Monday, April 26, 2010

What Is Fascism? Evangelical Fascism in the US, Cont'd

This is part II of my post on the rise of American fascism.

11. "Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked." In 1936, Millan Astray, one of the fascist leaders of the Nationalist movement in Spain, interrupted a speech given at the University of Salamanca by one of Spain's greatest writers and philosophers Miguel de Unamuno. "Death to the Intelligence! Long live death!" screamed Astray. "You can win by brute force, but you can never convince," replied the elderly philosopher. This perennial fascist cry of death to the intelligence is echoed today by endless scorn that Tea Party fundamentalists heap on intellectuals, college professors, writers, artists, and everybody who has some of that thing they hate the most in the world - intelligence. This is why they idolize the illiterate Bush Jr. and Sarah Palin. This is why they hate people like Gore, Hillary Clinton, and Obama.

12. "Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations." Well, this is more of the same, really. Fascist regimes are characterized by a willing suspension of all civil liberties in the name of appeasing some undefined but intolerable fear that drives the citizens of a fascist state.

13. "Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders." We all remember, I hope, how in the last days of his presidency George W. Bush forced the Congress to adopt a bill offering no-strings-attached bailouts to Wall Street companies. Today, Tea Partiers somehow try to blame the bailouts on Obama, who was demonstrably not in the Oval Office at that time.

14. "Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections." All of these things happened under the Bush administration. Threats against Obama have been coming in a steady stream from the Tea Party movement. We all remember how they showed up with rifles at their scary meetings.

If you are interested in learning more about American fascism, I strongly recommend a book titled American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges. He is a brilliant journalist, and this important book is packed with information and analysis of the rise of fascism among the representatives of the religious right in this country.

People tend to dismiss the tea partiers as a bunch of silly, misguided freaks who have no coherent political agenda simply because they do not have the mental capacity to understand the words "coherent" and "agenda." In my opinion, dismissing them out of hand is a mistake. Their agenda is fear and their policy is hatred.

Remember that the intellectuals dismissed Hitler's hysterical beer hall screechings until they were forced to recognize how many people found his ravings attractive. Today, we laugh at the unintelligent ramblings of Sarah Palin and her best buddy Rand Paul. I am afraid that when we finally wake up and realize the fascist nature of the Evangelical Tea Partiers, it might be too late. Yes, they are laughable, but this is precisely what makes them so dangerous. While we are laughing, they keep attracting more disenfranchised, scared, angry and resentful people to their side. People who have no idea that what they actually support under the name of Tea Parties is fascism, pure and simple.

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