Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Fascist Fourth of July

Dear Friends,

In the last year I have written fewer entries in this blog than in any previous year. The reason is the depression and despair that I feel living in America today and watching with horrified eyes how the ignorant, cruel, pathological bully president Donald Trump is bit by bit succeeding in tearing down and torching so much of what I have always believed in, what I have always hoped could be possible for America, while constructing a new America built on hate, fear, racism, anger, division and confusion. The last week has been especially hard to bear. The recent decisions of the Supreme Court whitewashing his latest version of the Muslim Travel Ban, diminishing the power of labor unions and further restricting Affirmative Action are undoubtedly going to embolden Trump and his hard right cohorts. Did I say "hard right?" I misspoke. The correct term is Fascist. The president is creating Fascism in America, a style of politics and governance that relies on brute force, intimidation, a cult of personality around a charismatic leader, a constant scapegoating of ethnic and religious minorities that is becoming more and more overtly cruel and aggressive, all under the banner of  purported patriotism, which is actually just 1930s style Fascist nationalism wrapped in an American flag.

It would be restful to my downtrodden soul if I could look abroad and find hope in what is happening in other countries, but this is not the case. Though in years past I vigorously opposed German Chancellor Merkel's part in the EU's cruel austerity policies toward Greece, I have come to respect her for standing up for the decent treatment of Muslim migrants entering Europe from Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere. I now note with great sadness that she too is now buckling to the anti-immigrant hysteria being generated by right-wing politicians in one European country after another. Hungary... Poland... Czech Republic...Austria...Italy.... one by one they are falling to  right-wing, anti-immigrant, pro-authoritarian leaders and political movements that seem increasingly Fascistic in their priorities and programs. On top of this, Trump's trade wars and obvious hatred of international cooperation are beginning to take a toll on the post-WW II world order. Imperfect as such structures as NATO, the WTO and the EU are, it is hard to imagine that throwing them away will lead to anything more than chaos and mischief. The same leaders who rise to power scapegoating vulnerable minorities in their countries may very well find it tempting to blame the problems of their closed, shrinking and increasingly xenophobic societies on other countries, and then go to war against them as the next act in the hackneyed drama of Fascism. After all, leaders like Trump, who love to glorify the military and strike patriotic poses, and who clearly have little regard for human life, would probably find going to war an attractive means of galvanizing support for their own regimes, should their popularity begin slipping in the polls.

A further fear of mine is that Russia will find it increasingly tempting to interfere in the Baltic States, what with Trump continuing to express scorn for the EU and NATO and to seek warmer relations with Russia. Trump was recently asked about the issue of Crimea, and the president refused to condemn the Russian occupation. So, while calling for a nonsensical, expensive wall on America's border with Mexico, to defend America against a nonexistent, truly "Trumped-up" threat from Mexicans and others, Trump is showing indifference, if not acceptance, of an actual, non-imaginary threat on the borders of Ukraine and Europe.  This once again exposes Trump's intellectual dishonesty, his geopolitical inconsistency and his moral bankruptcy for all to see, but the frightening thing is, some 30-40% of Americans seem willing to follow Trump off any cliff he desires to take them over. It terrifies me that some definite portion of the American population seems to truly enjoy Trump's circus of cruelty. It is like we are back 100 years ago when racist mobs would turn out to watch lynchings as entertainment.

I am 58 years old and this is the darkest time I have seen for America and the world in my lifetime. Until three years ago, I could never have imagined that I would live to see my country and much of the world marching toward a Fascist future. I mus t confess I am finding it hard to summon hope or the will to fight. On this Fourth of July evening, when many Americans are watching patriotic fireworks, I feel only dread at how all the parts of America that seemed worthwhile to me when I was younger now seem to be going the way of those fireworks, being blown up one by one.

As a Pagan, it especially pains me to see how Trump's environmental polices are actually anti-environmental policies, which will only make our world more ugly, more industrialized, more polluted, more unhealthy and more unlivable. Can't his followers see that making our country and the earth more polluted and poisoned will be bad for all of us, regardless of political affiliation? Apparently not. In Trumpian circles, environmentalists are seen as The Enemy just like journalists, civil rights activists, feminists and intellectuals. Ironically, the military establishment in America is well aware that global warming and rising sea levels will have a very negative impact on America's military capability, and that droughts, floods and famines will generate tension and conflict around the world. Yet we hear not a peep from our supposedly patriotic military leaders about the dangers to our nation, our world and our military forces of Trumpian anti-environmentalism. I hope that they will gain some courage to engage in public discussion, but courage seems in short supply these days.

For the first time., I fear that the Ragnarok scenario in Norse myth, which I always took to be a cautionary tale, may indeed be prophetic. We have leaders fomenting ever-greater division and conflict, and a rising risk of environmental collapse in the not very far off future. I dearly hope we will see some sign of hope, some sign that the winds are turning soon. Perhaps the 2018 elections? Perhaps...or perhaps not. I feel like a Nazi-rejecting German in the 1930s, hoping that this Hitler thing will pass, while fearing in my bones that it will not.

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