Nazi punks fuck off

20 09 2017

Ohhh, I don’t know why, but it seemed that it might be a good time to read Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust.

No reason, really. Y’know, I just happened to have recently watched Denial, happened to have been at the Strand, happened to have to have found myself in the Holocaust Studies section, and, Oh, look, there it is. And then I just happened to have found myself in the opposite corner of the basement in the Law section, where, again, Lookee, here’s History on Trial.

I have said before that, after that first rush to do something, anything, to grit up the gears of the Trump machine, I’d deflated.

I’m still flat. Oh, I still go to the occasional protest and holler, but mostly, I read of all the harm this administration is doing and think God. Fucking. Dammit. And not much more.

I am still trying to think, however, and I figured Lipstadt would be among those authors who could give me something to think about. She doesn’t sketch out an explicit typology of denial in Denying, but in laying out the stories of Hitler and Nazi apologetics, she makes it easy to see the tricks and bullshit these horrid wretches pull to advance their pernicious claims. (In fact, I think I may go through the book and pull out and arrange that tricksy shit for all of y’all.)

It is discouraging, however, to note that, in the preface to Denying, she writes of the incredulity her work provoked, as if no one could believe such a rebuttal were necessary. But then, she continues, That situation has changed dramatically. Regrettably, I no longer have to convince others of the relevance of this work.

Why discouraging? Denying was published in 1993.

~~~

I know, it’s easy to laugh at tiki torches and fashy haircuts, but anyone who wears a swastika is a menace. I absolutely believe that we can and should laugh at these assholes as much as possible—if mockery can shrink ’em, then let’s errrrybody mock—but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them seriously, and shouldn’t be ready to confront them at every possible turn.*

I’ve long thought it important to keep an eye on the fringes, even if I didn’t think it necessary to do more than that. The overt antisemites are still on the fringes, along with the hood-wearing racists, but that they’re popping up has made it even easier for the ‘respectable’ white supremacists to advance their ideas about “globalists”, “thugs”, and “aliens”.

Again, none of these convictions translates, for me, into a clear sense of what, exactly, I should be doing. But I know I need to prepare for whatever comes.

~~~

*I just re-read Jen Graves’s 2013 piece on Charles Krafft, an artist who worked—ironically, it was thought—in Nazi imagery; turns out that, no, really not ironic.

So Krafft is a piece of shit. But what’s striking is less his shittiness than his friends’ reactions to that shittiness:

Another old friend, Tacoma writer Peggy Andersen, said she had to stop socializing with Krafft. “I told him, ‘When I hang out with you, I feel like I’m endorsing something.’… His main thing is that the Holocaust is an exaggeration. I say, if they only killed 10,000 people because they were Jewish, it would still be a holocaust, jackass.” As Andersen and I ended our interview, she said, “Be sure to say I love Charlie.”

A longtime friend who insisted on anonymity said, “It’s not only anti-Semitic stuff, it’s also racism—you know, blacks and women and anything that is held dear by the liberal establishment. And I can see a reaction against holier-than-thou attitudes, I mean, yeah, of course. But…”

Other friends, like Larry Reid, coauthor of the 2002 monograph on Krafft, Villa Delirium, just sort of look away. “I try not to pay too much attention,” Reid said.

Yeah, no, looking away, proclaiming love, not paying attention: not gonna fly.

Like I said, I may not know what to do, big-picture, but if one of my “kind”, “generous”, “articulate”, Zen friends goes Nazi, I sure as hell hope I know at least enough to say NOPE.

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We got computer

21 12 2016

So I’ll be collecting all of the sources and resources I’ve mentioned in these various ‘Life during wartime’ posts on the—hm, what should I call it? I KNOW—Life during wartime page.

Please do add any suggestions in the page’s comments (which I just enabled).

In the meantime, let’s listen to this series’s musical inspiration:

~~~

As I’ve said, I have no idea what’s going to happen next. The possibilities range from ordinary Republican (bad enough) to Oh holy hell-shit-fuck! and everywhere in between—and, honestly, given how little I now realize I know, anywhere outside of that range as well.

I tend toward thinking it won’t get as bad as it could possibly be (fascist takeover, nuclear war), but given that either of these are a rather plumper non-zero possibility than I, well, I would have thought possible two months ago, I have to keep them in sight—even if only out of the corner of my eye.

Reading about Weimar leads me (as I’ve banged on about repeatedly) to believe that we’re not Weimar, that the Liberal elements of our political culture are stronger and our democratic institutions sturdier than those German republicans were ever able to enjoy. And while we are a violent society, our levels of specifically political violence is, compared to Weimar, low.

But we are polarized, and a good chunk of our society—the economic sector—can’t be counted on as bulwark against authoritarianism: if they can make money off of this administration, they won’t oppose it.

Nor can we count on certain cultural institutions to take a stand in defense of Liberalism and pluralism.  It’s not at all clear that the news media will defend itself against attacks on it or on its reporters; a “scrupulous neutrality” may end up being more neutered than scrupled.

And Google, which used to think not being evil was important, refuses to adjust its algorithms regarding Holocaust denial (which has led to a campaign to fuck with that algorithm to drive the denial off the front page) and a search for “oven definition” offers this as the first item:

oven-googleYes, “a cremation chamber in a Nazi concentration camp.” Excellent, excellent. Right up there with Twitter reinstating the neo-Nazi Richard Spenser’s account,  or A&E’s planned series on the KKK.

And we on the left aren’t doing ourselves any favors with our sniping at those nearest to us rather than aiming our fire at the other side. I’m not against criticism (Santa Maria, I am not against criticism), but I’m seeing too much of the I WAS RIGHT/YOU SHUT UP variety and not enough of the What worked, what didn’t?

As Mark Twain is popularly attributed as saying, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

I don’t trust anyone who knows for sure why we lost, not least because I used to know for sure that Donald Trump would never be president. The sting to my ego, however, is nothing compared to damage to come—damage which will be even greater if we fight each other rather than the forces which threaten us all.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: If you believed they put a man on the moon

13 12 2015

Trump is not a fascist and the US is not Weimar, 1930 or 1932.

Ah, fuck it. I was going to write a big, long post on what is fascism and what was Weimar, but, shit, I don’t think Trump will get the GOP nomination and while the US is a too-violent society, including too much political violence, the parties don’t have paramilitaries which members regularly assault and assassinate one another.

I mean, I might at some point post on Weimar—keee-RIST what a fascinating period!—but the thought of tying that fascination to an explication of the not-fascism of someone who will not be the GOP nominee just makes me tired.

I will say the main reason I don’t think Trump is a fascist is the main reason I don’t think he’ll win: the lack of organization.

Italian fascists: organized.

Nazis: organized.

Trump? Well, he has staff, some of them quite interesting, and apparently a great many paid organizers in Iowa, but how many of those staff and organizers actually know what they’re doing? Even Molly Ball, in a piece generally credulous about Trump’s organization, notes that

To be sure, Trump’s campaign isn’t totally standard: Few of his hires have presidential campaign experience; his Iowa chairwoman is a former contestant on his reality show, The Apprentice. He doesn’t have a pollster or a super PAC. Though his press secretary, Hope Hicks, occasionally tangles with the media, he frequently gets on the phone with reporters to speak for himself in articles about him, rather than deploying a spokesperson.

(She thinks that latter bit is “refreshing”, and that “more candidates should do it”—which, Jesus, is wrong—and thinks that the fact that “Trump just found a bunch of people he liked and hired them, and it’s working out great” means that his organization is up to snuff. Ask me sometime what I think of Molly Ball’s analytical skills.)

He is doing well in the polls, sure, but can he translate that into primary votes? According to this Tim Fernholtz piece, as of October he hadn’t yet purchased data on voters:

“The voter file is a foundational piece for any grassroots campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Patrick Ruffini, a veteran GOP operative who founded digital agency Engage, told Quartz. “If Trump’s campaign were not using any voter file, even after being offered it by the RNC, that would be a pretty shocking statement.”

He and his staffers can talk all they want about his “unconventional” approach, but primary (and general) election voting is a grind: You have to identify people who are likely to vote for your candidate, make sure they actually will vote for your candidate, and get them to the polls. If you lack a voter database, you can’t identify your likely voters, can’t reach out to them, and can’t make sure they actually show up to vote.

Trump staffers are, apparently, getting “bushels” of voters’ names, and they’ve apparently been grinding through them, but it’s not clear how well those names grabbed at rallies and restaurants match up with voter files, and thus, not clear how well his staffers will be able single out those who are willing to say “Go Trump!” to a pollster and those who are willing to spend several hours locked in a room on a Monday night in February.

And even if the rest of the primaries aren’t caucuses, that is, that they do only require a quick jaunt behind the curtain, there are 50 more of them; does he have infrastructure—and is he willing to pony up the money for the staff—to make it to through Super Tuesday, much less to June?

I do recognize that I could be wrong about all of this, that Trump may have figured out how to crack the delegate-gathering process the same way he’s figured out how to crack into the campaign itself. It’s entirely possible that I, in following Jonathan Bernstein, Nate Silver, and the rest on the durability of the old model of successful primary campaigns, am getting it wrong.

But I don’t think so.

~~~

And fucking hell, I just wrote an entire fucking post on this man, even after saying I wouldn’t bother.  Sucked y’all in with that ‘fascism bit’ and taking a turn at ‘organization’. Man. Sorry about that.





Circus Maximus MMXVI: We are the sultans

7 12 2015

Now, I’m not one of those who thinks Trump is a fascist*, largely because I have a(n overly?) strict definition of fascism, though I do concede that he’s plucking those führer chords pretty hard.

Still, this is brilliant:

h/t Jeffrey Goldberg

*At the most basic level, I think fascists are highly ideological, which Trump is not: he’s merely opportunistic. This isn’t to say one can’t be a cynical fascist—Göring comes to mind—but he lacks any ideology beyond “winning” and himself.

I think the better descriptor for his politics is Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan’s concept of sultanism:

[A] sultanistic ruler characteristically has no elaborate or guiding ideology. There may be highly personalistic statements with pretensions of being an ideology, often named after the sultan, but this ideology is elaborated after the ruler has assumed power, is subject to extreme manipulation, and, most importantly, is not believed to be constraining on the ruler and is relevant only as long as he practices it.

Doesn’t that sound like Trump to you?

But like I said, still a brilliant photo crop.





No no no no no no NO!

11 08 2009

People in favor of health care reform are not fascists.

People opposed to health care reform are not fascists.

President Bush was not a fascist.

President Obama is not a fascist.

Governor Palin is erratic, thoughtless, and ignorant. Not a fascist.

Karl Rove is manipulative, smug, and truth-impaired. Not a fascist.

Benito Mussolini: fascist.

Adolph Hitler: fascist.

Francisco Franco: fascist.

Fascism: (from the Latin fascis, or bundle) a movement which arose in Italy, designed around the notion of the corporate (as in corporeal) state, such that the unity of the state is comparable to the unity of the body, in which each member has a specific role to play, subordinate to the whole. It is not necessarily anti-semitic nor blood-obsessed, but, given its emphasis on the superiority and unity of the state, those designated as in any way opposed to or a drain on the health of the corporate body will be considered an enemy to be expelled or eliminated. It is a movement opposed to Modernity (as a set of ideas based on individual reason, liberty and equality), although it often makes claims of its unique ability to move society forward, into a more spiritual and robust future, and led by a strong and visionary leader. In both theory and practice it is militaristic, anti-rationalist, and often mystical, and tends toward approval of spontaneous outbursts of violence against enemies.

So is there no reason to be concerned about the rhetoric those who claim that Obama is a nazi-fascist-communist, or about the violence of some of that rhetoric? After all, members of Congress have received death threats, Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs have ‘joked’ about poisoning Nancy Pelosi’s wine and staking Howard Dean, and it is not too much to note that the election of an African-American man has undone more than a few people.

But pissed-off and violent ignoramuses do not a fascist movement make. Yes, they can do great damage—see Timothy McVeigh, or Eric Rudolph, Paul Hill, or the murderer of George Tiller—but one doesn’t have to be a fascist to do great damage.

That’s the point, isn’t it? There are plenty of people who are not fascists who are nonetheless threats.

Most, however, are not even threats. Some, like Beck and Palin, are twits. Some, like Gingrigh, are opportunists. Some—such as those who don’t want government interfering with Medicare—are uninformed.

But some just don’t like the plan. And they get to say so.

Dissent is patriotic—remember?





If they hide under the ground, we will dig them up

27 12 2008

David Hwang did not have to invent the terror of Radio Falange: For each one of us they kill, we will kill them tenfold. If they hide under the ground, we will dig them up. And if find them dead, we will kill them again.

Nationalist General Gonzalo Queipo de Llano: For every one of mine who falls, I will kill at least ten extremists. Those leaders who flee should not think they will escape [that fate]; I will drag them out from under the stones if necessary and, if they are already dead, I will kill them again. [quoted in Giles Tremlett, Ghosts of Spain, p. 29]

Quiepo de Llano was not alone in his sentiments. General Emilio Mola  argued that Everyone who is openly or secretly a supporter of the Popular Front should be shot. . . We have to sow terror. We must eliminate without scruples all those who do not think like ourselves. [p. 32]

And then there were the stolen chilren, ‘separated from rojo families and then adopted or handed over to Falange or convent-run orphanages. Some 30,000 children passed through their doors between 1944-1955.’ [p.67]

Late-Franco Spain may have been ‘only’ authoritarian, but the bloody terror of the early decades gave way later not merely to suppression, but a more controlled violence. The transition from Franco to his selected successor (and eventual democratizer) King Juan Carlos could be called non-violent only in comparison to that bloody past. Manuel Fraga Iribarne, a Francoist who helped found the right-wing People’s Party (which governed Spain 1996-2004) and who had presided over police killings of protesters in the 1970s, enjoyed threatening his opponents. Remember, he told future Socialist president Felipe Gonzales, that I am the power, and you are nothing. And when, after Franco’s death, he was asked to go easy on protesters, he responded I shall beat them black and blue.

It is late, and I have nothing to say about this, for now. But I had wondered in a previous post if Hwang and Golijov had exaggerated or invented the terror of the Falange. They did not.