Or Have You Picked The Country You're Going To Flee To?
Trump's Bakersfield dog, Kevin, knows how to obey his commands. That the incredibly popular policies Trump wants stopped from becoming law-- from universal pre-K, lowering drug prices, covering home care for seniors and expanding Medicare to cover hearing, to 4 weeks of paid family leave, investment in Climate action and a 15% minimum tax on corporate profits-- were at stake is beside the point for Trump, an irresponsible, winner-take-all game-player. His calculations never include what's beneficial to the American people, only what enhances his own narrow personal interests. Kevin McCarthy has bought in, lock, stock and barrel. The man has no inner core at all. Ask anyone who has ever dealt with him.
McConnell, on the other hand, may be even more evil than McCarthy (or not), but at least, he makes his own calculations... and although he may not be looking out for the good of the American people, he is-- unlike McCarthy-- looking out for the good of the Republican Party. Trump and his coterie of criminal misfits cannot put up with that much quasi-independence. They demand only one thing: the kind of worshipful obeisance and blind obedience, they get from McCarthy. Ergo:
On Thursday, Umair Haque wrote that America’s Fascists are Telling You Who They Are. He asked his readers if they're listening. I'm thinking about whether I should buy new towels from Frette or from Frontgate, instead of the ugly sounds of red-baiting. Maybe I should be looking for a house in Amsterdam, where I once found refuge for 4 years while Nixon was in office, instead. The kind of political violence being cheered and encouraged by Trump and by outrageously unqualified members of Congress like Madison Cawthorn (Nazi-NC), Lauren Boebert (Q-CO), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Marjorie Traitor Greene (Q-GA), and, of course, Paul Gosar (R-AZ), is a clear precursor to fascism. Millions of Americans just seem to be sleep-walking right into it-- and Joe Biden is not the leader the country needs to turn them around... nor are Mayo Pete or Kamala Harris. Can McCarthy be stopped? Probably not, but he is up for reelection next year and Bruno Amato is a plausible opponent, you might want to consider supporting-- although with other progressives who will keep him out of the speaker's cheer if he is reelected.
"It doesn’t," wrote Haque, "take a genius, does it? To connect the dots here. Violence is rising on the American right, fast and hard. And that is a very, very bad thing...Violence on the American right has to be understood in a special perspective-- a historical one. Historically, the American right has been ultra violent. It has never been afraid to use extreme violence to achieve its aims. What am I talking about? Well, during the 60s and 70s, when America had a mild swing 'left,' or towards just plain decency, the right proceeded to kill off every single leader it could. JFK was gunned down. Then MLK. Malcolm X. The list is endless. This campaign of violence by the American right lasted decades. And the result was the American left was left a broken, beaten thing. Before this campaign of violence, the American left subscribed to noble and big dreams-- ending world war, poverty, hunger. Today? It can barely muster the courage to sign a minor-league infrastructure bill. The campaign of violence by the American right worked."
Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A. Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't tie no bows
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
Haque continued with the history lesson: "So the American right has never, ever been afraid of extreme violence. The only period in which the American right wasn’t openly violent was perhaps the last decade or three. And even that’s debatable-- if you consider that the CIA flooded America’s Black neighborhoods with crack in the 80s and 90s. I think it’s crucial to understand that, because the question is often framed: how far will the American right go? The answer to that question is disturbing: as far as it needs to."
He's looking at Gosar and Rittenhouse as nothing new, but just "a rebirth" of violence on the right. The Republican Party is staying true to form. "Violence is once again being legitimised as a perfectly acceptable means to an end. What end is that? To turn America back into the kind of country the Trumpists have never stopped wanting-- an ethnically cleansed supremacist state. A fascist country."
When violence spreads like this, on one political side, it is the clearest sign of fascism there ever could be. But in a subtler way, too, than I think is often understood. It isn’t just that the violence happens. It’s that it’s portrayed not as violence at all. But as self-defense, entertainment, comedy, peace, purity, goodness, even. Let’s take the examples above.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s defence is that he acted in self-defence. For…gunning down unarmed people with…a machine gun. Ludicrous? But the Trumpists believe it. Violence is portrayed as self-defence-- it’s a fascist theme, because the fascists are the persecuted ones, the long-suffering, the pure of faith and true of blood. They can’t be bad people, because they’re incapable of it, by virtue of blood and faith. It’s the hated subhumans who are persecuting them. Hence, fascists are always just acting in self-defence. Think about it this way. It was the entire justification for the annihilation of the Jews.
When Rep Gosar threatened to murder AOC…the Republicans defended it, right down party lines. Fascism. Why? Because it was “just a joke.” Is it, though? If I sent out a video where I killed anybody, it wouldn’t be a joke. It would be a threat. Especially if they were a political opponent. We don’t cross these red lines in democracy, precisely because democracy is the resolution of differences by non-violent means. To threaten to kill an opponent is the most fundamentally anti-democratic act there is, short of actually killing them, which is what it leads to. So why portray it as a joke? To legitimise and license violence.
If it’s a joke, of course, it doesn’t have to be taken seriously. But why shouldn’t we take a death threat seriously? You’d have to be a fool not to. The idea that we can just “kid around” about killing people is a grave violation of the norms of a peaceful society. Because violence, as AOC said, in her response, trickles down. It becomes a norm this way-- a double game being played. Wink wink, we’re just kidding-- except when we’re not.
You can already see the violence trickling down. Rep Gosar threatens to murder AOC. Just a joke! Ha ha! Meanwhile, everyday Trumpists are feeling inspired, motivated, encouraged and legitimized. They’re threatening to kill local officials and teachers. These two things aren’t unconnected. They are intimately linked. The threat of violence at the top legitimises and licenses violence at the bottom. How long is it before the Trumpists start shooting? Wrong question: they already have. Ahmaud Arbery. Kyle Rittenhouse. The real question is: how long until they start shooting teachers and principals and county officials? Average people like you and me?
They are openly telling you they want to kill anyone standing in their way. Anyone in the way of making a supremacist state. That’s fascism. Only this time, as I’ll discuss, it’s much more dangerous than the last. They’re telling you.
So why isn’t America listening?
The Republican Party is now embracing its destiny as a fascist organisation. Violence permeates it from top to bottom. Those at the top threaten to murder their opponents. The entire party defends it, with false equivalencies and bizarre justifications. Meanwhile, the average Trumpist, the true believer, is taking all that licensing of violence increasingly seriously. On the right, there’s a frenzied craving for blood rising every day. It’s now driving the American right to a hysterical collective mania of violence. Where will it all end? You know where. I don’t have to tell you. They’re already telling you. They want to kill you and everyone like you, unless you fall into line with them.
Add a wrinkle to all that, which is that the GOP’s new strategy, or at least part of it, is to break the rule of law, and create vigilante justice. You can see it in Texas’ now infamous SB8, where anyone can become a “bounty hunter” hunting down…women. That law is being mirrored and studied across Red States. So what happens when you cross a base which is encouraged to do violence from the very top-- with vigilante justice?
Shudder. You get more Ahmaud Arberys on one end. You get more Kyle Rittenhouses on the other. Only this time, there are no trials. The fascists have won. They’ve got what they wanted, which is a society based not on the rule of law, but the power of violence.
Where does all this end? In very, very bad places, my friend. Think about what happened not so long ago. Presidents and civil rights leaders were assassinated. That’s one place all this could easily go-- how much would it really take to rile up a Trumpist that far? Another place this all goes is towards the parallel institutions of a truly fascist society. All those violent, enraged bullies threatening teachers and principals with murder…become tomorrow’s Gestapo and SS officers, who this time around have the power to make it happen.
Another place this kind of violence ends, and it has to be said, is Holocaust. Let’s imagine that the GOP wins the House and then the Presidency. Trump’s in power again. How much worse will it be this time around? It’s easy to imagine things like citizenship being revoked for minorities, who get thrown in camps for minor violations of new laws limiting speech and assocation-- like SB8 does. It’s easy to imagine full blown campaigns of ethnic cleansing, backed by mass violence from Trumpists and the GOP, the party united from top to bottom in brutalising rage.
Think it can’t happen? Let me repeat it then. They are openly telling you that they want to kill you. Not just minorities and women. But anyone standing in their way-- just as an unarmed Joseph Rosenbaum was when Kyle Rittenhouse acted in so-called “self defense.”
This is not a drill. I’ve been saying that for years now, and you’re probably as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it. But a warning needs to be issued. This is different.
What is happening on the American right now is much worse than the Trump years. It’s like a cancer metastasising now. The Trump years were about the transgression of norms and boundaries, the abuse of power from the top down. They weren’t about a party openly committed to violence-- at the level of simply murdering their opponents-- and a base cheering it all on. That is new, and deeply sinister and worrying.
When a political side unites like this-- in broad agreement on violence, slavering with bloodlust-- it is a very, very bad sign. You see, in the GOP right now, there appears to be no check whatsoever on the rising tide and craving for violence. So it just keeps growing, rising, day by day, increasing in intensity and insanity. Trump’s inner circle were terrible people and buffoons-- but they didn’t threaten to simply murder their opponents. The base didn’t back violence at a mass scale to achieve their ends. Not yet.
But now they do. And without any kind of check, with every kind of encouragement from the top, that craving for violence is only going to grow, until it consumes everything in its path.
The turning point-- the ignition point-- for this transformation was of course Jan 6th. I wrote something then that I felt was prescient, and maybe you will agree that it was. I said that the coup had failed in one respect-- but succeeded in another. It hadn’t accomplished its goal of toppling American democracy-- it had missed that by a hairs’ breadth. But it had shown the base and the party the power of unbridled violence.
The consolation prize of the coup on Jan 6th was to transform the GOP into a party and a base united by violence, craving another coup, a million little ones across the country, joined in the desire to annihilate any opposition standing in their way. The consolation prize of Jan 6th was to show that fascism could work. Because they almost got away with it. They-- Trumpists and the GOP-- were thrilled by Jan 6th. And that moment transformed them into a truly fascist movement and party. Now there was no going back: violence was to be the new aim this entire politics was about.
American fascism has grown up. This is not a drill.
The left is not taking the idea of violence emerging on the right nearly seriously enough. It needs to be understood by every sane and thoughtful American: these guys want to kill you. They are not kidding around. They are every bit the equivalent of the Taliban or ISIS. They threaten to murder women they don’t like. They gun down people they hate in the streets. Don’t rest under any illusions they don’t want the same for you. Stand in their way, and the very same violence and hate will come to greet you, too-- doesn’t matter what colour or race or gender you are. They are out for blood.
The left-- the Dems, you can debate if they’re left all you like-- should have nipped all this in the bud. With a special process of justice for the events of Jan 6th and the Trump years. Committees and subpoenas are not enough. Jail time for a goofy “shaman” is totally missing the point. There should have been the equivalent of Nuremberg Trials. For the abuses of power throughout the Trump years, and especially for Jan 6th. Would that have riled up the Trumpists? Sure. Would it also have scared them? Yup.
When political side descends into violence, you need to punish it, hard and fast. Or else the violence grows, and keeps on growing. The Democrats didn’t do that. They did something astonishingly stupid. They played nice. Joe Biden took a Mr Nice Guy approach to American fascism. He wanted everyone to come together, to forget what really happened, like so much water under the bridge. It didn’t work. It was never going to. What’s the old lesson about fascism?
America is in an incredibly, incredibly bad place. A worse place than the Trump years, in fact. Those were going to end, if only because of Trump’s incompetence and narcissism. Now? Now the GOP is winning across the country. It’s going to win the midterms, and probably the next Presidential election, Biden’s ratings tanking. Meanwhile, it’s encouraging the Trumpist base to do violence, by issuing death threats of its own. Violence is now a perfectly acceptable way to make America a supremacist state.
This is a truly fascist movement now. One that has matured from the cartoonish evil of the Trump years, into something far more frightening, sinister, and deadly. It is a movement for which now anything is becoming desirable, something to celebrate and crave and admire: murder, assassination, Holocaust, civil war, ethnic cleansing.
Fascism in America has grown up. It has matured and become much stronger, more sophisticated, more confident, united, even smarter. It is much, much more dangerous than last time around. It is learning to spread the gospel of violence as a form of purity and peace and entertainment and self-defence. It is wising up to how a society is really plunged into chaos, murder, and genocide.
Don’t tune it out. Don’t minimise it. Don’t deny it. Don’t be a fool. When people like this show you who they really are, what they really want, listen. See with your eyes, and believe them. They are not kidding when they tell you that they want to kill people like you. Anyone who stands in their way, anyone for decency and sanity and grace and truth and goodness. They’re not kidding when they tell you, openly that they think you’re subhuman, not deserving of life, that you shouldn’t exist. That’s the kind of society they want. A fascist one. Will they get it?