Moving from Uncle Joe silly to dead serious, let's talk about fascism for a few minutes...
Quite a few bloggers have been writing recently about the rise in the level of vitriol and animosity that has accompanied the wingers' success in bringing their Chosen One back for four more years, and in truth it is getting very scary out there. David Neiwert at Orcinus has one of the best posts I've read on the subject (OT, he also has what is probably the most succinct summation of the Florida-style election debacle up there in Washington just below it); and Quiddity at uggabugga also weighs in on the subject with some well-documented examples. Some of the most salient points on the subject are being made today not just by left wingers like Michael Moore or Al Franken, but by people more properly identified with the Libertarian and even conservative movements, like some of the folks at Lew Rockwell's site. Here's Rockwell himself on the rise of what looks increasingly like an all-American version of good old-fashioned fascism (emphasis mine):
"The most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central state, particularly its military wing...
"The vigor and determination of the Bush administration has brought about a profound cultural change, so that the very people who once proclaimed hated of government now advocate its use against dissidents of all sorts, especially against those who would dare call for curbs in the totalitarian bureaucracy of the military, or suggest that Bush is something less than infallible in his foreign-policy decisions...
"Editor & Publisher, for example, posted a small note the other day about a column written by Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, in which he mildly suggested that the troops be brought home from Iraq 'sooner rather than later.' The editor of E&P was just blown away by the letters that poured in, filled with venom and hate and calling for Neuharth to be tried and locked away as a traitor. The letters compared him with pro-Hitler journalists, and suggested that he was objectively pro-terrorist, choosing to support the Muslim jihad over the US military. Other letters called for Neuharth to get the death penalty for daring to take issue with the Christian leaders of this great Christian nation.
"I'm actually not surprised at this. It has been building for some time. If you follow hate-filled sites such as Free Republic, you know that the populist right in this country has been advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now. The militarism and nationalism dwarfs anything I saw at any point during the Cold War. It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth -- not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself."
Also subjecting himself to the slings and arrows of the wingnuts is a man who was formerly revered by them, Paul Craig Roberts. Once the darling of such hate-mongers as Limbaugh and Liddy, Roberts has been persona non grata with the right ever since he called the invasion of Iraq a "strategic blunder." Here are some of his thoughts on the recent swing to totalitarianism:
"In the ranks of the new conservatives... I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.
"The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America. Anyone against the war is against America and is a liberal. 'You are with us or against us.'
"This is the mindset of delusion, and delusion permits of no facts or analysis. ... Americans are right and everyone else is wrong. End of the debate."
This sort of thinking is almost impossible to combat, relying as it does on emotion and blind faith rather than logic and reason. And when you combine that with the worship of authority (as personified by George Bush and Dick Cheney) and the desire to see critics of that authority silenced and even eliminated, what else is one to call it but fascism? Never mind idiots like Coulter and Savage (who are certainly bad enough in their own right), take a look at what some of those letter writers that Rockwell referred to have to say about something as seemingly moderate as suggesting that perhaps going to war with Iraq was not the best idea:
Duggan Flanakin of Austin, TX: "Neuharth should be tried for treason along with a lot of other blowhards who should be spending their energies condemning the barbarism of our enemies, the same people who destroyed the Twin Towers."
Mel Gibbs (no address given): "The Patriot Act will put both of you (Neuharth and [reporter Greg] Mitchell) on trial for treason and convict and execute both of you as traitors for running these stories in a time of war and it should be done on TV for other communist traitors like you two to know we mean business. This is war and you should be put in prison NOW for talking like this. Who the hell do you think you people are? You give aid and comfort to our enemies and aid them in murdering our proud soldiers. You people are a disgrace to America. Your families should be put in prison with you, then be made to leave and move to the Middle East. ... This is a great Christian nation and god wants us to lead the world out of darkness with great leaders like President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Communists like Al and Greg will soon be in prison and on death row for your ugly papers. We won the election and now you are mad. We own America and all the rights, you people are trash, go back to Russia and Africa and take your friends with (you) before we put you on death row after a fair trial."
Dan Clawson, Fresno, CA: "A disgrace to the men and women who serve. USA Today supporting the terrorist cause."
Boots Harvey, Brentwood, CA: "One must recall that Churchill had to put up with the likes of Lord Haw-Haw, William Joyce, and his propaganda during WWII. In the end William Joyce was executed for giving aid and comfort to the enemy during wartime. Would that the same befall Al Neuharth!"
I'm sure many of you have examples of your own; anyone who reads the letters to the editor of just about any major daily newspaper has seen the amount of hate and vitriol spewed out in the name of patriotism lately. Liberals -- indeed, all who disagree with Our Glorious Leader -- are "treasonous," they are "traitors," they should be shot, imprisoned, sent into exile, summarily executed. It would seem that the tactics of Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich to demonize Democrats and progressives have come to fruition beyond their wildest dreams. The word "liberal" itself is a pejorative in many circles these days, and poor, blue-collar folks who should know better are convinced that it's the liberal "other" -- not the failed policies of the cheap-labor corporatists and small-minded religious zealots -- that is responsible for all of their problems in today's society. Good luck convincing them differently.
Joe McCarthy's witch-hunting reputation has been refurbished, his heinous actions laundered and lauded; the WWII internment of Japanese-Americans has been not just excused, but praised as sensible and necessary. A near-majority of Americans believe that Muslim-Americans should have their civil rights curtailed, and it wouldn't be a stretch to find millions who would heartily endorse their indefinite internment. Just look at the lack of outcry over the plan to keep supposed "terrrorists" now imprisoned at Guantanamo incarcerated for life without any hope of trial or due process. Violence against liberals and progressives is talked about with stunning casualness, and is bound to become reality as the winger nation feels more and more frustrated that their percieved utopia is not materializing.
Given these scenarios and examples of the rise of intolerance and corporate-statism, what would you call the system under which we currently labor? I say that if it looks, walks and quacks like goose-stepping fascism, then maybe we should start calling it by name.