Thursday, April 27, 2017

Itching for an excuse to be violent

There are two articles of interest from the May 1 edition of The Washington Spectator.

The first is Guns, Extremism, and the Threats of Escalation by Rick Perlstein. He talks about the recent Battle in Berkeley where those for the nasty guy clashed with those against. The demonstrations started peacefully, then turned violent. Some try to claim it was hard to tell who threw the first punch. Others say it was clearly someone in the Alt-Right movement.

Perlstein’s larger point is there are those in the Alt-Right (euphemism for militantly conservative) movement itching for an excuse to be violent, to take out those who oppose them their Dear Leader. As part of their excuse is the belief they are merely fighting back in self defense – though more accurately in defense of their rank in society. Along the way Perlstein wrote:
Students of fascism will recognize the fantastical confusion of tropes: the enemy as a terrifying horde, raising the stakes ruthlessly beyond all civil bounds; but also the enemy as pitiful (“glass jawed”) weaklings—sometimes both within the same utterance. Such language is how students of fascism know that they are in its presence.

The second article is Letter from Mexico by Belén Fernández (not online yet). She explains why the immigration policy is the way it is (at least prior to the nasty guy) and has been that way since the last reform 30 years ago. Her summary is short:
The point of a punitive immigration policy has never been to put a stop to undocumented immigration in the first place, but rather to perpetuate its lucrative exploitability.
It worked like this:

* NAFTA eliminated the livelihoods of millions of Mexican farmers when subsidized American farm products flooded the Mexican market. The workers fled north.

* Because they are seen as inferior humans they are paid less. They produce wealth for the employers but keep less of it for themselves. That wage difference is a subsidy for the employers.

* These employers take no responsibility, pay none of the social costs, for the communities the workers came from or live in.

* Branding the workers as “illegal” means they are always deportable. That keeps the workers from demanding too many rights or a decent wage. Americans in the area are also kept in submission by the presence of folks willing to work for less.

* The migrant worker provides a convenient scapegoat for gov’t misdeed and general societal discontent.

The nasty guy is trying to upend this logic, but doing so only through white supremacy, not business. That implies he probably won’t succeed, but those who aren’t deported are in a more precarious position and thus more exploitable.

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