Friday, July 22, 2016

6 ways Trump's RNC speech sounded eerily similar to Hitler's 1932 Appeal to the Nation

I realize all the ways in which Hitler comparisons are dangerous, risky, and ill-advised.  That said, I’m going to make one anyway. It’s worth noting that Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at theRNC last night bears striking similarities to Adolf Hitler’s Appeal to the Nation, which he delivered on July 15, 1932.

With thanks to Forrest Caskey for posting this on FB

I am not saying that Trump would be like Hitler should he, goddess forbid, win the election.  Sounding like Hilter might not lead one to murder millions of innocent people, but sounding like Hitler, when Hitler first sounded like Hitler, certainly led to that outcome. So the similarity of Trump’s rhetoric to Hitler’s is worth noting – and, I hope you’ll agree, worth some concern.


Much has already been written about the ways in which the United States is poised precariously on the verge of fascism, thanks in large part to the efforts of such entities as the Koch brothers. In May, Robert Kagan wrote in the Washington Post of Trump’s transcendence of the Republican Party – an institution to which neither he nor the majority of his supporters feel any true allegiance.  Kagan asserts that

Republican politicians marvel at how [Trump] has “tapped into” a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.” Conservatives have been warning for decades about government suffocating liberty. But here is the other threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained, might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their freedoms.

Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Führer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how.

Yes, Donald Trump is a fascist.The internet proverb known as Godwin’s Law warns of the increasing likelihood of a Nazi or Hitler reference the longer a conversation goes. That law would seem to apply to Donald Trump in a different way: The longer he runs in (and atop) the Republican presidential primary, the probability of him sounding like a Nazi increases.

In the case of Trump's speech last night, Smith’s assertion from eight months ago was manifest. And if we’re going to vilify Melania for cribbing from Michelle Obama – who Melania has admitted to admiring -- then we should also turn a critical eye towards who’s influencing the Donald, who he admires, who he’s cribbing. 

This is the best.  But not as best as man bun Trump

I’m sure Hitler’s family thought he was a nice guy, too.

1. On numbers:

Trump: July 21, 2016

Who would have believed that when we started this journey on June 16, last year, we — I say we because we are a team — would have received almost 14 million votes, the most in the history of the Republican party?

Hitler: July 15, 1932

Thirteen million people of all professions and ranks—thirteen million workers, peasants, and intellectuals; thirteen million Catholics and Protestants; members of all German Länder and tribes—have formed an inseparable alliance. And thirteen million have recognized that the future of all lies only in the joint struggle and the joint successes of all. Millions of peasants have now realized that the important thing is not that they comprehend the necessity of their own existence; rather, it is necessary to enlighten the other professions and walks of life as to the German peasant, and to win them for his cause.

2. On nationalism:


Tonight, I will share with you for action for America. The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America first. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo. As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America first, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect. The respect that we deserve. The American people will come first once again.


And millions of workers have similarly realized today that, in spite of all the theories, their future lies not in some “Internationale” but in the realization on the part of their other Volksgenossen that, without German peasants and German workers, there simply is no German power.

3. On class:


Big business, elite media and major donors are lining up behind the campaign of my opponent because they know she will keep our rigged system in place. They are throwing money at her because they have total control over every single thing she does. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings. That is why Hillary Clinton's message is that things will never change. Never ever.


Thirteen years ago we National Socialists were mocked and derided—today our opponents’ laughter has turned to tears! A faithful community of people has arisen which will gradually overcome the prejudices of class madness and the arrogance of rank. A faithful community of people which is resolved to take up the fight for the preservation of our race, not because it is made up of Bavarians or Prussians or men from Württemberg or Saxony; not because they are Catholics or Protestants, workers or civil servants, bourgeois or salaried workers, etc., but because all of them are Germans.

4. On unity:


I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country, and they are forgotten, but they will not be forgotten long. These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.


For we are not fighting merely for the mandates or the ministerial posts, but rather for the German individual, whom we wish to and shall join together once more to inseparably share a single common destiny.

5. On fighting for you:


I am your voice. So to every parent who dreams for their child, and every child who dreams for their future, I say these words to you tonight: I'm with you, and I will fight for you, and I will win for you.


The Almighty, Who has allowed us in the past to rise from seven men to thirteen million in thirteen years, will further allow these thirteen million to once become a German Volk. It is in this Volk that we believe, for this Volk we fight; and if necessary, it is to this Volk that we are willing, as the thousands of comrades before us, to commit ourselves body and soul.

6. On promises and the call for support:


I am asking for your support tonight so that I can be year champion in the White House.

To all Americans tonight, in all our cities and towns, I make this promise:
We will make America strong again.
We will make America proud again.
We will make America safe again.
And we will make America great again!
God bless you and goodnight! I love you!


If the nation does its duty, then the day will come which restores to us: one
Reich in honor and freedom—work and 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Black Lives Matter and the Arrogance of White, Male, Heterosexual Politicians

Dear bickering idiots that we’ve for reasons unknown elected to represent us:

In particular, you can STFU, Paul Ryan.  I am about sick of you

Not that you seem to give even the remotest of remote shits, but there is a war going on.  Or maybe there are several wars.  Or maybe many. 

All of these wars are led by people who look like most of you: straight white men.  You are the ones who are overwhelmingly behind nearly every mass shooting that has taken place in our country.  You are the ones who kill women.  And you are the ones passing legislation again and again to keep women from being able to terminate a pregnancy – a right granted by our Supreme Court -- because you are so scared of women as to be ridiculous. 

Awww.  Were you feeling disenfranchised?  Because shut up already.  You talk too much.  You should smile more (except for Jared Laughner, who looks like a cross between a deranged clown and Varys from Game of Thrones)

You are the ones killing black people for being black. You are the ones passing voter restrictions to keep black people (and any person of color) from being able to vote because, let’s face it, like your unfounded fear of women, you are super afraid of darker skinned people. 

And all of this insane nonsense is leading to a completely intolerable and wholly indefensible loss of life.  And it's not a loss of life for white men.  It's a loss of life for the rest of us, and it's happening while you are out there schmoozing, enjoying your popularity and privilege, like a high school football star who will become obsolete as soon as you graduate.  And you all will.  For the rest of us, it's a loss of dignity, a loss of the right to even fucking live.  A loss of safety, of security in a country that you are supposed to KEEP SAFE FOR US.

And it's a space in which white men lose, over and over again, their humanity by the actions that they perpetrate on the rest of us.  Why am I targeting you, bra?  Because your white male hegemonic noise is perceived as a fragile thing.  By you and your fellow bras. 

Why am I targeting the rest of us? Because the rest of us are just sitting here upholding it, and we need to stop that shit RIGHT THE F NOW.

And our elected leaders are protecting it. Because they are it.

They are protecting a class of people who are at the LEAST amount of risk in our society while they turn their backs on WE THEIR PEOPLE with whose care they are charged, whose care they accepted, whose care they campaigned upon, whose care they promised to represent.  DO YOUR JOB already; we are sick of your complete and utter unwillingness to DO YOUR JOB.  

The rest of us would get fired. And I sincerely hope that we fire you because we should. Enough with your complete incompetence already.  You are failing us.  And I hope that we wake up to that fact very soon.

Our government passed a ban on assault rifles back in 1994. It expired a decade later, and you’ve done nothing reinstating it because your redneck brothers in arms, the NRA, have you in their pockets, you useless and immoral scum. You who have taken your jobs in order to serve your constituents.  You. You have blood all over you, not just on your hands.  But you. You don’t care: you have money. You get to be on TV!  You are an asshole! 

You have influence and power, and you are conscripted by your stupid paranoia.  Let that shit go, and, once again, DO YOUR JOB.  It’s the job you were hired – by us, THE PEOPLE -- to do.

Right on, ya'll.
But you won’t.  So here’s this:

The rest of us.  I mean those of us who aren’t white, heterosexual men – and also the white heterosexual men who aren’t afraid to call their brethren out for their racism, sexism, and homophobia (and I’ve seen precious few.  And I know lots of “progressive men”) because we want your allegiance even though you’re scared that giving it to us will make you a pussy and a faggot  -- vote these assholes out of office.  Do it now.  The rest of us have got your back.  I’ve got your back.  For reals, ya’ll.

Do the people we’ve elected to serve us look like us?  Most of them don’t.  Do they have a clue about us?  Of course not.  And my sense is that if our elected officials don’t start ACTUALLY serving the people that they represent, then we’re back to “by any means necessary,” which looks a lot like yesterday in Dallas.  And none of us, NONE OF US, want that, guys

A white, straight woman who believes that Black Lives Matter.  Who also believes that there is a concerted war on women (who continue to make up over 50% of the population.  Listen, ya’ll, WTF?  WE ARE ACTUALLY THE MF MAJORITY).  Who also believes that LGBTQ people are persecuted.  Damn, I live in the state that brought us HB2. 

So, seriously, ya’ll, do something.  Stop expressing sadness on FB and do something.  Write something.  Vote something.  Stop something in its tracks.  It’s about time. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

HB2, Art Pope, the Koch Foundation, and Privatizing the UNC System

I just finished teaching South African novelist J. M. Coetzee’s 1980 allegory Waiting for the Barbarians.  The novel, among other things is about the way that Empire manufactures fictional enemies, creates them out of innocent people, and then justifies invading their homelands.  Here’s the novel’s protagonist the Magistrate, who realizes that there is no threat:

“Of this unrest I myself saw nothing.  In private I observed that once in every generation, without fail, there is an episode of hysteria about the barbarians.  There is no woman living along the frontier who has not dreamed of a dark barbarian hand coming from beneath the bed to grip her ankle, no man who has not frightened himself with visions of the barbarians carousing in his home, breaking the plates, setting fire to the curtains, raping his daughters.  These dreams are the consequences of too much ease.  Show me a barbarian army and I will believe” (8).

Let’s shift the focus.  Because Coetzee’s novel is an allegory, it could be set in the apartheid South African moment during which he wrote it.  Or it could be set during the Nazis' holocaust.  Or the massacre of the Native Americans when we, whoever we are, colonized them and justified killing them because of their barbarism.  Or it could just as easily be about the EU’s response to the refugee crisis, its fear that letting Syrians into this or that country will result in Isis indoctrination that endangers its populace. 

Or it could be about the fictional threat posed by random transgender people invading bathrooms to molest women and children in North Carolina who are currently being "protected" by House Bill 2.  Here’s a bit from Jane Clark Scharl’s National Review article, which, by the way, is based on nothing whatsoever: “But here’s the really maddening thing: At the same time that Leftists on college campuses are forcing professors to water down their lessons lest the truth be a ‘trauma trigger,’ they’re blasting a law that exists to protect people from actual trauma triggers. Not fake trauma triggers, like the question ‘Where are you from?’ Real ones, like male genitalia in a girl’s locker room. The purpose of HB2 is to ensure that people, especially women and children [emphasis added by moi] but men as well, can use public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing areas without being exposed to people of the opposite biological sex. It’s pretty common sense.”

Except that it’s not

Bathroom bill or no, this stupid and completely unenforceable law also sets a dangerous precedent for legalized discrimination in NC: “North Carolina’s new law sets a statewide definition of classes of people who are protected against discrimination: race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as designated on a person’s birth certificate. Sexual orientation – people who are gay – was never explicitly protected under state law and is not now, despite recent court decisions that legalized same-sex marriage. Does HB2 affect rights of people who aren’t gay or transgender? Yes. The law limits how people pursue claims of discrimination because of race, religion, color, national origin, biological sex or handicap in state courts. The law also means a city or county cannot set a minimum wage standard for private employers."

And the information above is why this matters. But let's back up for a moment, just so we're all on the same page: The Koch Foundation and its henchman Art Pope are behind this nonsense, as they have been behind everything else bad that has happened in our state since 2010.  Here you go: “Getting dramatic economic change at the federal level is very difficult,” said Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity. “A few years ago, the idea we had was to create model states. North Carolina was a great opportunity to do that – more so than any other state in the region. If you could turn around a state like that, you could get real reform.”

And: "The GOP’s success in North Carolina wasn’t merely a mirror of the Tea Party wave that benefited Republicans across the nation in 2010; it was part of a strategy crafted on the national level and carried out with the cooperation of prominent conservative interest groups and donors, including the Koch brothers. Chief among these are the Republican State Leadership Committee, which planned and largely bankrolled a nationwide strategy to control redistricting; Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed group that made North Carolina a ‘model state’ for its political efforts; and the network of conservative North Carolina-focused super PACs and advocacy groups funded almost entirely by longtime political operative and Koch ally Art Pope. Using his personal, family, and business money, Pope created and sustains groups including the Civitas Institute, the John Locke Foundation, and Real Jobs NC, which collaborate on electoral strategy and public policy to advance conservative reforms."

Let's not kid ourselves, we are totally screwed.

Let me reiterate: Art Pope is behind this stupid bill. Brian Lewis, manager of government relations at the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), notes that “Art Pope owns the North Carolina Republican Party,” and “Art Pope is someone who believes that if you are a public employee, then you must be a socialist.”  Further, "As is often the case with conservative causes in North Carolina, the money trail behind HB2 leads to Art Pope, the millionaire CEO of a chain of discount stores who played a key role in financing the Republicans' 2010 takeover of the state legislature through a network of super PACs he funded. After helping elect Gov.Pat McCrory in 2013, Pope was appointed McCrory's state budget director and stepped away from funding political campaigns.”

Oh, look: it's Art Pope.  You may remember him from such blogs as this one wherein the Pope Center asked for my email because I opposed Koch money at WCU.

And one more time: Art Pope and the Koch Foundation are behind NC's stupid HB2, and, while you've been watching the real housewives of such and wherever or Moonshiners or whatnot (look, I'm from NC, so I can make fun of us all I want) they've taken over our state.  And if you give even the most remote shit about anything that happens from here on out, about your kids, about their future, about your stupid future, you better pay attention, because these guys are using NC as an experiment; they are treating us all like lab rats to see what we'll show them, what sores will open, what they can learn from us for the next time they lay a perfectly good state to waste.  

The Federal Government is already suing the UNC system over HB2's violation of Title 9 (and Title 7), and suddenly, Tom Apodaca has introduced a bill to cut tuition costs to students at 5 UNC system schools to $500/semester: the HBCUs, the Native American campus, and WCU, his alma mater, which serves the rural western parts of NC.  

Native daughter, Loretta Lynch on the HB2 absurdity

No one's sure what the "end game" is on Apodaca's bill. But here are my guesses: to make Apodaca and the republican legislature look like a friend to the poor, to minorities, in a moment when our legislature has alienated just about everyone it can.  It is, after all, an election year. To be the hero when all the liberal professors take this bill apart because there is absolutely no way to fund education given what this reduction in funding will cost our system. Thank god our legislature has Margaret Spellings to come to its rescue.  To privatize, which has been Art Pope's plan all along. To seek the additional and lost money from the Kochs, money that is already seeping into our system, against the recommendation of the faculty, despite the political cost and the negative implications to the academic freedom of those charged to uphold those values.  That's my guess.  

Spellings.  Maybe just take a stand and say WTF are you idiots doing?  Or maybe not.  Probably not.

But, hey, it's entirely possible that I'm just some stupid conspiracy theorist faculty member (who cares about faculty anyway, particularly when it comes to education?  I mean, we're just the ones trained to educate). That's probably more likely than anything, after all.