Sat, May

America is a Smoking Fascist Dystopia


AMERICA TODAY--I woke up this morning to news that was particularly horrific. Forced mass sterilisations at Trump’s concentration camps. I felt nauseous. My stomach lurched. And I don’t say that for effect. 

Unlike most Americans, I’ve lived through authoritarianism and fascism. I’m one of the lucky few to have survived it. This is the kind of thing that gives us survivors chills for a reason. We feel a terrible sense of deja vu. What we experienced — the violence and brutality and silence of authoritarian implosion — has now come to the country our parents fled to. America. 

It is happening here. And American democracy has less than 50 days to prove itself worthy of the title.

But do Americans really yet understand what any of that means? 

The next item on my news agenda, it turned out, was Trump proclaiming that he’d reject an election that wasn’t decided on the night — for himOf course, there’s a pandemic, and so as we all know, mailed-in votes are crucial. It will take weeks and months to really tally all the votes. So of course Trump proclaiming what he is now is to say that he won’t accept the results of the election, unless they turn out his way, period. 

Like I said: American democracy has less than 50 days left to prove itself. 

Then I turned to another story that we all know by now too well. The fires on the West Coast. California, Oregon, Washington burning. Towns incinerated. Cities covered by the red sky of a dying planet

And then I read that last night, Trump had proclaimed that “science doesn’t know the reason.” But the reason is as plain as the red sky. Carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in millions of years. Carbon emissions haven’t slowed one bit. As a result, the planet is heating dramatically. The Arctic is experiencing up to three degrees of warming. America’s West Coast, more like 1.5. And even that is enough to bring human habitability into question, and create a Fire Belt where once there used to be a little slice of the American Dream. 

Do you see the common thread running through all this yet? It shouldn’t take too much thinking. Trump, and the neo-fascist movement that he leads. 

Amid all that, I barely even had time to think about the Covid death toll. It’s about to hit 200,000.

Do you remember when, just about five years ago, nearly every single member of America’s patrician intellectual class scoffed at the idea that Trump could be President — and then minimized what possible damage he could do? “LOL — he won’t get elected! And so what if he does?” And then: “But Hillary’s emails!!” So said pundits, columnists, news anchors, professors — of a type. The mediocre white man. 

I don’t bring that up to cast recriminations. But to give you some perspective that you vitally need. The perspective of us survivors of authoritarianism. We have never been allowed to be mediocre white guys. We are women and minorities — and women minorities. We have never had the luxury of treating the apocalypse as a joke or an impossibility — because we have lived through it, and we know it’s just a step away. 

Now, at the precise moment that America’s mediocre white dude intellectuals were dismissing Trump as a joke or an impossibility, we survivors saw and felt something very, very different. We saw a demagogue rising to power, who was already calling hated minorities “animals” and “vermin.” Who taunted women and mocked the disabled. Who glorified violence and reveled in brutality. 

We felt a terrible sense of deja vu. Wherever we came from — this was the kind of man who our parents had warned us about. Who we had seen wreck entire countries in the span of a decade or less. A true demagogue, who led a movement of the pure and true, who considered themselves persecuted and wanted to be supreme. 

We knew, and so we tried to warn, as strenuously as we could. What happened next was eminently predictable. Every time there was an abuse of power, and we pointed out that it was part of a classical sequence of social collapse at the hands of a fascist-authoritarian, we were told, by all those mediocre white guys: “LOL. It can’t happen here!!”

And so… 

It did. 

And it still is. 

Like I often say, all those mediocre white dudes, Chris and Jake and Ezra and Chuck so on — they can’t help you now. It’s not because they’re bad dudes. It’s because they are way, way out of their depth. They have absolutely no experience with authoritarian-fascism. They don’t know what the hell they’re dealing with. Which is why they’ve been perpetually surprised, every week, by what depths Trump is willing to stoop to, for the last four years

So here America is. How would you describe it? 

I would put it very bluntly to you. America is a smoking fascist wreck. Before you accuse me of hyperbole, I want you to understand that I mean every word of that, and in fact, I’m putting it kindly. Not a single survivor of authoritarianism, I think, will disagree with me. So let me really unpack that sentence for you — so that you can share this terrible feeling of deja vu we survivors have, that chills our bones, and curdles our stomachs. 

What happens when hated minorities are dehumanised by a demagogue? Soon enough, usually, they’re put in camps. America reached that stage months of Trump taking power. Then families are ripped apart, children separated from parents. America reached that stage in a year or so, and it’s still happening. 

And then the true abuses begin. Things like forced sterilizations. I want you to really think about the horror of this for a moment, instead of running to Fakebook and look for an escape. Women were drugged and taken to operating rooms, where their uteruses, fallopian tubes, and ovaries were cut out of them. They woke up to find out that they could never have children again. They didn’t consent to it, it wasn’t necessary. They were mutilated and crippled for life, in other words. 

By who? Imagine, for a moment, the kind of person that it takes to mutilate women — cut out their reproductive systems without their knowledge. If I handed you a scalpel, could you do it? Such a person has to be a true Nazi: someone deeply committed to the project of racial purity through the annihilation of hated minorities. By preventing “them” from reproducing. (It’s also, by the way, the definition of genocide.) It takes someone committed enough to do true violence in the name of supremacy. The nurses called one of them the “uterus collector.” 

Can you think about all that? It’s hard, isn’t it? It’s literally unthinkable. That’s where America is now. 

But it’s far too gentle to say that the person who wielded the scalpel is the only one who did this. Who else was responsible? 

You. These actions were done by the American State. America is still some semblance of a democracy. So you, the good American, now bear this stain on your name. What will you do to redeem it? Will you try to erase what can’t be erased — or will you try to make real amends? Do you even care? 

We survivors knew, deep down, that terrible things were going to happen in the campsIt usually takes time for the worst abuses to be revealed. I have a feeling that we are going to learn about even more horrific things than women being mutilated and cut open by Nazis for the sake of racial purity. 

Why weren’t our warnings taken seriously? You know the answer by now: all those mediocre white dudes. I’m sorry to say, but the blood of the innocent women mutilated in the camps rests on their hands, too. Is that unfair to say? Americans don’t like it when you say things like that, when you get real. But that is why they’re losing their country to fascists. 

Then there’s California burning. There’s a Covid death toll beyond the level of a nuclear bomb. Why doesn’t Trump care? The reason, to us survivors, is very simple. It’s threefold. One, he’s conditioning Americans to accept mass death, because when you can condition people to that, they will undergo any kind of indignity, and shrug. Two, they are eliminating his political rivals, mostly. And three, the fascist mind sees catastrophe of every kind as a necessary test: the strong should survive, and the weak should perish, and so catastrophe is something to be welcomed, not averted. 

We survivors couldn’t have told you, probably, that a pandemic was on the way, and that California would burn. But we could have told told you the moral of the story therein: the demagogue would look at catastrophe, not care, laugh, revel in death and violence, let it spiral of control, and use all that chaos for political gain. 

Why? Because that is what we saw over and over again. Sometimes, in our cases, the demagogues created their own false catastrophes. “The impure are coming to get us!!” — Trump did that, too. But what we know is that a demagogue and his fascist movement welcome every kind of catastrophe — it gives them a fresh opportunity to rebuild parts of society in their image, to cleanse away the weak, to eliminate their opponents, enemies, the hated subhumans, to seize power in the heat and fury of crisis. 

We survivors could have warned you that in the worst case, mass death was on the way. We are still warning you that mass death has occurred in America via Covid, and the reason Trump hasn’t lifted a finger to stop or prevent it is that he is a proper authoritarian and a fascist, someone who rejects the idea that science should serve some kind of common good, for violence, brutality, and death, and if science can’t serve those ends, then what point does it have? 

“Real” Americans, I think, still don’t know what hit them. There is a sense now that Trump must be removed from power, at least among a growing segment of “real” Americans. But they still haven’t connected the dots — at least not enough for us survivors to breathe a sigh of relief, and say: “Whew. They finally get it.” 

America is a country that has collapsed at the hands of a fascist authoritarian movement. States on fire, towns incinerated, orange skies? Mass death at the level of a nuclear bomb? Women being cut open in concentration camps, because they are subhumans who must not breed like the vermin the Fuhrer says they are? A head of state and a mass movement behind him who seems to be gleeful about it? That is what America is now. 

The question is if it can be something else. That decision still rests in every American’s hands. But do enough “real” Americans get how bad the situation is? Do they understand that America is a smoking fascist wreck — and another four years would be even more apocalyptic than this? Will young people get off their behinds and vote for once? Will all those soccer moms reject the dashing handsome Donald? Will old people come to their senses finally? 

I don’t know. I hope so. But American democracy has less than fifty days left. And it’s not looking good.


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