I have avoided writing much about politics lately. It’s something of an exercise in futility in the first place, and tends to increase my stress level as well, so why get into it? But the direction things are going push me to make a few comments about how I see the overall picture these days.
What seems clearest is that we are on the brink of a retrograde move, sliding back into the kind of hate and division that characterized the country over a century ago. With all the Republican candidates expressing xenophobic, extreme ideas and the positive responses they’re getting, it seems the country is so consumed with fear that only such authoritarian extremism will appeal to the masses.
I have commented in the past about the fascist leanings that seem to be growing in strength, and as several authors recently have noted, this is not new. It began mostly with Nixon and the Southern Strategy of whipping up white animosity towards people of color using code words.
One excellent source of information and perspective on this fascist tendency is Orcinus, a great blog by Dave Neiwert who is an investigative reporter. He’s been following this trend since at least 2003. He is a writer and contributor to Southern Poverty Law Center (the prime legal effort to thwart the KKK) and other magazines.
In his most recent post, Dave has a detailed examination of recent absurd suggestions that the KKK was a “liberal” or “left-wing” idea back in the day, which he demolishes with a bit of history.
It’s clearly not a pleasant topic, this swelling fascism/authoritarianism, but it is one we all need to be much more aware of and able to address. Clearly defining and identifying authoritarian ideas is a first step. Helping people to see that just because there are things the government does that are wrong-headed does not mean we need to turn things over to a brute. People need to understand how things work and be willing to be involved, aware, thoughtful and compassionate.