Let Rome Burn

Hear ye, hear ye!  I say unto thee that thou shall follow these hallowed and sacred rules of white liberalism as we enter the Holiest of Holy Epochs known as the presidential primaries, and they are thus:

If thine conservative-leaning sensibilities are offended by the leftism of others, read thee thine New York Times and Washington Post.

If thine centrism is slighted, vote thee for your favorite capitalist police officer and enabler of white imperialism.

If thine internalized racism is offended, vote thee for one of the two conservative billionaire xenophobes.

But do not, I say, claim to be progressive. Do not, I besiege thee, claim to be an ally. And do not dare, I sternly warn thee, claim to be a “socialist;” for not even the simple act of backing Bernard Sanders absolves thee of active participation in the white supremacist security-turned-police state that is the failing American Empire.

Let this be a new catechism, a catechism of silence and pain.

So sayeth the diabetics that must do without insulin and the women forced into unsafe pregnancies or illegal abortions.

So sayeth the weeping children kept in cages and those that have perished in concentration camps, cold, malnourished, sick, kept under the cruel eye of America’s Gestapo.

So sayeth the dead black faces of those shot, beaten and choked by the cruel uniformed plantation keepers as they dispense their twisted sense of justice. So sayeth those that cannot breathe and the orphaned children of so many extinguished lives.

So sayeth those that are judged to be sick for being in love, or those that seek to escape the prison of an assigned gender not their own, or to embrace a life free of binary predetermination.

So sayeth the truth that is the Scream of the Unheard. The lifeblood of a country, a continent, a hemisphere, a globe, a species! Those that lie crushed underfoot, massacred, jailed, beaten, ignored, assaulted. They are the hated invisible: the help, the unwashed masses, the under-educated or over-educated and under-employed. The ones that for decades have written in ink and blood their stories and theories only for those same words to be taken by whites and claimed as their own.

But we see you… allies… for what you really are. We see your lies. And to those lies, I say, let Rome burn.

You will claim to be “giving voice to the voiceless.” Lies. Invisiblization is the cruelest form of humiliation. You will wear safety pins and pussy hats while drinking some Mexican-sounding concoction and claim to care. You will happily scream towards the Heavens that you can NEVER be racist, because you have black friends. You dated a Puerto Rican once, and wow, they’re so spicy! You even get along with the gays! Yas, queen, YAS!

How fucking progressive you surely are! A unicorn, a blessed exception to the unfortunate rule of the melanin-challenged majority! And thank you for reminding all of us at every chance you get that you are… oh, how impossible it is to forget such colorful language… so WOKE.

But stop and frisk your brains for just one second there, dear Super Karen and Mighty Chad.

There are Nazis marching across this country, Karen and Chad. Not in the “I don’t agree with your tastes in furniture choices, therefore you’re a Nazi” way, but in the “flying a freaking swastika and screaming out death threats” way.  Donald Trump’s personal political storm troopers, ICE, are openly militarizing and being moved into sanctuary cities to literally hunt down human beings, Karen and Chad.

Don’t forget to hand out some safety pins to those “dirty Mexicans” while they’re lying on the floor with literal jackboots on their necks as you rush to yoga class, friends!

There are Nazis in my local farmer’s market, Karen and Chad. No, I know, freedom of speech. I’m supposed to let them tell me why I should die, my best gay friend should die, my dear black friends should die, my Jewish friends and professors should die, my Muslim friends should die, my Asian friends should die. Yes, Karen and Chad, their precious feelings MUST BE PROTECTED AT ALL COSTS. Oh, and my city bought a tank, Karen and Chad! It’s a progressive tank, so I don’t worry all that much. I’m sure it shoots social justice and runs on positive vibes. And those Nazis are SO NICE, aren’t they!? “They have never been rude!”

I hear you everywhere, pretending not to notice me as you complain loudly about disruption and protesters ruining your beautiful progressive town. “Those evil ANTIFA, though… those are surely criminal! They dress in black… ugh, how late nineties! And they’re so negative… ANTIFA… anti-fascists. Why do they have to be against anyone’s opinion!” All lives matter, right, Karen and Chad?! You don’t even see colors, but you can certainly see Chinese Communist infiltrators!

My island of Puerto Rico was virtually destroyed by Hurricane María in 2017 and damaged further by still-ongoing earthquakes since December of last year, Karen and Chad. Did you know? It’s not like it got covered by the media all that much. Ah, it’s not important, got it. Oh, but you watched that Super Bowl half-time show and thought it was bitchin’! “What a pretty Cuban flag on J-lo’s dress, right? No, was it the Texan flag?” I keep forgetting that you’re not too good with flags. Geography’s hard, so I’ll let it go. And I’m sure your Puerto Rican liberal friends felt SO REPRESENTED AND PROUD, so everything’s ok, now!

As you pay Juan for mowing your lawn and down that last shot of tequila after Taco Tuesday I’m sure you will say that you will hold your nose and vote for anyone but Trump this coming election. You know better. Even you realize that this hilarious charade of a democracy is a palliative offered by the elite of this dying oligarchic excrement of a nation. Even you know that only one of those candidates has a chance at beating the orange fool. And yet you persist in your delusions, because you HATE. You hate the idea of even the smallest hint of wealth redistribution and social justice. You hate the idea of having “those people” for neighbors, or their kids going to the same school that your kids go to. You hate that women of color and black and brown members of the LGBTQ+ family speak out, rather than the Will & Grace crowd of the rich and privileged playing at heteronormativity. Anyone but Trump is really anyone but Sanders, and even Sanders’s mild FDR-social democrat stance is alarming to you.

And you will hold your nose. Vote. The cycle continues. You say that is the only logical choice of action.

I say let Rome burn.

I have learned that there are no true white allies. Not really. Not while they harbor even a slight sense of liberalism. Even gay liberals and liberals of color are not allies if they cling to respectability and representational politics. Only those that have, through radical politics, de-colonized themselves of all traces of American exceptionalism can ever truly be allies. And only those that have stepped away from this country’s engineered political ignorance have any chance of true allegiance. For only those that openly denounce empire and capitalism while embracing truly emancipatory beliefs of intersectional action can be trusted to mean what they say.

You say that it’s impossible. “That it’s not our way to rock the boat! Let ‘democracy’ take its course!”

I say it’s time to cauterize the seeping wound. I say let Rome burn.

The failed American experiment slithers ever onwards on the blood and tears of its dispossessed and murdered minorities. Gore feeds the engine of empire. Come this November, I want you to feel your shame increase as our rage grows. And I challenge you with a demand of my own:

Be a match. Let Rome burn. So sayeth the truth of the Scream of the Unheard: If thine nose offends thee rip it off.

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Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz is a fifth-year graduate student and doctoral candidate in British and world history at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he specializes in anarchist history. A native son of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, he currently resides in Bloomington. He has published in CounterPunch and in the Spanish-language publication Revista Cruce.

April 02, 2020
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