Too bad they haven’t yet invented a time machine that could take us back to nineteen thirties. We would probably recognize ourselves in the Germans of that time, as Hitler was taking over power by ‘electoral means’, his lusty rednecks soon to wear brown shirts.
We’re beyond the time when we could say with confidence ‘It Can’t Happen Here’. Events that no one can control are carrying us forward: one thing leads to another, no one (or at least very few) are doing ‘this’ deliberately, but if our grandchildren survive, they will wonder how we (yes, we!) let the United States birth a fascist takeover, not of one continent, but virtually the entire world.
Europe was probably in a much more ‘normal’ state in 1930 than it is today, not to mention the US. When Americans were first introduced to the ‘Red Scare’ radio was a novelty, and so, comparatively were airplanes. Ford T’s were still on the roads. Americans were clearly divided over entering the First World War: the battle was fought through the 1916 election Woodrow Wilson won, and the following year took us to war in an early version of R2P.
Today, our abuse of R2P has upended a good part of the world, sent hundreds of thousands of innocents fleeing governmental or rebel violence, much of it the indirect result of the industrial/financial complex seated on Wall Street. Our rush to ‘protect’ is about bottom lines, not people. As for the American people, they would be hard-pressed to point the finger at one guilty party or one turning point.
Enthroned on our ‘hill’ we have watched with uninterrupted schadenfreude as those God did not choose saw their governments fumble and tumble, or grow into monsters, thinking to our superior selves “How unfortunate for these poor people that they have not the good fortune to live in the United States!”
It has taken a century for the shoe to move to the other foot, and Americans are as powerless today as the Germans were then. The citizens of a country who’s Declaration of Independence proclaimed it was their duty to replace a government that failed to obey their will with another were made to be mortally afraid of the Revolution that put an end to autocratic rule in a country that had scarcely outlawed serfdom.
The House un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was created as early as 1938 “to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Communist ties.” It was not abolished until 1975. In other words, this committee, that summoned ordinary people to testify on friends, family or co-workers, operated for almost 40 years, roughly the same amount of time that, in the Soviet Union, ‘Stalinism’ held sway. (Stalin become the country’s undisputed leader in 1923 and died in 1953, thirty years later…).
Of course, it took decades for Stalin’s legacy to be decisively replaced by Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika and Glasnost, and the Yeltsin years that followed his dissolution of the Soviet Union, saw the sacking of the country’s patrimony and the rise of the oligarchs and Russia’s billionaire class. Less noticed is that in the US, HUAC was succeeded seamlessly by Neo-Conservatism, that carried forward under more attractive disguises, the HUAC ideology.
Literally as I write this I notice a post on the same theme on opednews.com by no less an authority than Bill Moyers http://billmoyers.com/story/trump-virus-dark-age-unreason/, tracing Trump’s close political operatives back to associates of McCarthy!
This brings us to the most accurate label to describe the alternative progressive media to which I belong: it is inhabited by hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of powerless voices that can only cry in the wilderness, today’s equivalent of the Victorian ‘wringing of hands’. On the rare occasions when Bernie Sanders’ supporters become feisty, they are quickly condemned by the media. The many, many more occasions when Donald Trump’s supporters demonstrate their propensity to violence, draw only mild condemnations from news anchors, while Trump personally eggs them on.
Trump’s headline comments on the Orlando shooting by an ISIS admirer, far from joining very belated Congressional calls for better gun control, were that lives would have been saved had even just one person among the revelers had a gun. Make no mistake: the Republican Party’s failure to forcefully back a credible alternative to Trump is a folly that has its reasons, however disputable.
This is how events that history looks back upon with disbelief come into being.