Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making sure democracy doesn't work

The GOP and various other groups on the Right have been tossing around the word "fascism" so much and so loudly that your average man on the street has no idea what it really means other than it has some vague connection to the Nazis, it's really bad, and we had better make sure it doesn't come to America.

Another word may soon get the same treatment. The word is sedition and was used in the indictments against the Hutaree, a group based here in Michigan and arrested because they were conspiring to murder a cop and then blow up the funeral in an attempt to provoke the populace to rise up against the government. So let's go straight to the dictionary:

Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction -- Brittanica Concise Dictionary

Last August I wrote about fascism based on the writings of Sara Robinson. Though the Tea Party people have gotten noisier, Sara hasn't written much lately on the issue (due to, I think, health problems). While I was away she wrote an essay about this latest step the Right has taken. Some of her thoughts:

For 40 years conservatives have been delegitimizing the idea of democracy. It has been the core of their politics. In power they mismanage and defund. Out of power they refuse to participate, thwarting the democratic process. To win elections they use violent, polarizing language, calling their opponents the embodiment of evil. This is a gradual and corrosive undermining of democracy's institutions.

The natural question is why would they want to do that? Don't conservatives want to conserve what they have? Well, they do. I note this war on democracy started about the time of the great Civil Rights bills of the mid 1960s. Up through the 1950s, straight white men were in power and minorities -- especially blacks -- and women knew their place. Giving more rights to blacks meant that blacks had more access to power. Some cities (like Detroit) soon had black mayors. Put it bluntly, white men were trying to conserve their hold on power and began to see they could no longer reliably do it through democracy. I wrote more about this last August.

So appealing to the Right by saying, "Why can't we be more civil?" won't work. That polite request is meaningless when the mob is surrounding your house with torches in hand.

It is one thing to talk about government overthrow. That's protected by the First Amendment. It's quite another to begin to act on that talk, actively planning and implementing overthrow. The Right has been dancing along that line for some time now, openly advocating sedition. They're doing it through eliminationist rants: the opposition is evil scum and must be violently exterminated for the virtue of the country.

It's one thing to have a black mayor of Detroit. Most of the whites have fled anyway so those who remain deserve whatever local (mis)government they get. It's quite another to have a black president. We (the pale males) can't have that.

I wonder if the erosion of gun laws and the insistence of the primacy of the personal right to carry a gun is part of the intentional effort to say democracy doesn't work. I say that because guns are now showing up at rallies. Their presence caused a stir last August, but not much is said anymore. But those guns are important to the process. The gun-toters may carry their weapons out of fear (and they are very afraid), but they also intimidate and show the owner means business -- the time for talking is almost over and democracy is futile. In addition it appears they are into target acquisition. Some of the more religious have called it mapping the demonic activity of every neighborhood, so they can pray over it. Those houses of demons include government offices, places of worship that aren't conservative, homes of Muslims and pagans, homes of cars with Obama stickers, etc. and they don't intend to stop with prayer. They're saying we know what needs to be cleansed if you don't hand over the keys to the halls of power peacefully.

A primary step in counteracting sedition is to be able to identify it. It's now happening around us. An example: Conservative Oklahoma lawmakers have called for creating an anti-government militia with Tea Party help. Their complaint is the federal government is infringing on state's rights (didn't that issue get settled in 1865?).

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