Monday, October 11, 2004

Pseudo-Fascism, Part 4

Here's the link to part 4 of Orcinus' superb series on the rise of pseudo-fascism in America. Although I highly recommend that you read all parts, here's some of the highlights with extra thoughts by me.

1. The extreme right-wing press has reached the point of pseudo-fascism. Of course the extreme right-wing press today is really pretty mainstream. When you have Ann Coulter calling liberals traitors and Sean Hannity comparing liberalism to terrorism, you have reached a point where fascism is near. The more mainstream that these ideas can get, the more they will be accepted by everyone who is not a liberal. They dominate AM talk radio, they are to be found on Fox and in best-selling books. They are reaching the mainstream of the Republican Party with people like Cheney and Ashcroft. Another 4 years of Bush and they may be very prominent within the mainstream rhetoric of the Republican Party.

2. Is there another time in American history when one party has ostracized the other party so strongly? Perhaps in 1799 and 1800 when the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts and imprisoned Jeffersonian editors. At that point in our history we reached a real crisis in the republic. Would the democratic experiment succeed? The voters in 1800 turned out the Federalists and thus began 24 years of Jeffersonian administrations. This helped save democracy. Will that happen in 2004?

Usually in American history, as partisan as this nation's politics can get, one party has generally respected the other. But not now. The Republicans are out for total dominance and want to send the Democrats into oblivion to create a 1-party state. And if they succeed in this, it's difficult to see how democracy as we have known it survives in America. That doesn't mean that a Bush victory means the end of democracy, but it could mean that if the Republicans consolidate their gains and win again in 2008, we may be in some serious trouble.

3. The sense of Bush as a religious figure. This is odd and frightening. But people on the right, especially the evangelicals really see Bush as a religious figure. In some ways, perhaps this shouldn't be that surprising for those who have witnessed the rise of the fundamentalist right. Perhaps we should consider Reagan as a sort of John the Baptist for W's Christ. Christians really see Bush as their president and the savior of Christianity in this nation. Therefore, attacks upon him are not only political, but also personal and religious. If you are attacking W, then you are attacking God's will. This kind of symbolism could easily shade into fascism if the Republicans decide to capitalize it and actually create symbols of W and Jesus, or other powerful symbols, as has happened many times before in right-wing dictatorships. Look into the comparisons between Eva Peron and the Virgin Mary as an example of this.

Christians really believe that they are oppressed today. How this is possible, I don't know, but it's not that different from white males believing that blacks and women have all the advantages in today's society. Check out this quote:

Says Delores: "There is an agenda—to get rid of God in our country." Chirps the
reporter: Certainly not on the part of John Kerry, who once entertained dreams
of entering the priesthood. I'm almost laughed out of the room. I ask why Kerry
goes to mass every week if he's trying to get rid of God. "Public relations!" a
young man calls out from across the room. "Same reason he does everything else."
Cue for Delores to repeat something a rabbi told her: "We have to stand
together, because this is what happened in Europe. You know—once they start
taking this right and that right. And you have the Islamic people . . . " She
trails off. I ask whether she's referring to the rise of fascism. "We're losing
our rights as Christians: yes. And being persecuted again."

Who will save Christians from oppression: W. He really seems to be considered a messenger from God. Read about the new pro-Bush movie on the Orcinus link for these incredible connections--God, nation, and W. Dealing with this kind of imagery is going to be very tricky if Bush wins again. This is perhaps the most scary part of the whole story of the rise of pseudo-fascism in America. No other time in American history has a president been endowed with heavenly power. The connection of God and the president is something that is a legitimate threat to the separation of church and state in America and perhaps the integrity of the republic itself.