Thursday, November 1, 2018

Ban the Nazi Flag

nota bene: In the following jeremiad, the terms Nazi and fascist are used generically and interchangeably. Moreover, the terms white nationalist, white supremacist and alt/right, are, for me, rightfully conflated with the terms, Nazi and fascist.

Now, to our program...

With the recent spate of bomb threats, the murder of the eleven in the Pittsburgh synagogue and increasing accumulations of hate crimes, I have been discussing the matter of the rise of fascism in the US and around the world. In response to the sight of the symbols of hate groups,  I have publically and repeatedly called for banning the public display of all Nazi insignia as well as the Confederate flags as hate crimes and open acts of sedition.

Surprisingly, I have received a lot of push-back from those Constitutional purists who clutch the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech as one does a magic cloak which protects all, no matter how hateful or deleterious their speech.
Hear! Hear!
And bullshit!

The presence of fascists in our society should be seen with the greatest of alarm. The sight of a Nazis swastika or a Rebel flag should  raise shrill klaxons of warning within our souls.
Fear! Fire! Foes!

(There should be absolutely no toleration of fascist in our society. More on that another time.)

The main bulwark of the naive citing of the First Amendment to defend the rights of fascists is the 'slippery slope' argument, which goes as follows; once the symbols of one group are banned there will be nothing to stop the banning of all symbols. Say good-bye, they say, to the Christian cross, the Masonic square and compass, the Golden Arches!
This might also be called the 'hair on fire' defense.
In response to that, one must first accept that the 'slippery slope' is one of the most insipid and invalid of false arguments. There is no slippery slope; all determinations of legality in a democratic society are controllable. As Reinhold Niebuhr asserts; Nothing is inevitable; not even the most probable.
There is no run-away cart. There is no slippery slope.
And your hair isn't on fire.

The other, less sophisticated response to the call to ban the symbols of hate, slavery and oppression is this: by making that call, I am, myself, being a fascist.
(The rubber and glue argument)

Poppycock, balderdash and blatherskite. 

(and now a side-bar..)
[Fascists direct their hatred towards racial groups, nationalities and religions. Memberships in one or more those groups is not voluntary but is a condition of one's birth. The condition of one's birth is a personal choice. One's heritage is not a personal choice.

Being a fascist, on the other hand, is a personal choice. It is therefore, the choice to be a fascist (white nationalist, etc) which is repugnant, not the person. The person who embraces fascism become repugnant through the hateful actions of fascism.
I do not despise fascist for their ethnicity or their religion or their gender. I despise fascists because they have chosen to be fascists. My hatred of fascists does not therefore make me a 'reverse-fascist'.
As a point of fact, it is a moral imperative to hate hate, to detest fear-mongering, to deride and denounce fascism, bigotry and anti-Semitism. Anyone who tries to hedge their bets about fascism is ethically imperiled.]

Back to our story...

'But what is the point of banning these symbols?', asks the nice lady in the back, clutching her pearls and wringing her hands, patiently waiting for the side-bar to conclude.

The point, dear lady, is this; Banning the public display of these symbols deprives the fanatics of their own collective identity. Rallying to the flag of the Nazi regime (the black, left-handed swastika), white nationalists, who promulgate these malignant credos, feel bolstered and emboldened by being members of a larger group. There is safety in numbers, after all.

Ask the fictional Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon. I'm certain he'd agree with me; by depriving the symbols to which group-members would rally, the group is no longer a cohesive group.  The unifying symbol of their ethos is gone and with it the unity of the group.

(If you don't believe Dr Langdon (ahem), then consult Joseph Campbell, who is, by far, the better source on symbology and the power of myth. (Seeing as he was an actual scholar...))

'But, but, but, they can make new symbols'...
(the motor-boat defense...)

Quite true; the human mind - even one filled with hate - is an ingenious one. New symbols will be invented. Being deprived of a symbol, the leaders of the group will invent another symbol. Some of those are already on display at the rallies "of very fine people" who march with tiki-torches and promote racial and religious hatred.
(seen here)

The new symbols are powerless. They will never have the emotional impact of the older ones because the new substitute symbols are not so deeply associated with the violence and egregious acts of the earlier group. 

Consider: Most educated, informed people associate the Nazi flag with Hitler, the Holocaust, genocide, the Second World War, the destruction of Europe and the deaths of millions. Any new symbols of fascism would not have that dire association and hence would have far less emotional impact. They would lack the 'fear factor'. That dearth of emotional impact would be felt by the members of the fascist group, as well, and would be far less a unifier than the older ones.

So, my thought runs, that if, as a society, the USA were to ban the flags and symbols of Nazism and the Confederacy from public display, that would be a most practical first step to eliminating the hateful ethos that the symbols represent.

Mind you, that it is but a first step, not the solution.

(Epilogue: In Germany, where the display of the Nazi flag is a criminal act, the fascist have resorted to displaying the flag of the Confederates States as a substitute symbol for their fascist ideology. In Munich, the Rebel Stars and Bars hold considerably less power than, say, in Atlanta, Georgia, Richmond, Virginia or Oxford, Mississippi.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Open Letter to the House and the Senate

 To all members of Congress:

This is on you.
Donald Trump was elected by the Electoral College and 25% of the electorate. His election is on them.
His behavior, his policies, his preposterous demeanor - that's on him.
That he is getting away with so much that is detrimental to our nation, our Republic, our democracy, our society is on you. That lies squarely on the doorstep of Congress.
He lies. You hem, haw and prevaricate or say nothing at all.
He insults our allies and our most revered institutions and you do nothing to oppose his slander.
He threatens our allies and ingratiates himself to ruthless despots and dictators and you stand idly by.
He shields and sides with sex offenders, crooks, and the most disreputable sort of people and you never raise a finger or your voice in criticism.
Choose to be on the correct side of history, for history will record this episode of the American story as a calamitous time when the wrong people were in power for the wrong reasons taking the wrong actions.
Protect Mueller.
Protect Rosenstein.
Move to impeach the president.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Where Do You Stand?

Back from a month-long trip to the States, touring in the Red State West with the Mary Jo Curry Band.
I've recovered from a near-terminal case of jet-lag and am back in the saddle again.
Here's a letter I wrote today to my Senators and Congressman in Colorado:


Trump's approval numbers have been under water for some time; 52% to 55% disapprove of his administration. 66% of women disapproved of Trump BEFORE the Kavanaugh debacle. Since that sham, his numbers have plummeted. You might say his numbers are akin to a bathysphere in need of a bilge pump.

According to, there's a 75% likelihood that the Dems will take the House in November. When they do, one of the first orders of business will be the impeachment of the president, the vice-president and many of Trump's appointees, including Brett Kavanaugh.

The New York Times' investigation into the Trump family finances has revealed extensive tax fraud and questionable tax evasion for decades. The Attorneys General of State of New York and the City of New York are on the case to recoup what the state and city are owed. This will most probably leave the entire Trump family destitute and open for further civil and criminal litigation.

The District of Columbia and the State of Maryland are suing Trump for his violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Eighteen states are currently suing the Trump administration for his family separation policy and the imprisonment of children.

After the November election, we can be certain that Robert Mueller will issue a flurry of subpoenas and indictments prior to his release of the report of findings. Most expect to hear that Donald Trump and his campaign were conspiring with Russian agents to subvert the American electoral process.

Where will you be? Will you be on the correct side of history? Or will you be one of the apologists for the the most corrupt and inept president in American history with egg all over your face with hounds at the door screaming for your political blood?

No magic bullet - such as Brett Kavanaugh - will save this pathetic, criminal presidency. Short of a military coup, there will be no redemption or exoneration of Donald J. Trump.

The choice is simple; side with Trump as one of his tainted minions, ready to stand trial or stand with the vast majority of Americans.

Protect Mueller.
Protect Rosenstein.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Twick or Tweet

Tweet after tweet, Trump proves himself for what most of Americans have known for decades; he's an unhinged individual who is ignorant and self-centered to a very disturbing degree. As the walls close in, his grip on his precarious mental and emotional state keeps slipping. To wit:
Don McGahn, White House Counsel, testified to Mueller's team for more than ten hours.
John Bolton is now connected through the NRA to the jailed Russian operative, Maria Butina.
Michael Cohn, Trump's personal fixer is on the block, awaiting his subpoena and/or indictment.
Manafort is on a knife's edge while a jury deliberates; with yet another trial already scheduled for September.
Roger Stone is, by all appearances, about to be indicted for conspiring with Julian Assange to obtain stolen documents from the DNC; documents stolen by Russian hackers.
Rudy Guiliani has gone completely bonkers on national television decreeing that "Truth is not the Truth." (If such is the case, then why have a legal system with lawyers, judges and juries at all?)

In short, the wheels are coming off the Trump train at an alarming rate and Trump is sounding the alarm with more and more delirious tweets at an increasing frequency. Never before have the American people and the world witnessed a POTUS sink into the abyss of madness.

All of this makes Watergate and all other DC scandals seem like tedious parlor games. Congress must not allow this ruinous farce to continue. One can only surmise that the members of Congress are complicit in crimes Mr Mueller's team is investigating and are therefore endeavoring to forestall the inevitable collapse of House Trump.

Protect Mr Mueller.
Move the president.

Couch-potato Anarchists

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, when asked what he considered the most dreadful part of "these dreadful, dreadful days in Washington":

"Well the most dreadful part is that we have a president who does not respect our system of government, does not understand our government, (who) is not interested in understanding our government, who believes the Constitution is a menu from which he can choose only the most delectable items, who disdains career bureaucrats, who doesn't respect the Constitution. 

That's one thing. But the evil twin to that is that as a former Russian analyst... I'm convinced that the president of the United States is enthralled to Vladimir Putin. There is no other way to explain his behavior and he perfectly fits the profile of the kind of people the Russians target."

"This is a president of the United States who is a danger to the Republic."
He elaborated, "It is not hyperbole to say that this man and his henchmen and henchwomen constitute a real threat to our Republic."
 "What we see now, the people supporting Trump are radicals. These Couch-potato Anarchists... They're destructive. They want to tear things down. They want vengeance."