Is America Becoming a Nazi Country?

One of the questions which needs to be asked at this juncture in history goes like this: is American becoming a Nazi country? I don’t mean that in a naive way — everyone suddenly turning into a neo-Nazi skinhead. I mean it, on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, in a real one, an historic one. Is something very much like a Nazi movement and politics now beginning to surface — and consume — America? For very much the same reasons it did Weimar Germany? And if that’s the case…then what happens next?

To answer this question, and do it well, we need to understand what fascism is — and then come to Nazism in particular. What is fascism? The way that you and I were taught about it in school and then university goes like this. It was born in the 1930s. That view, I’ve come to believe is wrong — badly wrong.

If we think about human history, what is one of its defining characteristics? Societies began to organise themselves along lines of caste. Human society, for the vast, vast majority of people, was made of “nobles” and “peasants.” The line between them was genetic — “nobles” were said to have “pure” or “superior” “blood,” which gave them superior strength, intelligence, goodness, and peasants had “impure” or “inferior “blood,” which meant they were deficient in virtue, weak.

This stratified social organization — based on the purity of blood — was justified by theology, and codified into law. Who gives nobles “pure blood”? God himself did, or the Gods did, depending. Because they were superior in every way, they were the owners of everything in society — its land, its property, its assets, its surplus. Because the rest were weak, the job of the strong was to subdue and exploit them, into servitude and slavery and serfdom. This was the greater good, what was moral, justified, and righteous.

This form of social organization — feudalism, patriarchy, because “pure blood” was passed down along familial lines, and hence so was ownership and privilege — was widespread. The norm.

It was present in Europe, Japan, China, Asia, Africa — everywhere. The relative equality of pre-agrarian village society had disappeared, and as societies grew in scale, feudalism as a form of social organisation emerged as a global form. Serf and peasant, exploited by King and Lord. It was hardly just European — think of India, with its castes of nobles, warriors, and untouchables.

It’s hard not to think of all this as fascism. What is fascism? Intellectually, it’s the project of dividing people into human and subhuman, superior and inferior, by virtue of blood.

From there proceeds fascist morality, which says the right place of the strong is to exploit and subdue the weak, and thereby prove their strength. The weak are liabilities and burdens upon the strong, and therefore, the greatest good is had by exploiting them, abusing them, using them for whatever they’re good for, and disposing of them when they aren’t good for that any longer.

Fascism, it seems to me, is the norm in human history. That is an uncomfortable truth to arrive it.

But I think it gives us a much, much clearer picture of where we are, and even who we are. The centuries of slavery and empire, of noble and peasant — how can they seriously be described as anything but fascism? And all this culminated in a terrible, terrible catastrophe, an atrocity to never forget. The Holocaust. The slaughter of the Jews, at the hands of Nazis. Where else was this road of fascism ever going to lead, but to a spectacular climax of history-shattering violence, aiming to completely exterminate the most hated of all?

This is a very different way to think about history. From this perspective, there are two kinds of societies: those which have genuine democratic revolutions, and those which haven’t. Let’s take the example of France. What really happened during the French Revolution? It wasn’t like the American Revolution — something much deeper happened. The old social organisation of noble and peasant was literally abolished. By way, it has to be said, of the guillotine. In America, by contrast, the “revolution” meant enslaving subhumans, constitutionally, at the moment of founding. Perhaps you see how different these revolutions really were.

All that is to say that humanity has not yet liberated itself from fascism precisely because fascism runs much more deeply in us and through us than we imagine.

We don’t describe our pre-modern, feudal forms of social organization as fascist. But shouldn’t we? What else is the inherited privilege, thanks to your divinely ordained blood, to force the weak into servitude and servility — through extreme violence, whether it was the katana, or rapier, or pistol?

When you think about fascism this way — as an historical norm, not some kind of 20th century anomaly — suddenly, perhaps, things look much clearer. Why is fascism resurging around the globe? Take a look at India, where hyper-nationalism has fundamentalists vowing to kill heretics. Or China, which has put millions, apparently, in concentration camps. Look at Britain, self-destructing by way of nationalism — not quite fascism, but not quite not, either, even European immigrants forced out, humiliated. Fascism is resurgent around the globe because our understanding of it is weak: it was history’s norm, and we never really liberated ourselves from it very much, and so here it is, coming right back again. The 20th century’s brief golden age of democracy is proving, so far, to be just that. The anomaly is democracy, which flourished for maybe half a century — but what’s that, compared to millennia of fascism. I’m noble by blood, and you’re my peasant, and I can kill you for nothing.

Let me say it again. Fascism is the historical norm — and democracy appears to be very much the brief anomaly, flourishing for less than half a century, really, so far.

Now that we understand fascism — and what it really is — let’s think about democracy, and what it really is. Because these are two poles of a spectrum of social order. At one end, there’s fascism, you’re superior, I’m inferior, all this is “natural,” aka God-given, in the blood, and from there, you have the moral duty to exploit and subdue me for the greater good, because I’m a liability and a “parasite.” And at the other end of this spectrum of social order lies democracy. What is it?

Well, if you understand fascism is predicated on inequality, then a democracy, to meet even the most minimal criteria, must offer all its people equality.

That isn’t some kind of extreme position, it’s a necessary condition for a democracy. What are the other conditions? There are a few more necessary ones. We must be equal, meaning our rights must be precisely equivalent. We must not be able to harm one another. We must be able to resolve our differences peacefully. And the sufficient condition is mutual consent: I must consent to how you wish society to be organized, and you must consent to me.

Now let’s come back to America. What is it? Americans are told that it’s the “world’s oldest democracy” — but that’s an obviously, trivially false myth.

Now that we understand what democracy and fascism really are, we can understand America a lot better, too.

For how long has America really been a democracy? You see, part of the problem now is that social scientists rank America as a “backsliding democracy”, and that’s true — but what they don’t ask is: how long has it been one at all? I’ll explain shortly why that question is important, but first let’s answer it.

It’s obvious to understand that an America in which some people — Black people — were considered just “3/5ths” human, and others, like Native Americans, weren’t human at all, was not a democracy. It was a form of limited power-sharing for rich, white, male land-owners, but that is not a democracy. To say that 1/10th or even 1/5th of a nation or society shares power and makes decisions in some kind of collective form is not a democracy. It is just what it appears to be, which is sharing power amongst a tiny fraction, to keep the rest powerless. It is not very different from feudalism at all — and feudalism, as we’ve already discussed, is almost indistinguishable from fascism.

So when did America become a democracy — even a “flawed” one, meaning an incomplete one? The answer to that question is chilling.

It wasn’t until 1965. Black people were given the right to vote in 1870, but they didn’t really have much of it, bound by Jim Crow laws. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that Black women were given the vote, and Black people even begun to really have the power to vote. Only at this moment can America be said to have evolved into anything even vaguely resembling a democracy.

That leaves with a brutally clear view of what America really is, in sociopolitical terms. It has only been even a flawed democracy for something like fifty years. Before that, it wasn’t a democracy at all. It was simply an apartheid state, and before that a slave state — and apartheid and slave states, by definition, cannot be democracies. The reason that America is “backsliding,” as political scientists now begin to understand and point out, so swiftly and severely, then, is for a reason: because it was never a democracy very much, or for very long, at all.


Now let me come to the central question: is America becoming a Nazi country?

Let’s take three examples.

Maybe you didn’t know this first one. Virginia’s new governor is a man named Glenn Youngkin. He fooled the pundits — LOL, that’s not exactly hard to do — into thinking he wasn’t a Trumpist by wearing fleece vests and grinning like an aw-shucks country bumpkins when in fact he was a “private equity executive” signalling bigotry and supremacy at Virginia’s soccer moms and dads. He drove them into a frenzy of fear, rage, and hate, with Bigger Lies — “they’re coming for your kids! Your wives! Your land!!” Virginians lost their minds — to the point that soccer moms now threaten to shoot up the schools where their neighbours send their kids.

Sound fascist to you? It should. But what Youngkin did a few days ago crosses the next line. He set up a “tip line”…for people…to inform on….teachers.

Let’s think about this for a second. Now Virginians are going to be able to inform on their teachers to the government. For what? For the thoughtcrime, presumably, of teaching banned books and theories.

What happens then? The teachers get fired. Where does this end? Is it a tip line for informing on your neighbours next? And how about a special police force, to manage this job of people informing on others?

All this is the birth of a Gestapo. I’m not kidding about that. Go ahead and ask an elderly Jewish person — I’d bet the farm they’d agree with me, because they might have lived it. This is exactly how Gestapos are born. You inform on your neighbour — it becomes an act encouraged and incentivised by the state, for thoughtcrimes, like reading banned books, learning banned ideas.

That then demands a secret police, to keep files on people, to police them for things which aren’t crimes in a democratic society.

Things like what? Like reading. Learning. Meeting people. Teaching. Expressing yourself. Association. Privacy.

These things, let me repeat, are not crimes in a democratic society. They are just fundamental acts and facets of being human.

But these basic humanities — learning, reading, knowing, teaching, meeting — are becoming criminalised in America. In Tennessee, teaching a book about the Holocaust is now banned. It was banned in a unanimous vote.

What happens if I give a kid that book as a present? Can a neighbour “inform” on me for it? Is it just banned from schools — or is it banned, period? Who polices all this? You see how the lines are crossed, and how slippery the slope really is.

This is now a national effort — the focus of a new poltiics. It centers on criminalising things that are never crimes in a democracy.

Reading books. Teaching ideas. Learning theories. Voting itself, which can now be a felony if you “do it wrong,” as if that’s ever really the case.

The question then is: how far will this politics go? The answer to that question is: it doesn’t have to go much further at all to be chillingly and seriously Nazi. Is Youngkin’s tip line for informing on teachers fascist? Sure. When it’s for informing on neighbours, it’ll be Nazi. When books are banned at school, that’s fascist. When they’re banned period, that’s well, Nazi. When teaching theories is banned, that’s fascist. When expressing them is, that’s Nazi. When people’s privacy and freedom of association and freedom to learn and understand and know is monitored and controlled, that’s super Nazi — but that’s already what’s happening to Virginia’s kids. When soccer moms threaten to shoot up their neighbours kids at school, because their kids are strong, and so don’t have to wear masks, and the rest are weak, that’s ultra Nazi. The lines are blurry, and the slope is slippery.

I could go on and on. With examples of how extreme this new politics is. How it encourages and incites violence.

How it seems to want to burn books. How it criminalises thought and speech and privacy and association in escalating ways. The point, though, should be very, very clear. This is how Nazism happens. This is what it is. A mass movement devoted to cleansing and purification. Impurities have to excised from the social body. Those impurities begin with ideas and books. They become speech and expression. Then association and interaction — no shopping at that store, no going to that street, this ghetto is where those people live now. And then the impurities to be cleansed away become people themselves.

Then there is a Holocaust.

That is the road, it appears to me, that America is on.

You are most welcome to disagree. But I think on this Holocaust Remembrance Day, we should not fool ourselves with comfortable lies and easy half-truths. If this isn’t Nazism, this ugliness, hate, violence, this burning desire to cleanse society of the subhuman, the impure, the unclean, to burn books and inform on neighbours and take a gun to your neighbours kids head — if this movement that’s rising in America isn’t Nazism, then what is?

Advertisement

Ted Cruz is a Racist Hack

His questions to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson reveal his contempt for Black people and the intelligence of us all

At the risk of sounding like a broken record — after all, what I’m going to say about Ted Cruz is something I said recently about Tucker Carlson — sometimes repetition has its virtues.

This is especially true when referring to birds of a feather who together drop their shit from telephone wires on the unsuspecting who walk beneath them.

And so, let it be proclaimed loudly and clearly: Ted Cruz is a racist asshole.

We know this because he treats Black people as interchangeable pieces on a racial chessboard who should be expected to answer for others of their group, in a way he would never expect of whites.

Cruz is also a hack, by which I mean a fraud who deliberately distorts reality for political purposes using out-of-context quotes from those with whom he disagrees to smear them and those he views as adjacent to them.

We know all of this because of how he comported himself yesterday in the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Cruz (who thirstily searched for himself on Twitter once his performance was done) demonstrated both the racism and the hackery during his allotted time to question Jackson.

Cruz’s attack on The 1619 Project was a racist and dishonest smear job

First, he quizzed the nominee about The 1619 Project because of a speech she had given in which she praised Nikole Hannah-Jones, who orchestrated the New York Times series by that name.

Cruz, noting that several historians have criticized the series, implied that Jackson’s favorable mention of it suggested she agreed with all of its contents. Presumably, this would include Hannah-Jones’s own essay for the Project, in which she argued that one reason for the American Revolution was the desire of white colonists to preserve the system of slavery.

Cruz, who thirstily searched for himself on Twitter as soon as his performance was done, demonstrated both the racism and the hackery during his allotted time to question Jackson.

Before addressing Cruz’s attack here, I want to point out that this view, though controversial, is not as outrageous as some might believe. Gerald Horne presents evidence for it in The Counterrevolution of 1776, as do Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen in their volume, Slave Nation.

I have no doubt Cruz has said favorable things about Thomas Jefferson. And yet, no one would presume that he agrees with Jefferson’s documented raping of his human property, his ownership of hundreds of Black people, or his comments about how, regarding whites and Blacks, “the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.”

Although Jefferson’s racism and rapism are infinitely more offensive than even the most uncharitable reading of Hannah-Jones, no one would seek to hold Cruz responsible for the former just because he has opined as to the greatness of the Declaration of Independence.

Yet Cruz expects this of Jackson concerning Hannah-Jones, simply because she said some kind words about the 1619 Project.

Likewise, it is inconceivable that anyone would quiz a white nominee about some speech in which they had praised the Constitution by asking how they felt about many of the framers owning other human beings and virtually all holding racist views.

Yet, in this case, Cruz has asked Jackson to justify her praise of the 1619 Project, based on one part of Hannah-Jones’s writing, which itself is only one small part of the larger work. Why, other than the two women’s shared race, would Jackson be expected to do such a thing?

The difference, driven home by Cruz this week, is clear — it’s racism.

White people can say and do racist things, and other white people don’t have to answer for them, even if those secondary white people have praised the first group.

But if Black people write things that merely offend your historical perspective, any Black person who has said something nice about the offending writer can be called on the carpet for it and interrogated like a common criminal.

Got it, racist, thanks.

Cruz’s attack on Ibram X. Kendi’s books was equally dishonest (and racist)

Cruz then did the same thing — seeking to hold one Black person accountable for another — in his discussion of Ibram X. Kendi’s work in the children’s books Antiracist Baby and Stamped (for Kids).

The link between Jackson and Kendi? None really, except that Jackson sits on the Board of Trustees for Georgetown Day School, a progressive private school in DC, and Kendi’s books are among several that GDS either uses in class or has referenced in recent years in some of their racial equity initiatives.

(Apparently) if Black people write things that offend your historical perspective, any Black person who has said something nice about the offending writer can be called on the carpet for it and interrogated like a common criminal

For Cruz, whose own daughters attend a private school in Houston that also recommends and uses Kendi’s work, this was enough of a link to grill Jackson about her views of it, or at least his dishonest caricature of that material.

Cruz notes that according to Antiracist Baby, children are either “taught racism or antiracism, there is no neutrality.” To Cruz, this suggests that kids are natural-born racists, and he asked Jackson her view about that, even though that isn’t what Kendi is arguing — quite the opposite.

As per the research on this matter, he insists that racism is taught. By not deliberately instilling antiracist thinking in young people, they will grow up to participate actively or passively in racism.

While one might find that hard to hear, it’s undeniable. Historically, that’s precisely what has happened.

Most white Americans, for instance, were not enslavers, owners of segregated businesses, or terrorists who attacked sit-in protesters. But most white people sat by and never actively fought against enslavement or segregation either. Most went along. Kendi’s point is that this is not neutrality. It is passive but real and meaningful participation in evil.

Cruz may not like the sound of it. But that doesn’t make it untrue.

And the fact that one Black person said it in a book on a reading list at a school on whose board Jackson serves doesn’t mean she should have to address it at all. Likewise, she also shouldn’t be expected to weigh in on Hemingway’s alcoholism and propensity for violence if the school teaches A Farewell to Arms.

So too, when Cruz turned to Kendi’s book for teens, Stamped (for Kids) — a version of his award-winning volume Stamped from the Beginning — he distorted its contents while expecting Jackson to weigh in on them.

For instance, Cruz notes, with much indignation, that Stamped (for Kids), which Kendi co-authored with Jason Reynolds, includes the line, “Can we send white people back to Europe?”

Of course, he ignores the context of this sentence, which, if read correctly, would change the author’s meaning from what Cruz implies (that Kendi is an anti-white bigot) to what he intended.

And what is that? By reading the entire passage, it’s obvious: namely, to tell people of color to “go back” where they came from — something they hear often — is absurd because they are as much a part of America as white folks.

Kendi and Reynolds were trying to make that point by asking how white people would feel if, for instance, Indigenous persons asked, “can we send white people back to Europe?”

It wasn’t meant to endorse European repatriation. It was meant to demonstrate the absurdity of racism.

And Ted Cruz knows that.

Cruz’s claims of Judge Jackson’s link to Critical Race Theory is peak bullshit

Likewise, Cruz knows Judge Brown doesn’t use Critical Race Theory in sentencing decisions. But he suggested as much when he displayed a poster board with a snippet of a sentence from one of her speeches, in which she noted how criminal sentencing policy raises all kinds of issues, including those posed by Critical Race Theory.

It is obvious to any honest observer that Jackson was talking about how sentencing policy raises the kinds of questions about racial injustice that CRT has long addressed.

And that’s true.

The history of sentencing policy obviously raises these issues.

From how rape and sexual assault were treated when committed by Black men as opposed to white men to modern-day differences in sentencing for powder instead of crack cocaine, such issues have been raised.

Critical Race Theory has long pointed out the consistency of such disparities to suggest that racism in the law has functioned more as a feature than a system glitch.

Jackson was reflecting on that inarguable point, which emanates from CRT but is understood by most anyone who has observed criminal sentencing in America.

However, to Cruz, Jackson was suggesting she used CRT when handing down sentences in court. As if she would listen to the trial, then sneak off to chambers, open up a book by Derrick Bell or get on the phone with Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, or Mari Matsuda and seek advice on what to do with the defendant in front of her.

Again, as with his distortions of Hannah-Jones’s work and Kendi’s, this is a ridiculous reading of Judge Jackson’s comment, and Ted Cruz knows it. Since he has no doubt read the full text of the various quotes he snipped and blew up onto poster boards for the hearing, his representation of those statements cannot be seen as anything other than deceptive.

In short, Ted Cruz is fully aware of precisely how full of shit Ted Cruz is.

Which, by now, is possibly the one thing he has in common with most of America, regardless of political party.