Saturday, June 30, 2012


So, I've been MIA, as usual.

That's because I've writing, and it's been amazing. So fun. Christine and I are turning in first draft manuscripts on the 10th, and I've been sprucing up my New York City story. To get a feel for what the city was like at the turn on the 20th century, I've been reading books about young working-class women's amusements, a biography of Oscar Hammerstein, the muckracking classic The Bitter Cry of the Children, a book on te Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and period documents, such as a 1911 sociological study on African-American employment. I'm really interested in the visuals of the time and place, and photographs only tell you so much. It feels like I'm piecing this world together like a puzzle, one small piece at a time. And, yes, I'm a harried wreck, trying to get this done while also starting work teaching ESL. In other words: busy busy busy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chapter 82: In Which I Discuss (Non)Victory

In a move that makes me so proud of my homestate, a district in northeast Pennsylvania recently elected an upfront white supremacist to its GOP commitee.

No, its not surprising. It makes sense for that area of PA. It's also a logical move in the Republican narrative, with the way their party is going.

But it's not right, nor should it be tolerated. This fellow should, and will, be watched closely. Steve Smith, founder of the Keystone State Skinheads, current member of the European American Action Coalition, and convicted felon, was elected to GOP office in Luzerne County. White supremacist elements have been gaining ground for years in the increasingly extremist party, and he is the fourth in recent memory to ride the wave of hate into public office.

The official word from the Republicans is that he won with a single write-in vote. Oh, and that the Democrats are using him as a strawman when they should be focusing on jobs. That's it. No condemnation, no commitment to do something about the unapologetic Nazi in their party. They will support him until it becomes a problem to do so. He was also welcomed with a flurry of back-slapping from other Pennsylvania Ron Paul supporters.

It is no surprise that a party that manipulates its base through hate and fear-mongering would have an actual fascist break through their nepotist internal politics to take a party seat. Just for some background, this master of governance, this budding Churchill in our midst, was arrested in 2003, after he and a few of his buddies decided to jump a lone black man. (BTW, racist white people: if you ever wondered why black people only fight in packs, it's because we saw what we were up against. The Klan never sent one guy to do a lynching.) This is who now holds power within a county that once boasted the fastest-growing Hispanic population in the country. Hispanics comprise 6.7% of the county population at last census. I'm sure he will serve his constituents well. I would think there would be some barrier to prevent people who (openly) call for the subjugation and destruction of minorities to take governmental authority over them, but alas.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. America's juvenile and self-destructive embrace of fascism stems from slavery. You know, that thing we never talk about.

A brief history of America. Once, the country was half-slave, half-free states. In spite of the growing number of free states, the growing reliance on industry over agriculture, emancipation in other major western nations, bloody slave revolts across the Americas, and the abolition movement, the US government was determined to keep slavery legal. Slavery being a system of coerced human labor that the South maintained through murder, torture, and rape. Northern politicians, especially racists like Lincoln, bent over backwards to maintain the increasingly impossible prospect of a half-slave/half-free union. The Southerner aristocracy threw a massive hissy-fit, anyway.

Following the Confederacy's trouncing, there came the Reconstruction period. Relatively speaking, Reconstruction saw better opportunities for freed blacks. They still had to live in a racist environment, completely surrounded by their enemies, but there was some chance for upward mobility. Reconstruction was ultimately ended by the Republicans, part of a tie-breaking concession to the Democrats so Rutherford B. Hayes, of all do-nothings, could become president. This led to the Republicans' slide down the drain, negating any goodwill they ever good for emancipating the slaves. This also led to the century-long period of apartheid known as the Jim Crow era. With all due respect to the struggles of Native Americans, I consider Jim Crow to be the first implementation of widespread fascism in the nation's history. The system was designed to maintain white supremacy, and was enforeced through murder.

The Confederates lost the war. However. Not only were the losers never demeaned, their cause was lionized in popular culture, providing a means for them and their sons to accrue power. Birth of a Nation came out almost a hundred years ago. This "yee-haw" shit is not new. Shortly after, you got Gone With the Wind perpetuating this whole gallant South thing. They were quick to spin it that they were the heroes.

The South was never defeated. Yes, they were beaten in a war where half their army deserted. But they were never crushed, they were never shamed, their leaders were never barred from government. Slaves were never offered restitution. The flag of their extinct nation was, and is, allowed to fly over government office.
This is the opposite of what happened to their European counterparts, the Nazi Party. At the same time Birth of A Nation inspired the second Ku Klux Klan, a similar wave was rising all through Europe, as the monarchies faltered. Nazism and Jim Crow are the exact same thing. Period. The only difference is the Klan didn't have gas chambers and had to handle their executions through cheaper means. In recent years the two movements, though having different national origins, have entirely melded together. However, a Nazi will never hold office in a European country.

It is a crime to display a swastika in Germany. You cannot give the heil salute. They cut Germany in half and gave the Jews their own state. Those of Hitler's pals who were left got put on trial. Germany did something that the United States will never do: acknowledge and make amends for its brutal history. They did it at gunpoint, but they did it. There were serious, concrete steps to correct the crimes of fascism that required sacrifice from the ordinary German.

America's fascist history is swept under the rug. It is dismissed as something that happened a long time, with the 1970s now counting as a "long time." There is an added coda that black people need to stop blaming everyone for their problems, get off their lazy asses and start working. In this country, the mainstream media literally says that black history (which, until 40 years ago, was intertwined with fascist oppression) needs to be forgotten.

Which is what leads, in some ways, to our infantile notion of what fascism is. We think it is something that never happened on our soil. Our vision of a what a fascist looks and acts like is Scarlett O'Hara. Of course someone like Steve Smith will not be recognized for what he really is. If this guy outed himself as a Nazi in Berlin, he'd most likely take a bat to the head, but here he becomes authority over minority citizens.

We just don't get it. Some say that Europe has a lower tolerance for fascism because of the way it ravaged their continent, but the thing is, fascism has ravaged our country as well. It has raped, and oppressed, and killed our people. We refuse to acknowledge it, and it's been allowed to fester in our society. As a result, we get things like when that sick freak massacred 98 people up in Norway, because Muslims were "committing genocide" on the white race just by being there, and everybody on the Glenn Beck board calls him "handsome," and a "Viking warrior." The fact that they identify with that child-killing piece of shit shows a complete disconnect from reality.

Figured I'd write to emphasize this Smith guy is still in office. He's still planning his agenda to oppress non-white citizens. Some say "What happened over there can never happen here." It can, and it did.