"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.

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"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.

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Trump was found guilty of sexual assault instead of rape,because the state of NY's laws stipulate that unless there is penetration of the vagina by the penis it isn't rape, but insertion of an finger or other object is sexual assault. There was no evidence that he penetrated with his mushroom tiny penis, but there was evidence that he could have used his finger, hence sexual assault.

Problem is two fold the laws of the state of NY, and lack of a rape kit.

You and I and at least half of America knows that he is a rapist, but rape is hard to prove unless their are witnesses and/or a rape kit.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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They don't call their party the Fascist Party, or themselves fascists, because along the way they've internalized the idea that "fascist" = "bad." The U.S. (which they like to think of as "we") defeated the fascists in WWII, therefore fascists are bad, therefore they themselves aren't fascists.

Trouble is, they have no idea what the fascism and Nazism "we" defeated in WWII actually was. Unfortunately, we in the left-of-center have often lost sight of that too. Fifty years ago (not kidding -- 1973) a professor of mine asked his Modern European History class "What is a fascist -- other than someone you don't like?" And most of us, myself included, laughed a little nervously, because we did tend to use the word "fascist' a little too (excuse the word) liberally.

That overuse sure didn't stop in 1973, not in my experience, but at the same time I think it led to a wariness among many of us about using the word in public discourse. For sure it took me a long time to realize that "fascist" really did apply to the contemporary GOP, it wasn't just lefty hyperbole. So I understand Professor Paxton's reluctance to call Trump a fascist in 2018. I also wonder if it was partly due to being around college students who were using the word "fascist" as carelessly as we did 50 years ago. But I'm very glad he's come around.

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Like your phrase "government vandals." For instance, I think there is a turning point/"critical mass" crisis with the debt ceiling right now. How confident are the vandals that enough ignorant and either apathetic or manipulatable Americans will blame the catastrophe on Biden: home run for Hitler's revenant. Or, the great question is, have in fact Donald Trump and Dodd and the Mifepristone case waked-up enough folks that they will perceive and attribute the vandalism appropriately? I think it is a close call that, for one, McCarthy isn't up to.

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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.

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Whew! What a treatise! So, what is society to do? Close down all schools? Abolish civics education? Is there any guarantee that youngsters in this idyllic neutral, school-less, world won’t be bored, become violent, rebel or worse? I can’t wait to read about your vision and plans for our disaffected youth.

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This from Mr. Elliott's 2d reply to you: "Public schooling is not public education and compulsory schooling is not education and making schooling voluntary in no way undermines public schooling or education." I'm sorry, but: whatever that means.....

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My first reaction was, was there ever a kid who wasn't either 1) dragged kicking and screaming to school or 2) under the legitimate parenting authority such that objection was inconceivable? (Maybe more boy, kicking and screaming and girl (me) not daring a quibble.) I mean, even where there's no outside institution, don't parents feel a compulsion to teach? ("You can go back to playing with the pollywogs in the ditch later; right now you are learning how to harness the mule....") And then as "civilization" creeps up, the aspiration of parents about what education is needed for "success" evolves. I think I am with you, questioning exactly what Mr. Elliott has in mind to replace the "twelve years of torturous boredom and insensitivity."

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It occurred to me after dinner that you might not have intended to be critical or that your request for my "vision" was not a challenge or a snide insult but that you may have had a sincere desire to hear more. Initially, I took it to be the typical sort of response I usually receive. If I was wrong I regret that I was short in my reply. You did appear to assume that I am from the De-schooling school which I am not, although I share their disdain for traditional practices. My vision parallels that of thousands of others including that of many educators. My point is that those optimistic and idealistic visons can never even begin to be achieved under the compulsory paradigm. The attendance laws send strong signals and erect impenetrable barriers to policies and practices which would make schools less hostile and engender less violence, either psychological or physical. Children are learning machines. Why get in their way with a lot of improvised recycled "knowledge"?

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I truly wanted to hear about your solution. As a retired educator, I’ve seen the best and the worst. But I have never come across a viable solution to the myriad problems that people identify. Even though I admit there are no simple fixes, the question to those who have identified the problems still remains: so, what’s to be done?

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Dear Mr. Annor, (and Mmerose)

I apologize for assuming that you were being facetious. This has become a persistent issue because the most common reaction I receive from all directions when I insist that attendance laws are the real source of most of the problems and must be removed is the question of what my solution is to the myriad issues and problems. I believe that that is the wrong question.

The solutions to virtually every problem encountered in schools have been discovered by various people for generations and even centuries. Most problems come from ordinary situations and aspects of human proclivities and natural needs and limitations, or in many cases from human strengths and capabilities. The educational wheel has been re-invented a million times. The best answers are found, in my opinion in “free schools” and alternative schools and in studying the research in many fields, such as neuroscience, sociology, psychology, and other social science disciplines. The evidence regarding what kids need and what works exists in volumes of consistent literature. It quickly gets buried an is ignored.

My focus, however, is intensively on the reality that all of the most effective and successful methodologies and practices must always be rejected in a compulsory schooling paradigm. Laws inject authority, coercion, control, paternalism, bureaucracy, cynicism, and hypocrisy. That is just the short list. Attendance laws offend and insult children and children instinctively resist control and repression. Those laws were never about education or benefitting children or the broader society. Until we figure out how much harm they do, we will continue to have impossible conundrums in schooling and long-lasting negative consequences for students and democracy. Trying to force education is not only foolish, it is anti-democratic.

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Especially since there is such a "hot war" right now about what our posterity needs to know, or must be protected against knowing by government tyranny!

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Whew! What a treatise! So, what is society to do? Close down all schools? Abolish civics education? Is there any guarantee that youngsters in this idyllic neutral, school-less, world won’t be bored, become violent, rebel or worse? I can’t wait to read about your vision and plans for our disaffected youth.

Dear Mr. Annor,

You must be new here. I have stated many times that I am a staunch supporter of public schooling. Public schooling is not public education and compulsory schooling is not education and making schooling voluntary in no way undermines public schooling or education.

I do not propose any idyllic alternative, panacea, formulae, or Utopian experiment. Schools will continue to exist in the absence of oppressive laws and authoritarian systems. I do not subscribe to the “Lord of the Flies” cynical nightmare view of children or youth. I do not believe that children would be out “running in the streets”, creating havoc, or wasting their lives playing video games if they were not forced to attend prison – oops, I meant to say school. I believe in children, in parents, and in community and social organizations.

What “society” might choose to do is stop pretending that these sclerotic institutions are providing education and that children are being adequately served. What you might choose to do is do a little research such as I cited in my “treatise” and then ask yourself why the facts are so depressing and demoralizing and why kids more often than not feel bored, oppressed, and disrespected in their windowless, soulless schools.

The “take” was about the violence that is favored by Republicans and has become their brand. Violence does not arise through spontaneous combustion. It has it’s origin in human experience and social conditions. Most people and most Republicans have developed their predilections, attitudes, beliefs, prejudices, and fears in a childhood spent partly in schools where arbitrary authority rules and rules are more important than their personal welfare or their education. You probably don’t believe that. I do not consider it my duty to persuade you. I am a zealot, not your teacher.

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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.

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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 .

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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.

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I can't "like" it, but I submit a slight re-framing: we non-fascist Americans are supposed to have a "National Guard" to stand up for us. The scary question is, how corrupted/infiltrated are they, and/or cops, Army, the FBI that cooperated with suppressing the investigation of Kavanaugh, the Secret Service that carried out probably the most massive destruction of evidence in history: their Jan. 6 texts. But if all these agencies are co-opted, what's the use of whatever you got?

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Its a reasonable question.

I wish I knew the answer.

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