Geschrieben am 1. Dezember 2021 von für Crimemag, CrimeMag Dezember 2021

Thomas Adcock: Normal Nazis


The statistics are dryly listed, the prose cautiously academic. Nevertheless, a study of worldwide trends in despotism released last month is as alarming as a house afire—for Americans who read the report, or care about its findings.

Which explains a dearth of concern among Washington’s ruling class over the study’s bottom-line conclusion: For the very first time, the United States of America joins a list of “backsliding democracies” compiled annually by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

According to the Stockholm-based institute, the U.S. has fallen “victim to authoritarian tendencies” in recent years of governance under You-Know-Who—in tandem with the surge of violent right-wing extremism in the fellow backsliding nations of Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Mauritius, Namibia, and Poland.

In America, the personal victims of these “tendencies” are the usual suspects: “people of color,” as we say, intellectuals and pesky artists, headstrong women and smarty-pants journalists, left-wingers and trade unionists, immigrants of dark complexion and suspicious religion, the sexually questionable, poor folks in dire need of medical attention—and Jews, of course, for the sake of tradition.

Many here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, notably those enchanted by a certain descendant of Familie von drumpf, wish that the good old days of fascism in full flower had not ended in 1945. Happily for this group, nearly all subsets of The Despised are available for hatred; all but the Gypsies, it seems…

…Oh, wait, America’s homeless are rousted from streets and park benches day after day and night after night—580,466 of them, according to the 2020 Census count. Voila!

Hail America’s new normal (or should I say Heil?), a stage of U.S. history in which our nazis are normal—even nice. Donald J. Trump implies as much. In August 2017, while still moistening his chair in the Oval Office, he lauded a gang of his kind of people—thugs representing three nazi organizations who paraded through Charlottesville, Virginia, with tiki torches while chanting anti-Semitic slogans. Mr. Trump referred to his admirers as “very fine people.”

The leader of the world’s foremost backsliding democracy evinced no objection to the intimidating presence of Sturmabteilung in the streets of Charlottesville, nor the accompanying Ku Klux Klan goon squads. “Patriots,” as the nazis and kluxers called themselves, demonstrated against the city’s decision to tear down a statue honoring General Robert E. Lee, a leading traitor during the American Civil War of 1861-65.

One such patriot was James Alex Fields, Jr., an avowed white nationalist and young man living with his mother. He deliberately rammed his car into a crowd of counterdemonstrators. Killed was Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal. Dozens more were seriously injured as they were flung into the air upon contact with the front end of a speeding vehicle. At his subsequent criminal trial, Mr. Fields was found guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated malicious wounding.

Four years hence and the beat goes on.

On January 6, Mr. Trump’s kind of people—several thousand strong and pumped to rage by the Big Lie promulgated by Dear Leader that his own presidency was stolen in a “rigged” election—stormed the Capitol building in Washington to violently prevent Joe Biden from taking office. Never mind that Mr. Biden trounced Mr. Trump in federal elections five months earlier and brought with him a Democratic Party majority in Congress, with the results confirmed many times. Mr. Trump’s kind of people, sadly the Republican Party’s kind of people, were marauders on a mission to overthrow American democracy.

January’s attempted coup d’état resulted in five deaths, the hospitalization of more than a hundred and forty overwhelmed police officers, and $1.5 million (€1.33 million) in property damage. To date, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested more than seven hundred Trump-loving thugs who took part in violence that day.

As I write, half America’s political duopoly, namely the Republican Party, resists all attempts by Congress or the courts to seek accountability for those who planned and financed domestic terror on January 6—and who might well be plotting a second siege.

Ensconced at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida mansion and golf club from which he issues near daily hints of planning a White House return, a delusional would-be Führer cherishes insurrection as he uniquely sees it. According to the new book “Betrayal,” by ABC-Television correspondent Jonathan Karl, Mr. Trump described the deadly Washington afternoon of January 6 as “a very beautiful time with extremely loving and friendly people.”  

One hundred and sixty years ago, Robert E. Lee and his own comrades in armed insurrection commenced civil war in the cause of a moral lie: slavery. Today, the voices predicting a second civil war grow more convincing by the day—war inspired by anti-democracy impulses of Donald Trump and his Republican Party, the moral lies of racism and fascism, and partisan bloodlust.

Consider the lead paragraphs of a recent article from the New York Times:

“At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man stepped up to a microphone to ask when he could start killing Democrats.

“’When do we get to used the guns?’ he asked as the audience applauded. ‘How many elections are [Democrats] going to steal before we kill these people?’ The local state representative, a Republican, later called it a ‘fair’ question.”              

Once upon a time, the acronym G.O.P. referenced a progressive political movement begun at the outset of civil war in the nineteenth century, a hellish climax to regional enmity and economic disparity of the period—and the shame of slavery in the South that horrified abolitionists here in Rhode Island and other states in the North.

  Northern conscripts to federal armed forces wore uniforms of blue in battles with southern rebels in grey. To this day, the internecine war remains the bloodiest of all America’s military struggles, with 750,000 soldiers lain dead—about 100,000 more than the combined death counts of both world wars of the twentieth century, subsequent wars in Korea and Vietnam, and twenty-first century conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Five days following the surrender of the South to the Union army of the North at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865, came the civil war’s coda: Abraham Lincoln was murdered by a crackpot actor with a sleeve pistol.

Having emancipated four million African slaves at the mid-point of civil war and having held the Union intact, Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated to a second term of office only a month prior to his assassination. Four years earlier, in 1861, his initial term commenced as America’s first president elected as standard bearer of a newly created Republican Party.

Addressing all Americans on Inauguration Day 1865, no matter whether bound to blue or grey, the Republican president declared his duty: “to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace among ourselves.”

Weeks later, after Abraham Lincoln was gone, though his eloquence and righteousness of cause not yet forgotten, newspapers of the time honored the slain president’s memory in making the “Republican Party” synonymous with the term “Gallant Old Party,” later revised as the “Grand Old Party.”

As the god of irony would have it, today’s G.O.P. is hardly gallant or grand. It a charade of its past, a gang of dyspeptic minions enabling the autocratic fantasies of an adjudicated fraudster and racist who was impeached twice during his four years as president.

Highlights of the contemporary Republican mindset:

• According to a survey by the YouGov/Economist poll, one in every five Trump supporters believe the Republican Party’s founding president was wrong to have freed slaves and granted them American citizenship.

• According to a Monmouth University poll, conducted two months after the January insurrection, sixty-five percent of Republican voters believe President Biden was the beneficiary of a crooked election—despite dozens of audits, more than forty court rulings, and assessments by the federal intelligence community that found zero evidence of domestic fraud or foreign interference in the election process.

• In October, the University of Virginia’s Center for politics published a report strongly suggesting the prospect of a second American Civil War. Among the report’s findings: Eighty percent of Trump voters believe that “true citizen[s]” must “help eliminate the evil that poisons our country from within,” and that America “needs a powerful leader to destroy the radical…currents prevailing in society today.”  

As the god of historical symmetry would have it, among the January insurrectionists nabbed by the FBI was a crackpot actor by the name of Brendan Hunt who threatened to murder members of Congress and urged his white nationalist comrades to join him in an armed attack Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration ceremony. As Mr. Hunt expressed himself in a Facebook post, “Start up the firing squads, mow down the commies, and let’s take america (sic) back.”

Mr. Hunt was jailed for several months in a federal lockup in New York while awaiting an April trial in Brooklyn’s U.S. District Court. He showed no remorse for his crimes as a judge sentenced him to an additional nineteen months behind bars.  

America, where guns vastly outnumber a population of 329.5 million people, has long experienced the high success rate of lone crackpots ginned up on lies, armed with weapons suitable for military engagement, and bent on assassination.

Elsewhere in legal news of late were the celebrated convictions of three white racist gunmen in Georgia who chased down and trapped a young black man out for a morning run and executed him in February 2020, and a Virginia jury award of $26 million in civil damages (€24.82 million) against the previously mentioned James Alex Fields Jr. and four associates for conspiracy to promote violence in Charlottesville in 2017.

In the Georgia case, 25-year-old unarmed Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death when the three gunmen circled around him claimed to be in “fear for our lives” from a man they suspected of burglarizing a partially constructed house with nothing inside to burgle. The three murderers face sentencing to life in prison.

The defendant nazis and kluxers in the Virginia case haven’t anything near the means necessary to pony up millions in court-ordered damages. Mr. Fields et alia were, in fact, too poor to afford lawyers. But prosecutors and civil rights have convinced pliant scribes of corporate media that the verdict “sends a message” to would-be racist killers to hold their fire…

…Notwithstanding an 18-year-old vigilante who walked free after gunning down two men and maiming a third at a Black Lives Matter protest in in Kenosha, Wisconsin. At the time of the shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse was 17 and living with his mother in the neighboring state of Illinois.

Mother Rittenhouse drove her son across the state line, where Kyle acquired a modified machine gun by illegal means—a charge the trial judge dismissed. Young Mr. Rittenhouse then walked amongst the demonstrators, alternately pretending to be a volunteer medic and a protector of commercial property allegedly threatened by vandalism.

One thing led to another as the teenage Kenosha killer claimed to be under threat when one of his victims lunged for him in a failed attempt at steering the barrel of his AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle out of harm’s way. Thus, two men lay dead while a third man’s upper right arm will never be normal, shredded as it is by bullets that splattered his bicep.

Not guilty, ruled the jury. Come visit me at Mar-a-Lago, said Donald Trump, who pronounced Kyle Rittenhouse “a nice young man.”

The nice young man accepted the ex-president’s invitation and posed for a nice picture with him. Meanwhile, right-wing loudmouths across the land hailed Kyle Rittenhouse as a “national hero,” Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives competed with one another to hire the boy’s service as a Capitol intern.

As extra measure, Congressman Paul Gosar—the Arizona Republican recently censured for the “joke” of suggesting the murder of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a Democrat—pushed for awarding the Kenosha killer the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Congresswoman Lauren Boebert—a Colorado Republican and QAnon conspiracist who insists on packing a loaded .45 caliber Glock pistol whilst roaming the Capitol—supports Mr. Gosar’s efforts.                

As a renowned propagandist for fascist autocracy, the late Helene Bertha Amalie “Leni” Riefenstahl (1902-2003) paved the way for Tucker Carlson—the popular right-wing host at Fox News, unofficial organ of the Republican Party and America’s most-watched TV news outlet.  

In 1932, during a nazi rally in Germany, actor and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl was smitten with Adolf Hitler’s oratorical ability. In her published memoir, she described the moment: “I had an almost apocalyptic vision that I was never able to forget. It seemed as if the Earth’s surface were spreading out in front of me, like a hemisphere that suddenly splits apart in the middle, spewing out an enormous jet of water, so powerful that it touched the sky and shook the Earth.”

Flattery gets one everywhere with Führers of the world. Soon after their fateful meeting, Herr Hitler became captivated by Ms. Riefenstahl’s talent for producing movies. (As an actor—though perhaps not a crackpot—she was already the Hitlerian ideal of Aryan womanhood.) In short order, Leni Riefenstahl was hired to direct “Der Sieg des Glaubens” (The Victory of Faith), an hour-long propaganda film about the Nuremberg Rally of 1933. She went on to nazi fame with “Triumph des Willens” (Triumph of the Will).

Following in the footsteps of Leni Riefenstahl, Mr. Carlson has produced “Patriot Purge,” a three-part revisionist history of the January 6 insurrection in Washington, an event created by American nazis and their fellow travelers. Christopher Mathias, a writer for the online magazine Huffpost, describes the work as “the most nakedly fascist piece of propaganda Carlson has ever produced.”

 “Patriot Purge” has dazzled the fever dreams of Trumpisti from coast to coast. The propaganda comes at a dangerous moment when, by Mr. Mathias’ reckoning, the January insurrection is “on its way to becoming as noble an enterprise as the Boston Tea Party for large parts of the American right.”

Watch this space.

Thomas Adcock is America correspondent for CulturMag. His essays with us here.

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