Thursday, November 02, 2006

David Neiwert on the growth of fascism

Probably the main reason I write about fascism and its immanations in the United States is because I've seen genuine fascism up close and personal -- particularly the Aryan Nations in northern Idaho and the universe of right-wing extremists it attracted, all settling into the dark backwoods and making themselves at home there.

When you get to know fascists up close, you realize that the stereotypes of them -- either they are poor, uneducated backwoods hick, or vile, monstrous skinheads in black leather -- don't fit very well. For the most part, in fact, they are ordinary-seeming people who live in ordinary homes and go to regular day jobs.

Pogo's line applies here: We have met the enemy and he is us.

I'm sure Neiwert would not object to this construction of his thesis. He knows, probably better than most people, the subtle temptations that attract people to join groups and organizations that stroke their inner monsters, transforming them in time into hate-filled human viruses that have as much potential to kill and maim as any suicide bomber. The difference is merely one of image. As I read his powerful analysis I say to myself There but for the grace of God go I...

For those of us who stubbornly refuse to drive on the right, Neiwert continues to do most of the heavy lifting. His writing is air-tight and full of examples. I do not understand how any thinking person can find serious disagreements with his arguments but clearly there are many people who will skip over his words and dismiss what he says with the same breezy carelessness as they ignore other disturbing trends that are plain to see but up for discussion as to cause and effect. [Global warming, growing numbers of unwed mothers, redefining the meaning of the word torture, the continuing unraveling of the institution of marriage (apart from the homo-marriage straw man) and a list of other topics come to mind.]

The chief means for the spread of this kind of hatred has been a national media that gives people like Coulter and her junior partner, Michelle Malkin, far more than their 15 seconds of fame. More importantly, the press allows hatemongers in the ranks of movement conservatives to peddle race-baiting and bigotry with references that only the most obtuse can miss -- as with the ugly race-baiting recently thrown Harold Ford's way.

The only way to combat it, in the end, is not to allow race-baiting and sly racial inferences, so common among right-wing pundits and politicians, to go unremarked. It's in not allowing hatemongers like the Minutemen and the assorted anti-immigrant xenophobes -- see particularly Pat Buchanan -- now driving our immigration debate to proceed apace, applauded by Lou Dobbs and Ed Schultz alike.

Unfortunately, we're doing a lousy job of that these days.

I challenge skeptical readers to read this man's post and links carefully and with an open mind. It could be a paradigm-shattering experience, so prepare to be rattled.

1 comment:

Mortart said...

I was not familiar with Niewert. But thanks for introducing his writing to me. His analysis is brilliant. We need more commentators with his grasp of major issues.