I have been slowly making my way through two books over the past year. My progress has been slow since I find both reads to be very dense in this age of Twitter, and incredibly depressing and alarming when I reflect on current events. The books are The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt and Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright.
I also read writers on Twitter that have been increasingly sounding the alarm about the rise of fascism in the United States, especially over the past four plus years. You have likely already read David Frum’s observation that “If conservatives become convinced that they can not win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. The will reject democracy.”
The Republican Party’s assault on our democracy is accelerating. The Trump-era has seen the Big Lie be weaponized against truth and facts. At least 14 states, all Republican controlled, have enacted laws this year to restrict voting and elections. Republicans are now escalating the culture war in order to shape and control what people think and believe making a totalitarian state increasingly likely. Democrats, especially those who lead our nation’s institutions, are not reacting with enough speed or force to counter the momentum building against our republic and their slim majority in the Senate is so fractured and paralyzed by money and age to be able to unify to shore up democracy for even the next federal election cycle. The Justice Department is distracted, busy defending Trump and his businesses.
The federal judiciary is already severely corrupted and politicized by Sen. Mitch McConnell and his Republican allies. Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer is busy scolding Democrats blaming us for politicizing the Supreme Court by asking him to retire this year. Yes, our nation’s institutions seem unlikely or unwilling to save our democracy.
This growing threat to our democracy is the backdrop for the following series of Tweets from writer Jared Yates Sexton. He tweets:
I cannot stress this enough. What we are watching is not innocuous and it’s not even remotely hidden. The Right is a developing and accelerating fascistic movement. We keep trying to tell you. The writing is on the wall and it is very, very clear.
Unrolled, the tweets are
2) Yesterday, as a political measure, the state of Florida, pushed by the GOP, banned the teaching of “critical race theory,” or the investigation of systems of power, racism, and oppression.This isn’t innocuous.
It is a literal replaying of Nazi totalitarianism.
3) Underneath all of it is the concept of “Cultural Marxism,” or the idea that there is a secret conspiracy by communists, Jews, and liberal traitors, to destroy the culture of the country and unseat systems of power.
It is paranoid, fascist, and can be murderous.
4) Hitler created his power base on this very conspiracy theory and presented it as an existential threat to Germans. The “poison” of cultural Marxism, he claimed, was making people question the state and was priming them for a revolution. It required extreme measures.
7) What resulted was a cult of personality and a suicidal devotion to the state and Hitler. All dissenting opinions were outlawed and cultured devoured itself, creating a madness that made fascism, warmongering, and genocide possible.
8) A prime part of the Nazi totalitarian plan involved the takeover of education, claiming it was “indoctrinating” students, they took it over in totality and, predictably, made it an aggressive engine of actual indoctrination.
They captured generations of citizens.
9) Actual information and history was taken from students and it was replaced with propaganda and religious worship of the state and Hitler.
This takeover was meticulous, aggressive, and one of the main reasons fascism was able to gain its foothold and power.
12) The incident more people are familiar with is the second Red Scare, or McCarthyism, which was a proto-Qanon movement that took over the GOP and allowed the Right to destroy FDR’s New Deal coalition via spreading conspiracy theories and paranoia.
13) The second Red Scare was able to create a silent oppression with America where citizens were so afraid of being spotlit as a traitor or part of the communist conspiracy that they often had to hide who they were and what they believed.
It was soft totalitarianism.
14) Of course, the Civil Rights Movement created a crisis in America that revealed what hid behind the soft totalitarianism. Again, as white supremacy was challenged, the paranoia, violence, and oppression was forced to rear its head and expose the fascism underneath.
17) The violence against Civil Rights protesters was considered self-defense, America defending itself against communist infiltration and an insidious plot, again by Jews, communists, leftist traitors, and people of color being manipulated into joining.
18) If this sounds familiar, it should.
Black Lives Matter was treated as a conspiracy, a manufactured movement that was being directed by shadowy forces and ultimately focused on destroying America’s foundations, creating distrust, and ultimately leading to the end of the US.
19) What we’re experiencing RIGHT NOW is the same Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy theory that animated the Nazis and fascists.
It’s a different version, an update, but it is the animating force of the GOP and the Right. It operates exactly the same way and demands action.
20) The focus now is George Soros and other “Jewish puppetmasters.”
This is ultimately what’s at the heart of the anti-CRT, anti-“woke” movement. It is a fascistic, antisemetic conspiracy theory meant to provoke violence and oppression.
21) By capturing the education system, the Right intends to forcefully reassert white supremacy as benevolence, or the idea that white people have exploited and murdered people of color out of good intentions and in the pursuit of progress.
22) And, it is yet another front in the GOP’s war to dismantle democratic institutions considering they are historically unpopular and that white supremacy and hypercapitalistic exploitation are in crisis and in danger of being unseated.
But make no mistake. This isn’t about CRT.
23) It’s about walling off information, about instituting “patriotic,” white supremacist education that ensures people don’t understand systems of power and promoting militaristic self-destruction within the population.
Critical race theory is not taught in public schools, it is college level discourse. But, Republicans are weaponizing it to defend their white supremacist base and undermine our democracy.
The Republicans attack on democracy is on all fronts: education, culture, courts, elections, and institutions. They are flooding the zone making it a challenge to keep up with its scope, let alone defend or counter-attack.
The 2020 election was a tap on the brakes, a pause to allow the nation a chance to catch our collective breaths and decide if we really want to become a totally fascist state. Each day, we learn how dangerously close we were.
Yesterday, news broke that the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed records of two Democrats on House Intelligence Committee. “The department sought data on two lawmakers from California who were prominent critics of … Donald Trump — Rep. Adam B. Schiff, then the panel’s ranking Democrat and now its chairman, and Rep. Eric Swalwell.”
In response Rep. Swalwell said in part, “It’s a fragile time for our democracy.” Indeed it is.