The former President spent a great deal of time telling Americans how frightened they should be of the people walking among them.
He reminds them every chance he gets that there are some “very bad” people in their midst; people who threaten their safety, people with little regard for the law, people who believe the law doesn’t apply to them.
I wholeheartedly agree with him. There is a clear and present danger in these days.
There are people here that decent Americans should be terrified by who are gaining traction and growing in both numbers and in ferocity—but they’re not exactly those the former President wants to conveniently paint as the danger.
I see them, though.
Yesterday while in a busy beach town, a car came flying in from behind us in heavy stop and go traffic.
It was a young white man. As he sped past us, I noticed that he had bumper stickers that read, ‘Fight Crime: Shoot Back’ and ‘No Liberals.’
Not surprisingly, he drove aggressively, weaving back and forth, tailing cars close behind and shooting around them. His face was etched in a permanent scowl and he seemed bothered by the whole lot of humanity around him. I’ve seen that look before, but I see it a lot more lately.
As I watched the man rev his engine and furrow his brow, I realized that Donald Trump is right: there are emboldened bad people, who are sapping America of its greatness.
I rarely feel any angst about people coming across our borders or from other countries—and I certainly don’t worry for my children’s safety because of them. I seldom experience violence, never see them try to intimidate the people around them, and I’ve never once see such people committing hate crimes against other Americans.
I’m never uneasy about Muslims or undocumented people or migrant families passing me on the street.
No, it’s pissed-off, entitled, gun-toting, professed Christian white bigots emboldened by our former President who terrify me.
They’re the ones pulling the triggers in most of our mass shootings.
They’re the ones accosting strangers because of their sexuality or skin color.
They’re the ones trolling teenage shooting survivors.
They’re the ones espousing the most toxic religion.
They’re the ones carrying torches through cities and ramming people with cars.
They’re the ones most often using excessive force behind badges.
They’re the ones feeling they now have license to say anything they’d like.
They’re the ones calling the cops on black men sitting in coffee shops.
They’re the ones who believe America is their sole property and birthright.
They’re the ones most emboldened by this former President in whom they’ve found a kindred spirit.
I am far more afraid for my children around people like this, than the fantastical caricatures or statistically nonexistent boogeymen the former President is trying to make out of brown-skinned people from other countries.
I am fully terrified by racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and all the other supremacy sicknesses being cultivated right now in the hearts of white Americans, by a fraudulent leader who knows that is his only play.
So yes, Donald Trump is absolutely correct: America is in danger—it’s just one that is homegrown and being replicated by those in power, himself more than anyone. It is a danger that feeds on fear, subsists on privilege, thrives on nationalism, and believes itself oppressed.
Yes, we who live and make our homes here, those who represent the beautiful, radiant diversity of this country need to resist the violence asserting itself right now.
We need to condemn the language and the people and the systems that incubate and protect this kind of hatred.
The real threat to our nation’s safety is an inside job. It didn’t need to cross our borders.
It is already at home here.
Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.