There was a time not so long ago in our nation’s history when a generation of Americans met circumstances that threatened the very survival of our republic. This generation had already survived the Great Depression, which in and of itself was more than a single generation should be tasked with enduring.
Yet, this generation was faced with a crisis that turned out to be far worse than any depression– one that had to be confronted and defeated, even if it were to cost their very lives.
When Nazis rose in power and began to march on the world, a tired and weary generation of Americans stood up when they could have stayed resting in the world’s shadows. A generation raised with next to nothing, grew up to become willing to sacrifice everything.
And sacrifice everything, they did– such was the price to stop the rise and march of Nazis on the world.
In recognition of all they sacrificed and accomplished, history calls this generation of Americans the “Greatest Generation.” And certainly, what they did was indeed great. However, many have been left wondering how a generation of individuals who grew up with nothing, and who sacrificed everything to crush the march of white nationalists in Europe, gave rise to a generation of Americans who would embrace the same evil their parents crossed an ocean to fight.
How did the Greatest Generation produce a generation that would betray all their parents ever fought for? It’s because the Greatest Generation crossed an ocean to defeat the ideology of white nationalism abroad without addressing the deeply ingrained and accepted white supremacy back in their own land.
While yes, the Greatest Generation may have stopped the Nazi takeover of Europe, their failure to address the white supremacy in their own hearts, and in their own country, paved the way for the white nationalist takeover of the White House and Nazi’s mass-murdering Americans who are just back to school shopping.
Today our republic is under attack, and our freedoms of life & liberty are being threatened with a fatality that even this military retiree never imagined seeing in my lifetime.
We have lost our liberty to go back to school shopping with our kids without the constant anxiety that someone may gun us down with a military grade weapon while picking out colored pencils. We have lost our right to life, for ourselves and for our children, and can’t even send them to school without the nagging fear in the back of our mind that our school could be the next school massacre.
In our history we have fought enemies. We have defeated enemies. But all along we have ignored the enemy who has been in the room since day 1 of America— because confronting this enemy, for most of us, means confronting something in ourselves and our own homes.
Yes, our nation is under attack– and the enemy is white nationalists. And as others have noted, their leader is the President of the United States.
His foot soldiers, in many cases, are our own family members– who fight not overtly with weapons of war, but the far more dangerous weapons of passivity, apathy, fear, ignorance, xenophobia, and an unchallenged racism that even they can’t recognize inside themselves.
His terrorists, like all terrorists, see themselves as freedom fighters and defenders. They begin as angry and struggling young white men who become radicalized by watching Fox News and reading the President’s twitter feed, and who have unlimited access to mass-killing-devices which their nation refuses to regulate. The combination of these things has become the first enemy in generations who could actually fracture our republic with a destructive power not even Hitler held over us.
Those like myself who have stood on the lines in defense of this nation took an oath– one with a specific line that all Americans, civilians included, would do well to remember and embrace. It was an oath that included the line, “And I will defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”
The future and security of the world once rested in the hands of a generation who did not ask for the task, but who rose to the occasion. They have been called the Greatest Generation, often for good reason, yet they ignored the domestic enemy and cancer within– one that this generation is now tasked with fighting.
To survive as a free and secure people who have the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, our nation needs an Even Greater Generation— one who is not afraid to fight the battles with domestic enemies the Greatest Generation did not have the courage to face.
Unlike the weapons of war others use to win battles, the Even Greater Generation will only save the republic if it remembers those we stand against merely symbolize the true enemy: fear-based, hate-filled belief systems like white nationalism that fuel their evil acts. Defeating evil actors will accomplish nothing if we do not also defeat the permeation of evil beliefs.
Fighting this will take more courage than fighting on a battlefield where one cannot see and does not know the opposition– and that’s why it will truly take an Even Greater Generation to do so.
To save the soul and future of America, we need a generation willing to first and foremost look in the mirror to confront themselves for their own support and contributions in a culture of racism and white supremacy. It’ll take a generation of individuals who refuse to pretend that everything’s okay at the family gathering, but are instead willing to directly challenge those of our own blood and household who actively or passively support and defend the leader of white nationalism in America, and the false beliefs he perpetuates.
It’ll take a commitment to legislative reforms no matter how hard or unpopular; it’ll take the willingness to leverage one’s own privilege in any way possible to pursue justice for those we have oppressed, and it will require a never-ceasing habit of refusing to scapegoat our nation’s problems on the powerless instead of the powerful.
Yes, America is under attack– but it is under attack by angry white men with hate-filled ideologies, who have become emboldened and validated by the ideology of the president, and who have endless access to guns.
The only thing that can save this republic from destruction is an Even Greater Generation than before– a generation who is willing to confront and defeat the true enemy within our own borders.