Think about the body and how it's immune system responds to threats. Once a threat is identified, it mounts a robust defense. But some viruses and cancers can be hard to detect until they have too good a foothold and are too hard to combat. By the time we realize there's a problem, it's too late, and they can lead to the death of the patient.
The hate beliefs, speech and behavior we're seeing are nothing new. They didn't go away and then suddenly return. They've always been there, and probably even been slowly growing and infecting increasing numbers of people, but in a way that was relatively unnoticed by millions of white Americans. People of color have seen signs of the infection all along, and have been trying to tell the rest of us that there was a sickness amongst us. Some of us saw signs too, but what we saw wasn't a direct threat to us.
Trump and neo-Nazis and white supremists have done us all a favor. By going so public, it will allow tens of millions of white Americans to mount an immune response, to develop immunity to such beliefs, speech and behavior.
We never really get rid of most viruses or cancer. But the better we get at detecting them, the better it allows us to combat them, and keep them in check. When they make themselves easier to detect, they give us a better chance to combat them before the illness they cause gets too far along.
We'll probably never eradicate hate beliefs, speech and behavior either. We never seem to have. But we can get better at combating them and immunizing the bulk of our societies against them.
Trump and neo-Nazis and white supremists have let us know we have a much bigger problem than many realized. There will be an immune response, and hopefully, the bulk of society will become immunized against such beliefs, speech and behavior.
We saw the immune response begin in Charlottesville. We've seen Republican members of Congress rebuke Trump and the neo-Nazis and white supremists. The Joint Chiefs of Staff pushed back publicly against Trumps twitter attack on transgender service personnel, and against some military personnel seen marching with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. General Kelly seems to have managed to get Bannon out of the White House. (There's still at least two others there)
The virus or cancer that is hate beliefs, speech and behavior are trying to fester with "free speech rallies" today, but I'm watching the immune response grow in Boston on TV right now. And it seems like the numbers of counterprotestors will overwhelm the numbers of those who plan to attend the "free speech rallies".
Our American values will mount a full-fledged immune response. Fear not.