The president has announced he’s going to go into American cities with high crime rates and fill them up with militarized agents who will fix all that. How, exactly? Well, no one is sure, because violent criminals don’t wear signs that say, “Me! I’m the bad guy! Come get me!” Our esteemed crime-busters from DHS will presumably do what they’ve done in Portland: pretty much take anyone around and grab them into unmarked vans, in one of those “proactive arrests” meant to make people aware that they should not and will not do anything criminal…such as …standing around in public after 10pm.

The situation would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. My biggest fear — I’m sure everyone’s biggest fear if they think about it — is that someone’s going to get killed in all this. And then, my fellow Americans, expect all hell to break loose. The giant of the American spirit has been slow to awaken to the deeper problems in our midst, but it’s awakened now. And she’s pissed.

Just as Bette Davis took to the stairs at her party and said, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to a bumpy night,” all of us are aware there’s a lot of tension in the air now. Yet unfortunately this isn’t a Hollywood movie. It’s as real as real can be, more like the scene that started the Bolshevik Revolution when women and children approached the Winter Palace begging for food and the Czar’s soldiers started shooting them.

That wasn’t a good idea.

I don’t think the president’s goons from the Department of Homeland Security (I always thought that name was creepy), untrained though they apparently are, are being told to shoot lethal weapons at protestors. But that’s not the point. Situations like this are volatile and they shouldn’t even be happening. Only in a dictatorship do squads of secret police invade cities, presumably to establish “law and order” but doing nothing but spreading chaos and fury.

When running for president, at my CNN Town Hall I said we needed to be aware of the risk of encroaching fascism. No wonder the political status quo didn’t think those the words of a serious candidate, huh? But what an insane system calls crazy might not be, and what it calls sane might be what is bound to drive all of us crazy. Such is the state of America today.

Am I hopeful? Yes, because hope is a moral imperative. Am I cynical? No, because to me that’s an excuse for not helping. In truth, I think that in the long run we’re going to be more than okay; I think we’re going to be magnificent. I think we’re going to have Lincoln’s proverbial “new birth of freedom.” But not immediately, not easily, and not without pain. Not in the short term, and perhaps not even in the middle term. There’s no reason to expect things will not get ugly very, very soon. The president is sending his troops to cities whose citizens simply will not have it.

Nor should they. This has gone too far. There are times when you have to draw a line, and now is such a time. A dangerous man is trying to destroy our democracy and we must not let him. America does not belong to him; it belongs to us. And millions of us are buckling up.

Activist, author, spiritual lecturer, founder of LA’s Project Angel Food, author of A Politics of Love and A Return to Love

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