It’s Monday. Get depressed even more. Read David Neiwert’s summary of right-wing extremism. A few excerpts:
And now we have gangs of heavily armed right-wing thugs, largely outsiders from rural and exurban areas, invading liberal urban centers with the full intent of provoking violence so that they can portray the American left as innately violent.
I’ve covered about a dozen of these events. I hang out among the alt-righters and militiamen who populate that side and listen to them. They all are brimming with eagerness to beat the shit out of liberals, and they’re prepared to kill if they deem it necessary.
The Proud Boys are selling t-shirts that celebrate the idea of throwing liberals out of helicopters, emulating the Pinochet regime. That’s right. They’re openly promoting the idea of “Right Wing Death Squads”, and they think this would be a great thing.
So now the faction that has long fantasized about civil wars is openly fantasizing about murdering their fellow Americans by various means, most of them as cruel as a good psychopath can dream up. These folks are fanatical authoritarians.
And they are entirely right-wing. There is no counterpart to this on the left. Even the most rabid anarchist/communist/whatever group doesn’t direct this kind of rhetoric at its opponents. Moreover, the far left is a tiny and powerless faction. Unlike the alt-right.
Moreover, it is the far right that now controls all three houses of government in the United States. And the most powerful of all, the president, has a long habit of using eliminationist rhetoric to attack his opponents: “Lock Her Up!” was just one of many such.
Now he is describing half of America – the larger half that did not vote for him, and which now opposes his agenda at every turn – in such terms. Dismissing them as a “mob” and suggesting that they not only cannot govern but cannot BE governed is lethally dangerous.
Yet to hear the centrist media figures and their favorite subjects, centrist politicians, discuss all this ferment, you would think that both sides are engaging in this kind of prewar rhetoric. It’s absurd.
So, listen up, Chuck Todd, Evan McMullin, Susan Collins, and every other hand-wringing centrist wannabe: IT’S NOT BOTH SIDES. Only one side is trying to gin up a civil war in this country.
But it’s not just the USA. Look at Brazil, where elections may make Jair Bolsonaro, AKA “the thing”, president. A few quotes:
• “I had four sons, but then I had a moment of weakness, and the fifth was a girl.”
• “I’m not going to rape you, because you’re very ugly” – to a female representative in Congress.
[That one echoes Carl Benjamin, AKA Sargon of Akkad, who insists that phrase is not a threat. Good work, Carl, sharing slogans with a monstrous thing]
• “I’d rather have my son die in a car accident than have him show up dating some guy.”
• “I’m pro-torture, and the people are too.”
• “They don’t do anything. I don’t think they’re even good for procreation any more” – referring to quilombolas, the black descendants of rebel African slaves.
His followers also have a charming t-shirt to advertise their position: it features the face of “one of the most sadistic torturers and murderers in the military dictatorship that choked Brazil between 1964 and 1985”. How can such a thug become a leading contender for the presidency? I think we Americans can guess: by forming a coalition of religious bigots, the obscenely wealthy, and racists, and because the opposition party is ineffective, unfocused, and uninspiring.
In the cities, he has the support of the leaders of evangelical religious empires, who defend the concept that marriage is possible only between a man and a woman. The far-right candidate also leads among wealthier, more educated men, reflecting the calibre of the Brazilian elites.
In addition to his staunch supporters, he attracts a slice of the population that is simply anti-PT [PT=the Workers Party]. These people hate the PT for many reasons. Some because under former presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Rousseff, the party reduced poverty, widened university access to black students, and strengthened rights for housemaids – for a long time, a form of modern slavery in Brazil. Others because they cannot forgive a party that rose to power promising change, only to become corrupted and aloof. Poor, mostly black, women are most vociferously against Bolsonaro.
Jebus, that sounds painfully familiar. Even the part about black women being the most reliable leaders against misogyny and racism.
Now if only there were a way to form a coalition of humanists, egalitarians, scientists, decent people from all walks of life, who didn’t brag about compelling authority at the point of a gun, didn’t celebrate torture and murder in their slogans, and didn’t live to serve the whims of the extremely rich, maybe we could make some headway against the forces of thuggery. Somehow, a t-shirt that announces “We won’t throw our fellow citizens out of a helicopter!” just isn’t very compelling, maybe because it’s declaring something that we ought to take for granted, and find hard to believe that anyone would disagree. If you’re one of those “hand-wringing centrists”, anyway, you’re fine with sitting in your safe, quiet lair surrounded by people exactly like you, who aren’t threatening you, because they’re busy threatening other people.
Susan Collins can smugly dismiss those others, because the Republicans are sucking up to her — while her colleague Orrin Hatch can sneer at victims of sexual assault, and her president can mock them at rallies. Meanwhile, Christine Blasey Ford is still in hiding and still receiving death threats.
But oh no, there are decent people on both sides.
And that’s how the Republic will fall — because we lie to ourselves about the severity of the threat, refuse to believe that murderous thugs even exist, and roll over and let them seize power, enabled by these contemptible apologists.
John Oliver has a few things to say about the Brazilian election.