I gave a quick talk about Occupy Wall Street to the Malta NY Rotary Club once. A man came up to me afterward. He looked like the aged Buster Keaton of The Railrodder and had made his living before he retired fixing CRT televisions. In the abstract I should have loved this guy.
He came up to me after my talk, clearly seeing I was Jewish and knowing my politics because I’d just given a talk about them and said “What we need to fix this problem is…a Holocaust but for the Muslims this time.”
I was horrified. I saw in his eyes that he didn’t want Muslims put in concentration camps, tortured and killed because he hated Muslims, but that he wanted to hate Muslims because deep down he wanted to see people put into concentration camps, tortured and killed. And he looked like Buster Keaton.
I went around to practically everyone I knew and described the incident. I said that without some unforeseen major event, this country would either go hard left or hard right within 5 years.
Some of them responded with sensitivity to my evident distress. Some of them shrugged it off and said something to the effect “That could never happen in the US.” (Poor Sinclair Lewis.) Almost no one seemed to take me seriously. Even if they did, I’m not sure I knew anyone who had the power to right this. I just hoped and prayed that I did and didn’t know it.
Now the president* is openly endorsing a woman who is saying, basically “We need a Holocaust, but with the Muslims this time.”
Anyone who thinks that they’re safe because they’re not latino/a so they’ll never be put in a camp, please read your history. That’s not how it works.
The racist mob wants to feel better about themselves by killing men women and children. But they never actually will feel better, so they will not stop torturing and killing men, women, and children until they are obliterated and marginalized. We need to stand together against this. We can’t be afraid to be arrested, assaulted, or worse. Never again means no more concentration camps.
The mob wants blood. They don’t care whose blood it is. In Nazi Germany, children sent their own parents to concentration camps, and officials within the Nazi party would even kill each other and lie about it in order to feel like big shots.
Leaders of the Jewish community, early on, would say “We need to work with them and then they’ll be appeased”, much like the establishment Democrats are saying now. These former leaders were, in all likelihood, gassed or shot and dumped in anonymous mass graves along with the communities that mistook their cowardice for leadership.
If you’re Jewish and think that Trump’s base won’t come after you and doesn’t hate Jews, you are delusional. Your being delusional is probably endangering the lives and safety of your friends and loved ones, and definitely endangering the lives and safety of the groups the Nazi GOP have decided to use as trial balloons to see if the US, “land of the brave, home of the free” will be fine with them throwing whoever they want into concentration camps.
Please share this with anyone you think should read it.
*I had a link in this article sourcing the president* endorsing someone who’s openly advocating for genocide against Muslims, but it was messing up the article formatting, so I’ve provided it in the comments section below.
11 thoughts on “It Can And Is Happening Here”
A couple of weeks ago I had a similar experience. I was in a noisy public place full of teenagers (some of whom were black) and a middle aged white lady approached me and shook her head in a disgusted manner and said “why do they make us live with those people when we’re so different.” So I said “teenagers? You’re damned right we need separate but equal coffee shops for people over 25 or maybe even 40. Damned kids.” She gave me a you’re an asshole look and walked away.
There was no mention of holocausts or lynchings but it was clear what she meant. Polite suburban racism is worse in some ways. It’s a form of gaslighting. After all, what if she had meant teenagers? I think what Trump has done has been to transform that quiet suburban dog whistle I experienced to the in your face small town bigotry you ran into after that talk. It doesn’t mean it’s new. Just more in your face.
The genocidal Islamophobia is classic Bush era neoconservatism. But I think antisemitism has been on the uptick over the past few years and that it has a lot to do with how people have responded to the failings of the mainstream press with conspiracy theories. That allowed classical antisemites like Alex Jones to normalize a lot of seemingly dead tropes from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I think birtherism also contributed to it.
What’s disturbing to me is that during the Bush years there was a massive anti war movement. These days it feels like ancient history.
I get this feeling that everyone presumes we’re doomed and is annoyed when you do anything besides politely run out the clock.
Also I got that stupid paragraph separation problem in the post again. Time to go into dashboard…
Check out Sheldon Wolin’s concept of “inverted Totalitariansm.” This system is designed to keep people apolitical. It works up to a point. People do mobilize but so far nobody’s had a decisive effect. People protested Bush. But they were big permitted protests and easily ignored. Occupy caught on but it was crushed by militarized police. I think a lot of that energy went into Bernie and DSA. It’s stupid to hit the streets when the ruling class can just pay for more cops.but right now I think the Democratic Party establishment is going to beat back any challenge from the left and from younger voters so that looks like another dead end.
Oh yeah, I’ve read about Wolin because Chris Hedges cited him so frequently. I think he was right about that.
Being apolitical I think is also a factor of most of the population living fairly comfortably for a long time, or at least long enough to identify with the ruling class. The sudden strategic shift to mass open racism by the ruling class (as opposed to the much less overt racism used prior) is that the economy can’t actually sustain any kind of living standard for most of the population, so the 99% needed to be turned on each other both to hide the failure of capitalism and to keep the newly insecure mass from attacking the rich.
I remember articles about the “9-11 Truth Movement” saying it was getting extremely anti-semitic as it went on and attracted the Tim Poole types.
Interestingly I was reading. Henry Fords antisemitic writings last summer. If you want to know where birtherism and these stories about IlhanOmar marrying her brother come from it’s right out of the Dearborn Independent in the 1920s.
And there was that weird revival of “Oh boy Henry Ford was such a good guy” in Reddit memes 5 or 6 years ago, which makes me wonder if those memes were plants, since like…why else would anyone be jonesing for Henry Ford to go viral?
Here’s the article. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/07/trump-katie-hopkins-ilhan-omar/?fbclid=IwAR3Uank5-27L4Eanl7nKemPiC-GpZHpUzECNoOYpzqG9kCnO5gOBHBtZ7VY
The funny thing is AOC and Omar are doing exactly what the Constitution says they should. Checks and balances. Congress limits the executive. One would think that threatening a member of congress in concert with a foreign racist would be an impeachable office but I guess a Pelosi knows more than I do.
And the weird part is that Pelosi looks part of “defender of the ruling class” to a T.