Dear America: Please forgive this Canadian offering reactions to what’s going on south of our border. Because I struggle every day to avoid sinking beneath the waters of rage, and I need to offload. Here goes: Please meet my Uncle Allen Scott, an anti-Fascist.
My mother was the youngest of six children, Allen (he went by his middle name) the eldest; thus my uncle, although our lifespans are disjoint. He fought the Fascists in Italy, was wounded, healed, went back to Europe after D-Day, fought with the Canadian push into the Netherlands. Died on October 27, 1944 in Dordrecht, of wounds, in Nazi captivity. So for him personally it didn’t matter who won. To the victors go the gravestones. His fiancée back in Alberta lived with my Mom’s family then after a while married someone else.
I’ve visited his grave, one among the thousands of white crosses row on row on the green in Bergen op Zoom, it’s pretty and sad.
The disaster to avoid at all costs is our children having to do anti-Fascism like my uncle Allen had to. America needs to find a way to head it off now, in our lifetimes.
This essay was provoked by CNN’s recent Big Pander to Trump (no I didn’t watch it. He never says anything new or worth hearing), followed by observing the fact that roughly 40% of Americans have a positive opinion of that man, followed by reading DeSantis’ 2024 pitch: Make America Florida and then Texas pushes church into state with bills on school chaplains, Ten Commandments. You don’t need to read those, the MAGA chud performative cruelty is implicit in the headlines.
Now a few words on words.
“Fascist”? · I’m using “Fascism” to describe the US Republican party’s program. You could argue that it’s not quite the right word, and indeed the program advanced by ur-Fascist Benito Mussolini differs somewhat from the GOP’s. But I’m pretty sure that were Benito magicked into our timeline, he’d be cheering them on.
It’s no accident that that toxicity is coming mostly out of the slave states. “Slave-state MAGAchud fascist” has a ring to it, no?
I suspect that history will find a better label for the current pathology, one that highlights the part where the culture war out front is funded by patrician backstage billionaires who are happy to arrange a discreet abortion for their trans pagan kid, but really care about slashing taxes, weakening the workforce, and extracting profit from enterprises that are destroying our homeworld.
I’m digressing; America is threatened by fascists who seek to delegitimize and crush their domestic opposition, profit from racial oppression, police the uteri of those who have them, outlaw gender diversity, and at all costs keep the nation from turning less white. Oh, and of course achieve mass class-level wealth appropriation in the traditional Reverse-Robin-Hood mode.
What are the people who are against all this supposed to do?
“Chud”? · But first, another philological digression. The time for talking politely with the alt-right has long-since passed. And hey, we’ve (over-)used all the good ol’ pejoratives built on sex organs and excretion. “Chud”, in the sense of contemptible conservative, was apparently coined at Chapo Trap House, although there’s amusing etymology on offer.
“Chud” is a good English pejorative: Four letters, one vowel, hard consonants either side. I like it.
I have a few half-formed suggestions. Here goes:
I. Don’t try to convince them · Like I said, the time is over for aiming rhetoric (in the technical sense, language designed to convince) at people who want to be led by Donald Trump. You’re not going to convince them and you’re not going to benefit from talking to them. “Don’t feed the trolls” is Internet lore, and while it’s not always correct, it is just now.
But don’t ignore them, or your children might end up as dead heroes like my uncle.
II. Poke fun · I’m pretty sure that ridicule can be a deadly weapon against Fascists. Progressives need put-downs for the other side that make people laugh and stick to their targets. To work well, this has to be simultaneously mean-spirited and light-hearted. Some American progressive leader should run a national televised contest with a big fat prize to pick juicy nicknames for all the most visible MAGAs.
Also, gotta laugh or you’re gonna cry.
III. Win elections · In America, assaulting the democratic process is central to Chud Thought. And in America the judicial and legislative branches of government have failed at combating flagrant gerrymandering. But 40% is still just 40%. They’re 20 points behind the sane majority and can be beaten. Except for in parts of the slave states. For now.
Even among the deplorable faction that vibes with MAGA moves like 6-week no-exception abortion bans, ripping kids away from asylum-seeking families, and erasing trans people, key donor-driven policy planks like cutting back corporate taxes and Medicare benefits aren’t actually popular. I’m no political professional but I hope and believe there are paths to electoral victories.
IV. Underground railroad · There’s a lot to be said for, in between elections, ignoring the slave-state territory under MAGAchud rule. Among other things, people need to save their strength for when it matters. But there are humans being oppressed there, the usual intersectional laundry list. Someone needs to ship them mifepristone and misoprostol, smuggle in banned books, and exfiltrate the endangered — especially, these days, trans people.
“Underground Railroad”, that’s a good brand still, a century and a half later. I’d revive it. Part of the OG Underground Railroad was in Canada and I think there are a lot of us here who’d like to help if we could.
V. Seize the means of information production · I predict that the historians, when they write up the ills and evils of the current day, will lay a lot of blame at the feet of Murdoch media. At this point there’s not much point trying to talk to MAGAchuds, but I think it would be super helpful to disrupt the hate pipeline feeding their fever dream. There are opportunities to litigate and humiliate and demonetize and disrupt, and they should be seized.
The truth is paywalled but the bullshit is free; I’m not sure there’s any struggle really more important than wresting free-media channels from fascist fists.
Good luck, America · You’re gonna need it.
You’ve got a lot of shit weighing your soul down. It’d be nice to be in a political contest where you could talk usefully to the other side. But that’s not the one you’re in. Fuck those people. Don’t give ’em free rent in your head. Fight them and win and who knows, maybe they’ll rediscover their humanity eventually. Maybe not. But that’s not your problem.
Our problem is not putting our children in a place where they get a hero’s grave marker.
Comment feed for ongoing:
From: Sympathetic to a point (May 24 2023, at 15:43)
Is this designed to persuade, or are you venting? Either is fine but I’m sorry to say this will only appeal to those who strongly agree with you.
From: Carl (May 24 2023, at 17:32)
I agree 99%, but I don’t think mockery works. Mockery is about shaming them, and they’re shameless. Shame only works on an in-group. I think pity is more disarming, and anyhow, we’ve been trying shame for seven years to no avail. No one has tried pity, so it’s worth a shot.
From: Rob (May 24 2023, at 19:31)
Me, I keep returning to Yeats, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity." A terrifying poem to read, these days.
From: Mike Hayes (May 25 2023, at 03:08)
In relation to Robs comment on Yeats and "The Second Coming", ironically, Yeats was a supporter of fascism and the poem - brilliant though it is - is basically about embracing fascism to prevent the spread of communism in Europe post world war 1.
Support for fascism was quite trendy in both Britain and Ireland at this time amongst the "upper" classes.
Tim - couldn't agree more with this piece.
From: Nick Adams (May 26 2023, at 06:35)
The best defense is a good offense. Unfortunately, our "opposition party" appears to be a bumbling mess, or are they? Whatever the truth, the Democrats do not deliver a compelling program for improving the lives of US citizens. Instead, they deliver unconvincing excuses for why they can't or bury those that try (Bernie). "Republicans bad" only works so long and the reality of "your life is getting worse no matter who's in charge" creates fertile soil for growing fascists. As always, the solution is material, not rhetorical.