How Will We Know The Moment We Go From Not Fascist To Fascist? Like Canaries In A Coal Mine, Gays Will Be Among The First To Know
Robert Reich is a professor of public policy at UC, Berkeley. He was the token progressive in Bill Clinton's very centrist cabinet, where he served as Secretary of Labor. In 2002, he ran for governor of Massachusetts-- Clinton, angered by his book, Locked in the Cabinet, endorsed one of his primary rivals, someone who won less than 1% of the vote-- and came in second in a 5-way race. Reich, the unabashed, cutting-edge progressive in the race, lost out to an uninspiring, unelectable establishment hack, state Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, who took 243,039 votes to his 185,315. She had nothing to offer anyone and went on to lose to Mitt Romney by over 5 points, quite an accomplishment in a deep blue state.
Reich was a strong Bernie Sanders proponent during the presidential primary but got behind Clinton after Bernie conceded. He's a regular on the cable talking heads shows and Thursday he was on CNN with Don Lemon to address Trump's inflammatory tweet about UC, Berkeley. Reich offered the possibility the whole thing could just be more alt-facts-- but alt-facts in action. His premise is that the rioters were not left-wingers but right-wingers impersonating left-wingers. Sounds plausible; the Nazi types always do that kind of thing. But the far right is incensed and the mainstream media hasn't risen to the bait.
Reich: "I know what I saw. They weren’t Berkeley students. They were outside agitators... I saw these people. They all looked almost paramilitary, not from the campus. And I’ve heard-- again I don’t want to say factually-- but heard there’s some relationship there between these people and the right wing. And the movement that is affiliated with Breitbart news." The whole incident has certainly been good for advance orders for neo-fascist Milo Yiannopoulos’ new book, Dangerous (which went to #1 on Amazon).
[T]he controversy that has driven pre-orders for Dangerous has also made promotion unusually complicated. The 32-year-old Breitbart editor, born in Greece and raised in England, is a walking challenge to free speech principles. A vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, Yiannopoulos has made vicious comments about Muslims, women and others, and on his website offers such products as "Feminism is Cancer" T-shirts and "Fat Shaming Works" hoodies. His harassment campaign last summer against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones led to his banishment from Twitter.
Yiannopoulos' talks have sparked protests, shouting matches and occasional violence at stops around the country. On Wednesday, the University of California, Berkeley cancelled a scheduled talk by Milo after violent protests broke out. A man was shot and wounded at protests outside his Jan. 21 talk at the University of Washington.
Rowdy protests at UC Davis on Jan. 13 prompted campus Republicans to cancel his appearance at the last minute. His final stop was supposed to be UCLA on Thursday, but the invitation was rescinded, making Berkeley his grand finale.
Yiannopoulos' book deal was greeted with immediate anger when announced in late December. Hundreds of authors have objected and one writer, Roxane Gay, withdrew a book she had planned for Simon & Schuster. Many independent sellers have expressed uneasiness, saying they will make the book available if asked for, but will not promote it. One store, The Booksmith in San Francisco, has announced it will neither stock the book nor order a copy upon customer request. Booksmith also said it was cutting orders for Simon & Schuster books by 50 percent.
|There have always been fascists who were gay too|
The book hasn't been sent to reviewers and not much is known about it, other than it's supposed to be kind of autobiographical and that Yiannopoulos, a modern-day self-loathing gay (something like we'd imagine Ernst Röhm was) is a particularly odious character and previous books were filled with other peoples' work used without attribution. Thinking about the little Nazi shit today, brought to mind a New Yorker column by Andrew Solomon, Fear And Loathing In Trump's America, specifically fear and loathing from the perspective of being gay in America under the new fascistic regime.
It’s different being gay now than it was in, say, October. In October, the progress we’d made as a movement seemed relatively secure, and our view was set on how we might better secure our freedoms. Now whatever we’ve achieved feels fragile, and our energies are occupied with trying to prevent a slide backward. We have had to give up on the future in attempting to save the past.
It was both unsurprising and traumatic to learn on Monday about a pending executive order that would take away our basic rights, and though it was a relief to learn, the next morning, that that executive order would not be issued, the stir of vulnerability will not soon quiet down. Donald Trump was contemplating rescinding President Barack Obama’s executive order granting protections to L.G.B.T.Q. Americans working for federal agencies. That Trump did not, that day, expose us to legal discrimination by our own government does not mitigate this Administration’s dark view of those who deviate from its narrow definition of normality-- white, U.S.-born, heterosexual, able-bodied, and Christian-- which excludes the majority of Americans.
On Wednesday, The Nation published a draft of a new executive order that would allow anyone to enact prejudice against L.G.B.T.Q. people on the basis of personal religious beliefs. Many medical services, elder-care services, and disability services are administered through religious organizations that could refuse help to those of whom they disapprove. One in five of the four hundred thousand kids in foster care identifies as L.G.B.T.Q., and under the order placement agencies would not be obliged to take care of them. The daily roller coaster of rights tenuously sustained or completely undermined is dizzying.
The problems surfaced before Trump took office. Following the election, in Sarasota, Florida, a seventy-five-year-old gay man was pulled from his car, assaulted, and told, “You know, my new President says we can kill all you faggots now.” In Austin, Texas, vandals spray-painted “dyke,” “trump,” and a swastika on the front door of a lesbian couple’s home. In North Canton, Ohio, a lesbian couple who had lived in their home peacefully for years found their car door and hood defaced with the slur “dyke.” In Bean Blossom, Indiana, vandals painted “heil trump,” “fag church,” and a swastika on the side of St. David’s Episcopal, a church that had welcomed L.G.B.T.Q. congregants. A North Carolina couple received a chilling message on their windshield: “Can’t wait until your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. #Trump2016.” A similarly hateful note appeared on the car of a Burlington, Iowa, minister: “So father homo, how does it feel to have Trump as your president? At least he’s got a set of balls. They’ll put marriage back where God wants it and take your’s away. America’s gonna take care of your faggity ass.”
All of this was in keeping with the publicly expressed views of the new Administration. During his tenure in Congress, Mike Pence, as head of the Republican Study Committee, supported a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, opposed the repeal of the military ban on openly gay soldiers, and averred that “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family,” suggesting that gay families would operationalize such a disruption of the social order. He believed that being gay was a choice and said that keeping gays from marrying was simply “God’s idea.” He later proposed cutting funding for aids research and diverting the money to “ex-gay” therapy programs. As governor of Indiana, he championed and signed the anti-L.G.B.T.Q. Religious Restoration Freedom Act, which he softened only after considerable pressure from big business.
Trump himself opposes gay marriage, and has nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. In response, Lambda Legal has, for the first time, declared pre-hearing opposition to a nomination, announcing, “Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record is hostile toward LGBT people and his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is unacceptable.” Rea Carey, the executive director of the National L.G.B.T.Q. Task Force (I serve on the board of the National L.G.B.T.Q. Task Force Action Fund), observed that Trump “has been playing deeply harmful games with L.G.B.T.Q. people’s lives throughout his campaign and every single day of his days-old presidency. The problem for him is we are everywhere-- so when he signs executive orders designed to demonize and dehumanize anyone-- Muslims, women, refugees, people of color, immigrants-- he is attacking us all. President Trump does not get bonus points for discriminating a little. Not on our watch, not in our name.”
...During the height of the aids crisis, gay activism sprang from despair; during the Obama years, it reflected idealism; and now it is fuelled by paralyzing anxiety. It’s hard to live with what is going wrong right now without anticipating everything else that could go wrong shortly. There have been waves of anti-gay prejudice for centuries, of course. But one crucial difference now is that many of us have children. My husband and I have tried to explain to our children what is going on, but I would, at the same time, like to protect them from the reality that the people who now run the show would invalidate our kind of family. My life with my children seems nonthreatening enough; it includes taking them to school, cooking dinner together on weekends, sitting through tennis matches and swim meets, helping with homework. Prejudice against an ordinariness that the movement has only so recently achieved feels newly shocking.
When I was twenty-three, I went with my parents to the Dachau concentration camp. There was a display of photographs, including many grotesque images showing emaciated prisoners in tattered stripes, mounds of discarded clothing, slave crews working on pointless exercises. I found my mother, who was not given to public displays of emotion, weeping quietly in front of a photo of a woman walking with a child whose hand she was holding. It was an innocent-looking picture, but it was captioned, “On the way to the gas chambers.” My mother felt dissociated from the prisoner photos, but in that one she saw herself and me. We wondered what that mother had told her child about their destination. My children live in a world that suddenly requires a surrender of their innocence, as I try to explain why we may be less than other families in the eyes of the changing law. We are nowhere near a holocaust in the U.S., but, amid all the nationalistic frenzy of the past few weeks, I have found myself more than once wondering how to tell my son about the people who hate us, from whom I will be able to protect him only imperfectly.
Surrounded by friends, married with children, I nonetheless feel very alone when my government turns against me. I had told Hasan that it wasn’t like that here. I had told my children that we were safe and lucky. I had told my husband that we would go on and on and on and on. Perhaps all of that will remain true, but perhaps it won’t, and that is an adjustment that sears itself into our most mundane activities. No, in October, our family felt very different from how it feels now. We were an open landscape, but now we are a citadel.