A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest in San Francisco, California, US following the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States November 9, 2016..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“I’M BACK to being an activist citizen, and part of the resistance,” Hillary Clinton proudly announced in a recent interview with CNN star Christiane Amanpour. Clinton’s decision to embrace the term “resistance” is a further example of the way polarized politics and historical ignorance corrupt the language.
Anybody with a minimal command of history knows that the resistance was a term best associated with the Second World War in Nazi-occupied Europe. Therefore, employing the term is intended to evoke the bogus narrative that Donald Trump is the second coming of the Führer, but this time to America.
But where is the empirical proof that justifies this comparison? Where are the jails or concentration camps? Where are the mass arrests of political opponents? When judges blocked Trump’s travel ban on selected countries or his retaliatory measures against the so-called sanctuary cities, did Trump summarily remove them from the bench and send them to reeducation camps? Where are the mass dismissals of civil-service employees suspected of holding liberal views above and beyond the departure of the political appointees at the top of the pyramid that typifies changes of administration in Washington? While the alarmism in the aftermath of Trump’s shock victory was mistaken but somewhat understandable, sticking to this same meme after over three months of the Trump administration is both puerile and toxic to democracy.
By all means feel free to loathe Trump as a person and thoroughly detest his policies such as repealing Obamacare and enforcing the country’s immigration laws. Political opposition parties and protest movements are a democracy’s proper vehicles for articulating these sentiments; there is no need to launch a resistance, even a verbal one.
Moreover, the appropriation of the term resistance is an insult to genuine resistance leaders past and present for whom the choice of resisting frequently meant incarceration at best and torture and death at worst, not only for themselves but for their families and communities as well. Today’s self-anointed resisters do not court any risk, and they are spared the precautions imposed on bona fide resistance activists.
First, a genuine resistance movement must operate in secrecy with the exception of operatives based in foreign sanctuaries. Charles de Gaulle could broadcast calls for resistance from the safety of London, but his clandestine Free French Army followers in France and the French Communist FTP had to stay under the radar.
Clinton can operate fully in the open when she plays at resistance.
She and California Representative Maxine Walters can announce their adhesion to the resistance at press conferences and on national television without a care in the world.
Resistance leaders adopted noms de guerre rather than reveal their true identity. Nobody can realistically envision Hillary Rodham Clinton adopting code names such as Commander Whitewater, the Scarlet Pant Suit or Um Chelsea in the near future.
Resistance leaders are either in hiding or establish bases in remote mountainous or heavily forested areas. Clinton returned to activism after buying a second mansion to go with her existing one in Chappaqua, New York. Everyone knows where to find her.
Resistance movements must scrounge for supplies by living off the land or pilfering them from the enemy. Resistance à la Clinton means setting up a PAC to nurture fellow resistance fighters and defenders of abortion rights. A few clicks and the money is there.
Joining the resistance not only entails no sacrifice, but in liberal political and media circles it identifies the self-proclaimed resister as one who is prepared to commit at least political martyrdom.
Waters, who revels in the name “Auntie Resistance” will not be penalized an iota in her solid-blue district in solid-blue California but she still announces, “My spirit tells me I cannot be silent. I must address this so-called president, no matter where it takes me,” as if she was Martin Luther pinning his theses to the church door. But in the next breath, the 78-year-old Waters basks in her popularity among the young, who gravitate to her because “[what] they are looking for is some honesty and some truth and somebody that they can believe in.”
I do not impugn Waters’ sincerity and, undoubtedly, she would have done the same without hope for political gain, but she most definitely will not sustain political pain.
Perhaps our would-be resisters can draw inspiration from Russia, and particularly the example furnished by corruption fighter Alexei Navalny.
For daring to label the Russian government a gang of crooks and thieves, Navalny has seen his brother jailed on trumped-up charges and he himself has been convicted in a judicial travesty to prevent him from challenging Vladimir Putin in Russia’s 2018 presidential elections. He has been doused repeatedly by zelyonka, a cheap green antiseptic that colors your face and damages your eyes.
But, then, I doubt for two reasons that the “resistance” and Navalny will click: Trump is no Putin and they are no Navalny.Contributor Amiel Ungar is also a columnist for the Hebrew weekly Besheva.