The Slow Creep of Fascism
It seems inevitable that once every few months, in spite of my better instincts, I feel the need to attempt to redirect the community's attention from an almost monomaniacal focus on the principals involved, toward a more productive focus on the principles we are trying to defend.
The latest incident at UCLA provides the perfect example. While everyone focuses on the police involved and assumes that any sane person would understand at first glance that excessive force was used, they fail to realize just how much public support there is for such behavior. And there is a LOT of public support for just the sort of thing shown in the UCLA video.
In case you had any doubt, please read the full comments thread appended to the YouTube video. What you find there should frighten you even more than the video itself. Below are just a few examples; if you read the thread, you will find many, many more:
by bugmehard: the guy repeatedly disobeyed direct orders from police. if you have the strength to scream about "the patriot act" then you have the strength to stand up. he was more interested in making a scene than cooperating.
by valtaherra: I hope if I'm an obsinate asshole and mindlessly refuse reasonable requests from police(or a reasonable facsimile that is granted similar authority wherever I might be) for no reason whatsoever, I hope I get tazed too. Assholes like him deserve a tazing or two.
by HLEUSCHNER10:the cops did nothing out of policy, the stupid kid didn't listen and made a big scene what where the cops supose to do, let it happen? sure buddy, and for those of you who thought it was too much force, i bet you have never had a spanken before, nor did the kid in this video otherwise he wouldn't have 'spat in the face of authority' -show some dignity sheesh
by BigTymeBruin: Good job with your word choice. Way to use the term "faggot" here. You are pathetic. HLEUSCHNER10 is right, spit in the face of authority, and it will spit right back at ya, with ELECTRIC SHOCKS! He deserved it.
by Captzam:What if this rambling idiot was visiting an elementary school and scaring your children? Thank the University for having police on campus. Otherwise, these naive college students would be victimized left and right. And don't think it doesn't happen! [This is particularly lovely...]
by clearlyunseen:that guy totally deserved it, these cops did the right thing. Some stupid over zealous college student trying to be a martyr. And then the stupid college students getting swept in the bullshit, fucking sheeple.
by Ubiquitous2843:Yeah this guy is a total whiner. I bet he's a liberal...The officers took enough of a chance just by letting the loser live. He should have taken a bullet to the head....If the cops had any balls at all they would have just shot the little moron, hopefully square in the heart. People need to learn to listen to authority. Put losers like this out of their misery. I hope these cops find this loser's parents and kill them for raising such an idiot.
And there's a LOT more where those came from.
Fascism, you see, doesn't usually start from the top: it only succeeds because the populace has been frightened into a rabid desire to comply with authoritarianism. The secret police would never rise to power, and the dictators never succeed, without strong popular support for their tyrannical policies.
That's why I'm not concerned about the specific cops in this instance. They'll get their proper comeuppance by being fired, and quite possibly jailed. What I'm worried about is the culture that produces these comments--because without that culture of authoritarian sadism, these abuses of behavior would not be possible.
Putting these bad cops in jail will do nothing to stop that culture from producing more where those came from--any more than killing more "terrorists" in Iraq will stop THAT culture from producing more where THOSE came from. It's the same problem in a different place.
And the same thing goes for impeaching Bush and Cheney. It may be gratifying. It is certainly necessary. But it doesn't solve the problem that brought them and their ideology to power in the first place. The "Freeper" problem.
And as scared as I am of letting people like these cops get away with their behavior, I am MORE scared of allowing authoritarians like these commenters and their Republican blogger friends, to dictate public policy by putting cops--and Presidents--who are beholden to them in power.
In fact, prosecuting those who have committed these types of offenses to common sense, human rights, and basic decency, while certainly a matter of duty, honor and justice, can even backfire temporarily by making these authoritarian types feel even more persecuted.
And THAT is why the Number ONE priority must be, at all times, to address the ROOT causes of that authoritarianism. Because without it, the behavior of these individuals would not be possible. We certainly show our understanding of these principles in the Middle East, when we call for ending our use of oil that props up corrupt, stifling, terrorism-engendering regimes. It is time that we turned that focus on Home.
We must end the FEAR that causes the desire for unnaturally authoritarian reactions to imaginary offenses.
We must end the RACISM that causes authoritarian reactions upon innocent people to be justified on the basis of their looks.
We must end the INSTITUTIONAL POVERTY that generates crime, and allows authoritarians to feel justified in their fear and racism.
We must end the ABUSIVE INTERNATIONAL POLICIES that generate anti-American hatred, leading to a desire for authoritarianism to protect them from foreign elements.
We must end the RABID ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT, which prevents the critical thinking necessary to avoid authoritarianism.
We must end the ASSAULT ON THE MIDDLE CLASS that makes average Americans feel like their lives and families are slipping away from them for reasons they cannot understand, and turn toward authoritarianism to attempt to solve their problems.
For without doing these, we will spend an eternity bringing each individual authoritarian to justice, without bringing authoritarian fascism ITSELF to heel. And eventually we will lose the battle.
Let's keep our eyes on the prize. On a society where true justice will prevail because the people stand with justice--rather than justice being forced upon them and the authoritarian leaders they support.