Category Archives: Decline of the west

We are Doomed

 

Not every one likes Bill Maher.  I know he is the worst interviewer on television.  Often he does not let his guests speak, but speaks up for them instead.  As well, when he lets them speak, he has some very interesting guests from all ends of the political spectrum from Steve Bannon to Nancy Pelosi.  And he sometimes makes some very interesting points.

For example, he was the first one to predict that Trump would never resign after he was elected president. He said that almost immediately after the election in 2016!  Now every one knows that. But not many said that in 2016. But Maher has also appreciated, as few others do, that this refusal now has important consequences.  Americans seem to be tolerating, if not encouraging,  this refusal even though the peaceful transfer of power has for long been considered the most important characteristic of democracy. It is what distinguishes democracy from autocracy.

And now millions of Americans have demonstrated clearly that they don’t think this element of democracy is important. They don’t care! I have found this astonishing. Many have not. Many shrug their shoulders as if it didn’t matter.

Maher said “Well we had a good run.”  On November 8, 2022 Americans had a chance to vote for democracy. As Joe Biden and many Democrats said, “Democracy is on the ballot.”  And they were right. And it didn’t matter to millions Americans. Inflation was more important than democracy. Bill Maher predicted this 4 days before the election as if it was a foregone conclusion. This is what he said,

“Tuesday is the election and I know I should tell you to vote in the most important election ever. So, O.K., yes. You should vote.  And it should be for the one party that still stands for democracy preservation. But it’s also a waste of breath because anyone who believes that is already voting and anybody who needs to learn that isn’t watching and no one in America can be persuaded about anything anymore anyway.”

On this point Maher is right.  No one will change their mind. Trump was right when he said he could stand in Times Square, murder someone and it wouldn’t make any difference to his supporters. They are that determined to vote for him no matter what he says or does. that gives him a lot of rope.  Look at the mountains of evidence revealing his nefarious deeds. Yet, his supporters are filled with religious devotion that cannot be altered. No one can be convinced out of a theological devotion. That in itself is enough to kill democracy.

Maher gave another pertinent example—the January 6th hearings. Those hearings provided Americans with an overwhelmingly convincing narrative that Donald Trump had no respect for democracy as he led the charge against democracy and his devoted followers followed. As Maher said,

“The January 6th hearings it turned out changed nobody’s mind. Democrat Jamie Raskin said the hearings “will tell a story that will really blow the roof off the House.”  No that was Hurricane Ian. Hearings roof not blown. The Committee did a masterful job laying out the case but we live in Partisan American now. So it’s a little like doing stand-up when half the crowd only speaks Mandarin. No matter how good the material is it’s not going to go over. After all the hearings the percentage of Americans who thought Trump did nothing wrong. Went up 3 points! That’s America now.”

 

Again, Maher is right. The truth did not matter! All that mattered was that millions of people are devoted to Trump and nothing—absolutely nothing—will turn them away from their religious leader. The overwhelming narrative is irrelevant.

I am a Canadian; I have no dog in this hunt. But I do. America is the leader of the modern world. Maybe not for much longer, but for now that is true. If America coughs the rest of the world catches a cold.

 I am posting this as the election is drawing to a close. I don’t know any results. I hope Maher is wrong; if fear he is right.

Are we doomed?  Let’s see what happens tonight.

Is Civil War in the US possible?

One of the two respected jurists William S. Cohen who wrote about the disappointing actions of Republicans complaining about the Justice Department warrants at Donald Trump’s home, is a former secretary of defense and former Republican senator from Maine who was such a moderate Republican that he served as Secretary of Defence in the Democrat Clinton administration. The other, William H. Webster is a former director of the FBI and the CIA and a retired judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. He served under both Democrat and Republican administrations, including that of Donald Trump.  These are not partisans.

 

These men have pointed out that the Republican leaders, disrespect for maintaining law and order is serious, and can have very serious consequences.  They even suggested those actions might lead to Civil War! Remember these are not fringe leftists clamouring about the possibility of Civil War. These are respected lawyers who served both Democrat and Republican administrations in national security matters and they are not alarmists. They remind us that fears and warnings of Civil War are not outlandish, given the conduct of Republican leaders and the former president. They are real possibilities.

 

The opinion of Cohen and Webster was based on their personal experience and also their reading of respecting historian Barbara F. Walter who in her book “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them,

 

“Walter raises valid concerns about the United States slipping into a place where civil war is possible. She writes about a netherworld of anocracy — between democracy and autocracy — a breeding ground for political violence, where the grievances and resentments of a large white underclass have greatly increased the potential for civil war.

 

These predictions once sounded like the fever dreams of far-right lunatics who would welcome such a bloody conflict; today, such predictions are coming from responsible voices such as Walter and others who have carefully studied this phenomenon around the world.”

 

 

Please note how Cohen and Webster refer to “these valid concerns” and that such opinions are not “the fever dreams of far-right lunatics.”  These concerns are brought forward by the upper echelons of American jurists and public servants. Again, this is serious stuff and should be taken seriously.

Some people have suggested Merrick and Wray should not have issued and executed the warrants at Mar-a-Lago, because the risk of causing civil unrest, which Trump in fact has been encouraging, again, but these two jurists rightly point out that, “our nation’s senior law enforcer, a man who has an impeccable record of fairness and impartiality as a distinguished jurist, cannot tailor his judgment to accommodate the rage of the lawless.

Genuine believers in the rule of law, like Merrick and Wray, must do their duty, rather than bowing to the reckless cries of lawless insurrectionists and their Republican enablers. There was a time when conservatives were dedicated to law and order. This is not one of those times. If there are no longer many conservatives, the radical left or the radical right will the vacuum.

The Rage of the Lawless

 

 

Did you read the article in the Washington Post by two outstanding lawyers and public servants, namely William S. Cohen and William H. Webster? the y commented on the right wing hysteria that followed the Department of Justice issuing warrants to enter and seize government documents from Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago Florida.

William S. Cohen is a former secretary of defense and former Republican senator from Maine. He was a moderate Republican who served as Secretary of Defence in the Democrat Clinton administration.

William H. Webster is a former director of the FBI and the CIA and a retired judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. He served under both Democrat and Republican administrations, including that of Donald Trump.

Neither is a left-wing radical. These are respected lawyers and public servants.

These two hard-headed experienced lawyers with deep knowledge of the law and national security issues have jointly issued a severe warning in the Washington Post. They commented how unusual it was for an Attorney General like Merrick Garland together with FBI director Christopher Wray to have  authorized the execution of search warrants of the home of the former president Donald Trump. Wray was a Trump appointee after Trump dismissed former director James Comey. Webster and Cohen said they both had full confidence that the warrants by these men who were “both honest and honorable men,” were justified.

.Even though it is clear to them that the warrants were rightfully issued, and executed, Cohen and Webster were highly critical of the actions of leading Republican leaders who together with the former president did their best to inflame the Trump supporters. As Cohen and Webster said,

Prominent Republicans reacted with predictable fury and heated threats of retaliation against the attorney general — unprecedented acts of vitriol based on the belief the FBI’s conduct was politically motivated rather than legally necessary. In doing so, they recklessly and knowingly undermined respect for a “law and order” institution and the men and women who risk their lives to protect us.”

 

And that is the real problem. Republicans claim to be the party of law and order, but repeatedly, in service of their former leader and president, Donald Trump, they do all they can to “reckless and knowingly” undermine “respect for law and order.” Every who saw what happened in Washington D.C. at the Capitol on January 6th knows what the effect of disrespecting law and order can lead to—violence, chaos, and insurrection. This is serious stuff, but Republican leaders seem to have forgotten it in their rush to pay obeisance to Donald Trump at the expense of the country.

As important as this issue is because it could lead to violent insurrection, Cohen and Webster think it is even more important to consider what they called “the far larger issues surrounding the conduct of the former president.” These two respected jurists acknowledged that the House Select Committee investigating the Jan.6 2021 incident, which I call an insurrection and others call a riot, acknowledged that this committee

“…has produced compelling evidence that Trump and his supporters engaged in an orchestrated six-step plan to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, culminating with the assault on the Capitol.

We share disgust and deep disappointment that the Republican Party’s decency and respect for the rule of law has been defined down to a cultish devotion to a demonstrably unprincipled man of greed and blind ambition.”

 

As a society we must learn how to contain the rage of the lawless. If we can’t do that, everything else is pretty futile. Is that not what conservatism is all about?

Inequality Breeds Contempt

 

I want to continue talking about Snyder’s idea of “the politics of inevitability” just a little bit more.

One of my readers pointed out that this theory that was employed by people in the west as well as the east is really a version of determinism.  And the problem with determinism is that even if  events are determined it is extremely difficult to predict the future.

 

What the Americans thought was their own inevitable dominance after that collapse of the Soviet Empire turned out to be one more dangerous illusion. The road to heaven turned out to be more complicated than that. In fact, the road to heaven turned out to be a road to unfreedom. Inevitability turned out to be a churlish illusion. As Timothy Snyder said,

 

“The American politics of inevitability, like all such stories, resisted facts. The fates of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus after 1991 showed well enough that the fall of one system did not create a blank slate on which nature generated markets and markets generated rights. Iraq in 2003 might have confirmed this lesson, had the initiators of America’s illegal war reflected upon its disastrous consequences. The financial crisis of 2008 and the deregulation of campaign contributions in the United States magnified the influence of the wealthy and reduced that of voters. As economic inequality grew, time horizons shrank, and fewer Americans believed that the future held a better version of the present. Lacking a functional state that assured basic social goods taken for granted elsewhere—education, pensions, health care, transport, parental leave, vacations—Americans could be overwhelmed by each day, and lose a sense of the future.”

 

The decline of America was set in motion. Nothing was inevitable except the crushing power of wealth.

Americans don’t believe this even though they so powerfully demonstrate it. Inequality breeds contempt. First inequality ushers in resentment, then contempt. First, the lowly feel resentment about their “betters” and then they feel contempt for themselves for failing to live up to their own ideals. They see themselves as losers. Their self-respect is curdled by envy.  It had happened earlier to African Americans enslaved for centuries until many of them lost their ability to love even themselves as shown in the novels of James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. We need a writer of equal power to tell us the truth of what happened after 2008. Instead, we have too many people who don’t want to look at the truth of modern North American society and prefer the contentment of looking at comfortable myths.

Such a situation is ripe for the demagogue.  America got exactly that. It got Donald Trump to make America (and of course Americans) great again. What a wonderful illusion. All they had to do was keep out the undesirables and have faith in their new leader. He could do it. And astonishingly, millions of Americans believed him, without any evidence that he could do it. They believed it because they wanted it so much to be true.

The same thing happened in Russia. They got Putin. He promised Russians that the Soviet Empire could be revived.  He would do that in Ukraine. So far he has just brought ruin without empire.  In Russia, as in the United States, some people achieved enormous wealth while ordinary people were left to suck socks. And that created huge problems in both countries.

The Classics: Wisdom Speaking

 

For Cornel West the search for wisdom is also a spiritual search. Cornel West wrote an article in the Washington Post in response to Howard University and other universities getting rid of their Classics Department.  In fairness to Howard it is a university that does not have the massive dnowments that some of the Ivy League schools have. Howard University is not Harvard. Yet West thought they could do better in their search for wisdom.   Walter Isaacson interviewed West on Amanpour and Company on the dispute.

 

Cornel West believes it is important to preserve and read the classics. He said,

 

“I am convinced we are living in a moment of spiritual decay and moral decrepitude in the American empire. We have to come up with countervailing forces and countervailing weight against the rule of money, rule of mediocrity, rule of military might, rule of narrow conformity, and rule of indifference and callousness. The best classics of any civilization, of any empire, of any culture have to do with trying to convince ourselves to get involved in a quest for truth, and beauty, and goodness, and then for some of us like myself, a Christian, the holy.”

 

To me that sums up the best of the humanities—i.e. the wisdom of civilization. But West believes there has been a deep moral decline in the west and a deep intellectual narrowness has crept in, and that the classics can help us to resist this trend. He says, the reason it does that is

 

“The classics force us to come to terms with the most terrifying question we can ever raise which is what does it mean to be human? The unexamined life is not a life of human according to Plato in his Apology in line 38a. “Human” comes from the Latin humando which means burial, we are disappearing creatures. We are vanishing organisms on the way to bodily extinction. Therefore, the question becomes, ‘who will we be in the meantime?’ What kind of virtue can we enact? What kind of vision will we pursue? What kind of values will we try to embody? And once you raise that question what it means to be human, then you begin to see on the one hand what Shakespeare and Dante have taught us, like Toni Morrison, and John Coltrane have taught us, it’s dark in our history! Most of our history is the history of domination and oppression. The history of hatred. The history of contempt. It is the history of fear driven cruelty. What is the best of our history? Counterweights against that. And that is everywhere you look. Every civilization. Every continent. Every race. Every religion. Every gender. Every sexual orientation. And once you come to terms with that, then the question becomes how do you become equipped? What kind of spiritual and moral armour do you have that allows you to think critically? That allows you to open yourself to others. That allows you to act courageously.”

 

Now if that is not a spiritual quest, I do not know what is. West used Frederick Douglas as an example of a man who did that. He teased out truths from foreign languages as anyone can do. He was already a freedom fighter, but the classics of other countries helped him to find the truth, beauty, and the good. According to West, “He teased out an eloquence. And what is eloquence? “Eloquence is wisdom speaking,” say Cicero and Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (often referred to as Quintilian) a rhetorician and educator.

 

According to West, the essence of wisdom speaking is having the courage to know how to die by questioning your presuppositions. Every time you let a presupposition go that is a form of death because it allows you to be reborn. It allows you to grow. It allows you to develop. It allows you to mature. If you can learn that, from religion, philosophy, music, or the classics you have the necessary spiritual armour.

As West said,

 

“We live in an empire my brother that has grown powerful and rich but has not grown up. F.O Mathieson used to say, America would in some way be distinctive because it could move from perceived innocence to corruption without a mediating state of maturity.” The nation believes it is innocent. How can you be authorizers of devastation of indigenous people and African slaves and then view yourselves as innocent? “

 

In many ways that is the problem many people have—particularly those who have been privileged and fail to recognize that privilege. How can you fail to look at the crimes produced in the name of your civilization? We all need to grow up and see that we are not innocent, no matter how much we would like to be innocent.

The Classics: Wisdom Speaking

Cornel West wrote an article in the Washington Post in response to Howard University and other universities getting rid of their Classics Department.  Walter Isaacson interviewed him on Amanpour and Company about that. said that he believes it is important to preserve and read the classics. He  emphasized that, it important to read the classics:

I am convinced we are living in a moment of spiritual decay and moral decrepitude in the American empire. We have to come up with countervailing forces and countervailing weight against the rule of money, rule of mediocrity, rule of military might, rule of narrow conformity, and rule of indifference and callousness. The best classics of any civilization, of any empire, of any culture have to do with trying to convince ourselves to get involved in a quest for truth, and beauty, and goodness, and then for some of us like myself, a Christian, the holy.

 

That is what the classics can help us to do. That is part of West’s religious quest in the modern age. West believes there has been a deep moral decline in the west and a deep intellectual narrowness has crept in, and that the classics can help us to resist this trend. He says, the reason it does that is

“The classics force us to come to terms with the most terrifying question we can ever raise which is what does it mean to be human? The unexamined life is not a life of a human according to Plato in his Apology in line 38a. “Human” comes from the Latin humando which means burial, we are disappearing creatures. We are vanishing organisms on the way to bodily extinction. Therefore, the question becomes, ‘who will we be in the meantime?’ What kind of virtue can we enact? What kind of vision will we pursue? What kind of values will we try to embody? And once you raise that question what it means to be human, then you begin to see on the one hand like Shakespeare and Dante have taught us, like Toni Morrison, and John Coltrane have taught us, it’s dark in our history! Most of our history is the history of domination and oppression. The history of hatred. The history of contempt. It is the history of fear driven cruelty. What is the best of our history? Counterweights against that. And that is everywhere you look. Every civilization. Every continent. Every race. Every religion. Every gender. Every sexual orientation. And once you come to terms with that, then the question becomes how do you become equipped? What kind of spiritual and moral armour do you have that allows you to think critically? That allows you to open yourself to others. That allows you to act courageously.”

 

Now if that is not a spiritual quest, I do not know what is. That is what I have been seekiing on my quest. I think I have found it. West used Frederick Douglas as an example of a man who did that. He discovered  truths from foreign languages as well as anyone can do. He was already a freedom fighter, but the classics of other countries helped him to find the truth, beauty, and the good. According to West, “He teased out an eloquence. And what is eloquence? “Eloquence is wisdom speaking,” say Cicero and Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (often referred to as Quintilian) a rhetorician and educator.

 

According to West, the essence of wisdom speaking is having the courage to know how to die by questioning your presuppositions. Every time you let a presupposition go that is a form of death because it allows you to be reborn. It allows you to grow. It allows you to develop. It allows you to mature.

As West said,

“We live in an empire my brother that has grown powerful and rich but has not grown up. F.O Mathieson used to say, “America would in some way be distinctive because it could move from perceived innocence to corruption without a mediating state of maturity.” The nation believes it is innocent. How can you be authorizers of devastation of indigenous people and African slaves and then view yourselves as innocent? James Baldwin said that innocence is the crime before you commit the crime. We need to grow up. This is not Peter Pan. This is not Disneyland. We gotta be mature. It is possible for any human being to be innocent, naïve, to be mature and separate childishness from child-likeness. Child-likeness is a sign of maturity. Childishness? You need to grow up.”

The classics taught West how to find truth, beauty, moral goodness and the holy. That is the spiritual quest in the modern age.

Distrust of Medical authorities

 

As the Washington Post reporters said, “a public health crisis made worse by many people’s distrust of medical authorities while they rely on often-faulty information from some of the country’s most influential people, which is amplified through social media.” The classic example has been ivermectin medication approved for animals like cows and horses, but not humans. Many of the anti-vaxxers now take that instead of vaccines that have been extensively scientifically tested in large, randomized clinical trials, and given to more than 170 million people in the United States and billions of  people worldwide. Is it an exaggeration to say the world has gone mad?

 Of course, it is not surprising that the media shilling the horse deworming medication were mainly conservatives, particularly conservative radio talk show hosts. As I have been saying, this pandemic of disinformation has been driven significantly by conservatives and evangelical Christians. As Hawaii Lt.-Gov Josh Green, who is a Democrat and an emergency room doctor said, “When people get fixated on inappropriate recommendations, then they unfortunately don’t get vaccinated,” said Hawaii Lt.-Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat and an emergency room doctor who blames conservative media for fanning unfounded hopes about ivermectin. “They don’t do the things that will actually help.”

 Now hospital ICUs in some hospitals are being overwhelmed by patients who took the horse medication, rather than patients who have Covid-19. As the Post reported,

 George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, spoke with more certainty: “This is a drug that does not work,” he said, comparing those pushing ivermectin as a coronavirus treatment to “19th century snake-oil salesmen.

Of course, as always, this madness is being driven by Conservatives and Evangelical Christians that distrust government. As the Post said,

“Ivermectin has gained particular traction in conservative circles alongside accusations that the government and the drug industry are stifling discussion about the medication… For some already distrustful of the government’s coronavirus response, state and federal health agencies’ latest alerts matter little.”

 

One of the physicians who refused to prescribe it to humans because it had not been approved for that purpose felt the sting of the Conservative and Christian wrath: “people started accusing him of denying study participants a lifesaving medicine by giving some a placebo — part of any randomized trial, which is considered the gold standard approach to determine whether treatments are effective. “Are you a reembodied NAZI Josef Mengele?” he said one email read.”

There is no fury like the fury of the ignorant.

Ivermectin is being polarized, just as hydroxychloroquine was earlier by Trump and his followers. And of course, wherever there is ignorance or stupidity on steroids Fox News won’t be far away. As the Washington Post said,

“Fox News hosts such as Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson have also promoted the drug to large audiences, even as they sow skepticism of coronavirus vaccines as “experimental.” Carlson, who hosts the most-watched show on cable television, declared falsely last month that the vaccines “do not work” and in late June featured podcaster and former biology professor Bret Weinstein, an advocate of deploying ivermectin against the coronavirus.”

 

And if you think I am exaggerating or being unkind to call this stupidity here is what the Post said:

“Lisa VanNatta, a 61-year-old Texas rancher, maintained that the animal medicine is safe in the small doses she said she’s been taking monthly. Many others at the county Republican Club, where she is president, are using the drug in some form, she said. “They’re taking jiggers of it, drinking it,” VanNatta said of the people getting sick from ivermectin. “There’s always going to be some form of stupidity.”

 

Here is another example of strange logic:

“In Louisiana, 33-year-old Kortney Asevedo said she also fears the longterm effects of the vaccines, even after her unvaccinated mother died while sick with COVID-19 and taking everything that doctors prescribed, including ivermectin. “Me and my mom are kind of the same,” she said. “We wanted to wait and just kind of see.”

 

So, let’s get this straight. They wait and see for Covid-19 but not when it comes to ivermectin!  They are ready for that just because pundits on Fox News recommend it! Why? As far as I can see that is only because the government is not recommending it! If the government recommends it, then it must be bad for you.

 

We are living in a strange world—the result of the sleep of reason.

 

Lessons from e-commerce

 

 

In e-commerce it took years for the kind of growth we have seen lately. It is astonishing. I hate what Amazon is doing to small businesses around the world. I hate the thought of giving any more money to the richest man in the world (or second richest) whose employees have to wear diapers to work because they are not given enough time to go to the washroom.

Before the pandemic Jeff Bezos was earning $1 million every 50 minutes now he is doing much better than that and I have helped him out, as have millions of others. We have done that because we came to realize how convenient it was to shop from Amazon. For many things we don’t really have to go to a store to look them over. Ordering them from our homes for some of us is just easier, simpler, and cheaper.  Other businesses will have to learn that we have learned something during this pandemic and if they don’t change, we will change where and how we shop. Not for everything but for many things. Capitalists had better innovate or they will be left on the dust heap. Capitalist always say that is what they are good at. Let’s see if that’s true.

That does not mean all has been rosy. As Hari Sreenivasan pointed out to,

“It has been a boon for those who could afford it. There has been a blue collar pandemic and a white collar pandemic. For the white collar people it was great.  I can get everything from Instacard and Amazon. But if you’re an essential worker that doesn’t really apply to you.’

For others not so much. And some of us still care a little bit about fairness. Fairness and competition.

Scott Galloway is a professor Marketing who was interviewed by Sreenivasan on Amanpour & Company and he agreed completely:

“If you’re in the top 10% of income earners there is no change in employment. It means you’re no more vulnerable than you were before the pandemic. There’s a 60% likelihood you can work from home. You can spend more time with your family. You maybe got 10 hours back a week. If you make less than $40,000 a year, 40% of those people have lost their jobs and less than 10% can work from home. You don’t like to say this out loud, but if you’re in the top 10% and you’re blessed with good health you’re most likely spending more time with Netflix, your kids, and less time commuting, and by the way your stocks are probably up and I would argue that a lot of the stimulus unfortunately hasn’t been about arresting the pandemic, and helping our neediest, it’s been about flattening the curve for rich people. The savings rate in American has never been higher. The Nasdaq has never been higher. If you do a google search for covid and markets you’ll find more articles than if you do covid and mortality. It’s as if as a nation our priorities are reflected in our spending. The velocity of death is unprecedented. More people are dying every day from this than any crisis in history! And that’s meaningful. But what would be profoundly tragic would be if the Nasdaq declines! At least that’s what our spending seems to indicate. We want to save restaurants but not keep schools open. We seem to want to ensure that the markets are washed in liquidity and people are wanting stimulus, but we aren’t protecting people. We see infection rates rise. And we see our health professionals wanting for PPE equipment. It does definitely seem that we have decided that corporations are people and they are the ones that we have to save.”

 

And remember all of this is not coming from some crazy leftwing extremist. This is coming from a self-described enthusiast for capitalism. He is an insider. He likes the system. Perhaps not as much as Zwaagstra does, but he is no bleeding socialist. He just thinks the current system sucks. It sucks because the rich people are swimming in cash while those who are not are taking their chances serving the rich people. They are called essential workers, but they are not paid like it.

Fascism comes to America

 

It was not that long ago that I said, American is not fascist. That position is becoming more and more difficult to uphold.

Right now the Republicans are split between those who believe, based on plenty of evidence, that the rioters in the Capitol were guilty of sedition  and Trump’s fervent supporters, who think the riot was  justifiable as a way of denouncing Trump’s fraudulent defeat. In other words, they are split between people who believe what they saw in plain sight, and those who worship at the throne of Trump.

As Stephen Colbert said, “evidently, the only thing scarier to Republicans in Congress than a violent mob is the fear that the mob might not like you anymore.”

Perhaps the best example of impending fascism was the election of QAnon conspiracist Marjorie Taylor Greene to the American Congress in the last election. She was elected in one of the safest districts for Republicans in Georgia. It was another example of the America system that ensures the only way a person can win the Republican nomination is to move to the extremes and then when that is secured there is no contest in the safe ridings. It helps produce polarization. Republicans always win in her district in other words.  Sort of like Steinbach, that always votes Conservative, no matter what. Or at least has done so for many years.

Stephen Colbert said she has the “the homicidal vote on lockdown.” Recently it was revealed that she indicated  repeatedly on line that she  indicated support for executing Democratic politicians.  Here is a transcription of one of her engagements with a supporter on Facebook. One of her supporters asked Greene whether as follows about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: “now do we get to hang them?” And Greene replied, “Stage is being set.  Players are being put in place. We must be patient.” Greene, like her mentor Trump, did not bother being subtle or discreet. Other posts indicated she thought Nancy Pelosi was a traitor and helpfully pointed out that treason was punishable by death.

It is little wonder that on January 27, 2021 the Department of Homeland Security, still with its acting head appointed by Trump, and  not exactly a left-wing organization, issued a bulletin for the first time of “a heightened threat environment across the United States…from homeland violent extremists.”  The extremists are driven by “objections to…the presidential transition, as well as perceived grievances fuelled by false narratives.” The Department made it clear that they see violence aimed at overturning the election of Biden as terrorism. That should not be  surprising.

Colbert asked: “will the GOP finally take a stand against the man who legitimized fascism?” Colbert has not been shy about using the F word to describe Trump. Those are strong words. Are they over blown?  In the light of what happened in the American Capitol who can say that?

That is not all. Newly elected Greene has for awhile denied the school shootings in places like Newtown. Guess what?  She was recently appointed by the Republicans to the House Education Committee. That is like the Gaddafi regime in Libya being appointed to the UN Committee on Human Rights. Only yesterday she was voted out of that post  with only 11 Republicans voting in favor of her ouster.

In 2018, before she became a Congress woman, Greene posted this on Facebook during the California wild fires that devastated that state:  “the real and hidden  culprit behind the [California fire] was a laser from space triggered by some nefarious groups of people.” Not only that but they were Jewish. Greene and other QAnon supporter are resurrecting the old Nazi conspiracy theory that the world is run by a cabal of Jewish bankers. This longtime QAnon adherent is now in Congress and Trump has said she is a “future star of the Republican Party.”

Who continues to think that saying Fascism is on the rise in America is far-fetched? Who continues to think that because Trump has left the White House all is in order?

 

When Reason sleeps tyranny follows

 

Goya, the famous Spanish painter was well known for dark art.  No one ever accused him of seeing only the sunny side of life. Goya inscribed one of his works with the following words: “The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.” I find that profoundly true. If we give up reason, we open ourselves up to nightmares, and much worse.

Voltaire, the father or the child of the Enlightenment, and one might say a Fundamentalist Enlightenment thinker, said it best when he said,: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” I would put it this way, “If I can get you to believe something without any evidence it is true, I can convince you to kill your friend.” Voltaire also understood that when truth was no longer respected there was a slippery slope to tyranny. That is why reason is so important. Reason is our best defence against tyranny. Credulity is our worst enemy.

 Historian Timothy Snyder, an expert of European fascism recently said, “Post-truth is pre-fascism.”

Tyranny is one of the worst monsters born out of the sleep of reason. The tyrant knows he is safe when he can convince people to believe the absurd.