Left: Our Lady of Sorrows stained glass, from St Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville, SC.
Today is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Orthodox Church, this day is called The Dormition of the Theotokos, which literally translates as the "falling asleep" of the Mother of God, her earthly, physical death preceding Her Assumption into heaven.
It is also the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, the Netroots Nation conference (lefty bloggers) and the RightOnline conference (right-wing bloggers).
If you are into astrology, all you can do is shake your head that all of these events are on the same day.
I have just listened to Michelle Malkin on C-Span, take her turn firing up the Nuremberg Rally at the RightOnline conference. This has been a rather alarming experience right after reading some pages I was directed to over at Onyx Lynx's blog. She quotes Sara Robinson reading the signposts up ahead, the signals that the USA could indeed turn towards fascism.
It's always very tempting to throw up one's hands and scream, here come the Brownshirts. God knows, I've been doing it most of my life. And you know, on a couple of occasions (Reagan's famous Morning in America), I think we were right to scream.
And now? Well, mandated hipster-irony and the required detachment of cool make it very unfashionable to deliver cautionary screams, which is part of the problem. So, simply imagine one long SCREAM, if you will, which has the added astrological and spiritual juice of taking place on a Holy Day.
It's a loud scream, but terribly ironic, so the cool people will listen.
Back in elementary school, most of us learned that when a bully learns that intimidation and threats work, he'll will keep doing more of it. In fact, the longer he goes without comeuppance, the bolder and badder he becomes, and the harder it is to make him stop. Every success teaches him something new about how to use terror for maximum effect, and tempts him to push the envelope and see what else he can get away with. Do nothing, and he'll soon take over the whole playground.Yes, yes and yes.
And it happens like this for bullies in groups, too. Living in a fascist regime is just living in a town dominated by the Mob, a street gang, the KKK, or a corrupt sheriff. It only takes a small handful of thugs to terrorize people into giving up their civil rights, abandoning democracy, and doing what they're told, just so they can keep their jobs, windows, and families intact. The main imperative in life becomes staying off the goons' radar. All the enforcers need to do is make an horrific example out of one or two troublemakers every now and then -- and the resulting fear will keep everybody else quietly in line.
Conservatives have tried to subdue other Americans this way for centuries, so there's nothing new going on here. And this is the way they've always done it: they used race (and yes, the birthers and anti-health care rioters are, at root, all about race) and economic calamity to whip up a posse of terrified, well-armed vigilantes, and then turned them loose on society to "enforce order." Given their colossal investment in organizing and indoctinating the teabaggers, we'd be stupid to believe that this is all going to go away when Congress returns to DC in September. Having had a taste of power and publicity, these newly-empowered mobs are very likely to stick around town and see what else they can do to keep the muck stirred up.
Our choice now is a stark one: knock them back while they're still new, small, and not yet entrenched; or deal with them later, when they've got some real power to fight back with, and the cost to all of us will be so much higher.
We must not let them win this one. There will be no end to the bullying.
The Klingons must not WIN THE FEDERATION.
Also see Robinson's Fascist America: Are We There Yet? and this pertinent quote:
Umm, sound like anything you've heard lately?
As Rick Perlstein documented in his two books on Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, modern American conservatism was built on these same themes. From "Morning in America" to the Rapture-ready religious right to the white nationalism promoted by the GOP through various gradients of racist groups, it's easy to trace how American proto-fascism offered redemption from the upheavals of the 1960s by promising to restore the innocence of a traditional, white, Christian, male-dominated America. This vision has been so thoroughly embraced that the entire Republican party now openly defines itself along these lines. At this late stage, it's blatantly racist, sexist, repressed, exclusionary, and permanently addicted to the politics of fear and rage. Worse: it doesn't have a moment's shame about any of it. No apologies, to anyone. These same narrative threads have woven their way through every fascist movement in history.
In the second stage, fascist movements take root, turn into real political parties, and seize their seat at the table of power. Interestingly, in every case Paxton cites, the political base came from the rural, less-educated parts of the country; and almost all of them came to power very specifically by offering themselves as informal goon squads organized to intimidate farmworkers on behalf of the large landowners. The KKK disenfranchised black sharecroppers and set itself up as the enforcement wing of Jim Crow. The Italian Squadristi and the German Brownshirts made their bones breaking up farmers' strikes. And these days, GOP-sanctioned anti-immigrant groups make life hell for Hispanic agricultural workers in the US. As violence against random Hispanics (citizens and otherwise) increases, the right-wing goon squads are getting basic training that, if the pattern holds, they may eventually use to intimidate the rest of us.
Paxton wrote that succeeding at the second stage "depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner."
On Onyx Lynx's blog, I wrote the following, which I realize I cannot improve upon too much:
As you know, I live at Ground Zero of The New Incipient Fascism, and here up close I see several faultlines that are ripe for exploiting...(do not have time to unmix my metaphors right now)...I should write about these and link this article/series. But for instance, the "Crunchy Cons" are one such faultline, the natural-food/homeschooling fundie-cons really MISTRUST big business, BigPharma and the GOP leadership in general (one reason the GOP lost the election). There is a strong populist sentiment, even here at Ground Zero. The problem (as I see it) is the elitist-liberal/progressive superiority and hatred of the uneducated and religious, and their accompanying unwillingness to work in any kind coalition with them. (I am standing in the gap, if I may quote the Scripchahs!)Which brings me to the Nuremberg Rally and Michelle Malkin's invocation to GO FORTH and INTIMIDATE THEM SOME MORE.
Another for instance, Obama's people seem to have written off South Carolina, which is 33% African American, thankyouverymuch!
The lefty atheists and their endless intellectual-superiority doesn't help, just as the feminist dogmatism doesn't help, the closet Democratic racists don't help, PETA doesn't help...I got a list! :P
But this article is great, and you've got me thinking about the fault lines, and there are several.
I studied the RightOnline crowd carefully, and I saw middle class, yea, even lower-middle-class people, who align themselves with the Right. I asked myself, what makes them do this?
The crowd was overwhelmingly white and middle-aged, for one thing. It is comforting to me that knowledgeable young folks don't buy this nonsense as readily. However, it is NOT comforting to me that so many in my own age-group seem to be brainwashed by Fox News and the endless perky-pablum offered by Malkin and her ilk. I sense a fear of The New, the Head Metrosexuals In Charge, those people on the coasts.
And here we get to the heart of it; Michelle got out her populist slide guitar and started to jam.
Why doesn't the New York Times review books by people like Michelle, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, yet puts them on their bestseller lists?
That's a very good question. Direct hit. Michelle now jams into the stratosphere, and the crowd is with her.
Why don't they?
The problem with the coastal liberal elites is that they really don't CARE about The Heartland and The People that they claim to care about. When we talk, they don't listen. They tend to have their minds all made up. They disdain religion, country music, tradition, the ties that bind a community for generations. They consider themselves FAR ABOVE people who have not attended college. (NOTE: There is no faster way to be suddenly IGNORED during an online political discussion, than to admit you didn't finish college... even by folks who only a second previously, were hanging on your every word. Suddenly, you give yourself away as a non-person.) Religious concerns--say, about gay marriage--are regarded as total backward idiocy. Thus, so is any effort to counter these using specifically religious language, as many of us know how to do very well. We are drowned out by the "fuck offs" from the non-religious, the superior-intellects from New York and all points East.
Taken together, these snubs add up.
Why should the People In The Fabled Heartland trust the elites on the coasts and in Washington, to look out for them, when they can barely hide their contempt?
Whilst Twittering yesterday, I encountered the "#nn09" notation, which meant Netroots Nation 2009. I didn't know about it otherwise. I am a lefty blogger, but not good enough, young enough, hip enough, New Yorker enough, to get notified of this supposedly major event for my blogging demographic. (I refer the movie geeks in my readership to Brian DePalma's Home Movies: Those who know, know.)
When I Tweeted and ASKED what it was, nobody replied to me. My ignorance embarrasses everyone, one assumes.
And then I wondered, AM I the blogging demographic in question? Perhaps my age and location automatically disqualify me. After all, I am here thinking Malkin has made some good points when she talks about the media exclusion of the so-called ordinary working-class American, the person OBAMACARE, ET. AL. IS SUPPOSED TO BE HELPING.
Robinson is accurate, but she leaves out an important part of the story, and that is a repeated failure of the left ever since the Great Depression, particularly the modern avant-garde, global-oriented left: an active and actual aversion to the actual working-classes one seeks to help. Otherwise, as I peruse the list of Netroots folks, why do I see so many hyper-educated Big Bloggers? Why don't I see any "regular folks"?
Meanwhile, the RightOnline conference is busily conducting workshops and teaching people how to Twitter and blog--stuff I had to muddle through on my own. How nice if someone had actually taught me and offered me a 'blogging-ring' of helpers! How nice if I didn't have to hustle my local news coverage and was heartily welcomed into an existing network! The right-wing is organizing at the grass-roots level, for real. Not just gassing about it, but doing it.
And somebody might read this when I post it on Twitter, but it won't make much difference. The Netroots Nation thinks they know everything already, and can't even be bothered to explain their acronyms to me.
What's wrong with this picture?
If fascism comes to America, I hope the left won't wring their hands, once again, that it wasn't anything they could stop.
It was, it is, and it always has been.