First thing’s first, let’s not fuck about: we were warned.
This was not a surprise. Clear signs of the rise of fascism were debated in public, and dismissed. This discussion won’t get out of hand, they promised. Fascists claiming to champion free speech should be taken at their word, they insisted. The Republic can handle it, they lied.
Those who dismissed the clear warnings that fascist speech necessarily creates fascist violence must recognize, now, that they enabled this. They must commit never to repeat their mistake, they must strive to repair the damage they have done, and they must reflect on what caused them in the first place not to believe that warning.
We should all be utterly sick now of that vapid mantra: ‘I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it’. Because now that right has been defended to the death – the death of a peaceful anti-racist demonstrator in Charlottesville. Speaking freely.
Ignore the bullshit acrobatics of these thugs who don’t personally self-identify as Nazis – a cancer does not diagnose itself
Fascism is not a political opinion, it is a cancer. Like cancer, fascism is not a project that can simply be carried out and completed, it is a toxic reaction that grows and grows until it has killed its host. It has reached such a point in its ascendency that America now has a straightforward and urgent choice: oncology, or genocide.
There’s plenty of nervous debate about whether or not they’re actually Nazis, but to hell with the vacuous hand-wringing of our 21st century Neville Chamberlains in the media – we can (and must) ignore the bullshit acrobatics of these thugs who don’t personally self-identify as Nazis. We have already seen the horrifying result of taking them at their word, and a cancerous cell does not diagnose itself.
Instead, look carefully at how far right leaders have sanitized their image. The don’t call themselves white supremacist but rather ‘white identitarian’, a wholly dishonest pretense that when they chant ‘white lives matter’ they don’t want to oppress anyone and only want the best for their own people.
If they aren’t stopped, the outcome will be genocide
At the National Policy Institute conference in November, Richard Spencer’s panel of freaks insisted that “white supremacy is presumably the desire of whites to rule over other people,” adding: “I don’t think there’s anybody in this room who has that desire”. One of Spencer’s main policy proposals is what he calls “peaceful ethnic cleansing” – no nasty death camps like before, just a polite agreement between races!
We might ask: what if the people they want to deport disagree (which they will) and opt to defend their rights (which they must)? Even if we took the ‘peaceful’ claim at face value we’d forget that prior to concocting the Final Solution, the Nazis also wanted to achieve racial purity via deportation, before deciding that this was technically impossible.
But since counting on the honesty of the postmodern American Nazi is a dangerously stupid idea, pondering whether or not they intend genocide is largely irrelevant. If they aren’t stopped, the outcome will be genocide. Letting them squirm around in semantics will not help America to halt the violence. Yes, they are Nazis.
When they say ‘white lives matter’, their real meaning is ‘Nazi lives matter’
Since the denialist chorus ‘all lives matter’ had its meaning elucidated when white nationalists chanted it this year at several Nazi rallies nationwide, perhaps the Charlottesville invaders figured they may as well cast off one more layer of “classical liberal” pretense when they chanted ‘white lives matter’. Except, of course, any white people who disagree with their views. So when they say ‘white lives matter’, their genuine meaning is ‘Nazi lives matter’.
I am sorry to say that they do not.
To be clear: I am absolutely not saying there is a single human being whose life doesn’t matter. Being black or white is not your choice, it is your life. Being queer or straight is not your choice, it is your life. Any person being born, anywhere, in any form? All of those lives matter. But being a fascist? Someone who fundamentally believes the humanity of other people is open for debate? That is your choice. It is not your life. It will never make you matter.
You could try to claim some right to freedom, of course…except that fascism is necessarily a malignant choice, its existence is necessarily violent, which means it is necessarily everyone else’s business. As a matter of societal survival, logically, a fascist can only have a right to exist when nobody else has that right.
They still have time to embrace their humanity before it’s too late
A cancer does not have equal rights to the body it exists to murder. It has the right to be treated out of existence – nothing more.
And like cancer, fascism doesn’t intend to destroy its own source of life – death is merely the natural conclusion when it goes untreated. If fascism were fully comparable to cancer, the conclusion for its proponents is obviously to, um, just die, really. Fortunately the analogy totally collapses on the crucial difference that cancer cells do not choose to become cancer cells, and can’t choose to later become something different. They’re just shit forever, the end.
A Nazi, though, is only a health problem because they haven’t chosen (yet?) to be something else. Unlike cancer cells a Nazi can choose to become worthy, valid, safe, if only they found the courage. Fascism as a process, as phenomenon, needs to fucking die, because genocide is bad. But many of the people taking part in it, the angry white men who have been too afraid to take that hard look at themselves and the world that made them; they still have a little time left to embrace their humanity before it’s too late.
But not much time. The far right is becoming increasingly violent, with cops and the federal government demonstrating clear patterns of tacit endorsement that will only embolden their most dangerous elements. Actual free speech is being criminalized at an alarming rate (note for instance the two hundred J20 demonstrators now facing 75 years in jail on trumped-up felony charges). Trump is spoiling to start a war, any war. The GOP is plotting widespread voter suppression, and their base is already so hooked on the insane fantasy of mass voter fraud that they’re willing to see Trump postpone elections.
What should we say when the cancer gets the treatment it deserves?
The conditions for brutal authoritarianism – of which America is already frighteningly capable – are such that we’re now hurtling toward a historical moment that will either be the turning point, or the point of no return.
But here’s the thing about that: people see it coming, and there is not a hope in Hell that those being threatened with “peaceful” ethnic cleansing will simply lie down and let it happen. That is not how ethnic cleansing has ever worked. The oppressed fight back – necessity forces them to.
So when some goofball Nazi has refused to turn back before it was too late, when he’s chosen to be on That Side Of History – what happens when the thug forces an oppressed person to defend their right to exist? What should we say of the cancer, after it gets the treatment it deserves? Well. Like the President, I’m sure we will all express our sadness and disappointment at the hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.