016 to the present, I began calling out a warning about the danger of a Donald Trump Presidency using the hashtag #CantSayWeDidNotKnow. On that day I also published a blog post titled “We Cannot Say We Did Not Know.” These hashtag posts do not include all the posts and blogs I wrote opposing Trump before and after May 24, 2016, but they provide a good representation of the warning I was attempting to call out.
I desperately did not want people to be able to use the excuse that they did not know who Trump was and what he was capable of doing when they voted for him. In the months that I was calling out this warning with so many others around the country, I think it became increasingly clear who Trump is and what he wants to do. We knew, but we elected him anyway.
Today I read back through my Facebook posts using the hashtag #CantSayWeDidNotKnow, and it was chilling to review what has led us to this moment of grave danger for our republic, especially its most vulnerable members. The following are the posts in chronological order from first to last:
May 24, 2016: Before, during, and after the rise of Hitler in Germany, there were those who said they “did not know.” Plausible deniability mixed with fear became the excuse of millions as Hitler’s power grew into a nearly unstoppable force of hatred, violence, and death. Over the next several months, it is the moral responsibility of all persons who see clearly what is happening with the rise of Trump to use every non-violent means at their disposal to make sure that it is not possible for people to say “we did not know.” #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
May 24, 2016: “I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” – Donald Trump #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
May 24, 2016: If you are someone planning to vote for Trump because you believe that he can be controlled once he is in office, please refer to history to see how difficult it is to control persons who come to power riding a wave of populist fascism. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
May 24, 2016: “I read a story, it’s a terrible story, but I’ll tell you. Early in the century, last century, General Pershing — did you ever hear — rough guy, rough guy. And they had a terrorism problem. And there’s a whole thing with swine and animals and pigs — and you know the story. They don’t like that. They were having a tremendous problem with terrorism. Pershing caught 50 terrorists. He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.” Donald Trump #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
May 24, 2016: “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing. I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a trouble-maker who was looking to make trouble.” – Donald Trump commenting about an African American protester being kicked, punched, pushed, and shoved by Trump supporters at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
May 24, 2016: From March 3rd republican debate:
BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists’ families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they’ve been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.
So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?
TRUMP: They won’t refuse, they’re not going to refuse me — believe me.”#CantSayWeDidNotKnow
May 24, 2016: “When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourselves. But they say they don’t care about their lives. You have to take out their families.” – Donald Trump#CantSayWeDidNotKnow
May 24, 2016: “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross” (Source Unknown) and wearing a ball cap with the words “Make America Great Again.” #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
July 20, 2016: Monday it was open white supremacist statements from Iowa Representative Steve King, and yesterday Antonio Sabato said President Obama is absolutely a Muslim, and today New Hampshire Representative Al Baldasera used violent rhetoric saying that Hillary Clinton should be shot in a firing line. This is where the autocratic, misogynist, racist, and Islamophobic Trump has led the white supremacist branch of the Republican Party, and anyone endorsing Trump has found themselves at the moral low point of their political career and perhaps the moral low point of their lives. #cantsaywedidnotknow
July 23, 2016: Trump wants to keep Guantanamo Bay prison camp open and “load it up with bad dudes.” He also says he wants to bring back water boarding and much worse. Trump would make Guantanamo Bay a concentration camp where torture is sanctioned in total disregard of morality or international law. This is where Trump would lead us. #cantsaywedidnotknow
August 3, 2016: Whether Trump wins or loses, he has succeeded in unleashing a wave of hate, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and Islamophobia that will be difficult to heal going forward. This cannot be the future of our society.#CantSayWeDidNotKnow
August 11, 2016: Mr. Trump is revealing to the country how he reacts when things don’t go well for him, and it is not a pretty sight. When one is president, such reactions would have wide reaching and dangerous consequences. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 14, 2016: A segment of progressives in our country either do not fully realize the living hell a Trump presidency will be for our Muslim and Latino sisters and brothers, or they just don’t care. There are real differences between what a Trump presidency and what a Clinton presidency will mean for our neighbors and friends who are Muslim and Latino, and don’t think it will stop there. It never does. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 15, 2016: In less than 24 hours, Trump called an African American United Methodist woman minister who kept him from delivering a partisan speech in her church a nervous mess, and he refused to say whether our First African American President was born in the United States. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 15, 2016: We are in grave danger of electing the most racist president in modern U.S. history. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 18, 2016: There is no difference between Trump and Clinton at all – unless you are African American, Latino, Muslim, LGBTQ, care about the Supreme Court, think Obama is a better world leader than Putin, support the Clean Power Plan and climate change mitigation, care about reproductive choice, want to avoid an authoritarian presidency, don’t what your president degrading women, don’t agree with candidates inciting violence, don’t want a president who keeps asking why we can’t use nuclear weapons if we have them, and don’t want a president who begins his tweets with the words “Losers and Haters.” – no difference at all. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 18, 2016: For the progressives who argue that Clinton and Trump are morally equivalent: Will you tell the 11 million people deported out of the United States that Trump and Clinton were morally equivalent? Will you tell the Muslims who have to register or who cannot get into the country that Trump and Clinton were morally equivalent? Will you tell the LGBTQ persons who might see their marriages be voided after a Supreme Court overturns marriage equality and leaves it up to the states to decide that Trump and Clinton were morally equivalent? Will you tell the African American, the Latino, the Muslim, or the LGBTQ person who is the victim of a hate crime by someone emboldened by a president who over and over again incites violence that Trump and Clinton were morally equivalent? Will you tell our grandchildren who will inherit an unlivable climate when Trump rolls back the Clean Power Plan, voids the Paris Climate Agreement, and implements the Harold Hamm “take it all out of ground” energy plan that Trump and Clinton were morally equivalent?#CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 19, 2016: Listening to the spokesperson of the Fraternal Order of Police be interviewed on NPR yesterday about the union’s endorsement of Donald Trump was truly despair inducing. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 20, 2016: I used to teach a course called Contemporary Political Theory in which I had students study Wilson, Lenin, Hitler, and Mao. We also read Jacques Ellul’s seminal work on propaganda. I mention this simply to say that I have actually studied the rise of Hitler fairly closely, I have read Mein Kampf four times, and I have looked closely at the propaganda Hitler used both before and after coming to power.
In my entire adult life, I have never compared an American politician to Hitler, with only one exception – Donald Trump. The megalomania, the scapegoating, the acceptance and encouragement of violence, the xenophobia, the racism, the authoritarianism, the harking back to some golden age of the Republic that only he can restore, the simplistic economic remedies, the manipulation of fear and hate, the casual use of the threats of military force, the use of religion to divide people, the methods of propaganda that make his followers see him as the only one who can make all things seem right again are all classic indicators of a person who is working to create a fascist state under authoritarian rule.
This is deadly serious. People and the planet will suffer greatly under Trump’s authoritarian rule. Our systems of democracy and checks and balances are not as robust as we think they are. With a Congress afraid to stand up against a president who has come to power on a wave of fascist populism, with courts stacked with Trump appointees, with a police force whose national union has already shown its support for Trump, and with the force of the military under his command, it is naive to think that Trump will be controlled.
This is a a warning, a warning from someone who has actually studied and taught about the rise of Hitler – it can happen here, it is happening here; and at this point Clinton and the people who vote for her are the only ones who can stop Trump from becoming President of the United States of America. Clinton is a lot of problematic things, but she is not a potential Hitler. Trump is. Progressives who are not voting for Clinton and who are working to keep people from voting for Clinton are aiding in the rise of Trump, whether they know it or not or admit it or not. I plead with you to look carefully at the reality of our situation. In January, our president will be Trump or Clinton. Anything we do to enable Trump to win will lead us into an era of real consequences for real people and all of life. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 23, 2016: “Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.” Omarosa Manigault, Donald Trump’s director of African-American outreach. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
September 25, 2016: In Europe only 9% of the people have confidence in Trump to do the right things in relation to world affairs. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
October 7, 2016: Bragging about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it because he is famous, and millions of Americans will still vote for him. I am beginning to believe that he was right when he said he could walk down the street and shoot someone in the face, and his supporters would still vote for him. And his supporters really think this person who encouraged his own girlfriend who was excited about her pregnancy to get an abortion and then spoke jokingly about it on the Howard Stern Show is actually going to do anything constructive to reduce the number of abortions in our society. He is conning you. He lies about EVERYTHING, and you think this is the one thing about which he is telling the truth. Right! #CantSayWeDidNotKnow (Note – November 14, 2016: I actually think that Trump will follow through on his promise to work to overturn Roe V. Wade).
October 10, 2016: “The country has never had a presidential candidate who lies the way that he does – relentlessly.” – David Leonhardt from the New York Times #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
October 11, 2016: Trump, like Nixon, would use the power of the presidency to settle scores with his critics and detractors. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
October 24, 2016: Donald Trump is openly and frequently calling for his supporters to go to polls in cities with significant African American populations and “watch the polls.” He tells his supporters “you know what I mean by watch,” and he says “bad things” are happening at these polls and that they can’t let people steal the vote from them. Yes, there is a reason the KKK and every other white supremacist group in the country supports him to be their president. Trump is the most openly racist presidential candidate since Alabama Governor George Wallace.
For the love of freedom and equality for all people, don’t vote for the KKK’s choice to be president, don’t go to any polls other than your own, and only focus on your own voting, not the voting of others.#CantSayWeDidNotKnow
November 5, 2016: The attached article reminds us that global emissions must peak and begin to decline by 2020 for us to have any chance of holding global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. With Clinton as president this goal may still be improbable, but getting close to it may be possible with relentless pressure from the people – and I mean relentless pressure.
With Trump as president this goal would simply be impossible. Our ability to mitigate climate change will be effectively over as Trump and his energy advisor Harold Hamm have promised to commit the U.S. to fossil fuels like never before. We would face the worst consequences of a worst case climate scenario.
November 8, 2016 is literally the choice for a possibility of a livable climate. As Charles Blow of the New York Times puts it “Trump is an existential threat” for this and many other reasons. #ExistentialThreat#CantSayWeDidNotKnow
November 6, 2016: Today, just two days before the election, FBI Director James Comey announced that the email review is over, there is nothing new, and there are no changes from the assessment made in July. Trump had nine days to lie about the FBI investigation concerning Hillary Clinton following the inappropriate letter to Congress from FBI Director Comey on October 28, and Trump lied about it relentlessly. Many people voted during that 9 day period. During this same 9 day period, sources close to the FBI, including close associates of Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, spread unsubstantiated innuendo that Clinton was facing imminent indictment and communicated this in advance to the Trump Campaign. This innuendo was reported by FOX News as if it were fact, and FOX had to apologize for reporting inaccurately about the unsubstantiated innuendo. In the midst of all of this, Trump is calling on his supporters to go to poll locations other than their own in areas heavily populated by African Americans to “watch,” and he says “You know what I mean by watch.” And the Republican controlled U.S. Senate will not even hold a hearing for a long vacant position on the Supreme Court. This is the closest thing to a coup attempt that I have seen in my life in the United States. Donald Trump is an #ExistentialThreat #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
November 10, 2016: Now that it is clear that Trump is the next president, I am pleading that people do not underestimate him now. For example, comparing Trump to former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi does not do justice to the existential threat we are facing as a country and a planet. We can no longer be in denial about what we are facing. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
November 10, 2016: We are in the make or break decade of the make or break century to do something about climate change, and we elected this. I guess we can all someday collectively posthumously receive the Darwin award.#CantSayWeDidNotKnow
November 10, 2016: It matters not one bit to an authoritarian whether he comes to power by a majority of the vote. All that matters to the authoritarian is that he comes to power. Staying in power is much less difficult than first attaining it. History provides insight on this. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
November 10, 2016: Remember that time a little less than a year ago when President Elect Trump said that he would require Muslims in America to register?
November 10, 2016: There is open discussion of Sarah Palin becoming Secretary of the Interior (drill baby drill). Harold Hamm may end up being Secretary of Energy (good luck stopping any pipelines and fossil fuel projects for 4-8 years). Climate change denialist Myron Ebell is leading the EPA transition. Progressives who spent the last 3-4 months bashing the only candidate who had a chance of stopping the existential threat of a Trump presidency need to take some time to reflect and own some of this. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
November 11, 2016: (In response to reports of increased hate incidents thoughout the United States) Nothing like electing a bigot for President of the United States to embolden bigots. #ItIsHappeningHere #CantSayWeDidNotKnow #EnemiesList #ItsNotOkay
November 13, 2016: For those of you who were holding out hope that Trump would not govern as he campaigned, those hopes were dashed today with the appointment of Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President.#itsNotOkay #CantSayWeDidNotKnow
November 14, 2016: Donald Trump plans to immediately deport or incarcerate 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants. #CantSayWeDidNotKnow