Look for the Flag and the Cross

We’ve always had a problem, but now it’s weaponized

“Faded American flags” by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

I’m editing this piece on June 20th, 2018 to reflect the fact the Mike Godwin who wrote Godwin’s law has spoken. I’ll post his tweet below. He actually wrote his tweet in August but I just found it. Quickly, a reminder of Godwin’s law is basically that the longer an online conversation goes on, the more likely it is to “devolve” into a discussion of Hitler with the connotation being you shouldn’t bring up Hitler. I’m going to break that law. Godwin says that’s okay now.

The United States swims in racism. From the daily headlines that say things like “Prosecutors systematically discriminated against black jurors in death penalty cases” to older, less visible headlines like “Our technology industry is spending time at white nationalist conventions.”

From earlier the day I wrote this

It is nothing new. It is a tale as old as time. Since America’s original sin is racism, everything from Ronald Reagan’s mythological black welfare queen to Nixon’s Southern strategy to Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears and Abraham Lincoln’s “If I could save the Union without freeing a single slave…”

We are a racist mess. The people who try to argue otherwise are still dealing with their own racism.

We developed Jim Crow segregation. We honored Americans like Henry Ford who published racist newspapers like The Dearborn Independent or Walt Disney who wrote racist cartoons. Then, we paint over these figures to make them cultural heroes.

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By The Dearborn Independent — Uploaded to en.wikipedia by Humus sapiens (description page is/was here). Transferred to Commons by John Vandenberg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2551942

Ideas the Germans used in classifying Jews came from paying attention to how Americans had treated slaves into categories like mulatto and octoroon. Adolf Hitler subscribed to Henry Ford’s newspaper. He deeply admired American racism. He thought we had great skill with genocide given how we’d rounded up Native Americans and put them on “reservations.”

Around about the same time, Sinclair Lewis didn’t actually say, “ When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” Americans were truly fighting fascism by killing Nazis. That’s true. But they were inspirational in many aspects of it.

Does this mean fascism or authoritarianism or Nazis needed the example of Americans to be racists? Of course, not. Authoritarians of any nation can be identified by their attraction to in-group/out-group divisions. They will exploit whichever differences are there for people to hate.

The familiar list of fourteen warning signs of impending fascism included Britt’s observations based on studying seven cultures who had dictators.

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Britt’s Early Warning Signs of Fascism (Photo by Jordan Bray)

If you’ve been paying attention to American history, you know we have been gathering items from this list more and more over time. We’ve been scapegoating minorities for centuries. The same is true for immigrants. We’ve been showing our disdain for human rights in everything from mass incarceration to splitting apart families with unnecessary deportations.

Our nationalism has been so problematic 15 years ago, 90% of Americans falsely believed Iraq attacked us. Also, being obsessed with national security is our post-911 lives, but naming our protection agency, the Department of Homeland Security was far too creepy for anyone familiar with German history to take. Hitler referred to Germany as the “homeland” all the time. It was a relief when nobody started talking about needing more “living space,” something Hitler liked to pair with his constant homeland speeches.

We can give ourselves a pat on the back for rejecting military parades for the most part. But the standard 35% of the population supports it. That’s the same percentage of the population estimated by research to be authoritarian by nature.

Does this mean we are not militaristic as a country? Because 53% of us oppose a military parade in a national survey? Or does our defense spending relative to other nations mean that we are?

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From Business Insider

Our media has been concentrated into the hands of just a few corporations. One of them, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, is forcing local affiliates to read public service announcements that are really pro-Trump propaganda. That’s great, because all those people who don’t have cable access to Fox News can get their propaganda through local news now. There are now media deserts where only right-wing media can be found in rural areas. The antenna TV only gets stations owned by conservatives and they only get newspapers owned by conservatives. My mother lives in one in Iowa.

The Christian dominionist movement has turned American evangelicals into political beings with a goal of creating a theocracy or what they call “a Christian nation.” The fact that corporations have more rights than women when it comes to healthcare shows this dominionist movement has been exceptionally successful. This puts religion and the elites tightly in power.

We’ve suppressed labor for years in this country. The National Labor Rights Board has become a tool for business to quash unions. Unions foolishly entered into the Citizen’s United devil’s bargain, and all they did as a result is lose. The corporations that gained speech rights used them to take away union speech rights.

Disdain for intellectuals and the arts? Ha. Is there a disdain for intellectualism happening in the United States recently? I hadn’t noticed. Trump eliminating the endowment for the arts was literally a headline yesterday.

Instead of art, he would like to focus on crime and punishment, please. In fact, the most cruel and unusual punishment, like the death penalty. For drug dealers now, too. However, as he hyper-focuses on law and order, he is simultaneously undermining our institutions by spreading conspiracy theories about them.

It is critical to understand that conspiracy theories were a key part of Hitler’s speeches as described in the article below. He used them prolifically. Donald Trump traffics in them as a strategic method as well.

Authoritarians come in two flavors. Those who are ready to follow blindly and those who are ready to lead with an iron fist. Therefore, a cult of personality forms around a dictator.

People are allegedly motivated to turn to authoritarianism by fear. That’s interesting given research on fear and conservatism. Guns and white men. The fact that the growing number of immigrants and people of color seems to be triggering the hell out of white guys is not a coincidence. Obama ends up giving us Trump. Coates points out that Obama gets you the worst white President ever.

But there is really, really, really bad news here.

The Soviet Union, when it was our greatest enemy in the world, made note of our racial conflict. They considered killing Martin Luther King, Jr. to start a race war. According to The Atlantic, the KGB started psychological operations as early as the Cold War. They did things like put racist leaflets in black neighborhoods that were supposed to be written by Jewish people.

When I read that, my jaw dropped. The last thing Jewish and Black people needed was a third party instigating a fight between them.

*Note: With the article above, I have little doubt this Black lawmaker was targeted by bots with this type of material

This kind of weaponized conflict worked well. Even as the Soviet Union fell and became Russia again, the KGB became the FSB, and the government shuffled from communism to kleptocracy, one thing remained the same. The country kept their strategy of weaponized conflict.

Russia + Cambridge Analytica + Trump

Everything in my gut tells me Putin does not think small. He kills his enemies with a snarl we’ve all seen.

I estimate Putin determined white people of Russia, Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world should unite as one sometime in 2010. According to the book, Russian Roulette, by David Corn and Michael Isikoff, a Russian general named Valery Gerasimov, made note of how the Arab Spring had made a revolution with social media. He then noted that Western democracies could be brought to their knees by sending a cyber-army to chip away at the natural divisions in our societies along race, class, religion, and citizenship status. He was so proud of his military strategy, he published it in a Russian military journal.

The plan is shrewd. Bots and trained agents create a “bandwagon effect” or in other words, they make Americans think that a certain opinion is popular online. When they believe it is popular, they are more likely to join in. From issues like “take a knee” to opposing the removal of Confederate statues, the Russian army has been supporting the racist opinions online and it has worked powerfully to draw white Americans to these opinions.

They also use another tactic that is new named “redpilling” after some pop culture reference the alt-right likes. I’m not going to explain what’s its origin means. Feel free to look it up. But, at the point in time, the strategy effectively amounts to spoonfeeding a person, most often a white male, very slightly racist or sexist material. Then, you gradually get that person to accept more and more racist or sexist content until the person finds themselves with Nazi views.

It has worked for election issues, too. They even employed sophisticated data modeling to help. Use Cambridge Analytica to throw the elections across the Northern hemisphere for Brexit, American elections, French elections, Polish elections, Italian elections, sky is the limit. Across election after election, the pattern is to grow support for the white supremacist party.

They could pick racism alone, but there are plenty of other things to cause chaos over.

The Russian professor who used the Facebook data to do research for Cambridge Analytica got the information below as well.

What is Cambridge Analytica doing with “the dark triad”? There is little doubt in my mind they have triggered the most abusive parts of our culture. These individuals underpin Trump’s base. They are going to be authoritarian based on their propensity toward the characteristics that underpin the early warning signs of fascism.

This is how Americans ended up with the first large-scale Neo-Nazi parade of torch-carrying white nationalists we have seen since the 1920s KKK rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia . Those guys were afraid to take off their sheets, too. Today’s racists were visible for all to see.

This kind of forthright racism is a nasty sign. It means that norms have broken down. For people of color, racism is everywhere. It may be hard to tell if it worsens. It has become more “polite” to be racist. There is suddenly a “side” for people who have racist ideas, and they get to talk at colleges legitimately.

Steve Bannon was in France puffing up the far-right by telling them, “Let them call you racist! Wear it as a badge of honor!”

It is the same kind of thing people have been saying in the United States. The era of proudly proclaiming your racism is here! The election of blatantly Nazi and white supremacist individuals is happening directly.

The Mercers. Steve Bannon. Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin. Steven Miller. The Republicans. The NRA. An NRA that doesn’t have to report its donors anymore after it was discovered some of them were Russian oligarchs as part of a Russian government operation. The largest stockpile of guns in the hands of white men in history. Weaponized racism. All fourteen signs of fascism. A cult of personality. Elections rigged by Cambridge Analytica.

Look for the flag and the cross!

Update: I’ll just keep adding to this over time I guess

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Tweet regarding anti-fa law
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Tweet in response to a historian who claimed that “we can’t be sure we are dealing with Nazis yet” h/t umair haque for helping me find it
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I found this on Twitter

Okay, seriously, folks, a functioning government would shut down this radio station immediately, but instead, our current government is bolstered by a radio station blasting incitements to violence. The man, who according to the docu-drama, The Looming Tower, was responsible for 9/11 intelligence being withheld from the FBI such that the attacks ended up happening, says it is time to kill people who do not support Trump:

Trump then said the military, the police, and Bikers for Trump were with him in “getting tough” against the Left “when the time is right.”

Nice people made the best Nazis. Or so I have been told. My mother was born in Munich in 1934, and spent her childhood in Nazi Germany surrounded by nice people who refused to make waves. When things got ugly, the people my mother lived alongside chose not to focus on “politics,” instead busying themselves with happier things. They were lovely, kind people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. I thought of my mother’s neighbors right after the election, when apolitical friends of mine breathed a sigh of relief that we could stop talking about politics. I thought of my mother’s neighbors right after the election, when apolitical friends of mine breathed a sigh of relief that we could stop talking about politics. “That’s over!” they said happily. “Let’s focus on other things “That’s over!” they said happily. “Let’s focus on other things.” But then a white nationalist was named chief strategist to the president-elect. Aren’t you alarmed? I asked. “I choose not to discuss politics publicly,” one friend said. And posted a picture of puppies. Another friend messaged me privately. She agreed with me, she assured me. She was just as alarmed as I was! “Count me among the silent resistance,” she said. The silent resistance? What did that even mean, to resist silently?” Naomi Shulman from No Time To Be Nice: Now Is Not the Time To Remain Silent

Chances are I have a migraine. My spirit guides are Voltaire & Bierce. Considering making SJW into a religion. Genealogist

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