I've been concerned for about a decade that certain trends are ripening America for a fascist era, if not fascism of the 20th century European variety with brown-shirted thugs and genocide, then perhaps an American variety festooned in flags and crosses and founded on the phony-baloney state religion of national security and the very American (and wholly fraudulent) assumption that rich and powerful people somehow "deserve" to be that way because they "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" (whatever the fuck that means--can we get some fresher metaphors, please?)...even when they didn't. Some observations in no particular order that make me think of this lately:
#1: Sarah Palin, whom many people still take seriously as a Presidential contender, has associated herself with "Doctor" Laura Schlessinger, noted homophobe, racist and entitled cunt, by encouraging Dr. Laura not to retreat but to "reload." This was about the fallout from Schlessinger's little "nigger" rant, aimed at a perfectly reasonable black woman who called into her radio show. Two things seemed to have been missed here: 1) While some people seem to have only just heard of the vile Laura, she has been on my screen for many years because of her combination of vicious homophobia (and other prejudices) and dismissive "counseling" of people--basically, it's your own fault if you have a problem and do not agree with her worldview. Her stock in trade is a kind of reductive reasoning where all members of the groups she doesn't like are all of piece: ALL black people are engaged in "black thought" (she has said those words), etc. Saying "nigger" on the air isn't even the tip of her dirty iceberg. 2) The catalog of ridiculous shit that this woman has said over the years is really staggering, but what's even more staggering is that it has come to pass that a Presidential candidate has risked associating herself with a fringe rightwing media loon. And what's even more staggering than that is the fact that no one seems to think that's a big deal! It's a measure of how far we have drifted that it is really not even any kind of risk for a Presidential candidate to do this. Generally, one would think that a politician with national ambitions would avoid (whatever her own personal views are) getting the rotten-meat stink of a talk radio nutcase all over herself and potentially turning off every thinking voter. But there's the problem: voters do not any longer seem to see a problem with this. Can you imagine the patrician George Bush the First (not W, but the good one, as Bushes go) or the gentlemanly Bob Dole, if Twitter had existed in 1990, going online and speaking directly to bottom-feeding radio scumbags? Even if they'd agreed with all the shit Laura says, they never would have actually talked to her in that way, much less encouraged her activities.
#2: The American right wing (formerly the "extreme right," now just the "right") promulgates the notion that their "rights" are being violated by our black president and his legions. Repudiating Dr. Laura's behavior somehow takes away her First Amendment rights, and Palin agrees with this. Evidently in their world, to respect their freedom of speech, one must either agree with what they say or stay silent about it. If one speaks up against it, then it's the (black) Man trying to take away their fundamental freedoms. They also like to drag out the tired old canard that their opponents are engaged not in any kind of reasonable debate but in name-calling and stereotyping? What!? Like "nigger" and "black thought" and "faggot?" And so what if we are, if all Dr. Laura cares about is First Amendment rights? The First Amendment neither states nor implies that if I am to oppose her point of view then I need to present some kind of "argument" that she and her ideological kith and kin will judge to be "reasonable" under the constraints of their tortured logic. Indeed, if I instead prefer not argue at all and simply characterize her as a moronic, savage troll and rabid bitch (and describe her ally Palin as a bobble-headed fool), then that is well covered within my First Amendment rights. Watch carefully in the coming weeks and months the progress of their case that Americans rights are being taken away by the vast Obama plot. This is what they will make their political fortune on because the dumbass public will gradually come to accept it even though they can't point to one credible example of something that has happened in real life that points to this.
#3: Blaming the Other for all your problems on a mass scale is a necessary precursor to the ascent of fascism and we have that all over the damned place now, so much of it that it's hard to sort out from the general background radiation of dumbassity. During every even-numbered year since 9/11/01, the right has drummed up in various ways passions over the Holiest of Holies, the political gift that keeps on giving, the attack on New York and DC, in their effort to win elections. It didn't work in '06 and '08 because the country was so weary of their dreadful mismanagement of everything from botching the wars to busting the budget to running the economy into a ditch. But now in '10, they seem to think they will rekindle that old time 9/11 fire and they are doing it through blatant, out-and-out Muslim-bashing. Even W and Cheney did not trade in that, but now we have the spectacle of Republicans all over the country, even in hinterlands where they have no idea what a dense city like Manhattan looks like from the ground, campaigning against the "Ground Zero Mosque" and say, with no sense of shame, that perhaps we do need to restrict the religious freedoms of certain Americans because ALL of these people could at any time become terrorists. And as all REAL Americans know, terrorists are the scariest, worst thing in the world and they are planning to kill you right now. This would be disgusting in any year, but now they have a face for their fear even scarier than the distant Osama bin Laden: the black face of President Obama, whom a fifth of Americans think is a Muslim. Not only do Muslims wants to kill you, they imply (and literally say), but you need to consider that the actual leader of the country is secretly one of them and in cahoots with them to kill "real" Americans. Keep an eye on this trend as well.
Phenomena like these, when combined with our country's jacked-up, out-of-whack economic conditions and class structure, seem to me to create a very worrisome concoction.