"Tag, you're it."

Yes, it's on us -- who are nonviolent and empathetic, often to a fault. Unfortunately such a heroic defense of democratic principle and practice is almost always reactive and almost never proactive. That is, we will continue to yawn and shrug and take it all for granted until the critical mass is reached and it's all shattered and gone. Then we'll either submit (think USSR) or go to war to get it back -- ironically, in light of WW II, perhaps even with foreign help.

As a fellow alarm-sounder, I find it hard to shake off the feeling that we're going through the motions and that the dynamic is inexorable. That said, we'd damned well better let go of the frame that this (Trump, the MAGA GOP, fascism) is all somehow just "politics." Or assuming that being "right" will, in and of itself, ensure that we prevail.

Expand full comment

"accused rapist"? B.S.! Trump is a rapist and there are thousands of us, including me and another friend of mine, who know it. We just don't want our families killed so we don't talk. Why do you think the NJ Jane Doe pulled her lawsuit against these creeps right before the 2016 election? Wake up! Quit sugar-coating with political theories about fascism. Rape is violence. Violence is an addiction, just like guns, booze. Remember who 'Daddy Trump' was? A card-carrying 'grand Pooba' of the KKK. And Trump's brother died from alcoholism; if I know one thing, that family was a violent, abusive horror show.

Expand full comment

Fascism is giving up on living in a society where all people can attain happiness. Fascism is embracing working towards a dystopia for most of the citizens and a Utopia for the ruling class. Without having a conscience, empathy or the ability of rational thought, babies are raised to be fascist and they need to be told what to think and believe. The church and the government grooms them to serve the autocrats by creating thugs and not humans. When the white male Christian thugs get replaced by the cheaper labor brown male Christian thugs, they will realize how stupid they are and probably get more violent. Anti-contraceptive and abortion fascists, just want more slaves. The current fascist want to retroactively abort all of the people they don't like, it may be over half the population of the Earth. How dare they say they are anti-abortion.

Expand full comment

If I wrote as well and as insightfully as you do, maybe I could do justice with a comment about this brilliant piece. But I don’t.

Expand full comment
May 12·edited May 12

Reading this, sort of left me slack-jawed. That was not my reaction to Thom's vision of growing fascism in the US. I saw that coming by 2018 when I asked Prof. Bob Paxton, author of "The Anatomy of Fascism" if he thought Trump was a fascist. To my bewilderment, he said no. But then one day in 2021, he wrote an OpEd in Newsweek entitled "I've Hesitated to Call Donald Trump a Fascist Until Now." What left me slack-jawed was it was like reading my own take on that state of the union.

I am not sure why the MAGAs do not call their party the Fascist Party vs the Republican Party. The last vestiges of conservatism, like Romney or Barr, have sold their political souls in order to stay relevant to voters.

Most disturbing to me is the failure of journalists to educated their readers that fascists, by definition, have no vision for how to govern - just how to seize power. Specifically, they are government vandals, just like Hitler was. They are not trying to build a fascist America through the political process, but by vandalism.

Trump and his MAGAs are working to tear down our democratic republic so that voters will be desperate for salvation from the implosion. Trump is working toward his Reichstag fire moment when the government ceases to maintain any power to function in the minds of voters. Until then he and the MAGAs will continue to dismantle Washington anyway they can. They already have proven in Florida, that turning Red states fascist is easy. The hard part is getting the Blue states to fall in line.

Expand full comment

Violence emanates from fear, anger, delusional thinking, irrational logic, power-seeking, or the ability to deny or rationalize and often from some combination of these. Unexamined beliefs are a central feature. Have we examined our own thinking in all instances?

Those of us who have been around for a while all probably remember a book entitled, “The Lonely Crowd”. We should also recall various mentions in a variety of literature and media of alienation, and polarization. Life goes on and people complain bitterly. But there are profoundly important questions about the direction we have been headed as a nation.

The list of reasons cited for the multitude of problems we face as a people ranges from the extremely simple to the confusingly complex. Some are persuaded that we turned away from God when public prayers in schools were deemed unconstitutional, and some believe that dozens of social, economic, political, and demographic changes have all interacted in myriad ways to disrupt progress and civility. Separating cause from effect is to a large extent an exercise in self-indulgence or futility.

Yet, we do have indices that suggest some logical explanations. These indicate incipient violence or violence of a more personal nature. Monday (May 8th, 2023) an 18 year-old male shot a hall monitor at a school not far from my Las Vegas residence. A female student recently pepper sprayed her male teacher who had taken her phone, while a male student brutally attacked his female teacher for the same reason elsewhere. This week I also read about students at a school flushing rolls of toilet paper down toilets, causing plumbing problems, supply issues, and the threat of forcing students to be denied toilet tissue or to possibly have to ask for their allotted amount from the school office prior to need. A 14 year-old boy stole a school bus and drove it recklessly on the freeway, causing an accident. The stories never abate.

A New York Times article of September 2021 reports a rash of 94,200 TikTok videos posted by students who have boasted of acts of theft and vandalism directed against their schools. The 2021 National Center for Education Statistics “Report on Indicators of School Crime & Safety” details 1.4 million incidents reported to “sworn law enforcement” everything from bullying and violent assaults on students and teachers to thefts, fights, damage, and fatalities.

Teachers blame poor parenting for many if not most of these outrages. Others insist that school discipline is non-existent or too permissive. Many will point to the culture, video games, godlessness, etc., etc. The one thing that can no longer be denied however, is as noted decades ago, that “Many researchers focus on the school as the primary factor in vandalizing behavior…” (emphasis mine - from the US Department of Justice report, “School Vandalism – Cause & Cure”, 1981).

That many students feel contempt for their school or for teachers or administrators is undeniable. It is by no means accidental that nearly all incidents involving school vandalism, violence, defiance, deviance, delinquency, truancy, and bullying can be traced to multiple and repeated incidents of hostility, frustration, and humiliation suffered by the perpetrators right there in those miserable school environments.

Alienation, bureaucratic indifference, dehumanization, social disintegration and unrest, hyper-rationalization, and polarization are all associated directly with the failures of schools. So much for the “AAA” rating that the schools give themselves and that some people mistakenly accept, Thom. You were clearly the exception to the rule. The norm has become a schizophrenic love/hate relationship with schools. There is love in many cases only because of strong peer affiliations and a minority of phenomenal teachers who have mitigated the pain for students, despite adverse circumstances and pressures.

If schooling is truly for the purposes of benefitting children and the society, for training and education, for character formation, and for the accrual of knowledge, then there is ZERO reason why it should ever have had even a hint of a hostile or controlling environment. There is ZERO reason there should be a law forcing attendance and setting up conditions where there must be rigidly enforced rules, discipline, arbitrary authority, punishments overt or covert, and coerced restrictions on movement, autonomy, or social interaction.

The volition of the student is an absolute necessity for achieving any of the positive and beneficial objectives desired. To invite resistance and a spirit of servility or inferiority of the child is to sabotage the effort for no good reason on the first day and every day thereafter.

Children should never be conscripted for education as if involuntarily inducted into military service or civic duty. They know when they are free and when they are being given authentic encouragement and opportunity. They know when they are being treated as chattel and exploited for vague, contrived, and abstract nationalistic, moralistic, or capitalistic purposes. They know the difference between real education and programming. They know when they are learning and when they are going through motions and merely satisfying the whims or responding to the imagined rewards of adults and anonymous officials.

Of course, many rebel. Why would those who have already learned to appreciate freedom and autonomy not find ways to express their frustration and anger? Why would many not fantasize about burning the place down or otherwise destroying the whole enterprise? We sang a ditty on the school bus about no more “teacher’s dirty looks” which expressed our fury.

If anyone needs to be educated, it is the adults who are inured to the discomfort and angst of legions of children for whom academics and this type of imposed “discipline” or ostensibly purposed focus are foreign, duplicative, or premature, but who are forced nevertheless to endure twelve years of torturous boredom and insensitivity. How smart is it to shoot ourselves in the foot or to dispose of thousands of young people, so we can pretend we are providing something that most have gotten mostly on their own or elsewhere, or that a substantial majority never get?

Civics classes in an uncivil milieu are irrelevant. When thirty percent of students are treated as if they are disposable, many will find violence, authority, and power compelling and attractive. If we do not put our own house in order, we will continue down the same road.

Expand full comment

This is the Report that makes me wish you were writing about another country, Thom. It is also a shocker that I knew everything in it, as well as knowing it all to be true. AND, it's USA 2023!

It's been 8 years since Trump unearthed the vile truth about what these folks were really thinking and actively doing. He came down the escalator on June 16, 2015, and his first big rally was held on August 21, 2015 in Alabama. The shame of it all!

The media didn't know what to do about him then, and they still don't quite have it figured out like you do Thom. They need to put their big non-gender-specific pants on and say the F-word. CNN let him beat everybody up, including E. Jean, but she's not going to take it. I hope she does sue him again and again. The mainstream talked about whether CNN did the right thing and what to do or not do with Trump in the future. How they were going to handle his lies this go-round seemed to be the big question.

To me it's simple, call him a fascist and their MAGA agenda the same. It IS 2023 in the United States of America. After an eight year education on the subject, just call it what it is---violent fascism. That's exactly what the Republicans continue to embrace.

Expand full comment

All of this is true and very frightening.

There seems to be lots of unspoken fear about this but little conversation .

I think this is truly an attempt toward “ pretend it isn’t happening”.

But it is .

We need to speak of it all the time to acknowledge

The fear in the living room . To form anti violence marches and demonstrations . The truth has to move front and center to deal with it as a dangerous factor .

Weighing it as the malicious traitor that it is .

Expand full comment

yes, we should 'spread the word' but the other side is no longer reachable. We should Thbe arming ourselves, and buying up ammo, because it is going to come to that. period. We must be ready to fight for democracy. The Civil War was not won by non-violence and attempting to reach the others and convince them of the error of their ways. Sometimes, the only language these people understand is to smash them and their movement. I know this will be unpopular post, as we on this side of the aisle are so every careful not to post anything violent or speak up about defense and offense, but we need to face the fact that is might come to that, and we need to be just as ready as they are.

Expand full comment

Its a reasonable question.

I wish I knew the answer.

Expand full comment