Fascism, cancel culture, and perspective

Been meaning to write a post on cancel culture– haven’t gotten around to it.  Been meaning to write a post on the horror that is the fascistic use of unidentified federal agents in American cities against the will of local/state authorities– haven’t gotten around to it.  Let’s be clear, the latter is exponentially worse.  We’re talking absolutely basic rule of law type stuff here.  We’re talking true authoritarianism.  We’re talking every decent American needs to rise up against this.

And you know what, I can say that and when cancel culture comes up, still say that too many leftists go too far in circumscribing public discourse and calling whatever opinions they may disagree with “ists” and “isms” and implying that those holding those opinions are bad people.  Some of the time they are, but not nearly as much as the overly-woke would have you believe.

I’m just really tired of all the, “how can you can complain about cancel culture given the horror show from Trump?!”  Also… watch me walk and chew gum.  I’m also perfectly capable of complaining about the horror that is Trumpism and my daily quibbles with various functions of Zoom or my 9-year refusing to read enough.  Trump and his Republican enablers are an absolute horror show and a scary-as-hell threat to American democracy as we know it.  That’s far and away my foremost concern right now as a political scientist and as a citizen.  That doesn’t mean I cannot also be concerned that some on the left are too-ready to attribute bad faith and shut down discussion.  Perspective, please!

[And, while I’m at it, Matt Taibbi on cancel culture is great.  That said, for Taibbi to be complaining about a lack of nuance– even though he’s very right– is more than a little bit rich]

I’m mad as hell, but I’ve got no choice but to take it

Because I live in America, which is basically a failed state right now.  We were so lucky that nothing really bad happened with Trump for 3 years, but damn has his bottomless awfulness and incompetence blown up in our faces with this pandemic.  Paul Waldman is exactly right, “If you aren’t filled with rage at Trump, you aren’t paying attention”

Let me take you for a moment to a fantasy land. In this place, the coronavirus pandemic was bad for a couple of months but now it is largely under control. If you lived there you’d still be a little uncertain about going to a concert or a movie, but your life would have largely returned to normal.

You wouldn’t have lost your job; the government would have had a comprehensive support program that kept unemployment low. You’d be able to see your family and friends without fear. Your children would be returning to school in September. There would be some precautions to take for a while longer, but there would be no doubt that the pandemic was on its way to being defeated.

To us here in the United States, this picture seems magical, like a dispatch from the far future. But it isn’t. It’s the situation that exists right now in many of our peer countries around the world. And the fact that our situation is so different? That shouldn’t just make you feel disappointed, or anxious, or upset.

It should make you enraged. That is the proper response to where we find ourselves today.

Let’s begin with the situation in other countries. Here are new case totals from Monday for a few of our peer countries:

  • France: 580
  • UK: 564
  • Spain: 546
  • Germany: 365
  • Canada: 299
  • Japan: 259
  • Italy: 200
  • Australia: 158
  • South Korea: 52

And the United States? 55,300.

Some of these countries were in extremely bad shape for a time, but with sane leadership and a population willing to work together, they’re in the process of defeating the pandemic. But not us.

There are many reasons we have experienced this catastrophe (and it quickly became two catastrophes, an economic crisis added to the public health crisis), but one stands above all others: President Trump.

Is there a single aspect of his response to this pandemic that has not been a miserable failure? For weeks he ignored warnings and denied that the pandemic would be a problem. He didn’t prepare the equipment and systems we’d need to respond.

And he demanded that everyone around him echo his insane claims that everything is under control and the pandemic is being vanquished. It was a month ago that Vice President Pence pathetically proclaimed that “we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy,” and the administration’s great success was “cause for celebration.”

And now, rather than working harder to contain the pandemic, the White House has begun a furious campaign to discredit the federal government’s chief infectious-disease specialist, Anthony S. Fauci, who has had the temerity to admit that things aren’t going well. Trump himself has clearly decided that he’s bored of worrying about the pandemic, so he’ll stop trying to do anything about it. With over 135,000 Americans dead and counting.

So, yeah, I’m mad as hell.  And I’m madder than hell at his Republican enablers who have allowed his uniquely awful administration to continue to be uniquely awful. I think Ted Cruz, for example, is a horrible human being, but I strongly suspect he would’ve done way better against Covid.  Honestly, it’s almost hard to imagine any American politician remotely close to the presidency who could have done this bad.  To paraphrase a tweet the other day (forgot who) “imagine if Trump were on the virus’ payroll– would he even be doing anything any differently?”  Ummm, no?

It’s all so depressing.  Our politics have completely failed us.  Our society has failed us as it has been so poisoned by our toxic politics that somehow not wearing a mask is taken as a sign of “freedom!!” instead of the selfish and threatening to others act it really is.

January 20 cannot come soon enough.

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