Thanks for your comments.

First, I will have to respectfully disagree that “the President has not yet advocated an end to our democratic institutions in any way.”

Not only has he added a white nationalist who openly advocates “destroying the state” to the National Security Council, last week, he issued an unconstitutional executive order banning immigrants from seven countries (to be selectively enforced on the basis of religion), which he (and the DHS) have persisted in enforcing despite it being struck down by the courts. For those of us living here who are paying close attention, the flagrant disdain for our established government institutions is palpable. There are experts in constitutional law calling this a “constitutional crisis”…we have no mechanism in place for restoring order when our executive has determined that he will no longer follow the rulings of the judicial branch, designed to keep his power in check.

Secondly, America might not feel like the “crumbling Weimar in any structural sense” for white Americans with economic privilege, but our problems are indeed deep and systemic, from record homelessness and inequality, to the routine televised executions of Black people by our police, to the crumbling infrastructure that allows situations like what happened in Flint, Michigan to transpire.

We are in some agreement about the urgent need for coalition-building on the left, but I do not think it is as simple as ignoring what you call “identity politics,” and what I might call “the need for our movements to address the needs and concerns of those who are differently impacted by oppression.”

In order to build those necessary coalitions, a certain amount of soul-searching and pride-swallowing is also necessary. White Americans must be able to acknowledge the genocides on which this country is founded and be willing to take the criticisms of Black and Native Americans to heart, and so on. It’s only difficult because so many of us are so used to never having to listen to the concerns of others. We must learn to listen to criticism without dismissing it as petty “squabbles” or “tribalism” just because it does not match our experience of the world.

Artist and historian. PhD student researching religion, material culture, media, and politics. Bylines at The Wire Magazine, Art in America + more.

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