“We have forgotten history for one reason and, if we are not careful, we will neglect it for another…When exactly was the ‘again’ in (President Trump’s) slogan ‘Make America Great Again?’ Hint: It is the same ‘again’ that we find in ‘Never again.’” – Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny
“In the waning weeks of 1932, facing no external security threat and no challenge from within, with no conceivable justification except to prove the inevitability of his rule, Stalin chose to kill millions of people in Soviet Ukraine. He shifted to a position of pure malice, where the Ukrainian peasant was somehow the aggressor and he, Stalin, the victim…It was not food shortages but food distribution that killed millions in Soviet Ukraine, and it was Stalin who decided who was entitled to what.” – Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
“More than 618,000 Americans died during the Civil War fighting over (the Confederate flag) and 405,000 Americans died in World War II fighting fascists displaying the Nazi flag…Displaying a Confederate or Nazi flag is a form of speech that says you have sided with America’s enemies and is no different than waving an ISIS flag.” – John Risch, Bismarck, Bismarck Tribune, June 7, 2020
“I may be white, but I do not identify with the WASPs of the Northeast. Instead, I identify with the millions of working class white Americans of Scots-Irish descent who have no college degree. To these folks, poverty is the family tradition—their ancestors were day laborers in the Southern slave economy, share croppers after that, coal miners after that, and machinists and millworkers during more recent times. Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends, and family.” – J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy
“‘Profiling’ based on language accents is illegal, since millions of citizens or legal residents speak with some foreign accent. Remember, this also happened 100 or 150 years ago, when many of our ancestors were arriving. The board minutes of the church I attended growing up were in Dutch until 1953!”
– Edward Lotterman, Bismarck Tribune, June 28, 2020
“(Andrew Jackson) was one of our few Presidents whose heart and sympathy were with the plain people, and who clung to the simple faith that government must deal as justly with the poor as with the rich…(he) represented the best which the new West could breed in the way of capable and self-reliant individualism, and the backwoodsmen loved him for the enemies he made, and backed him loudly in his fight against the aristocratic East.”
– Jim Webb, Born Fighting, quoting V.L. Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought
“Ripping up racist statutes will be more effective, in the long run, than tearing down racist statues.” – Chicago Dog
The good news is that American society and institutions are better equipped in 2020 than the peoples of the Soviet Union were in 1932-1933 to push back against monstrous tyrants like Joseph Stalin or a monstrous would be tyrant like (President) Donald Trump. The bad news is that there is no discernable difference in the sociopathic nature of the two men. On the other hand, NASCAR drivers, joined by 82 year old legend, Richard Petty, in a sport dominated by white folks, many of them and their fans self-identified with Trump’s “base,” just dramatically demonstrated their unanimous support at the Superspeedway in Talladega, AL for their African American colleague, Bubba Wallace, the only black driver on the big time circuit. Wallace had learned from NASCAR authorities about a lynching metaphor, a crude hangman’s noose, hung, by design or inadvertently for someone else, in his garage, shortly before the race.
The hits just keep on coming. Former Green Bay Packer’s Quarterback, Brett Favre, a native of Mississippi, compared Colin Kaepernick’s selfless heroism for taking a knee for Black Lives Matter to that of Pat Tillman’s selfless sacrifice of his NFL career, and eventually his life, for the U.S. Armed Forces. SEC football powers Ole Miss and Mississippi State object to playing under their State’s flag, as long as it contains the Confederate Stars and Bars, and bingo! Mississippi Legislators and the Governor scramble to do their will. Only in America! These 21st Century events, tearing at four centuries of racial bigotry, are bigger than tearing down 20th Century Confederate monuments to a 19th Century Civil War. The House of Representatives just passed the first bill named after a black man murdered by police violence, the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.” And the Supreme Court, once again, just upheld Roe v. Wade, 5-4, against those who would re-enslave women. I desperately needed to talk to my renegade KGB menagerie.
High Plains Reader: Dear friends, I’ve been disturbed by Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, about Stalin’s mass starvations of his own people for political purposes. The more he screwed up, the more people he killed. I realize Stalin had a police state, and didn’t face elections, the Supreme Court, or Congress, but Trump’s behavior – tolerating Vlad Putin’s bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan; letting bad Covid-19 tests out into the public — is so similar that it’s creepy. Stalin killed millions of Soviet peoples, before Hitler got started on them. Trump doesn’t care about “loser” Americans who die from Covid-19, any more than Stalin cared about Ukrainians or Russians he killed. What is this maniac going to do, when he realizes that HE is a loser, when his goose is cooked in November, no matter how many polls Rich Mitch McConnell closes in Kentucky and elsewhere? Just rail against statue topplers? Or something worse?
Lena: Relax! Stalin was a hardened criminal, starting out with robbing trains before robbing a nation. Trump is a wannabe criminal, whose father did all the robbing before weaning him on a silver pacifier. Trump’s cowardice is almost as legendary as his incompetence. Even (Attorney General) Bill Barr has caught Trump’s ineptitude virus, despite all of his nasty tricks heretofore.
HPR: But the more suffering Stalin caused for his people, the more he blamed them for it. Trump does the same damn thing; perhaps, in his childish, frog-torturing brain, rationalizing that serial murder of black people in America isn’t as bad as mass murder in Europe or China.
Rasputin: Yes, but Trump’s audience is less captive than Stalin’s was, as the miniscule numbers of his Tulsa, OK; Phoenix, AZ and Marinette, WI rallies showed. Americans are active and activist elsewhere, whether white or black, male or female, young or old. They realize that the invisible Covid-19 virus has exposed historic racism viruses of centuries, hidden in plain sight.
Mr. Swamp Fox: We all know that, of course, but Trump doesn’t want to face those facts. He doesn’t think our nation’s failure to deal effectively nowadays with dual pandemics: corona pathogens and racial pathologies of white cops, have anything to do with his pathetic performance as President. Trump blames everyone else, most especially people who die before voting for him in November. My Alligator friends let me in on how badly Attorney General “Benito” Bill Barr, Trump’s Badass Barracuda Barrister (B-6th power) and Senate Majority Leader (Moscow Rich) Mitch McConnell were taking Trump’s massive incompetence.
B-6th power: “I couldn’t believe where Trump got the idea that more people getting exposed to the deadly virus would really help his election chances. After dire threats to Jared’s life on this planet, I managed to get out of him that this nonsense resulted from that June 1st phone call with Vladimir Putin. Trump already pops Hitler pills. Now he’s embracing Stalin. This is bad.”
Moscow Rich Mitch: “I heard from my bought and paid for sources in the Oval Office, that President Putin convinced Trump that Stalin got away with starving millions of Ukrainians to death and then was able to blame them for not eating. Trump replied that it served the Ukrainians right for not cooperating, and, that their ingrate survivors hadn’t changed much.”
B-6th power: “Like Stalin, Trump expects Americans to keep on dying from Covid-19 to get the economy humming for his election battle with Joe Biden. Unlike Stalin, he doesn’t have an NKVD, or a “New Age” KGB, like Vladimir has. Nor do I, though I’m giving it my best effort. Maybe we should groom Mike Pence for the Imperial Presidency. At least he follows orders.”
MRM: “Sure, but Republican peasants aren’t as obedient as they used to be. Fools that showed up in Tulsa and Phoenix are outnumbered by Republicans who either don’t want to be infected or (gasp!) actually care about their parents and grandparents. Even stupid Governors in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Georgia, are having buyers’ remorse about Trump’s “no mask” patriotism. What good will it do us to get Mike Flynn and Roger Stone off the hook, if we end up on it?”
HPR: Wow! I can’t believe those cynical creeps are that shook up, or that they would refer to us Americans as “peasants.”
Mr. Swamp Fox: In Barr’s, McConnell’s and Trump’s world you ALL are “peasants,” and always have been. Democrats who leaned toward that elitist prejudice as well, have been biting the dust in Illinois and New York primaries.
Jim Crow XV: They are right to think of you as “peasants” as long as you let yourselves be divided by race, religion, class and gender, or don’t even bother to vote. Democracy cannot survive without farmers and city dwellers who behave like citizens, in the American and French Revolutionary sense. That means participating in civic government, not just tearing down statues that are better put in museums or “special zoos of xenophobia.”
HPR: There are statues and then there are statues. If we tore down every presidential statue in our history of men who were racist to one degree or another prior to FDR, that would leave only Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Confederate themed statues were erected to honor slavery as much as those men, not loftier ideals as well. It was a form of rewriting history to fit a KKK narrative, like the New York Times’s Walter Duranty, killing truthful stories about Stalin’s Terror in 1933, for the sake of sucking up to “Cosmetic Communism” vs. “Fashionable Fascism,” and advancing in the journalistic jungle of political correctness in the 1930’s.
Putin: When done right, history is a better discipline for the media than censorship, but when history itself is used as a kind of censorship, hopes for objective facts and science are crushed.
Chicago Dog: Trump and his enablers do not care about history; or the difference between racism and grievance politics. Poor white men and women have real grievances against societies run by the “divine right of money bags,” but they have historically been distracted by bogus bigotries. Black leaders of African American grievances, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Chicago’s Mayor Harold Washington, and President Barack Obama, have been wiser. They never sought to separate the rich from all of their money; just enough to allow the rest of your boats to float with a rising tide of affluence.
Jim Crow XV: Truly wise black leaders in sports, like Boston Celtics’ Bill Russell, admonished black NBA players, who disdained Eastern European colleagues from the former Soviet Bloc in a condescending, mocking manner – way too much like a white racist bigot towards blacks.
Chicago Dog: Because they have been targets for centuries, most black Americans are far more sophisticated than most white Americans about how racism works in your country. When black voters, following the lead of Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC), delivered their decisive majorities to Joe Biden as Democratic nominee for President in 2020, they were backing an old white guy who had been a stalwart citizen on behalf of the “greatest good for the greatest number,” – not always successfully, given corporate and misogynistic hurdles and prejudices of the day, but steadfastly. President Obama had recognized this when he chose Joe to be his running mate in 2008, only to be hit with 400 years of racism by the Tea Party for their efforts.
Omar Khayyam: Some “hack” journalists for big news chains might consider Joe Biden to be a “hack” politician, but these types never undertook hard work of representing people in their communities. Preaching from well-funded weekly columns, they are stung that their smug sermons are no longer taken so seriously. They don’t recognize their own blame in touting the “gospel of greed” for the past forty years, and that Joe Biden’s caring about people’s suffering shows. His is a constant rebuke of Trump’s narcissism, and Republicans’ cynical indifference.
Señor Perro: Meanwhile rich, white leadership has been getting dimmer and dumber, ending with the ultimate moron, Donald Trump. They could have worked with Barack Obama as white business and political leadership did with Mayor Harold Washington from 1983 to 1987 to produce a fiscally sound and socially progressive polity, but instead launched a bitter-ended, self-defeating, race war against American’s first Black President, a man who was admired worldwide by the time he had finished 8 years of repairing Republican rapaciousness in 2017.
Schickelgruber: A thoroughly corrupt Republican Party has joined Barracuda Bill and Rich Mitch to defend the selling out of American democracy to Russian, Chinese, Saudi, and Turkish dictatorships; anything to avoid far more competent and fair minded leadership of those who are neither maliciously male, nor racist white, nor selfishly rich, but, more importantly, not stupid.
Mr. Crying Wolf: Moscow Rich Mitch will never learn. One of us found a note about his whining, penned by a renegade staffer:
Blues for “Mr.” Mitch McConnell
“I do not like the sound of ‘Moscow Mitch;’
‘A traitor to this country,’ it evokes;
But I am loyal to the kind of folks
Americans admire as ‘filthy rich.’
Like John Calhoun or Spartan oligarch
I loathe the rough and ‘smelly’ lower class;
In fact I really, truly ‘hate their ass;’
And wish I did not have to find them work.
The beef I have with real democracy
Is coming to a boil this very year;
And since I cannot keep Trump in his room
There soon will be no place on top for me.
To lose to Chuck and Nancy is a fear
I never thought would mark my pending doom.” – Mr. Swamp Fox