John Colson: Fearful about rising fascism? Then everyone out to vote
July 2, 2018
Events, conversations and messages over the past week have convinced me: the idea that fascism is making headway in the United States is now almost as prevalent as the idea that our current president is not only a bigot, a hate-filled avatar of a human being and a clown, but is a budding would-be dictator for life.
I read this week that a cabal of right-wing zealots, lead by gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck (currently a Republican state senator) is trying to force schools in Michigan to accept new "standards" applying to social studies textbooks, in a move to eliminate any progressive concept or historical fact that is not in line with the twisted agenda of the GOP and its stalwarts.
For instance, they are hell-bent on removing textbook references to "core democratic values," on the grounds that to leave such verbiage in books to be read by students is "too partisan." Never mind that "core democratic values" are the foundation on which the USA was founded, constructed and maintained. They are the values that come directly from the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the speeches of Abraham Lincoln and other reminders that until Donald Trump arrived we were, in the main, a nation of laws, mores and compassion.
The new standards also would eliminate references to such historical, even legendary examples of citizen activism as the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott that kicked off the civil rights movement in the 1950s; cut out all mentions of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as a historically significant group; downplay the role of the Ku Klux Klan in southern persecution of black people after the Civil War; delete references to the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision; and remove language about how the expansion of civil rights and liberties improved life for minorities, immigrants, the disabled and the LGBT population, replacing it with instruction about "how the expansion of rights for some groups can be viewed as an infringement of rights and freedoms for others."
I'd say Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her minions are working feverishly to rewrite U.S. history so it only reflects the accomplishments and interests of the white, conservative, reactionary GOP political base.
On another front, I note that New York historian Angus Johnston, a professor at CUNY, recently unearthed a 1934 New York Times story about a Quaker named Henry Cadbury who urged Jews to be more "civil" to Nazis, which the Quaker seemingly felt would be more effective in stopping the coming holocaust.
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Jewish leaders around the U.S., predictably enough, rejected the idea as completely idiotic and counterproductive to their efforts to help their brethren escape from the brownshirts and Adolph Hitler's anti-Semitic steamroller.
The parallels of this argument to current calls for greater "civility" toward the far-right apologists and architects for Trump's creeping authoritarianism, as a way of getting them to stop what they are doing, chilled my soul as I read the piece.
Also in the news recently were stories about how a district attorney in Colorado has decided not to prosecute Shauna Johnson, a mother of two from Castle Pines, over a "criminal tampering" charge for writing in chalk on a sidewalk outside the office of U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Castle Rock).
She wrote the phrase, "Stop putting kids in cages, Ken Buck," and signed it, "Jesus" with a small cross, in protest against Trump's policy of taking children away from illegal immigrants caught at the border, and the DA correctly concluded about the charge, "Justice would be a dismissal."
No word yet on whether there is a plan to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court, which by the time the case got there would likely be a solid majority of Trumpeteers eager to jail anyone who gets out of line.
I'm assuming there is a large number of people out there who, like me, are worried about the direction our representative democracy is headed.
I ask of you all, please, whatever else you might do concerning our current political malaise, remember that your strongest argument against fascism, authoritarianism and bullying by the president and his crew of haters is your right to vote.
So, when November rolls around, don't obsess about picayune objections to certain attributes or attitudes of the Democrat candidates; instead, think about two more years of Trump and about the need to set in action the machinery that will give us our country back.
It is commonly believed today that Trump would not be in the White House, and the litany of horror and anti-democratic agitation would not be what it is, had roughly 100,000 more people voted for Hillary Clinton.
That's right, the tally that put Trump over the top reportedly now stands at 77,000 votes in key states, against the roughly 3 million votes by which Clinton actually outpaced Trump in the election.
So, tell your relatives, friends, drinking buddies and even people you may not like a lot but with whom you feel you can talk openly — vote, all of you, because if you don't do it, it won't be done, and this nation's downward spiral into chaos and fascism will be accelerated.
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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