Wednesday, August 16, 2017

After Charlottesville

I’ve been wondering what to post about Charlottesville, if anything – there are so many important facets to it.

I’ve thought for some time that Trump’s candidacy was a proto-fascist one but that he came along before the powers that be actually needed fascism. However the events at Charlottesville are being recognized throughout the country as a step too far, a tipping point for the country. Trump’s statements of energetic support for the marches and actions by white Nationalists and Nazis pull off the hood, so to speak, on his candidacy and presidency. While he has said he is opposed to those specific groupings, still he emboldened them with his stunning and clueless remarks about the nature of the Friday procession and the Saturday events -- as shown by their statements, 'Thank you very much!’ So now the alt-Right, Nazis, et al. will hold more rallies, including here in Berkeley and San Francisco, feeling they have the backing  of the pinnacle of the US government.  

How to respond? One important issue is – Is the ACLU right to defend their right to speak?

I was part of and arrested in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in 1964 but even at the time I did not think one could always stand for unqualified free speech. What if a group’s platform is the eradication of humanity as a blight on the planet? What if a group wants free speech to argue for the eradication of the Jews? I thought there could be limits, depending on the circumstances - and my stepmother called me a hypocrite for taking that position.

So what about now? Tonight I heard Mark Bray on “Democracy Now!” He is a Dartmouth historian who has studied the rise of fascism in Germany, Italy, Spain and elsewhere. He has written a handbook on fascism which I plan to purchase. (And here is a link to a Feb 2017 discussion with him.)

As a long-time radical, NOT a liberal, I basically agree with his position. (And in the article he discusses differences between radicals and liberals on the free speech). The basic belief is that fascism proved so destructive to humanity that we must prevent its ever arising again. And he notes that Germany has laws which prevent the promotion of Nazism in public, but otherwise has healthy dialog and discourse. And if anyone, they should know. Bray says the lesson is not to let a tiny fascist group grow, to nip it in  the bud. Elections are no guarantee that all will be well - the Nazis used a parliamentary system to their advantage. The long history of white supremacy in this country and the admixture of Nazism make for a lethal combination.

In his Democracy Now! interview, Bray concludes that fascism must be opposed and prevented “by any means necessary”. I agree.

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