I sense no soul in this rabble
just fearful alchemy
a hum of devilish trouble
’tis no people’s celebration
this fascist akelarre
just a rueful abnegation
of what we’re fighting for
a ghastly chill is in the air—
If you think pogroms and concentration camps and purity laws and the destruction of political dissent and the full rollback of liberal human rights protections cannot happen here, that is what they, the liberal, secular, intelligent, open minded folks, thought in Germany in 1933. There were no grand messages of warning from God or sages, no fiery crosses in the sky to warn of the coming civil apocalypse. There were warnings, there were worries, there were possibilities, but in the end it happened because it was allowed to happen.
Fearful armed white men walk around feeling they are protecting people from “outsiders” and “thugs” and “criminal elements” while a demagogue they support is winning in the election polls denouncing a tiny minority of the population as a source of the nations ills, while ineffectual liberal leaders tear themselves apart fighting over pie in the sky solutions to problems.This sound familiar? It should. It is what happened in Germany in 1933 and it is what is happening in the U.S. in 2016. It can happen here because it IS happening here. The fascist element in U.S. society sees this election as the last chance to hold on to power and to implement its nationalist and xenophobic policies in the face of a nation that is no longer a purely white supremacist system. This is a dangerous time.
I truly believe that the open/concealed carry movement is the moral equivalent i.e. the unique American manifestation, of the xenophobic/nationalistic/fear based chauvinism that led to the creation of the Black Shirts in Italy and the Brown Shirts in Germany. Look at it: they take the law and the “protection of the public” into their own hands, they target, physically and rhetorically, minorities who they see as “destroying the fabric of our society”, and they act as though they have a legal and moral mandate that comes from the foundational documents/values of the nation state. The German and Italian versions started out as very loosely organized but eventually came together as an actual force under the auspices of regimes (Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany) that harnessed their fear and anger, legitimized it through their power that was gained through ostensibly democratic/civil means, and unleashed it first on the “enemies of the people” as understood by the militia/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups themselves. After this was accomplished, the power of these groups was then used to attack and suppress (and eventually liquidate) enemies of the regime, the regime that was now seen as the personification of the nation and the values that the militias/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups held most dear to begin with.
An authoritarian regime becomes a totalitarian one when it taps into the fears and anxieties of the former ruling class/caste/race and uses its historical militant agency for its own purposes, and institutionalizes these civil pathologies into technocratic systems and actions. The militias/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups still operate under the belief that they are “free men” fighting for a “free society” when in fact they have be co-opted to serve a regime and a system that will eventually turn on them as soon as all the less powerful enemies have been eliminated. The gun culture of the United States, while benign enough in its origins, is ripe for this sort of manipulation. The open/concealed carry fanatic sees “his” nation being “taken away” from him and fears for the safety of “his” property and “his” women and children, usually at the hands of a hated or feared minority or minorities, in the case of the U.S., black men, non-white immigrants, and Muslims. He must, then, take it onto himself to “remedy” the situation, to constantly be on the look out for those who would “stab the nation and its people in the back” and to “take back what is ours” from people they at best do not trust and at worst actively fear and despise. It took hundreds of years of conscious and unconscious cultural programming to get the German and Italian populations primed for the sort of grass roots fascism cum systemic totalitarianism that the Fascist regimes were eventually able to create and control.
I think, I fear, that it would not take nearly as much programming for this sort of thing to happen in the U.S. We already have a history of race based terror, violence, and systemic abuse of minority rights and dignity. Combined with a conservative impulse to obey and trust authority, an easily manipulated rugged, machismo individualism, and a propensity towards armed violence, and you have the foundations of a very potent fascist system that could come about almost entirely through grassroots and institutional democratic means. Trump is tapping into that, and he is succeeding, while the media and culture that is obsessed with celebrity, wealth, and prestige is too busy gawking and laughing at the funny man-boy with the silly hair (the funny former artist soldier with the silly mustache) to see that he understands fully what he is doing and who he is appealing to and by what means. Trump is a fascist in the grain of Hitler and Mussolini, it is that simple. They only reason he is not acting outright exactly like they did is that he does not yet have the legitimized political power. He is on the verge of getting that power, and the scared, armed, xenophobic white men who will give it to him are just waiting for their time to finally take revenge on the blacks, the immigrants, the liberals, and the Muslims who they feel have taken “their” nation away from them. The only question remains, can Trump win through legitimate means, and if he can, how soon after that will the Reichstag mysteriously catch fire amidst streets strewn with broken glass?
“Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.”
There has been a campaign on social media to promote something called the “Go Silent” campaign. As to this “Go Silent” campaign to ask for a moment of silence on memorial day; I will not be taking part because I find this request insulting and condescending to the people of the US. We The People have the right to free speech, we have the right to speak out against the injustice being perpetrated against innocent people all over the world by the US Military in the service of US Government/Corporate interests. I will use tomorrow to speak out against the glorifying/deification of war dead, which only serves as a way to silence and shame discontent and dissension from the people against the crimes being done in their name.
No war or military operation the US has fought has been just or warranted, not since at least WWII, and since the end of the Vietnam war we have had a volunteer force so anyone who has died since then has died because of a choice THEY made to be a part of an armed forces in services of a government that has perpetrated slaughter on a massive scale, especially in the Middle East. Why, why does the “protection” of our “freedom” and “liberty” and “way of life” seem so often to require the wholesale destruction of other nations and peoples?
This memorial day I will be honoring not the US war dead (they have plenty of people celebrating their cause) but instead the victims of US imperial brutality in the name of “freedom”. Also remember, the best way to honor the war dead, veterans, and those who are still serving is to make sure they are never again sent to fight a war of aggression in the name of national security, corporate interests, or plain old fear. The holiday has also become yet another excuse for Americans to self-righteously congratulate themselves, to worship the military for the sake of it being the military, and also an excuse for retailers to sell cheap foreign made goods to eager consumers. I am not asking that you believe what I believe or act how I act, but I am asking that you take a long hard look at what it is exactly that we are memorializing this day, and why.
White people, especially white men, are the most dangerous people in the US to people of color, women, immigrants, children and LGBTQIA people. I say this as a white man. We must look in the mirror. See who we are and what we have wrought on this nation and on this world. WE are the problem. WE are the danger that our fellow citizens need to be protected from. It is our fear, our rancor, our privilege, our hate, our greed, our power, our arrogance, our stupidity, our lack of empathy, our closed ears and closed eyes and loud, brash, cruel voices that are the problem. We must correct ourselves before we tear what was once a great democracy to the ground. We must make sure that the efforts and struggles and heroism of men and women like MLK, Malcolm X, Emma Goldman, Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, Frederick Douglas, Cesar Chavez, Upton Sinclair, Harvey Milk, Eugene V. Debs, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells and the countless educators, Civil Rights marchers, Reconstruction workers, Union Soldiers and labor rights activists were not in vain. There have been too many Mike Browns, too many black and brown bodies hanging from sturdy tree branches. We must look into our hearts and realize that this nation is dying, this democracy is being taken apart day by day and that we, the white men of this nation, are largely to blame. This is not meant as condemnatory screed, or a public shaming but as a CALL TO ACTION! We are better than this, we are human beings. We must start behaving like human beings and realize that the wealth and power we possess was purloined from the labor of countless millions of women and immigrants and laborers and slaves. We are making monsters of ourselves and plucking the wings off of the better angels of our nature, casting them down into a dark, endless abyss where only capital, power and narcissism remain. The US can only survive if we realize that we are the ones destroying it and making it uninhabitable unlivable, for the millions of our fellow human beings who do not share our gender or our skin tone. We must join our fellows in the streets and marches and teach-in and theaters of national conversation and raise our voices with those who have trod upon for too long with impunity. We are not the master race, no one race is or could be, but how could we even conceive of such a possibility be if we are not even the masters of our own baser instincts. The white man is the rotten core of this mess. We must purge ourselves of our hate and our prejudice. We must make our enemy the powerful, the entrenched interests, the corporations and the warmongers and the do-nothing leeching investor classes. We must make common cause with those who we have wronged. We must rejoin the family of humanity in good standing and atone for our crimes. Only then will we truly deserve a place in the American system.
the fool, he slanders Cicero
to further shameful schemes
while gathered scoundrels beam
and all fancy themselves heros
Pontificate from Senate floor
Denounce the people’s choice
Does violence with his voice
Truth is an inconvenient chore
Punch drunk on his sound and fury
the fool blathers and blasts
ignorant of the past
a mockery of history
The fool “abuses our patience”
We cannot help but think
Pretension is his drink
Though ‘tis not much of a defense
Little boys will play with their toys
picture books, rhetoric
Cruising from bile to dreck
Enamoured with their silly ploys
I am going to address, briefly, in a point by point manner, some of the more stupid arguments some idiots (cough cough southern sympathizers cough cough) make about the US Civil War.
1. The Civil War was “not about slavery”
Yes it was. Read The Scorpion’s Sting for a clear and concise analysis of why people who do not believe the war was over slavery should stop making that argument and start potty training. The South fought over the RIGHT of the state to protect its largest and most profitable institution, chattel slavery. This institution was also seen as integral to preserving the “southern way of life”, which amounted to a feudal patriarchal system where rich plantation slave owners controlled most of the economy and political structure and kept the poor masses in line with promises that they too could someday own another human being. Every state that broke away declared that it was over the right of the states to preserve slavery. The Vice President of the Confederacy declared that secession was over slavery. All the constitutions of the confederate states protected slavery as it existed and claimed a right to expand it or protect it by force. This was not about “tariffs” so get your head out of your ass. Which leads to
2. Most southern soldiers did not own slaves
Most members of the Nazi party did not personally gas Jews but that does not mean they were not fighting for a system that depended upon and allowed this sort of abuses. Southerners fought to “protect their way of life” and that way of life was a slave state that enriched even the poorest whites by making them inherently more human than any black person. They had a choice to fight for a Union that was opposed to the expansion of this way of life…they chose otherwise. These people knew what they were fighting for, and why.
3. Slavery would have/should have been allowed to expire “naturally”.
This isn’t even an argument. It is a pipe-dream, and a rather horrifying one at that. The South wanted to freedom to expand their “peculiar institution” to the territories, and many wanted to expand it even farther to Cuba and to Central and South America. This was a dream of the slavers of the south and the politicians who represented their interests. If slavery would have been allowed to die out “naturally” it could have taken another 5 years…or it could have taken another 100. Either way this would have left millions of people alive and yet to be born to a life of subhuman servitude, abuse, rape, and death. If this had been allowed to happen then the US would have been just as responsible for this crime against humanity as the south was. 4 million black people in slavery is not a “bargaining” chip…they are human and deserved to be freed at any cost.
4. The North Was Just As Racist As the South
This is obviously false as the North had abolished slavery and THE SOUTH HAD NOT. Sure, individual Northerners may have been as racist as any given individual Southerner but the North DID something about slavery by abolishing it and challenging it and by allowing an abolitionist movement to flourish, even if there was violence against it at times. This was impossible in the south because of institutionalized racism. The North was a society with many racists in it, but the South was a society that COULD NOT EXIST as it did without racism as a foundation.
5. Blacks were “happier” under slavery:
I am not even going to dignify this un-intellectual racist bilge with a response. If you truly believe this then you need to take yourself out of the gene pool, ASAP, and spare future generations of humanity your genetic lineage’s stupidity
6. The South Was Attacked First
No. The South had spent 100 years manipulating the political process to preserve its own perverse racist economic and cultural system and when Lincoln was elected on a weak abolitionist platform they took this as an “attack” and like the ultimate sore losers choose to give up on democracy in order to create their own quasi-feudal republic. They occupied US fortresses and threatened violence against the democratically elected Federal government. They fired upon a US base in US territory. If this is “Northern Aggression” then the democratic republican nature of the Constitution itself was “violence” against the southern cause.
Just some thoughts. If you disagree with me on any of these points see the response to argument 5.
4500 people from West Africa die of Ebola (the number is probably much higher) no one in this nation gives a shit. 3 people get Ebola in the US…NOW IT IS THE TIME TO PANIC! Melanin content seems to be the line in the sand that divides a problem “over there” from a Crisis with a capital C “over here”. We read between the lines and see that what we are being told is not “you are about to die from Ebola” but “you are about to die because some sick dark people are coming over here with their exotic dark people disease”. Why else would we have some calling for the closing of the MEXICAN border (last I checked, not a part of West Africa)? Scary disease from abroad means close the borders and hide the (white) women and children! Never mind that more people die from boring old Influenza then will ever die from Ebola. Westerners are SUPPOSED to die from that disease, one we envision lives in a comfy little germ house with its stable germ nuclear family in its up and coming germ neighborhood. Ebola is “that” germ family moving into the gated community; “we’ll get sick and die from our OWN germs, thank you very much.” Something tells us that Ebola would not have voted for Ronald Reagan. Thanks, Obama.
Congress held one of its circle-jerks/televised hearings on the topic of Ebola today. They even brought a knowledgeable and suitably boring Doctor to testify and keep us from collectively wetting ourselves. Ebola is NOT as contagious as AIDS. It is NOT airborne. Ebola is NOT going to turn the US into a Mad Max Thunderdome dystopia where it is every (white) man and his AR-15 for himself (so sit down Louie Gohmert, and zip up your fly!). In fact, Dr. Boring lets us know, there are some very simple but non-sexy things we can do to combat this disease. First we must–
I KNOW, Congressmen scream, LETS BAN ALL FLIGHTS FROM AFRICA. The motion is carried. No more motherfucking African pathogens on our motherfucking planes. No lets send the National Guard to Africa and keep all the sickies from getting on board. No way THAT could be taken the wrong way by all the dying Africans and exhausted foreign aid workers. Keep that stuff on YOUR side of the tracks, thank you very much. Tons of money to keep Ebola away in the most telegenic way possible, but not a dime for more plastic tarps to cover the rotten bodies of the Liberian kindergarteners rotting in the streets of Monrovia. Put “Over There” on the turntable. Turn that phonograph up to 11! I like my xenophobia loud and clear.
Some of our more enlightened citizens suggest that maybe we should coordinate efforts through the UN and try and save West Africa for its own sake. You know, them being human beings and all. Nope. Joe The (well paid Fox News Contributor) Plumber says we should cover the whole region in Napalm and watch it burn. If the free-market couldn’t save those poor souls then nothing will. Strike the match. Red blooded American men ain’t gonna be dying of no Commie Foreigner disease. Let’s form a string quartet and practice while West Africa burns up from a fever of 104.3!
“Hoist the flag and let her fly/Yankee Doodle do or die.”
Apparently the President has appointed an Ebola Czar…I guess we just have to hope now that Ebola doesn’t discover the works of V.I. Lenin.