It seems that actually, yes, it can happen here. Citing "the degree to which authoritarianism is tied up in the American experience (and) the extent to which we've been trained not to see it" given our stubborn national myths - this is a "free" country - historian Jamelle Bouie writes that many Americans struggle "to really believe that democracy as we know it could be in serious danger," even as they blithely "accommodate themselves to the absence of democracy for many of their fellow Americans." So here we are, at the doorstep, or maybe in the foyer, of fascism, with all its rancor and malevolence taking flight. Last year, reported anti-Semitic abuses hit an all-time high since tracking began in 1979, with a staggering 34% increase in harassment, assault and vandalism. Hate crimes against disparate marginalized others - black, brown, Asian, LGBTQ - are likewise soaring. One report cites an increase of 39%, with the 10 largest cities seeing a spike of 54.5%; another report describes a 44% rise. Whatever the number, says one Asian woman, "Horrible things are being said and done," and thanks to the last few years of MAGA's rabid rhetoric, hate is in the air.
Even more noticeably in the tense run-up to mid-terms, the right's blind, unbridled bigotry is everywhere. Last week at a Trump rally, Alabama GOP Sen. and former football coach (so what can you expect) Tommy Tuberville eagerly climbed into his way-back-machine to disparage the notion of reparations as "bullshit," declare all black people are criminals, and charge "pro-crime" Democrats support them "because they want to take over what you got." Normal people blasted the "stunning" old-school racism - "We've seen this before," "He Made $25 Million Off Black Men. God Forbid They Get Anything Back" - but the GOP remained silent, because spouting racist bile about brown and black people: so nu? Responding to the outrage, Tuberville got more outrageous. "The issue is crime, not race, but the liberal media is intent on helping Democrats remain in power," he said, entirely missing the point and the fact violent crime is down nationwide; then he raved about Antifa, BLM, illegal immigrants, progressive prosecutors, murderers and rapists.
But words - even and often especially lying ones - have consequences. In Milwaukee, a white cracker grabbed the neck of a terrified black kid with special needs - because black=criminal - and called police to charge he'd stolen a green bike even though the viral video showed the kid sitting on a blue bike. In Florida, newly released police video exposed the racist farce of Ron DeSantis' Stalinesque new Office of Election Crimes and Security as baffled Tampa police arrested baffled ex-felons who'd been told they could legally vote for the crime of voting just so DeSantis could claim he was cracking down on "voter fraud" and "crime"; of 19 people arrested, 13 were black. In California, a black security guard was brutalized and arrested by two white Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies - out of their jurisdiction - while he was walking with a friend; he was so brutally beaten by the cops, one of whom repeatedly held a gun to his head while screaming "I'm going to blow your fucking brains out," that he will likely lose an eye, yet he is facing a charge of assault on a police officer. Etc.
Brown immigrants crossing Biden's supposedly open border are also a key MAGA target; its vile term "illegals" prove again words matter. The right's hysteria over an alleged DHS request for military volunteers to help at the border - "They want our brave servicemen and women to run errands for (these) people..to act (as) servants" - is reflected in a breathless Fox story on "the fallout over the bombshell report" nobody's heard of. A horrified Harris Faulkner on "a trail of unspeakables" left by fleeing migrants: "They make our country look like what they left, and now our people are going to be picking up all that trash and all that excrement." Trash and excrement, caravans and terrorists, the other-ing of human beings. Leading that reprehensible GOP charge with an impressive mix of smears, proud "Christian nationalist" and Klan Mom Marjorie Eva Braun has charged "an unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists and Zionist supremacists" - no, we don't know what that looks like - is plotting to "promote immigration and miscegenation" with the goal of "breeding us out of existence in our own homelands."
Her raging intolerance reached new levels when, after she discovered the Rothschilds had begun forest fires with their Jewish space lasers, she exposed George Soros for funding the imaginary caravans of immigrants; more recently, she's posted the shocking news that, "The same banks that hold George Soros accounts and hedge funds also held Jeffrey Epstein accounts and hedge funds." Wowza. Along with other neo-Nazi Republicans like Paul Gosar and Doug Mastriano, Greene has boldly embraced the once-untouchable bigotry of anti-semitism. "For three-quarters of a century, anti-Semites were locked out of major American politics, or at least had to keep their bigotry quiet," writes Jonathan Chait in, "The GOP's Surrender to the Anti-Semites." "Now, the door is open." Given the past few years, given history all told, this particular plunge is unsurprising. The one thing all fascist movements in the West have in common, experts say, is that they go after the Jews in their midst; amidst any particular era's simmering resentments, it's an old, safe way to hate.
Thus do we have Kanye West ranting wildly about "the Jewish people" - they control the black voice, they black ball anyone who opposes their agenda, they're after him with a Jewish underground media mafia, they came into money "through the lawyers" when Catholics wouldn't divorce people, they created Planned Parenthood, which is black Americans' Holocaust Museum, and George Floyd died of fentanyl. After tweetinghe was getting ready to "go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE," he was booted off Twitter and Instagram; things got still weirder on Tucker Carlson - redundant, we know - and he doubled down with Chris Cuomo, insisting "I don't have to understand or accept" that it's not okay to be spouting fervid anti-Semitism 'cause, once again, the venom you spew has consequences. Someone please tell this madman to shut the fuck up, and get him some help. While you're at it: Do the same for the sick narcissist who, at least in the current era, pointedly, mindlessly, malignantly re-opened the door to so much festering animus.
Last week, Trump threatened American Jews on his failing dime-store Twitter, whining that "no President has done more for Israel than I have" - again wrongly conflating Israel with Jews - and warning that "Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have...Before it's too late." As in, "Nice religion you've got there. Be a shame if something happened to it." Along with all the other stupid, ugly, stereotypical, anti-Semitic slurs he's uttered - Shylock references, the dual loyalty trope of Israel as "your country," "A lot of you are in the real estate business... You're brutal killers, not nice people at all" - this one got slammed; happily, even 100-year-old Norman Lear joined in. And still his psychotic fans flock to him: The Fuehrer is always right. When he babbled his enemies' "pure hate for our country was fully EXPOSED," they rejoiced he'd exposed "the democrats (sic) disgusting evil tactics...they dramatically changed from spitefully intolerant hypocrites and domestic thugs to sinfully, immorally, totally heinous international terrorists." Digby: "Just another day on Truth Social."
In response to this nationwide deluge of hatred and rancor and bile, the right has expressed deep concern and a commitment to return to the better angels of our nature. Just kidding. The GOP, which keeps railing against inflation, just photogenically boycotted a meeting about inflation; the head of their far-right Freedom Caucus has said he wants to investigate Biden's approach to Ukraine; Fox loudly decried Biden eating ice cream and streamed a show trial for Hunter Biden presided over by a "longtime TV judge" who concluded, "Something's way wrong here. Way wrong." Damn straight. With next week marking the fourth anniversary of Pittsburgh's Tree of Life shooting, this country's worst act of anti-Semitic violence, MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan, formerly of Al Jazeera, warns attention must be paid to the right-wing's newly violent extremism and anti-Semitism - the "dabbling in ancient anti-Jewish conspiracies and tropes" that as a Muslim accustomed to Islamophobia he thought "always seemed off-limits." "Understand what is going on here," he said. "These are not isolated or unconnected acts (of) hate...It's all part of the same thing - the rising & dangerous fascism on the American right."
"Fascists are never content to merely lie; they must transform their lie into a new reality, and they must persuade people to believe in the unreality they've created. If you get people to do that, you can convince them to do anything." - Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism.