This is what fascists do. They attempt to silence the people who give voice to the disenfranchised. They are threatened by those individuals whose eloquence and moral standing shatter the facade of white supremacy and expose the illusion of America’s meritocracy.

They fear being exposed for their sociopathic disregard for the lives of children, the rights of women, and the dignity of those not like them.

Pull back the curtain and it is nothing but a withering old man clinging to the levers of power he created. Struggling to push upward to increase the pressure, seek new allies, and sustain the cardboard carnival of corruption for yet another generation. “Pay no attention!”, they say. Cue the rhythmic chants of “thoughts and prayers.”

Become mesmerized by the ritual that is the mass murder of children in elementary schools, cheerleaders shot in a parking lot, women forced to carry a rapist’s baby to term, the loss of voting rights, and the dismantling of democracy.

This is what they do. And they do this because they are fearful fools. Not fearing what occupies the minds of the vast majority of children, parents, women, people of color, or the LGBT community. No, what they fear are more Americans recognizing that the dehumanizing games they are playing are not for the benefit of the masses, but the few.

They are horrified that the image of a screaming white girl on a school bus in Tennessee will galvanize more Americans to recognize that they too are cannon fodder. Those propping up such a system will scurry into their backrooms in a state of panic. Not to escape a shooter, but rather to avoid their peaceful and passionate constituents who recognize that now they have come for their daughter who has lost her right to bodily autonomy, for their child who has accepted who they are, and now for their democracy.

No one should be surprised by the expulsion of Democratic representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson in Tennessee. After all, this is what those who fear democracy do. They attempt to silence those who can awaken the masses from their complacent slumber. Dr. King was silenced. Shot dead in Tennessee the day after fighting for workers rights. A campaign that benefitted not just the Black workers he was advocating for, but ultimately for all workers.

This is what they fear. And so often, this is what they must stop. Fred Hampton, shot dead in Chicago. A young Black man, younger than Jones and Pearson, whose message extended far beyond race, and revealed that power in America relies on the division between the races, conflict, hate and anger toward one another. Yes, race plays a role, as it so often does in America. But it is not the defining one.

If representatives Jones and Pearson had only inspired the compassion and action of Black constituents, they would have never been expelled. If they lead chants to 50,000 Black and Brown residents of Tennessee, they would be dismissed, denied and downplayed, but they would not have been expelled. And one can imagine that if King, Evers, Malcolm, and Hampton’s efforts had only inspired Black Americans, with nary a single White American being moved to join a movement toward racial justice, their lives would have ended quite differently.

But the sight of thousands upon thousands of students marching as one in Tennessee after yet another mass shooting. Black, Brown, White, men, women and countless others. This is what scares them.

And like Dr. King, Medgar Evers, Liuzzo, Cheney, Schwerner and Goodman, these are the voices that must be silenced. Those who highlight that the status quo of hate, division and cruelty will not stand, and that the broken streets of the new and devolved Republican Party is attempting to take us back down will lead us toward authoritarianism and ultimately impact us all.

Increasingly more and more Americans are realizing this. And this realization is why peaceful protests are increasingly disrupted, and voices of dissent being silenced through threat, intimidation and misguided legislation.

This is what fascists do. And if past is prologue they will fail, but they will not stop. Thus, we must be ready for all that lies ahead. Because this is what white supremacists do and folks in local legislatures and in Madison are watching as well.

The deaths of children on our streets, schools, and the ones that brought a litttle white girl to tears on a bus in Tennessee will not scare them.

But we do. We horrify them when we organize and dispense with the divisive walls their hateful rhetoric has created. They panic when they see that we realize it is all of our children on that bus, all of our daughters crossing state lines to get access to abortion care, and all of us realizing where their cruelty, corruption and inhumanity will take us.

That is what they are scared of, because more and more of us know what what they do. And increasingly we know what we must do.

What we do is vote. What we do is discard complacency. What we do is not stand idly by while friends and family dismiss such barbarism and cruelty. So many of us have been here before. We’ve inherited the power and wisdom of generations that lets us know that we must speak, when we are told not to.

We must stand when they try to hold us down. And we must raise our voices and let them know that their misguided attempts to weaken the soul of our democracy will only makes us stronger.

© Photo

Nіcоlе Hеstеr / Thе Tеnnеssеаn (via АP)