On Tyranny: Take Responsibility for the Face of the World
“The symbols of today enable the reality of tomorrow. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away, and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.” – Timothy Snyder
“(Abraham Lincoln) would have proven the best friend the South could have had, and saved much of the wrangling and bitterness of feeling brought out by reconstruction under a President (Andrew Johnson) who at first wished to revenge himself upon Southern men of better social standing than himself, but who still sought their recognition, and in a short time conceived the idea…to become their Moses to lead them triumphantly out of all their difficulties.” – Ulysses S. Grant, Complete Personal Memoirs
“The past is always rewritten to serve the needs of the present….” – Sara Paretsky
“Anti-Semitism is a virus. It is like a disease, and it persists…It’s sometimes known as the oldest hatred. It never seems to go away. There truly is no single antidote or cure.” – Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League
“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.” – John Stuart Mill
“The property which every man has in his own labour, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable.” – Adam Smith
“Men believe themselves to be free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined.” – Baruch Spinoza
“Long live death!” – Spanish Falange (Fascist) Slogan
“…once people learn to love destruction for its own sake, evil leadership gets its chance.” – Agatha Christie
Racism is as racism does, whether in Minneapolis, Ferguson, MO, Louisville, KY, Chicago, NYC or Georgia. In this, President Donald Trump never disappoints the legacy of President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee (1865-1869), Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the KKK, Governor George Wallace of Alabama, and other notable racists in American history. However, the perennial virus of American bigotry has met, in Covid-19, a contagion that will go down in history as the “truth serum virus” for how it has exposed our racial inequities in dramatic display.
Moral morons and ethical idiots among my well pensioned, well heeled, white male octogenarian contemporaries are a singular disappointment. These public high school grads are beneficiaries of de facto Affirmative Action policies in the 1950s, inherent in the GI Bill of Rights following World War II and college admission policies of elite universities formerly catering mostly to WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) clientele. No sooner did these guys benefit from policies combatting the “hidden injuries” of class and religious bias, than many of them pulled up the social and economic ladder for other ambitious ones. They whined as early as the 1960s about statutory Affirmative Action, required to grapple with more visible biases of skin color and gender. Their “Amen chorus” now features Trump-McConnell-Bill Barr-Republicans. These garden variety ingrates of all ages dismiss the Covid-19 death toll as exaggerations by the media of annual flu rates among folks with “underlying conditions,” ie. black, brown and red folks.
I needed a break from ignorant, arrogant cynicisms of people who, in the 1960s, had cared more about the brand of (Vietnam’s Leader) Ho-Chi-Minh’s cigarettes (American made Phillip Morris and Salem Filters) than his turning to Communism, after his wish for national self-determination was rejected by yet another racist President, Woodrow Wilson, at the Treaties of Paris in 1919. A friend and I drove west of Mandan last week, past fields and cattle to a bucolic setting beneath the huge New Salem, ND cow on a hill just south of I-94. Not to escape; just to breathe deeply.
While enjoying the view, we met a couple from Louisville, KY, headed east in a camper towards the Twin Cities, via Ft. Ransom, south of Valley City. As their 4 kids scrambled to rocks above, they told of their delight in travelling back roads from Mt. Rushmore, through North Dakota’s “Big Sky” country, to this site, via Mandan’s “Butcher Block.” There they stocked up on locally slaughtered meats: a traditional, healthier alternative to flu inducing, chemically questionable, worker killing, packing plants south of us. Their own courageous Governor, Andy Beshear (D-KY), was simultaneously facing down equality deniers evoking the KKK, while our Governor, Doug Burgum (R-ND), dared to show emotion in facing down science deniers and maskshaming idiots in his own Party from Bismarck to the White House. But we did not bring that up. They would soon enough pass by the raging, grieving scene of a black man, George Floyd, murdered by white police in Minneapolis on May 25; on their way home to the raging, grieving scene of a black woman, Breonna Taylor, a first responder nurse, wantonly killed by police in her home in Louisville last March 13. We were happy they came to North Dakota, and said so.
Shortly thereafter, a young couple from Illinois pulled in, headed West towards Medora. We told them where they might sight a live buffalo, and I shared some memories of “Sweet Home Chicago,” where my children and grandchildren are faced with realities and challenges of Covid-19. Upon wishing these folks a “safe journey,” I glanced again at 100s of wind turbines twirling north of I-94, belying bunk waiting for me in my mailbox from Republican candidates about how they were going to save the coal and oil industries in our State, and demonstrate adoration of their beloved President Trump. Later that evening I watched the History Channel documentation of our first Equal Rights President, General Ulysses S. Grant. He won the military war that saved American freedom and unity, but lost the political war against racism and corporate greed, because Americans, in the North as well as the South, did not value freedom of others as much as he did. I turned, once again, to my KGB animal friends for answers to the underlying conditions eating away at our democracy over the years, and brought to light by the politics of Covid-19.
High Plains Reader: Dear Friends. Lincoln and Grant fought the virus of racism, but failed. White cops and vigilantes still kill black people in plain sight, North, South, East and West. Woodrow Wilson fought Christianity’s racism of anti-Semitism by appointing Jews to the U.S. Supreme Court and other high Federal positions. But he failed, as the anti-Semitic virus mutated in Henry Ford’s U.S. and Hitler’s Europe to monstrous proportions, and is coming back in Trump’s America. TR and FDR took on greed of giant corporations, but also failed. We still see the virus of CEO greed and co-opted Republican Governors crowding immigrants into unhealthy working conditions, shielded by bodyguards of lies of dark money media, and “regulations” put in place by cynical Business and Law school graduates from around the country. Why is that?
Putin: It’s the aristocracy virus. The slave-owning virus becomes the KKK virus, becomes the Nazi virus, and so on and so forth. That sort of thing is why Lincoln never smiled.
Rasputin: Lincoln had to choose between the Southern, plantation aristocracy, based on chattel slavery and color, and the Northern Industrial, Robber Baron aristocracy based on wage slavery of people of any color; folks who lacked the color of money; people like Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln and Grant could save the Union for visions of a country rid of aristocracies of church and bloodlines, but not from aristocracies of the skin and the “divine right of money bags.”
Mr. Swamp Fox: Southern aristocrats were more desperate. They fired first. Northern industrial aristocrats waited, piling up war profits, while ordinary folks provided cannon fodder for the Union. Fat cats then turned on equal opportunity for blacks in 1876 when their “cannon fodder” stopped caring about such things. Bolshevik and Fascist mutations of technology and terror in the 20th Century made traditional political viruses that much more lethal.
Schickelgruber: Hitler’s hatreds differed from other European Fascisms in style, organization and intensity, but they shared the common political goals of a self-anointed aristocracy based on coercion, fraud and terror. These viral traits he shared with Stalin and Mao, who managed to kill even more people than he did. They had more time, and more availability of victims.
HPR: Oh dear! Surely, even a hint of such carnage could not be wreaked by Trump, even in a second term stolen by fraud and intimidation by a nihilistic West Wing and their allies, could it?
Kim Dog Un: Unfortunately, it could, if electoral results in critical States were tainted in Trump’s favor where he clearly was losing in pre-election and exit polling. There also could be violence if your Inciter-in-Chief refuses to accept election results that deny him a second term.
Corporal Kangaroo: Violence is not the point, however. It is better angels in Americans, building on dreams of Founding Fathers in the 18th, Lincoln and Grant in the 19th, Labor, Civil Rights, anti-imperialism, pro-climate/science movements in the 20th and 21st Centuries: bulwarks against incipient aristocracies of greed in each generation, like yearly visitations of the flu. Some mutations of the latter are more lethal than others. There’s never been a cure for small pox, for example. Only the development of a vaccine was effective in its eradication.
Omar Khayyam: It will take strong medicine to combat the Trump-McConnell-Barr, hard right virus; one of the deadliest assaults on American freedom, democracy and rule of law since the days of General and President Grant. As the search for a Covid-19 vaccine proceeds, vaccines of tolerance have been strengthened and widely deployed. One, an energized, forensic free press, is taking on propaganda from the “wimp who would dominate,” with real time coverage of horrors of race warfare against black citizens in Georgia and Minneapolis, and against brown, aspiring citizens in Stephen Miller’s ICE concentration camps on our Mexican border; as well as corporate warfare against working communities caught in the snares of their meat packing plants.
Señor Perro: Mass reaction to police murdering civilians in plain sight could force AG Barr to try to make DOJ look like a real Department of Justice, but I doubt it. It will have to be Mayors and Governors, working with cooperative Federal officials in defiance of the White House.
Torquemada: A second vaccine is provided by main line Protestants and many Catholics against crude attempts by political, Bible thumping Trump supporters to endanger the health of worshipers, war against science, and against a woman’s right to control her own body.
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: Indifference towards old folks and their staff/helpers, prisoners and their guards by Trump Republicans and their willing gubernatorial executioners is truly appalling. There are likely more “badass” grandmas in the making as we speak. In addition the vaccines of human decency, common sense humor, and determination at the local level, to have elections that do not threaten the physical or voting health of average citizens.
Chicago Dog: Another promising vaccine, using core ingredients of transparency, ostracism and prosecution, has developed in the wake of unprecedented, nationwide repudiation by other police officers of a murderous “warrior” culture of fellow cops in Minneapolis. It’s overdue, but vital.
HPR: I find it hard to believe that there are as many underlying conditions that threaten the health of the American democracy as those which threaten the physical health of its citizens.
Headless Horseman: Foremost of those underlying conditions is the decapitation of the Executive Branch of the U.S.: Replacing heads of former Presidents, at their worst with a few ounces of common sense; with the head of a narcissistic, incompetent, un-teachable, unreachable, sociopath like Donald Trump, supported by a puppeteer, Attorney General William Barr, turning rule of law on its head to protect an aristocracy of nihilists, clever solely in ways of destruction. John Wilkes Booth and Osama Bin-Laden could only dream of such results.
Mr. Crying Wolf: Even deadlier, Majority Leader McConnell fashions a Judiciary that is not a conservative, but a “hard right” (see Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism) turn to Koch, DeVos, and professionally anti-democratic forces in this country. These guys don’t have to be competent in the law; just obedient to their bosses among dark money CEO’s and in hard right “think tanks.”
Chicago Dog: Hard right power freaks, and Bill Barr’s ploys won’t survive the wit of real lawyers and civil servants, however. One wag just posted a poem from inside the DOJ by a renegade staffer. It got to the House Oversight Committee before it was destroyed by Barr’s bloodhounds:
We Are the Hard Right Warriors
“We are the hard right warriors; Great and Wise;
Unlike Conservatives of olden days;
We seek to change the laws to suit our ways
Of limitless control o’er peoples lives.
Some people call us fascists. Maybe so;
But if we make that legal, we won’t care
Whatever folks might think. They wouldn’t dare;
Without the force to tell us where to go.
We’ll re-enslave this country; thanks to Mitch
And darkest money; phony think tanks too;
And Trump, of course, until his sorry rear;
Goes down the drain; the country in the ditch;
The foolish voters left without a clue
Of where their freedom went; Replaced by fear.” – Benito Bill, The Badass Barracuda