The Arizona tragedy caused many to call for a new civility in American discourse. I would like to argue in favor of not being civil.
As most readers know, I view the Tea Partiers as an American fascist movement. That statement shocks many. But it will not be controversial to anyone who has studied fascist movements in Europe in the pre-1933 period or the post-1945 period, and it won't surprise anyone who has read the forgotten history of American fascism in the 1930s.
Alas, too many Americans do not know that history, and they view fascism purely in terms of the way Hitler wielded power. The beast acts differently when getting into position than it does after it has attained control.
Fascism must not be defined purely in terms of anti-Semitism, German nationalism, militarism, or even the cult-like reverence directed toward Adolf Hitler. Mussolini was not a notable anti-Semite (except when prodded by Hitler). There were (and are) many fascists outside of Germany -- Subash Chandra Bose, Julius Evola, Eduard Limonov, Robert Matthews and many, many thousands of others. During the war, some non-German fascists didn't care about Germany, and some even opposed
Germany. Most people don't know that there were pro-fascist generals on Douglas McArthur's staff. (I've spoken to the son of one of those generals.) A surprising number of fascists have denounced Hitler -- for example, Tom Metzger believes that Hitler was "a pawn of the Jews," and Myron Fagan used to insist that Nazi Germany was run by the Rothschilds. There have been fundamentalist Protestant fascists, Catholic fascists, Islamic fascists, Hindu fascists, pagan fascists, occultist fascists, atheist fascists -- and even Jewish fascists.
Those who sneer at the idea that the Tea Partiers represent a fascist movement have no idea of fascism's scope, appeal, manifold disguises or insidiousness. They also never understood Huey Long's observation: "When Fascism comes to America, they will call it anti-Fascism."
The tea party movement represents the very thing that I have feared for two decades: The extreme right made mainstream. Now the question is: How should we treat the growing fascist menace in America? Can we speak to them in a civil manner? Are they even capable of reasonable dialogue?
The answer depends on the stage of fascism.
If fascists gain control of this country -- I don't refer to a mere electoral victory; I refer to overturning our constitution (and their talk of a “second constitution” is code for doing just that) -- then we will have no choice. We must take up arms and kill them. Plain and simple.
That is a hard saying. But that’s the way fascism was fought in all of occupied Europe in the 1940s; how can it be any different here?
If tea partiers create a successful secession movement, then, once again, we must take up arms and kill the seccessionists. Why? For the same reason that Abraham Lincoln was willing to do just that. My position will not be controversial to anyone who thinks that the Union was on the correct side in the Civil War.
(Incidentally, I hold with those who believe that the Confederacy was the first fascist state.)
We haven't yet reached that grim stage. I hope that we never do.
Until that time, the best recourse is fierce, unrelenting verbal opposition.
I would counsel people to talk to the tea partiers the same way one talks to someone wearing a swastika or Klan robes. Talk to the neo-Birchers, the Alex Jonesians, the Dominionists, and the CD-ers the same way you would talk to a Holocaust revisionist: Reluctantly, rarely, and always with a tone of sneering disgust.
Eventually — I hope — many among their number will tire of being treated that way. Ridicule, social ostracization and a lack of career advancement will put the tea partiers back into the margins.
You know why the Holocaust revisionists never made many converts in this country? Not because Americans understood the true facts. Since when do Americans give a damn about facts? No, people steered clear of revisionist arguments because they saw that the people making those arguments were usually treated as the scum of the earth. No-one wants to be treated like the scum of the earth.
For similar reasons, the 9/11 truth movement is dying. The good guys didn’t win that one on the facts, even though the facts were on our side. We won because too many truthers behaved oafishly, and normal people started treating them with disdain. Trutherism, in short, became uncool.
By contrast: Creationism is far, far more widespread now than when I was a boy. Only 48% of the populace believes in evolution today; that figure was above 80% in the 1960s (if I recall correctly). Why has Creationism taken hold with half the population? Perhaps because scientific-minded people have been too damned polite and deferential -- too civil
-- when dealing with religious fanaticism. Whenever scientists and professors mount fact-based arguments in favor of evolution, they always come across as studiously non-combative, apologetic, simpering and soft. The reasonable approach has failed. The Bill Maher approach may work better: “YOU JACKASSES ARE A BUNCH OF FUCKING MORONS!”
Incivility has worked when civil discourse has failed.
So — yeah, I advocate relentless opposition to tea party fascists. If you call this approach "verbal dehumanization," so be it.
I don’t know if that strategy will work.
I do know that all other methods will fail.