Reposted from Medium
The Jihadis and Kristallnachts of American Collapse
Over the last week, there have been three mass shootings in America. That would be bad enough. But two of these massacres — at least, and my guess is the third, too — aren’t just any kind of everyday mass shooting (what a sentence to have to write.) They are carried out by young men, for political aims — to terrorize. The bizarre picture above is from the El Paso shooter’s social media. Hence, Americans, bewildered, have begun to describe all this as “white supremacist violence.”
That is an understatement, my friends (is there such a thing as “nonviolent white supremacy”? If there is, would you live next door to it?) What this new wave of mass shootings are is textbook fascist terrorism — in eerily the same way that jihadis shooting up schools and hospitals in the Islamic world marked the rise of Islamic fascism. They are the further growth of militant right wing extremism in an American already being consumed by neo fascism. (Now, I’m sure that if you’re American, we’ll do the same old dance. I say this is fascism, and you minimize and deny it. It can’t happen here! How’s that approach working out for you?)
Let me give you two lenses through which to view this.
The first is Kristallnacht — the Night of Broken Glass. That’s the night when Nazis throughout Germany — this was in 1938, before German fascism had reached its horrific culmination — took to the streets, and ransacked, destroyed, and looted Jewish homes, businesses, and places of worship. But Kristallnacht wasn’t just about the Nazis. It was also about the silent majority. The majority of people, it was reported, stood by, looked on, and did nothing. The authorities simply looked the other way.
What does that have to do with America’s new wave of right-wing terror? Everything. The point of Kristallnacht was to terrorize. It was the formative incident of Nazi terrorism. It was meant to terrify the Jews — to send them a warning. Not just “you don’t belong here” — but “we have the power of life and death over you, and we consider you vermin, subhumans, an infestation.”
But Kristallnacht wasn’t just meant to terrify the Jews, either. It was also meant to frighten the good German. To tell him not to mess with the Nazis. That they weren’t afraid to do very real violence. Today, we’d call all that, in our anodyne parlance, “a chilling effect.”
Kristallnacht was a terrorist event. One of history’s most dark, violent, and grim terrorist events. The right wing extremists of a whole country doing violence against a hated minority — to frighten and scare everyone into submission.
Are the parallels becoming clearer?
America’s new wave of right wing terrorists are beginning to conduct miniature Kristallnachts. Nights of Broken Glass. Meant to intimidate, scare, and terrify. The minorities that they hate and fear so much — Mexicans, Latinos, etcetera. They are using explicit and hardcore violence — more so than in Kristallnacht, in fact — to do it.
But it’s not just the hated minorities who are being terrorized. Just like Kristallnacht terrorized the good German, so too America’s right wing terrorists are terrorizing the average American. They are warning them. Who has the power and the guns, and who is willing to use both. And they are scaring and terrifying and frightening Americans into submission.
Now, the average American doesn’t understand that. He will say: “I’m not scared! I haven’t been terrorized!!” You can’t ever admit being scared as an American — it’s cultural crime number one to be vulnerable. And yet a strange and resonant question remains?
Why is it that the average American can’t say the word “fascism” to describe a country of concentration camps, gestapos, kids in cages, organized supremacist political wings controlling government…and now political terrorism? One obvious answer is that they’re scared. And one obvious candidate for what’s scared Americans into submission — into being incapable of saying the word “fascism”…is fascist terrorism. Increasing right wing violence has caused a kind of chilling effect. The worse the fascists do…the less likely Americans are to call it fascism. Don’t you think that’s baffling? Upside down? The world does. I do. Only Americans don’t. And yet there must be a cause.
Terrorism’s goal is terrorize. And Americans don’t quite understand it yet, but they are being terrorized, too, by the wave of right wing violence sweeping their society. Frightened and intimated into never calling it what it genuinely is. Not just the absurd construction “white supremacist terrorism” — as if there’s a kind of white supremacism that isn’t terrorist. But bona fide fascism. When the supremacists take over a government…inspire massacres…cage kids…it’s not “supremacism” anymore. It’s fascism.
But Americans have been terrified into being incapable of saying it, seeing it, hearing it.
That reminds me of someone else. A comparison Americans won’t like.
I saw many societies fall to Islamic fascism. Americans don’t often know it, but thirty, forty, fifty years ago, Islamic societies weren’t the proto-fascist states they mostly are now. They were diverse, tolerant, and peaceful — at least relatively so. What happened? Right wing violence is what happened. Islamic fascism is what happened.
Islamic fascism happened just like, exactly like — eerily like — American fascism is happening now. Mullahs and preachers, spreading hate, in hidden places — madrasas and mosques. Today, in America’s they’re internet forums. Young men, left behind by a stagnant economy, being outdone by women, with nothing to devote their lives to. A philosophy of ruin and violence — which placed them as naturally supreme — on top…it was tailor made for them. Militant political factions — devoted to the goal of destroying democracy — and its values of freedom, justice, and equality — from within.
So these disaffected young men became the shock troops of Islamic fascism. They weren’t an organized force at first. They organized themselves into little militias and cells with all kinds of bizarre names. They wrote their manifestos and railed against the sins of society — freedom, justice, equality, diversity, tolerance. They became jihadis.
And then they began their attacks. They chose public places — symbols of a free society. Shopping malls. Music festivals. Celebrations, events where people were enacting the values of a modern society, freedom, justice, equality. Sound familiar? All that’s exactly what America’s extreme right wing terrorists are doing.
America now has a new problem. The jihadis of American collapse. Just like Islamic jihadis are fascists — dedicated to a purified social and moral order, a totalitarian one, achieved through violence — so too are American right wing terrorists. Just like Islamic jihadis were young men, who felt left behind, nursing grudges against everyone not like them, women, minorities, liberals, progressives, so too are American right wing terrorists. And just like Islamic jihadis were incited to violence — not commanded or directed — by mullahs and preachers and whatnot, so too are American right wing terrorists. Only the people inciting them to violence literally occupy high office.
As the jihadis mounted their attacks on civil society, in parallel, in Islamic societies, a political attack was being mounted. The political equivalents of these violent young men — other violent young men, in formal garb — contested office. How? By dehumanizing minorities. By blaming modernity. By saying that freedom, justice, and equality — these weren’t solutions to problems, they were the problems. They were the cause of stagnant economies and inequality and a shortage of opportunity.
Americans often think that Islamic societies fell to fascism because the majority of people in them chose it, cheering and applauding. That’s not remotely true. The majority of those societies was — and is — opposed to the fascist forces that run them. So what happened?
The problem of the silent majority is what happened — it is how society after society has fallen to fascism, but notably Islamic ones. Islamic societies proceeded with a special kind of denial and silence. People chose to look the other way, and hope for the best. Some thought, ironically, that America would never let it happen. Some thought the extremists were a flash in the pan. Some just wanted to get on with their lives.
Nobody — nobody — said the word fascism. Do you know what? In Islamic societies, nobody still does. Nobody — literally nobody — in Islamic societies will admit that they are run by fascists now, that they are fascist societies to the core (outside a tiny handful of exiles and dissidents). Not even the good and intelligent and educated people. They are still the silent majority.
Ah, my friends. That is why fascists rule so many of them. Do you not see the link? Don’t you get the causality?
It is precisely what’s happening in America. The harder that right wing extremism gets — the more violent, determined, frequent, and ruinous — the less Americans can speak the necessary words. The less they can say “this is fascism. It must not happen here!”
The silent majority, in other words, has emerged in America. Silent means: people who won’t say what needs to be said. In Islamic societies, too, people called the fascists names, and joked about them, and scorned them. The majority of people, in fact. But all that was to say they didn’t the problem, the threat, the possibility, of fascism seriously. And so, naturally, the fascists only grew in power, in boldness, in violence. And that’s exactly where America is today, my friends.
Here is how the world sees America. An organized political bloc with explicitly supremacist goals has taken over the machinery of government. It has built concentration camps. It has conducted genocide in them (“family separation”). It is building Gestapos to run them. The leaders of the organized political bloc regularly dehumanize and demonize — their explicit goal is to create a society of the true and pure. And now the Kristallnachts are beginning. Now the jihadis are attacking the institutions of civil society. Just places where people congregate and gather freely, happily, as equals. There’s nothing they hate more.
And yet there is the silent majority — unable to say the word, use the concept, “fascism.” Unable to comprehend any of this in the urgent and simple terms it needs to be understood. Because you cannot fight an enemy that you cannot see, recognize, identify, my friends. The Germans made that mistake. The Muslims made that mistake. The Nazis and Islamic fascists rose as a result.
Americans are making exactly that mistake, right now. The mistake of silence and denial, which, in the end, history understands as forms of complicity. When jihadis are shooting up your malls and festivals, my friends — while organized political blocs of racial supremacists occupy high office: you are having a fascist collapse.
The day Americans can understand it — and say it — is the precise, exact day the tide will begin to finally turn. But not until that day.