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Est. April 5, 2002
 
           
November 15, 2018 - Issue 764




Fascism
Deep in the Soil
of the
United States



"Americans in the United States have to be reminded
that white supremacy is the foundational bedrock of
this nation. In almost two years now, since Trump’s
ascendancy to head entrepreneur of white supremacy,
Americans (and the world)have listened to a barrage
of racist language from the president and racists and
their supporters who have been waiting for the lifting of
restrictions on their right to speak openly about people of color."



He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen-chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves… perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightened men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.

Albert Camus, The Plague

In the 1930s, Nazi Germany and the American South had the look, in the words of two southern historians, of a ‘mirror image’: these were two apologetically racist regimes, unmatched in their pitilessness.

James Q. Whitman, Hitler's American Model

For many years, I’ve remembered coming across a passage or two in some book about the Nazi reviewing the way slaveholders were able to control large populations of enslaved and “freed” blacks in the US. In a state such as Mississippi, for example, the population of enslaved blacks was larger than that of whites. I was studying the major works of William Faulkner, “Southern Chivalry,” that is, narrative violence, lies, if you like: ladies and gentlemen, the columns of mansions, happy slaves, content blacks, Aunt Jane, Jezebel. The cover up of a crime against humanity. The enslavement of Africans and their decedents. The lie told blacks, victims of the crime, that they were cast aside by the divine, but, lucky for them, blessed to have been saved by the white race. The superior race. Their benefactors.

White purity vs evil blacks. Whiteness vs blackness.

Legalize it all!

Unfortunate for me, a paragraph or two isn’t enough evidence to work with; and yet, when you attempt to study enslavement in the works of a 20th Century writer such as Faulkner, you realize “borders” bleed. It’s impossible to limit your attention only to the 1900 to 1945 (an academic restriction). For obvious reasons, slavery doesn’t begin after 1900 or in the US. Everything about the complex institution of slavery, too, isn’t limited to the cruelty of kidnapping, torture, rape, maiming, death.

And then in 2017, I hear about a book examining how the Nazis turned to the US to legal guidance.

Americans in the United States have to be reminded that white supremacy is the foundational bedrock of this nation. In almost two years now, since Trump’s ascendancy to head entrepreneur of white supremacy, Americans (and the world) have listened to a barrage of racist language from the president and racists and their supporters who have been waiting for the lifting of restrictions on their right to speak openly about people of color. Finally they are able to be, again. To act, again. Ramming vehicles into anti-fascist protesters, or mailing explosive devices to former presidents, black politicians, Jewish financiers of liberal causes, and liberal entertainers.

Or just shooting the scourge that obstructs America’s return to greatness. There! Two blacks at a Krogers!

On October 29, days after the massacre of Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where Robert D. Bowers killed 11 people, when the dead have yet to be buried, the New York Times reports on the spike in internet postings spewing lies. Search for the word “Jews” and, according to the report, some 11,696 posting are displayed, “some with the “hashtag “#jewsdid911,” in which is claimed “Jews orchestrated the Sept. 11 terror attacks.” On Instagram, Nazi ideology appears in the frequent reference to “the number 88, an abbreviation used for the Nazi salute ‘Heil Hitler.’”

There they are again, according to believers like Bowers, who didn’t derive his hate-filled rhetoric from the ether. He’s heard the rhetoric before he could even recite it back himself. So, yes, now, the Jews have financed and are now orchestrating the flow of invaders hellbent on destroying the American way of life—just after every man among the hordes of them rapes American women and pillages every town and city, one home at a time. It’s the Jews, particularly the wealthy Jews, supporters of black and brown folks, who are the enemy within.

I’m more fearful of the immigrants who sailed to American aboard the caravan of Mayflower vessels. Many who followed dragged Africans in shackles from their homes in West Africa to caves such as those in Ghana to ship holes. Quite a few ships. I’m fearful of those immigrants who, during the years of formal slavery in the US, used black labor for free. Hundreds of years of that history on the record books. And even after those years of free labor for capital gain, white America still managed to institutionalize cheap labor from black cotton field workers and imprisoned inmates. I’m fearful of those immigrants who still insist that blacks haven’t done enough to garner the right to air grievances without being accused of boring them, even angering them with “race” issues…

Before the nation came to be called the United States, the matter-of-fact acceptance of white supremacy is present when the rape of Indigenous women become a privilege of war. It’s there with ever bill of sale attached to an African labeled “Jane.” It’s not the opinion of one black or one brown person who, then, is forced to hear, time and time again, “sorry you feel that way.”

It’s lies. Improvised, sometimes, but otherwise ordered, organized, and normalizes. White supremacy is evident in the corruption of the collective thought. Americans have become accustomed to hearing about certain people, hordes of people, caravans of people conspiring to invade the Southern borders of the US. A dangerous from without! One thousand four hundred and nineteen lies were told by the current president of the US in the last seven weeks, according to the Washington Post. In the last 649 days, he told 6,420 lies.

White supremacy is the power to control the image of those at the top within a narrative that justifies and ultimately legitimizes the use of violence against those deemed “other.” The power to control the image and discourse surrounding the “other” includes what’s exported to the world and what’s imported to become a part of the way black, brown, Indigenous, women, and LGTB, for example, see themselves in relationship to white America.

To control the collective heartbeat. Who lives. Who dies.

Lies for the purpose of warring against the common good!

Control the habitable living space, access to clean water and affordable food, to social services and resources, to inform and to be informed, to impart and acquire knowledge.

By any means necessary, secure the borders, secure the wealth and the resources! And then what? A fluent flow of human blood between Africa and the New World testifies to how inconsequential is the concern for border laws and border patrol when the end game was profitable to the slaveholding class, most of whom were Founding Fathers and presidents, in control of the mega narrative.

White supremacy’s lies kill. It’s logic is violence, ordered chaos that normalizes the practice of discrimination. Murder. What most Americans just woke up to two or three years ago has been around for a while. Quite a while.

In 1951, Hannah Arendt was writing about it when she called attention to how the Jews in South Africa, without a “fetish of race,” along with the black workers, posed to threat to “racism and antisemitism,” both major “political weapons of the Nazis.” The Jews, writes Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism, “entirely by themselves and without being the image of anything or anybody, had become a real menace to race society” in Africa. Black workers were becoming already increasingly “aware of their humanity under the impact of regular labor and urban life.” Consequently, as far as the Nazis were concerned, Jews couldn’t be allowed to make “common cause with the only other group which slowly and gradually is being won away from race society.”

Jews, subsequently singled out for hatred by the Boers, as different from other “whites” were determined to be a different race, Arendt writes. And how could an older people, that is, the Jews, be convinced by the Boers’ “choseness”?

Nazis learned the Boers’ so-called “choseness” is the result of its leaders denying the “Christian doctrine of the common origin of men.” So a change in Old Testament passages resulted in Boers as the chosen people—not by the divine for divine salvation, writes Arendt, but, instead, the Boers saw themselves as destined to dominate over “another species that was condemned...to drudgery.” Another species! Not even human! Now if what want to bring in the divine, then this is God’s will!

The Nazis took note.

African colonial possessions became the most fertile soil for the flowering of what later was to become the Nazi elite.” For the likes of Carl Peters and Cecil Rhodes, in other words, and their concept of the “Master race.” Arendt continues, humans could be converted into races on African soil, even if the Nazi elite recognized in the Boers, a “savage” people. All the better to declare the crowning superiority of the Nazis.

Where, oh, where could the Nazis turn to discover a way to solidify their power, legalize their rightful, if not self-appointed mandate to control a “race society,” if not to the United States.

On September 15, 1935, at an event called the “Party Rally of Freedom,” in Nuremberg, the Nazi party legalized its war of hatred and further degradation of its Jewish population. Earlier in July of the same year, the Nazis established the swastika as the national emblem of Germany in response to the Breman incident.

Across the Atlantic, in New York, angry Americans, protested the appearance of the swastika on the SS Breman, a German ocean liner. The arrested protesters were released, however, by Louis Brodsky, a Jewish magistrate. The Nazis were not happy. In retaliation, or, as an excuse to take the next step toward the logic of white supremacy, the Nazi party removed the conservative nationalist flag all together and, with fanfare and accompanying language about uppity Jews, hoisted the Reich Flag.

It’s three years until Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938.

So begins James Q. Whitman’s Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, (2017).

At Nuremberg, writes Whitman, three laws come into being. The first is the Flag Law I refer to in the previous paragraph, a result of the Nazis rejection of the liberal currents in American life, specifically the place of Jews in American society. In America, on this day, whatever day decades after the civil war, the Confederate flag still waves, even on the back of passing pickup trucks in the northern pines of Wisconsin. As an African American, it’s easy to see how the swastika becomes synonymous with Nazism, uniforms and goose-stepping soldiers. But soon, it becomes a symbol of death for Jews in Europe.

The other two laws, Whitman states, actually model America’s race laws regarding “the right of citizenship” and “the right to intermarry.” These two laws were not presented to the world, Whitman adds, as a rejection of American. On the contrary, Hitler and Göring expressed friendship toward the Roosevelt administration and the US.

Even before Nuremberg, Hitler and the Nazis party, looking eastward, toward Poland and beyond to expand Germany’s “living space,” Lebensraum, glanced back toward the US, to study, writes Whitman, the America’s “wars on the Native Americans.” Along with the British, the Nazis recognized Americans as “kindred spirits”: there was respect for these two nations who not only acknowledged racial difference and but recognized the necessity of building empires.

The control of the many by the few. The Aryan. Superior race.

In 1928, writes Whitman, Hitler is praising Americans for having “‘gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand, [and] now [are able to] keep the modest remnant under observation in a cage.’”

For Hitler, the cages will be concentration camps, not just in Germany, but throughout Europe.

Swastika flags! And Confederate flags were still flying!

And legalization of cruelty. Violence.

Who is and isn’t a citizen of Germany, of Europe.

In the US, “de jure” and “de facto” citizenship for blacks, Filipinos, Chinese, and others, writes Whitman, meant that these groups were second-class citizens. For the Nazis, this legal framing of second-class citizenship for Jews was a first step toward establishing the concentration camps.

In addition to framing citizenship in Europe, the Nazis found in the US’s miscegenation laws a “beacon.” With 30 states participating in anti-miscegenation laws, and many above the Mason-Dixon line, the Nazis’ justice minister, Gürtner, was grateful, writers Whitman. No such laws existed anywhere else. “When it came to immigration, second-class citizenship, and miscegenation, America was indeed ‘the classic example’ of a country with highly developed, and harsh race laws in the 1930s.” Nazi lawyers were thankful for a bounty of knowledge it gleaned from the US. That knowledge is called upon today in Brazil and in the Philippines, for example. A “mirror image” indeed—with legs!

No attempt to traumatize black and brown and Indigenous children in school or at the border or on reservations to produce adults too troubled to resist, no avalanche of personal stories, family histories about good ole,’ hard working fathers or mothers, conveyed on public radio, and no amount of devoted piety, fervent belief in a “higher” being, by white Americans, on Sundays, or even seven days a week, erases the violence, systemic violence, of exploitation, exclusion, and death from the historical ledger.

But lies have been offered to excuse if not downright deny. The usual fate of inconvenient truths.

The institutionalization of racial segregation, of immigration and of citizenship laws continues the work of targeting human beings white Americans perceive as threatening, dangerous. Such a system of discrimination and marginalization is so normalized that whenever there’s rise of alt-right and fascist and white nationalism—whatever label you want to apply to these groups because it makes little difference to dead victims - liberal and even “Reagan” conservatives point to these groups as un-American! I would ask Rakia Boyd to imagine this, sister. But she’s no longer alive, is she?

The “pure” and “innocent,” as Faulkner would say, who, running full tilt encountering the violence inflicted on the victims of regimes such as enslavement and genocide, turn away in denial. Nonetheless, the blood of Indigenous, black, and brown victims of militias, of vigilantes, of law enforcement, of the justice system is what consists of the American soil!

The Manifest Destiny sent US ships sailing to Eastern and South Pacific territories, in search of resources to control—in other people’s living space. There’s blood there too, and the dead. Planes and bombs and now drones with the logo of US corporations unabashedly displayed on their sides. We bring peace! Order!

And the “peace” business is a wealthy man’s enterprise.

After Jewish bankers were stripped of their wealth in Nazi Germany and forbidden from doing any business, pogroms to exterminate all Jews became the “peace” enterprise. For a world suffering from the hordes of invaders, evil doers, terrorists, the Aryans will be the restorers of peace—in Europe. Trains commenced the transportation of Jews to concentration camps while in the US the lynching of blacks progressed with the regularity of those German trains. And yet neither the regularity of those trains nor the visibility of the lynched disrupted the average German’s or white America’s collective image of themselves as inheritors of “innocence.”

Not for a while. And only after drastic measures. And even after the last of the smoking chimneys is sealed off, there’s Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlottesville, the southern border of Arizona. Puerto Rico. Pittsburgh.

Embedded in global corporations, too, is American chivalry that will not abandon the hateful and cruel tactics necessary for those who’s values in life center around controlling resources and the resistance of its victims. Corporations control the message, so few in the media (controlled by the corporations) want to call it fascism. Trump hails “nationalism,” that is, white nationalism, while attacking black women politicians and journalists, calling them “low-IQ.” We’re not far from hearing, “enemies of the people!” And the media, (“enemy of the people, too!), excluding Fox News, features the attacks as “Breaking News.” Stay tuned! Even victims congratulate other victims who succeed in sporting fine clothes produced at sweat factories, using the labor of the poor working class in Bangladesh or India. Entertaining, if not a sign of progress!

Starving Yemeni babies and children, however, don’t care what politicians, academics, pundits, and talk show host call the slaughter that is systematically wiping out their lives. Tortuously, one breath at a time.

We were the commodity on the market - when America was “great.” But the moment of oppression from above is the moment resistance rises from below.


BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Contact Dr. Daniels.
 



 
 

 

 

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