by Gordon Adams
The Brett Kavanaugh battle is just the tip of the iceberg. I am watching my country going through a slow motion disintegration into civil war, conflict, and the rise of authoritarianism. It’s a velvet coup d’état that controls the means of enforcement: the police, the courts, the political assemblies, the reins of corporate power, advertising and public relations.
Random outposts of media remain open—a tiny part of NPR which is otherwise busy normalizing authoritarian views on virtually every show; The New York Times gray lady still giving space to anti-authoritarian resistance actions. The networks are lost. All have caved to the shit-show that is Donald Trump. He’s the façade behind which the progressive legacy of the last 70 years is being dismantled: EPA regulations, civil rights protections, equal opportunity, health care (miserable as it is), the right to vote, citizenship itself.
I can complain, as many do on Facebook. I can scream and yell. Nobody is really listening. The right is treating the resistance to rising authoritarianism as “chaos,” “mob rule,” and extremism on the left. They have succeeded in portraying authoritarianism as, itself, under threat. The latest version of this unreality is the myth that young white men, that privilege itself, are now under siege.
This “looking glass” reversal of truth is the hardest thing to combat. A nation with more guns than people is suddenly at risk of having arms taken away. Police too easily and regularly abuse the civil rights and take the lives of minority young men, but any response is a threat to the “men in blue” who protect themselves with a code of silence. Regulations that save thousands from the side effects of toxic waste and chemistry threaten the future of investment and profit. The inevitabilities of age and disease receive no respect and those that get sick or die in the absence of affordable national health care become greedy consumers, costing the nation money. Attempts to give voice to the oppressed challenge the free speech rights of would-be authoritarians. The human rights of people whose gender or sexual orientation makes them different from the “majority” are suddenly a menace to religious liberty or the “right” to be biased and prejudiced. The right to assemble and speak out is described as “anarchy.” And the media gives voice to all these distortions in the mirror in the interests of “fairness.”
Black is regularly and repeatedly portrayed as white, night becomes day because the authoritarians say so, and truth has become “fake media” because the authoritarian accusation is repeated so often. Politicians glibly distort the record, cast aside the experience of an abused woman, and pretend that the rise of authoritarians in the courts is “normal.” When these and many more reversals of reality become the norm, it becomes almost impossible to right the ship of state, let alone have decent dialogue in the streets, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants of America.
When fiction is marketed repeatedly as truth, an overwhelming pall settles over the country. It becomes harder and harder to see clearly, even to grasp the mike for enough time to make the point. The media is obsessed with the need to hand the mike to the authoritarians, in order to appear “balanced.”
White, male, religious extremism, backed by big money, is warping that mirror. This authoritarian extremism, cloaked in the language but not the reality of American history, has captured state houses, legislatures, courts, security forces, and, for now, the Congress of the United States and the White House, with all the executive power that office can control. It is a semi-visible, gradual coup d’état that’s well on its way to success.
In these times, I am starting to think, it is important not to listen, not to give respect to the siren songs of authoritarians. They are the distortions in a fun-house mirror. It is important to gather together, find common strength, to assert truth in the face of authoritarian fake news—starting now, with this election, which may be one of the last in which democracy can reassert itself as voting rights and citizen rights are slowly taken away.
Speak up. Support the anti-authoritarians. Get tough and real about this political battle. Start spreading the message everywhere it needs to be heard, at all levels. Reach out to those who are preoccupied with television shows and sporting events and have their eyes off the ball or are just plain tired of the political game.
At the dinner table, in social settings, remind them that this is not normal.
“Regulations that save thousands from the side effects of toxic waste and chemistry”
The US government has thousands of laws and regulations concerning drugs, and yet there is an opioid epidemic. If regulations really worked, there would be no opioid crisis and yet here we are.
And yet I am sure the author believes one more law or one regulation would do it!
The average American commits 3 felonies a day without knowing it.
But the author believes private society needs to be regulated more.
It is the state, its patrons and its beneficiaries like Mr. Gordon that needs more regulation in their lives not the public.
All is true. And the checklist doesn’t address ‘climate change’ which within a century or so will render all present economic and political arrangements moot. But.
But while agreeing with your characterization of the present, I think much of the underlying bile is concentrated in an aging, fearful, and ultimately self-removing group. By ‘natural causes’, aka mortality.
it may take 10- 20 years for most of this social pus to drain, but there really is a newer generation on the way which very likely will more than counterbalance the present forces. Other things equal (but who knows? not I!) we are now, or soon will be, in the darkest time.
I’ve lived long enough now (age 75) to have a sense of how short a time a century is, in historical not personal terms.
The longest shadows of the present (I won’t call it ‘Trumpism’ because it predated him; great showman that he is, he manipulated it brilliantly) will be cast by this administration’s Judicial choices – and its inaction on climate change. The second makes the first shruggable.
The ship of State is encountering heavy swells – but hasn’t capsized – yet.
Noting that Professor Adams has “national security and foreign policy” on his resume, I offer to him: Palestine. We are all Palestinians now.
how is it that the federal government under Trump is authoritarian? In regards to “no one is listening”, I find the left as never answering questions or explaining its POV.
Isn’t it good that the US raise tariffs on Chinese imports? Doesn’t immigration increase our population, raise the cost of housing for the working class and harm the environment?
JOE MARLY consider yourself important. This perfectly accurate description of the shit-show is written with you in mind: when Gordon Adams writes “Black is regularly and repeatedly portrayed as white, night becomes day because the authoritarians say so, and truth has become “fake media” because the authoritarian accusation is repeated so often”, he is talking about people like you.
When you deceive with your “the US government has thousands of laws and regulations concerning drugs, and yet there is an opioid epidemic. If regulations really worked, there would be no opioid crisis and yet here we are”, by the time your Don Donald is done eliminating every CFR of EPA, the opioid epidemic would be the last of your worries. But nice try.
When you deceive with your “The average American commits 3 felonies a day without knowing it. But the author believes private society needs to be regulated more” isn’t that the basis for the entire charade of selecting an extremist like Kavanaugh and having the average neocon in congress aka Republican portraying that the 3 felonies are a norm so the rape of Dr. Ford would not seem as important ?
People like you should simply come out of the woodwork so you’d read a little less ridiculous.
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