"Our republic and its press will rise or fall together." Joseph Pulitzer
"Media is the plural of mediocre."
Jimmy Breslin (1928-2017)
of the fisherman
Expanded from the 5-8-2005 Daily
Sparks (Nev.) Tribune.
5-13-2005 Comstock Chronicle
"When dictatorship comes to the U.S., it will arrive packaged as democracy." American Author and Playwright Sinclair Lewis
Update: Evolution of the above quote has been questioned.
About 20 years ago, my longtime colleague in columny Travus T. Hipp warned us of softshoe fascism loose in the land.
Fascism and communism are extreme systems of repressive government distinguished by one difference. Under fascism, production of goods and services is privatized, while under communism, the state owns everything.
Capitalism is often mischaracterized as a compromise. Longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer noted that both communism and capitalism, taken to their logical conclusion, wind up in the same damnable place.
"Only a communist regime succeeds in making the wildest capitalistic dream come true A monolithic company the Communist party takes possession of a whole country," Hoffer wrote. ("The Ordeal of Change," 1952; Harper Colophon Books, 1964 edition, page 24.)
Today's communism actually Leninism
The United States has struck an uneasy and imperfect balance between communism and capitalism. The socialist aspects of our culture, which have saved us from a second civil war for more than a century, are under vicious assault by the mindless automatons of capital. Those communistic institutions may decry and deny the label, but socialistic they remain nonetheless, and we love them: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, public education, labor unions, the U.S. Dept. of Defense. The list is endless.
Only such collectivist institutions have blunted the sharp edge of unbridled capitalism, allowing us to maintain the consensus needed to remain a nation.
Alas, today's minions of capitalism have gotten greedy. They have seen how easy it is to propagandize the great unwashed into dancing to their tune. A huge number of Americans today still believe the invasion and occupation of Iraq was justified because Saddam was responsible for the World Trade Center debacle.
"Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship," Nazi leader Herman Goering once said.
"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country," Goering noted.
Exactly that strategy resulted in the re-election of Dubya the Lesser. Only in 2004, it came cloaked as the holy of holies.
"To call it a war on terrorism is a mistake," former nun and author Karen Armstrong warns. "It is a religious war, launched in an era of mushrooming worldwide fundamentalist revolt against modernity and secularism," writer Michael Valpy wrote in an Armstrong interview. (Utne Magazine, March-April 2005, page 52; reprinted from Shambala Sun.)
"The lessons of history are unequivocal: Religious fundamentalists, always and everywhere, become more violent under attack," Valpy noted in the interview. (id.)
Recent comments from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, claiming to understand violence against judges, represent just one volley in the latest perversion of religion.
Media critics have either been neutered by their corporate bosses or don't have the intellectual depth to respond with authority. Actress Janeane Garofalo showed last week why comics don't make good talk show hosts. Interviewed on the downsized version of "Now" on PBS, she asserted that if every voter could be personally presented the truth about what Dubya is doing, none would never support him. She still cannot see that voters did not vote on facts but on what former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyoming, once capsulized as a combination of "fear, guilt, money and racism."
Those are the elements of faith-based voting. Ironically, conservative Tucker Carlson's new show (one of two new PBS sops to the right-wing propaganda machine) followed Garofalo in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Thereon, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family played the audience and Carlson like a violin.
He talked about the forces of darkness trying to keep people of faith from exercising their rights of citizenship. Herman Goering would recognize the technique of a master.
No one objects to full citizenship, only to some citizens trying to use government to impose their particular moral code on the entire society.
The May issue of Harper's Magazine should be required reading for everyone. Therein, author Chris Hedges prints a warning issued after the rise of the religious right with the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan.
"I can't help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to 80, we would all be fighting 'Christian fascists.' He gave us that warning 25 years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance (Adams) knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderates into passivity. Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right's persecution of homosexuals and lesbians (who) would be the first 'deviants' singled out by the Christian right. We would be the next." ("Feeling the hate with the National Religious Broadcasters"; Harper's, May, 2005; page 61.)
Adams, and Sinclair Lewis and Goering before him, are proving correct.
Only economic devastation brought on by drunken war spending and promiscuous job exporting will allow a more centrist leadership to regain control of the country. But a lot of people will suffer all over the world before a new Franklin Roosevelt emerges to pick up the pieces.
God save us all.
CLINGING TO THE LEDGE. I'll join Sam Shad's pundit panel from the legislature this Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. on KRNV TV-4. It repeats at 9:28 p.m. on Charter Cable channel 12 in Washoe-Carson-Douglas and at 9:30 Sunday morning on KKKOH Radio. Click here for the full statewide schedule.
Be well. Raise hell.
Bad character references
Shoes of the Fisherman
37 cents to God
The finger of God
The column banned in pristine Virginia City and righteous Storey County
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Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan who attended Catholic institutions through high school. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.
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