In the cycle of my reading, I’m back to Sherlock Holmes, specifically Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s collection of short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. In “The Five Orange Pips,” the long arm of the KKK reaches out to claim the lives of one of its former members and his immediate family. Here’s a line that might very well blow the minds of Millennials and younger Americans if they still read old books. Holmes’s client is describing the circumstances of his uncle Elias, who had spent most of his adult life becoming wealthy in Florida:
He had made a very considerable fortune in the States, and his reason for leaving them was his aversion to the negroes, and his dislike of the Republican policy in extending the franchise to them.
Faced which the aforementioned blown mind, the liberal Democrat would conclude that the Republican Party had changed. I’d argue that it’s closer to the truth that people whose primary motivation is the forced conformance of others to their belief system have changed their tactics and (to some small degree) their targets, but not so much their political party, namely the Democrats.
But party affiliation is a complicating side matter to my actual reason for posting. The Internet has exploded with activists across the country trying to destroy a family-owned Indiana pizza shop for having the poor sense to tell a local TV news reporter that, although they’re happy to serve homosexuals in their shop, they would have to decline an offer to cater a same-sex wedding ceremony.
At least a couple of people in my Twitter feed are having difficulty with my suggestion that we’re literally seeing the rise of fascism in America with this (and other) incidents. But it’s absolutely clear. Start with this encyclopedia description, and then consider the following points, which I’ve made politically neutral:
- An ideological president is implementing policy in unconstitutional ways — for example, doing by executive order things that ought to require legislation. His rhetoric has been stunningly exclusionary and dismissive, including a suggestion, after a drubbing in the midterm election, that he intends to act on behalf of the masses who did not vote, for whom he presumes to speak. He’s also taken a surprisingly active role in stoking racial and culture-war flames by offering comment on select hyper-local issues.
- The national media, both news and entertainment, can no longer even be argued to be politically neutral, but rather aligns almost entirely with the president’s party and, more important, his ideology. It has spent years, now, whipsawing from one of these local controversies to the other while at the same time downplaying real controversies surrounding the behavior of the president and his political allies.
- Although their nature varies by controversy, mob-like activists are rioting, disrupting people’s daily lives by various means, and using the Internet to harass and attempt to destroy anybody who comes into the spotlight of that week’s narrative to make examples of them, whether an individual, a business, a politician, or whomever.
There are many, many details that could be added, but the point is this: Fascism is not a series of specific political beliefs; it’s a method and philosophy of organization and action.
Even if you disagree with the above list as I’d put names to it, wouldn’t you agree that somebody who takes that view is correctly describing fascism?
UPDATE (4/1/15 8:35 p.m.):
Earlier, today, I made a few mild attempts to contact the reporter who “broke” the story about the pizza parlor but received no response. Scott Ott got the details, though, and it’s even worse than I thought it might be. I’d thought maybe the reporter had sent out a general call for feedback and the restaurant owners had responded, but the supposedly damning video that has fascist zealots intent on ruining the business of a family of whom they’d never heard and whom they’d have never patronized anyway came when the reporter walked into the business and asked a regular small-town resident for an extemporaneous comment. The station then played the story up for every ounce of ad revenue it could get.
So what do folks think? Is that responsible journalism?