The Nightmare Continues

Photograph Source: samswitzer – CC BY 2.0

Last week I wrote a CounterPunch piece about some dark sides of US-American history and the nightmarish fascisation process underway in the USA today. It’s one of the harshest and most alarming essays I’ve ever penned. Here are some of the disturbing things that have taken place in “the world’s greatest country” since I started writing that commentary.

We Own the World

The United States Department State Department continued in its QAnon-like claim that Russia is planning to fabricate a mass casualty event as a pretext to invade Ukraine – an allegation for which “State” provided no, um, evidence. It was vaguely reminiscent of the George W. Bush administration’s unsubstantiated Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and al-Qaeda alliance claims against Iraq before the criminal, mass-murderous US petro-imperialist invasion of that country.

CNN, MSDNC, N“P”R, “P”BS, the New York Times and the Washington Post have continued to function as propaganda arms of the American Empire, dutifully spreading hysterical White House and State Department hysteria over Russia and Ukraine. Few if any reporters have dared ask the onetime Iraq invasion cheerleader Joe “God Bless Our Troops” Biden’s spokespersons about Russia’s legitimate security concerns on its western frontier or about many Ukrainians’ opposition to the US agenda of absorbing Ukraine into NATO. Reflecting the longtime Superpower belief that Uncle Sam owns the world, no reporters or pundits asked what business the USA has intervening in the geopolitical affairs of Eastern Europe in the first place.

Also consistent with its longstanding mission of manufacturing mass consent for US military adventurism and empire, US wat media has reported without serious question Biden’s account of a US Special Forces raid that led to the death of at least six women and four children in Syria. Serious reporters would have suspected that Biden was lying when he claimed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “chose to blow himself up…taking several members of his family with him.” Lying about civilian casualties is venerable standard operating procedure at the Pentagon and White House. Naturally enough, no reporter or pundit challenged the official account of the civilian slaughter or asked why USA thinks it has the right to carry out lethal special forces actions in Syria, halfway across the world, in the first place.

Sixteen Shots and Early Release

In other news, Jason Van Dyke, the white Chicago police officer who socio-pathologically pumped 16 bullets into the Black teenager Laquan McDonald on October 20, 2014, was released from prison last Thursday after serving just three years for the savage murder he committed. The freeing of this butcher was jarring to learn about in a country whose massive, world-leading, and disproportionately Black incarcerated population is full of people locked up for decades for nonviolent property and drug crimes. Online comment sections attached to Chicago area news websites reporting Van Dyke’s release were full of revanchist Caucasians hailing Van Dyke for executing a Black “criminal” in the streets, adding that the murderous ex-cop “should have never gone to jail.” Last Thursday, McDonald’s grandmother was among nine Black people arrested at Chicago’s downtown federal building by US Marshalls for protesting to demand federal Civil Rights prosecution of Van Dyke. The Laquan Nine is due in federal court today.

The Castle Doctrine and Second Amendment are for Whites Only

One day before Van Dyke’s emancipation, a Minneapolis police commando team full of gung-ho Caucasians executed the 22-year-old Black man Amir Locke nine seconds after busting through his front-door. Locke had been asleep when the raid began. He was not even the target of the “no-knock warrant.” Locke reached for and held a gun as he was slaughtered, as was his right. Barely awake, he never had a chance. For all he knew, he was facing a home invasion from a local gang or burglar. In a public statement on the raid that killed Amir Locke, the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) advanced the usual Orwellian nonsense pretending to suggest that their latest racist slaughter was somehow justified.

The location of this latest racist police state execution is highly provocative. The murder takes place in a metropolitan area whose police have killed the Black men George Floyd, Philando Castille, and Daunte Wright. Floyd’s videotaped asphyxiation by the sociopathic white MPD officer Derek Chauvin sparked one of the biggest popular uprisings in US history in the summer of 2020. Castille was murdered by a white Falcon Heights police officer during a traffic stop after announcing that he was in possession of a legally owned firearm. Wright was shot to death in his car by the white policewoman Kim Potter during Chauvin’s trial.

As the historian Carol Anderson shows in her important book The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, the Castle Doctrine (holding that one can defend one’s home with lethal force), and the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) is for whites only in racist America. Amir Locke’s Fourth Amendment protection (against illegal search and seizure) was also non-existent, for all intents and purposes.

Joe “Planet of the Apes” Rogan Has Killed More Than Four Dead in Ohio

In other news, the centrist clown Jon Stewart proclaimed that rock-folk legend Neil Young’s reasonable response to Joe Rogan’s murderous pro-covid propaganda – removing his songs from Rogan’s online platform Spotify – was “exaggerated.” What a buffoon. Beyond his noxious role helping raise the public platform and popularity of fascist and right-wing creeps like Andy Ngo and the Canadian climate denier Jordan Peterson, Rogan has advanced at least four lethally false claims in regard to Covid-19: (i) covid vaccines alter human genes; (ii) Ivermectin cures covid; (iii) people’s risk of side-effects goes up if they are vaccinated after having had covid; (iv) the health risks from vaccines are greater those from covid for young people. It seems certain that Rogan’s popularity (he has 11 million listeners) has combined with his deadly pandemic misinformation to create a body count closer to that of Cortez the Killer than Four Dead in Ohio. Still, capitalism via Spotify says he gets $100 million for his swill and a big online club of (formerly?) “left” white males can’t seem to stop defending this toxic grifter.

Meanwhile, it surfaced that in one of his podcasts Rogan referred to a Black section of Philadelphia as “Africa” and “Planet of the Apes.” His defensive half-apology for this lovely language suggested that such comments were not a big deal.

Neil Young’s Personal Business Decision Idiotically Called “Censorship”

Speaking of fake-left grifters, the “libertarian” Trumpist, FOX News bootlicker, and January 6 rioter champion Glenn Greenwald (who broke into the public sphere as the lawyer of Illinois Nazi leader Matt Hale) has persisted in charging liberals with attempted “censorship” and “cancel culture” for supporting Young’s determination to exercise basic personal freedom on where Young’s music is platformed. This is moronic. Neil Young is not a central government. He’s an artist who made a morally informed business decision: he doesn’t want his music distributed by a company that is helping spread deadly covid disinformation. He gave the company (also not a central government) a choice and it went with the money (Joe “Planet of the Apes” Rogan), as Young likely knew it would. If Spotify had done the right thing instead of the more profitable thing, the fascism- and covid-promoting blowhard Rogan would have quite easily found a different remunerative outlet from which to continue his nauseating grift.

The Washington Wehrmacht?

We learned last week that the National Football League (NFL) franchise in Washington DC came up with an interesting name to replace its former racist moniker “the Redskins.” The team will now be known as “The Commanders,” a curiously tyrannical appellation for the NFL squad representing the capital city of the nation that considers itself the homeland and headquarters of global democracy. As a popular meme noted, “The Washington football team went from the Redskins to the people who killed them.”

Perhaps the team is named after “the Commander,” a theocratic leader in the fascist-patriarchal coup state of Gilead portrayed in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian and feminist novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

Maybe it’s named after Joe Biden’s new dog, “Commander.”

Maybe it’s a reflection of the longstanding despotic habit of calling the nation’s president “our commander-in-chief.” In constitutional reality, quaintly enough, he U.S. president is the “commander-in-chief” only of the US armed forces, not the citizenry. (Constant media references to the POTUS as “commander-in-chief” has strong authoritarian implications. We should stand down from this ugly verbal habit.)

I suppose it could have been worse: the team could have re-named itself “The Washington Wehrmacht,” an all too fitting designation if Biden (who may become the Washington Commanders’ mascot in 2025) can spark a military conflict in Eastern Europe.

In case the league’s blackballing of Colin Kaepernick for protesting racist police state brutality and the revolting mass tomahawk chop and chant rituals at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium haven’t convinced you that the National Brain-Mash League is a racist shithole, last week brought new damning evidence of racially biased hiring practices in a 32-team league that has just one Black coach even though 58 percent of its players are Black.

Anti-Fascism Cancelled: Sad Susan Sarandon Surrender

In surrender to the right – or to PC liberals, or perhaps to both the right and “the left” – last week, the leftish Hollywood liberal Susan Sarandon deleted and obsequiously apologized for posting a Danny Haiphong tweet noting that a mass procession of thousands of NYPD officers at a police funeral was “what fascism looks like.” Sorry, but masses of uniformed gendarmes marching in formation is in fact kind of “what fascism looks like.” It doesn’t help that the Big Apple’s gendarmes work for a giant urban police force with a fearsome record of racist brutality – and that they are enrolled in a union that (like the Fraternal Orders of Police in Chicago and Philadelphia and other big US cities) backed the fascist Trump in the last two presidential elections.

It happens again and again when cops are killed “in the line of duty”: huge regimented pageants of holy mourning of the kind that are never held for ordinary people killed on or off their jobs. We get that in Chicago, too, as with the recent mass procession for the murdered officer Ella French. It’s the same in other cities. Where are the giant public funerals for construction workers who die in accidents involved in building the gleaming condo towers that are part of the regressive gentrification process that urban police departments are enlisted in serving and protecting? Building workers lives matter too, don’t they?

Where have the mass and official memorial processions occurred for the many nurses who died in the line of covid duty, their lives ended trying to fight a pandemic that many police officers have infamously helped spread by refusing to wear masks and get vaccinated? Heroic nurses’ lives matter.

I can’t tell which side intimidated Sarandon more: politically correct liberals asserting that Haiphong’s accurate observation was an offence to the Latino identity of the recently murdered NYPD officers or Blue Lives Matter fascists who can’t stand any questioning of the ever more militarized urban Blue-MAGA police state.

Richard Irvin “Called in the Guard” and “Closed Exit Ramps”

Speaking of racist police statism, two Republican candidates for Illinois governor have come out with openly fascistic campaign commercials that I saw for the first-time last week. Aurora’s Black Republican mayor Richard Irvin, recruited by the state’s richest billionaire Ken Griffin, urged voters to back him because he responded with an iron first to the George Floyd Rebellion. Showing images of dastardly thugs smashing windows and police and National Guardsmen in the streets, the ad begins as follows: “A riotous mob, the police outnumbered but backed up by their mayor, Richard Irvin, called in the guard, closed exit ramps, and shut down the riots.” The campaign video shows racially treasonous Richard “All Lives Matter” Irvin warning alleged outside agitators that “Aurora will be ready for you if you come to our community wreaking havoc” (as if deeply poor and unequal Aurora doesn’t have its own internal fuel for protest and violence). Another GOP contender, white venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, is also running with a frothy, not-so subtly racialized law and order theme. His commercial denounces Chicago (Black and Latino) crime and accuses the state’s multi-billionaire corporate liberal governor JB Pritzker of advancing a “leftist agenda” that “is literally killing us, turning parts of Illinois into a war zone.” Oh, indeed: the Hyatt heir Pritzker is waging Marxist-Leninist civil war via Black urban criminality. You betchya.

The Woke Crucifixion of Mary De Voto

Meanwhile, in a reminder that the white nationalist right possesses no monopoly on identitarian madness, a veteran white Chicago high school teacher was fired last week simply for using the N-word in explaining why the Washington Redskins name was racist. Here’s what Mary DeVoto said to students while teaching a unit on Native American culture, leading to the abrupt end of her long career at Mother McCauly high school on the city’s Southwest Side: “Guys, that’s no better than calling someone a nigger. Calling someone a ‘redskin,’ that’s the same thing as calling someone a nigger. So, thank God, they finally changed the name of the team.”

Mary DeVoto’s student-recorded comments were not only NOT racist, they were anti-racist. She was explaining why the Redskins was a racist team name by way of analogy. It was a professional and personal mistake to have said “the N-word” full out given the new trigger culture, but there is no evidence that Ms. DeVoto is a racist.

This kind of childish bourgeois liberal Wokeness does not serve the cause of racial equality and justice. Indeed, it makes anti-racism look silly and petty and thereby helps fuel the white nationalist madness. (I have liberal Woke stories from both “higher ed” and the streets that would send chills down seriously anti-racist left-wing spines).

“Ordinary Citizens Engaged in Legitimate Political Discourse”

But I locally digress. Back to the national scene.

New peaks of fascisation were scaled last week when the Republifascist National Committee (RfNC) gathered in the Mormon capital Salt Lake City. After censuring Republican House representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for sitting on the House Special Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol Riot, the RfNC overwhelmingly passed a resolution that contained a fascinating description of the “fascist marauders” (Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin’s accurate description) who came to Washington looking to zip-tie Nancy Pelosi, gut other Congresspersons, “hang Mike Pence” (gallows were constructed on the Capitol steps), and stop the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. The frothing white-nationalist insurrectionists of January 6th were described in the RfNC resolution as, get this, “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate public discourse.” Let that sink in: ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate public discourse. Go look at film of the siege and invasion of the US Capitol and repeat that phrase a few times.

The Washington Post reports that the RfNC censure “passed overwhelmingly on a voice vote without debate or discussion, with the whole process taking about one minute. The party said the behavior of Cheney and Kinzinger ‘has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic.’” Hitler and Orwell would be impressed: Cheney and Kinzinger were condemned for supposedly engaging in actions “destructive to” the US House and “our republic” because they serve on a committee investigating a putschist assault on the US House and republic. The purpose of the attack was to overturn the 2020 presidential election and negate the longstanding peaceful transfer of power. It was part of an ongoing many-sided effort to cancel previously normative bourgeois democracy and rule of law.

White is black, love is hate, and two plus two equals five: Big MAGA Brother says.

The Orange Fascist Reptile Runs Free

Not to be outdone, the orange fascist reptile (OFR) himself told an Arizona hate rally that he may pardon all the January 6 marauders if he becomes president again. He also called for “the biggest protests in our history” against the Black female prosecutors investigating his tax fraud in New York and his election interference in Georgia and Washington DC. The prosecutors in question have requested FBI security evaluations in preparation for potential attacks from Trumpist maniacs triggered by their Dear Leader’s comments.

According to the Malignant One, gearing up to Start the (2024) Steal, his Vice President Mike Pence “did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”

A literal admission of an attempt to overturn a US presidential election – and still no talk of capital crimes. Never mind that Pence had no such power under the Constitution or any known legislation. In Trump world, two plus two equals whatever the 45th POTUS says it equals and history is understood in terms of his revisions.

Incredibly enough, Oath Keeper 45 runs free, unafraid, provoking anew, after everything. He’s feeling strong again up in the Bavarian Alps, I mean down in Mar-a-Lago. His return to power, or the rise of an even more dangerous palingenetic-nationalist president (the OFR’s Floridian rival Ron DeSantis?), seems distinctly possible in 2024-25, thanks in no small part to a dedicated Red State campaign to rig further starboard an electoral system already badly tilted to the right, and to the nothingness of the inauthentic opposition.

The Better Lack All Conviction

What is the response from the not-so “leftmost” of the two viable capitalist political organizations? Tepid, whiny, and Weimar as usual. The Franz von Biden-Merrick von Garlandburg Democrats offer no genuine resistance, bidding to join Neville Chamberlain in early ballot admission to the Appeasement Hall of Fame while trying to create a potentially terminal foreign policy crises over Ukraine. They are the Party of Passive Resistance and false electoral hope in a nation owned by a ruling class unlikely to meaningfully oppose the replacement of (always conditional) bourgeois democracy by neo-/pandemo-/para-/proto-/eco-fascism American Style (choose your prefix or join me in dropping the prefixes altogether).

Liberals aren’t fascists, which is a good thing not to be, but they seem useless when it comes to fighting the powers that be. They’re so passive and cowardly. They watch CNN and MSNBC and vote every 2 or 4 years and they moan about the nation getting worse. They put nothing on the line. They watch cable, they vote, and they whine about FOX News and the GOP. They are the passive resistance. “The best lack all conviction,” Yeats wrote, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Maybe Joy Reid Got the Memo

Speaking of MSNBC, that “left” network’s over-caffeinated talking-head Joy Reid last week referred to Trump and his allies as “Bolsheviks.” A fitting term for the Republikaner party of permanent proletarian revolution. There’s nothing like a Harvard education. Educational malpractice aside, maybe Reid just got the memo from corporate media managers: “please get the totalitarian designation right. Stop calling fascists ‘fascists.’ Anti-communism, please.” (Anti-communism, the cause of World War II, according to the recent analysis of the prolific if mainstream liberal historian Jonathan Haslam.) Let us never forget the immortal words of the hauntingly named MSNBC commentator (and advertising executive) Donny Deutsch, who was terrified by the Marxist-Leninist specter of the neo-New Deal Democrat Bernie Sanders in March of 2019:

“I find Donald Trump reprehensible as a human being, but a socialist candidate [Sanders, that was] is more dangerous to this company, country, as far as the strength and well-being of the country, than Donald Trump. I would vote for Donald Trump, a despicable human being…I will be so distraught to the point that that could even come out of my mouth, if we have a socialist [Democratic presidential candidate or president] because that will take our country so down, and we are not Denmark. I love Denmark, but that’s not who we are. And if you love who we are and all the great things that still have to have binders put on the side. Please step away from the socialism.”

(Yes, comrades, Donny German confused “country” with “company,” appropriately enough.)

Passively Playing With Fire

The fatal folly of fascisation continues and liberals and Democrats are participating in the process, even if just passively. Their refusal to meaningfully confront what’s really going on in Amerika today is explained to no small extent by the fact that acknowledging the truth would require a really big bunch of them to do something more than watch MSNBC and/or CNN every day and mark a ballot once every 1,460 days. (Truth be told, even anti-racist protesters occupying big city street intersections and chanting “you can’t stop the revolution” can’t seem to let go of the religiously embedded notion that social transformation occurs through savagely time-staggered bourgeois elections.) U.S. Americans, liberals included, are playing with fire. They remind me of the sorts of people who let their small children play alone in the backyard with a new neighbor’s pit-bulls. Passivity kills. The American nightmare rolls on with potentially terminal consequences and will continue to do so unless and until an actual Left – still nowhere in sight – arises to change the noxious terms on which the nation’s reactionary politics are predicated.

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).