Those Who Would Nazi
Back in 2004, a blog commenter at Daily Kos made a video that compared Bush to Hitler, and there was a immediate run on smelling salts that lasted for weeks. At the time I was working for a couple who were regular Fox News watchers, and they were naturally horrified. “Really?” I responded. “Aggressive wars, deceptive propaganda, illegal searches and seizures, indefinite detention without trial, attacks on academics, the press, and artists, torture and war crimes….” as I rattled off these things, I realized that all that was missing was (overt) racism. What a horrid time to be an American, I thought to myself.
Well, if CPAC 2013 is any indication, things are considerably worse today; now that the right is (nominally, anyway) out of power, the goose-stepping has come well and truly out of the closet. In the 52 clown car pileup that event has become, nothing, and I do mean nothing, is out of bounds for these people. After making news by whining about how white people suffer so, at a minority outreach forum, no less, one avowed white supremacist summed it up best when he said, “After a few drinks, most everybody here agrees with me.” Ah, yes, a chicken-fried beer hall putsch, right here in the dreary Maryland suburbs, where white people go to eat at Olive Garden.
Although I’m deeply chagrined to say so, I give Jonah Goldberg some credit for his prescience on this subject. He saw the rather glaring Nazi tendencies of the political movement that had forever freed him from honest labor, and busily set to typing a laughable “book” called Liberal Fascism, which attempted to squirt octopus ink all around this issue by saying that liberals were the real fascists, because Hitler favored healthy foods, or something. He correctly perceived that the Fox audience had been sufficiently dumbed down to the point where a nutty, black-is-white idea like that could take root, which it has to a point beyond his wildest imagination.
And although the political right of the 1950′s was able to use the excesses of Mao and Stalin to tar the American left, since they were on the same side of the political spectrum, the left never responded by likening, say, Joe McCarthy to Hitler, although they wouldn’t have been out of bounds to do so, since many American Republicans, including one Prescott Bush, thought Fascists, Hitler included, were the best thing since cucumber canapes. Thus, simple facts of history and economics, including but not limited to the fact totalitarianism occupies both ends of the political spectrum, were elided to the point that fifty years later, nearly half Americans would believe that a bland, centrist Democratic president was like Hitler and Mao. Put together.
Well played, Jonah, but as with most endeavors you undertake, this one is backfiring, big time. When Nixon adopted the Southern Strategy, and all subsequent Republicans duly followed, they were all too often quite successful. They used coded language, of course, because at the time the media frowned on open racism, and were therefore able to get away with it. But the rise of Rush Limbaugh, Hate Radio, and Fox created a resurgent, open, racism that is now as necessary for any Republican political success as it is repulsive to normal, sane humans.
To be a Republican today requires one to dehumanize, denigrate, and most importantly, defund, all except the whitest among us, and this means that outside the deep south and rural midwest, even barely legal gerrymandering and voter suppression isn’t enough to put the party over the top. And, if you’ll pardon the pun, whitewashing racist attitudes with clever language, which was never designed to gain minority votes, but only to assuage white moderates, simply doesn’t work anymore because the base they systematically radicalized won’t tolerate it. They want their racism sunny side up.
Now, when America sees Republicans, they see Rand Paul (CPAC’s hero du jour) saying segregation wasn’t all that bad, they see Supreme Court Justice (!) Antonin Scalia dismiss the Voting Rights Act as a “racial entitlement,” Ann Coulter asserting that liberal women shouldn’t be allowed to hold office, and they see cracker yahoos retroactively praising slavery, even while (occasionally) acknowledging, gingerly, that such displays might make for poor optics.
Ya think? They don’t need Frank Luntz anymore; they need Leni Riefenstahl.