Annnnnd here it is: winter. From 50+ yesterday to teens today, with a malicious windchill. The dog was interested in the snow - all that crunchy stuff on the ground to eat! Run-around fun galore! For a minute. Then he was done with it and wanted to come inside. Tonight on the walk he pulled as hard as possible because why are we out here? Why? What is the point of this?
The nice green scene of yesterday, tonight:
Here's a piece about what you can do to fight fascism. It ran in the Dallas paper.
Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.
Here are 20 lessons from across the fearful 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today.
1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you?
No. Unless you count making quarterly tax payments.
2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of "our institutions" unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don't protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.
I think I get a pass on this one.
3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.
True, but it is also impossible to difficult to prevent authoritarianism if you think that courts should do the right thing or the humane thing or the socially-necessary thing instead of the lawful thing.
4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of "terrorism" and "extremism."
I do! That’s why it’s dismaying when the Southern Poverty Law Center is cited as a neutral source for determining who deserves those words. Right?
Be alive to the fatal notions of "exception" and "emergency." Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
True. And “dissent” is now the “highest form” of the patriotic vocabulary again, right? It had a nice eight-year vacation.
5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don't fall for it.
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." - Rahm Emanuel, now Mayor of Chicago (D)
6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying.
Okay, but I’m stuck on the “be kind to our language” line. Is okay to dissent from the abuse the academic Left does to language? If I’m told I’m any number of bad things because I think the phase “Xher anticisnormative intersectionality challenges patriarchal space-conception” is gaseous twaddle, meant to communicate a series of unexamined and unassailable concepts?
Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.
Unless they are inconvenient facts that can be cast as irrelevancies, overshadowed by whatever fierce moral urgency now characterizes the issues. If one says “men cannot have babies, and do not menstruate” on Twitter you will set upon with great fury; what may seem to you to be factual, based on biology, is regarded by some as a misconstructed understanding of a larger issue, gender, which is not subject to the same set of empirical rules.
Many people who share your view will not defend you, because they do not want to be characterized as -phobes - another piece of linguistic violence, by the way; it turns a difference of opinion into a mental illness.
If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so.
Question: was the deconstruction of Western modes of thinking a project of leftist intellectuals, or conservative ones? Who thought that "truth" was a figleaf for entrenched, reactionary authority?
Would you like to make the argument that Derida et al were classical liberals?
9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.
Again, I recuse myself for having a dog in the fight.
10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.
Great! Just let me grab my tiki torch. (Kidding. Would not march with these new friends.)
Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.
“If we enter a culture of denunciation.”
Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
I’m sorry, but the swastikas? The number of swastikas put up in public spaces by loser Khaki Klan idiots is probably outnumbered 5 - 1 by the fake swastikas drawn by people who want to stage a fake hate crime to raise awareness.
Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.
Why do I get the feeling that he isn’t saying everyone in New York City, Chicago, and the entirely of California should vote Republican?
14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.
Done and done.
Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.
True, but modern internet lynch mobs are volunteer efforts.
He seems to be ignoring the possibility of cultural authoritarianism, in other words.
Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.
This assumes your friends abroad are the proper-thinking people, no? What if they’re concerned about immigration? I’d wage that makes them part of the general trend of difficulties, but the author would seem to be more concerned about the rise of nationalism, or at least the desire to preserve a nation’s liberal, secular culture against illiberal influences.
Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
Yes, that's a concern.
BPD also faced criticism because it made no arrests and looked, to many, to be doing little to stop extensive vandalism to more than a dozen local businesses. BPD has said its mission Wednesday night, due to its limited resources, was to focus on protection of life rather than protection of property. In the city, the costs of property damage and clean-up efforts have not been tallied.
And it was a problem in Charleston.
Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)
That’s about the most condescending thing in the piece.
20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.
Oh, I think he’s patriotic, but the term can be defined in so many ways that calling someone not patriotic reveals the values of the critic, not the target. Is the subject patriotic about America as it was, or is, or some imagined perfected version, or how it reflects the ideals on which it was founded? Does the subject defend a nuanced history of the country, or a comic-book account of its deeds? Does the subject love America because it proved its worth by electing him? Would everything Trump has done be acceptable to the author if it was grounded in a form of patriotism the author shared?
It is not a matter of one man, and it is not a matter of Party. It's the tension inherent in the struggle between the State and the individual, and how we got to the point where the State is no longer the advocate for Liberty, but a force in opposition, because it has shifted the terms to mean that liberty and egalitarianism are the same thing,
You know me well enough by now, I hope: I think Trump is intellectually, emotionally, and temperamentally unfit for the job. He tweets stupid stuff about the need to bring back the Fairness doctrine and open up the libel laws and reconsider licenses - but they’re forgotten in an instant, because he has no attention span and no aptitude for the boring process of legislation. His hatred of the press is pure arriviste resentment; if the NYT and the WaPo ever realized they could get some of what they wanted by flattering him 24/7 they would find a strange new power in their hands.
Sometimes I think if Spy magazine had been nicer to him in the 80s he would have run for office as a New York Democrat; he’d be an Emeritus Mayor now giving convention speeches, poring over the text to make sure it had enough applause lines.
If he’d said the right things about using the power of the state for the right reasons, there’d be no talk about fascism, and I think the author of the piece - a Yale professor - would have rolled his eyes at this guy, but clapped anyway.
Wrong reasons: you’re Hitler. Right reasons: you’re “colorful.”
More enormous plastic lanterns, and a Christmas tree made of coffee cans. Why not.
You see what I mean when I say that every possible angle is crammed and unique; shift your view a few degrees and you see an entirely different tableau.
A wall of huge laminated Christmas cliches, with mounted deer. And this is about a third of the deer available for purchase.
We're currently enjoying . . .
When last we saw the Green Hornet, he was driving an armored car full of ballots to have them examined for fingerprints to prove fraud. Well:
That’s what I like about this one. Sometimes when the hero goes over the cliff in a car, he’s in the car all the way.
Note: the newsboys are actually shouting “Wuxtry.”
Now the underboss is worried about getting a shipment of munitions out of the country. Looks like that’s the last big plot point before we unmask the Big, Unseen Boss. The underboss says he’ll put some pressure on a guy who’s holding up the munitions transfer. “He’s got a warehouse on 3rd, doesn’t he?”
Nifty inadvertent documentary; wonder where it is, really. Say, pal, where's the fire? Why, in the industrial district. You know, downtown.
Turns out it belongs to “John Roberts - isn’t that the young fellow whose brother was killed by the racketeers?” as Moike the Oirishman helpfully says.
Turns out the gangsters were pressuring Young John Roberts to ship out stolen goods. He’d refused, and is happy that Britt Reed, who is in reality etc., has come to his aid.
Alas, Young John Roberts is kidnapped. But the Hornet got the license plate, which enables him to go find the Lair. He discovers that the munitions are on a train, and the criminals are going to uncouple the cars. Hornet and Kato rush off in a thunderstorm, because the idea of alerting the authorities is ridiculous. H e gets on the train; fistfight; etc., and you’re thinking “this is rather standard, and somewhat repetitious, given what’s happened before - hey. Whoa.”
I’m going to give you a minute-thirty here. Note the quick cuts, changes of scene and perspective - it’s almost Michael Bay!
Note the quick cuts, changes of scene and perspective - it’s almost Michael Bay!
This concludes our visit - unless you want to head over to BOB'S HELIUM BAR - sorry the How to be Punk section, which concludes today.