The Evanstonian

Right wing politics is an ideological threat to a functioning America

Joe Whitcomb, Staff Writer

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Disclaimer: In this piece, a good deal of generalizations about political groups/beliefs and their demographics are used. I do not claim that these generalizations are always true, but they are true often enough at a high enough rate that a cogent statistical conclusion can be drawn.

In the closing months of 2018, the nasty face of right wing violence reared its head.

In Kentucky, two black patrons were shot to death in a Kroger by a man who claimed “whites don’t kill other whites.”

Bombs were sent to a number of the president’s named enemies, including a news organization.

On Oct. 27th, a gunman shot 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

In Gaza, three boys younger than 14 were flattened by an Israeli airstrike. In the last eight months at that border, IDF troops have murdered 168 people and wounded 15,000 more.

Similarly, President Donald J. Trump authorized the active deployment of five thousand armed troops to meet a caravan of economic migrants coming north from Central America. Many of these migrants are coming from Honduras, where a 2009 coup supported and condoned by the Obama State Department upended the country’s economic system.

Moreover, US involvement in Brazil undermined former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, causing an unstable political situation that led to the election of fascist Jair Bolsonaro on Oct. 28th.

Far right politics were the animus behind each and every one of these actions. The rise of proto fascist politicians and neoconservative foreign politics has been a slow building, powerful trend of the last 60 years. In the United States, this began with Goldwater and the Republican Southern strategy. This hard shift to the right by one of the country’s two sole political parties rigidized partisanship. The Trump administration stripped that fact bare. The recent calls for unity or civility or a breach of the divide ignores this staggering truth.

Since the success of Nixon in the 1960s, the Republican Party and its propaganda machines have moved aggressively right. They have embraced policies of blatant nationalism, and then dubbed it patriotism. They dismantled the Social Safety Net (a way in which housing, food, income, and healthcare were to be provided for the nation’s poor), and used the excess money to fund an era of constant pointless war. In turn, members of the right wing have killed thousands of Americans, many of whom were lower income or of color, by sending them into unnecessary foreign engagements for oligarchical economic interests. And still, the massive propaganda machine of talk radio and corporate news and grassroots websites has pushed their base further onward.

The party of police shootings and child separations and illegal invasions, the party of “bomb bomb bomb Iran” and “the female body has ways to shut the whole thing [rape] down” and “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman” does not go far enough for its base. They have inspired a bloodlust they can not control. Since 1993, 11 Americans have been killed in abortion clinics. In April 1995, a right wing extremist detonated a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Building, killing 169. This was the second largest terrorist attack in American history. In 2014, a man named Elliot Rodger went on a rampage against women and relationships, spawning the socially conservative incel movement. More recently, the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue on the 27th repeatedly referred to President Trump as a globalist, and was a follower of the Internet based QAnon cult, a group of right wing conspiracy theorists.

School shootings, truck bombings, car rammings, stick beatings, spree killings, and militia formations are all new American constants, perpetrated by certain terrorists of a distinct persuasion. They are white men who consume propaganda as a lifestyle, whose radicalization is based entirely in the oft ignored elements of the mainstream. Behind each of these killers is a multimedia machine, from the Turner Diaries to Hannity to Glenn Beck to Gavin McInnes. And while mainstream right wing politicians like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan publicly condemn these people, their beliefs and policies hold no opposition. This juxtaposition is what makes the ideological threat extraordinarily dangerous.

In short, the right has spun itself out of control.

Without a distinct counterpoint to the violence of their programs and supporters, these brownshirts will only be emboldened. As their fountainhead president flounders, their anger will only multiply. Our current state has exceeded the realm of going high when they go low. For better or worse, all the discourse we have left is low. We can not apologize for mocking them. We can not respect processes they’ve trampled on.

The Republicans have lost their chokehold on the American government. Now, they expect bipartisanship. The people can never give it to them.

And yet, the right’s Democratic Party counterparts have decidedly not responded by running left. Recent Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees belie this. Joe Biden, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Bill Clinton and Michael Dukakis all took right wing stances on military expansion, mass incarceration, drug enforcement and economics. Older leaders of the Democratic Party have proposed engaging in a bipartisan marketplace of ideas with the Republicans and the President. Biden especially, who is both the Democratic frontrunner for president and a man who once praised segregationist Strom Thurmond’s “bravery” and “courage”, is poisonous to any kind of true resistance to this violence. Civil discourse places genocide on the same moral level as fighting it. It equates the Bielskis and the Eichmanns. To do such would be to lend legitimacy to their fascism, their violence, and their hate.

In 1919, the SA was a small group of German World War I veterans who regularly preached violence and anti-semitism. Their meetings were often sparsely attended and heavily protested. The SA would violently suppress protests of their activities, and then claim that they were provoked, that the violence was coming from both sides. A few years later, the leader of the SA would ascend to the highest executive office in Germany despite losing the popular vote, then cut his ties with paramilitary groups and weaponize state power instead.

Suppression of protest, ignorance of far right movements, a broken and fractured political system, and a strong movement against the left are all the barometric indicators of fascism. Those factors produced Hitler and Mussolini in the 20th century. They produced Putin in 1990s Russia. And they produced Donald Trump in 2016. Two years in, a push to prevent the horrific possibilities of a fascist America is necessary, and must be enacted by any means possible.

On November 8th, two dozen protesters arrived at Tucker Carlson’s large suburban home to protest Carlson’s actions as a Fox News host. Protesters gave chants, spraypainted the anarchist A on his driveway, and knocked on his door. Carlson claimed that they had kicked in his door, vandalized his home, and told his children they would kill him. The police report reflected none of this. This stretching of the truth was not out of character for Carlson. Carlson has previously advocated for racial and religious homogeneity and repeated the lie that there is a white genocide happening in South Africa. Carlson incorrectly claimed that integration had gotten rid of both rich and light skinned black people in Washington D.C. He has written a sympathetic account of independent American contractors in Iraq (the type that would commit the Nisour Square massacre) and repeatedly ridiculed the concept of there being more than 2 genders. His incitements to a particularly American fascism and violence far outweigh the incivility of appearing outside his home. And yet, the liberal response has castrated the on-the-ground activists. Late night show host Stephen Colbert tweeted his disapproval, as did Kevin Kruse, the country’s foremost historian, and the Washington Post. The protest is being investigated as a hate crime.

Despite the backlash, it worked. People whose rhetoric and activities threaten the safety of millions realize that they exist in a society that will respond to them in kind. Fox News’s Twitter and it’s hosts’ Twitters have gone silent. Their place in that bipartisan marketplace of ideas has shrunk, as it should. Right wing violence lives amongst the free discourse of an open society. If not checked, it becomes violent action. Right wing discourse appears when an INS raid decimates a rural town, when 5,000 troops wait for months in the desert for the chance to shoot at asylum seekers, when US free trade and diplomacy sends Saudi planes shrieking over Yemen, dropping Lockheed Martin’s bombs on school buses full of children. The interconnected world we live in, the one we Americans dominate, is teetering. The climate and the economy have become increasingly volatile. Right wing discourse got us here. Climate change denial, the Red Scare, and the advent of an Internet for profit have taken the left out of the driver’s seat. The racism, the sexism, the willful ignorance, the economic aggression and the violence that got us here can not get us out.

Only a strong left can. 

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Right wing politics is an ideological threat to a functioning America