Quips, quotes, queries, qualms and quarrels regarding American politics, politicians, foreign policy and public accountability with particular attention to Drumpfen-putz Administration, the Drumpf Crime Family and the Mueller investigation.
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
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
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
(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)
balderdash and blatherskite.
(and now a side-bar..)
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
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.
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
'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) https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources/resource-knowledge-base/hate-symbols
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.
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.)