The Ongoing Menace

You will I hope pardon me for this post. As I am beginning a new novel, I wish to replace my authoring cap with my former university lecturer’s cap once more and first get this off my chest. I think you may agree I do so here with a pretty good reason.

We have seen reactions around the world, including here in Britain. Many abroad just do not understand. They are particularly aghast that such could just happen as it did after decades…

Even the woman prime minister of New Zealand waded in on Instagram:

What struck me seeing that there from her is she – and many other women I have read and heard voice similar views – actually appears to believe this is about abortion rights. They are incorrect. Removing abortion rights is but one interim goal to serve as a means toward achieving a much broader social and political end.

This needs some explaining…

I pointed out in 2020 that fascism has now appeared in the U.S. not as Fascism or Nazism – because most Americans would NEVER use such words – but under the guise of something called “Make America Great Again.” That is a “movement” that appeared in 2015 out of one Donald J. Trump’s nascent Republican presidential campaign (after he chose to identify himself a Republican upon having evidently realized being a Republican served his ambitions better than running as an independent or starting a third party) after the campaign began hawking baseball caps at $25 each (he never misses an opportunity to try to make money off any scheme) emblazoned with that campaign catchphrase. Sales were excellent and it turned into one of his few genuine successes over his “business career.” (The biggest was The Apprentice television program.)

From that beginning the campaign “movement” gradually came to attract all sorts of previously mainstream aggrieved (mostly white) “conservatives” (especially in rural areas nationwide, but especially in the South and the West), ”right wing” political has beens (former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani as one example), the bulk of the so-called “religious right,” some “conservative” Roman Catholics (despite the Pope’s apparent opposition), elements in law enforcement (apparently attracted to “the movement’s” “law and order” side), and various politically otherwise major-party-homeless and/or sidelined toxic nativists, white supremacists and the far right (what used to be the KKK and similar). And there were also the “conspiracy-theorists” and general crackpots. All of them added their own “touches” to the mix.

At the center of it all always of course was their now “Dear Leader” Trump. He was a man who had never held any elected office. (He had spent his life running – if that is the right word – a multi-million-dollar New York family property business inherited from his father, moving – between bankruptcies – from “big deals” to “bigger deals” to “humongous bigger deals” while never failing also to get his face in front of a camera as he talked himself up as a superb businessman who knew how to get things done.) Harnessing and riding on his sudden followers’ passion and determination (“We will take our country back!” was a much-heard phrase) helped him pick off, one by one, his Republican opposition and end up winning the party’s 2016 presidential nomination. Months later on the much larger national election stage, he was able to widen his appeal just enough among non-Republicans to manage (reportedly surprising even himself) to slip into the presidency despite receiving 3 million votes fewer than his Democratic opponent thanks (unfortunately) to getting lucky (with the luck of most other Americans then sadly about to run out) in still pulling a majority of the votes in the increasingly population-imbalanced Electoral College (a state-by-state election tally which actually decides U.S. presidential elections, and increasingly now favors voters casting votes in small – often predominantly rural – states over those in the much larger ones).

Now over four years later, despite his Electoral College clear defeat in his 2020 re-election bid and his subsequent last-ditch (thankfully failed) insurrection effort of January 6, 2021 to try to prevent the installation in office of his legitimately elected Democratic successor, he and “the movement” continue to push his agenda. By now they have essentially taken over what had been the “normal” center-right leaning Republican party (of which I was once a member). While it is still named “Republican,” they have turned it, more or less, into the “Make America Great Again,” or let’s call it MAGA for short, party.

[Fascism defined. From Merriam-Webster Dictionary.]

MAGAism more than readily displays classic characteristics of fascism beyond its broad dictionary definition above.

It is based upon a flag-waving cult of personality revolving around fawning admiration for its “Dear Leader” Trump and a demand to the adherence to his notions of how he will “restore” what he holds to have been American “greatness.” In 2020 it was even made clear that there was no Republican re-election platform as such. Republicans were told that adhering to Trump’s “agenda” constituted the Republican party’s campaign platform.

Trump’s ideas of the role and the reach of the presidency bears no resemblance to that of his even Republican predecessors, and would have horrified first president George Washington. The closest similarity found to Trump’s attitude to the office compared with that of any other president’s may have been (at times) to Andrew Jackson’s – a comparison which Trump, with his historical knowledge of Jackson probably limited mostly to recalling Charleton Heston once played Jackson in a 1958 Hollywood film, would surely take as a compliment. But it is definitely here not meant to be one.

For example, as president it was HE who bestowed “status” and was responsible for everything he deemed “positive.” (If you actually listen closely to his words he is the center of the universe: “I” did, “I” demanded, “I” wanted, “I” hired, “I” fired, “I” negotiated, etc. “I” is by far his favorite word. Again, no one is ever to upstage “Dear Leader.”)

The power of the state was supposed to serve to glorify him. (Recall his wish to rework the Voice of America (VOA) from a journalistically independent news and information service into what would have become essentially just a propaganda tool that served to make him only look good. He would have been able to do that, too. It was only his defeat in 2020 that saved it.)

The U.S. military was supposed to lend its prestige to upholding his “movement.” (He had hoped his 4th of July 2019 event on the Mall would have the top service chiefs present, but they all – quite correctly – declined to attend. He had evidently also hoped to invent a yearly 4th of July military parade – similar to Paris’s Bastille Day parade every on July 14 – which presumably he would have presided over while reviewing as “Leader.”)

Law enforcement should have operated according to his personal whim. (Those who street-protested a Minnesota white police officer having killed a handcuffed Black man in custody, for instance, he suggested, should have been shot.)

Independent power bases that could stymie his desires needed to be eroded and cajoled into serving him. (Such as an election-responsible state Secretary of State being told: “I just want to find 11,780 votes.” Again, “I.” The Constitution, and separation of powers, meant nothing to him.)

The MAGAism he leads is also obviously rooted in white supremacy. (Blacks and other racial minorities are “welcomed” into the MAGA fold only if they too of course pledge allegiance to “Dear Leader” and adhere to MAGAism in all matters, including accepting they are a minority and that America is a “white” country.)

Regular “rallies” are also a necessity to gather together followers, get them within the awe-inspiring shadow of “Dear Leader,” and make them feel a part of an “inevitable” something much bigger than themselves. (The aim is always to convey the impression not only to them but also to outsiders of them being an “irresistible” popular force that will sweep aside all those who dissent. “Rallies” also serve as a means to try to scare opponents into retreating from the political scene out of fear or falling into line and even joining up as well because “resistance is futile.”)

A MAGA “militia” semi-exists. Although not formally organized like the SA or Blackshirts, some men – and they appear to be mostly men – turn up to those MAGA rallies in intimidating military-like fatigues. (In the “Dear Leader”-organized January 6, 2021 attempted “putsch” that disturbingly resembled Italian Fascist leader Mussolini’s “March on Rome,” some MAGAs not only wore as usual vaguely military-style clothing and behaved as if in “units,” but were also armed.) Indeed the “militia” and related “masculine” aspects of MAGAism demonstrates its fascist tendencies as well in “the movement” being decidedly male-centered.

Of course women MAGA are allowed to participate, but again as usual in fascist “movements” MAGA women are certainly meant to be secondary to men. They are there first and foremost to adorn and support men. That fact is perhaps summed up best (and often cited by “Christian” women MAGAs) in a simpleton reading of Saint Paul: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

Such is also why “Dear Leader” routinely attacks the physical “attractiveness” of, and/or otherwise attempts to insult and demean, women who do not agree with his worldview and end up in his crosshairs. While it is okay naturally if some women are lawyers and doctors and serve in Congress (if they are MAGA), a woman’s truly appropriate life role, he and other male MAGA clearly believe, is to be “beautiful,” stand next to a man and gaze (hopefully up) at him adoringly while holding his arm and balancing on the highest of heels. That is the major reason why “Dear Leader’s” third wife and from 2017-2021 U.S. first lady – a former fashion model born in what had been communist Yugoslavia (and thus deemed a “white” immigrant acceptable to “the movement”) – was considered a “fantastic” first lady by male MAGAs: they assert she is “gorgeous” while they felt it was also clear “Dear Leader” was, of course, THE masculine BOSS. (MAGA commenters around the web naturally also offer up much the same women-lookism-opinionating. The singer Taylor Swift, whose politics were at the time not publicly known, for example was much admired online by white supremacists – at least probably until she decided to make it clear she did NOT support their “Dear Leader.”)

“Dear Leader” also, we recall, attempted to belittle Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz’s wife’s looks by comparing hers to his own wife’s when Cruz back in 2016 was still acting like a pre-MAGA “normal” Republican and evidently still considered the MAGA “Dear Leader” somehow to be a “normal” presidential primary opponent. (After losing the nomination and “Dear Leader’s” Electoral College win in 2016, Cruz chose to forget Trump’s insulting his wife and moved himself firmly into the MAGA “movement.” That is also a common behavior by many who witness their former voters now increasingly enthralled by the “Dear Leader” heading a growing fascist movement: It dawns on you that you had better join in and transform yourself into a super-supporter or a political “Siberia” awaits you.)

So New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern epitomizes what MAGAs loathe in a woman. If they have even heard of her, they do not care what she thinks about removing the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S. for to them she being head of a government is precisely the sort of a problem they believe has arisen in the last 50 years in especially the “Western” world. She is a (they assert) “decadent” and liberal (supporting the likes of gay marriage and worried about climate change) woman with power over men; a woman who has taken on “a man’s job”; a woman who has opinions separate from a man’s; and a woman who does not “need” a man. Her type’s presence in power, they hold, weakens society.

They – both MAGA men and women – therefore want her type of woman to be generally removed from the workplace and political arena, separated from an independent income, and reduced once more to dependency on a husband in needing to raise a family on only his money. They want her at home looking after the children and at best accompanying her husband to the country club… and not trying to tell men what to do. In short, they hold the man is supposed to get the final word – period. (One of the reasons MAGAs admire Russian dictator/President Vladimir Putin – “Dear Leader” was clearly besotted by Putin – is because they believe he is a “real man.” They feel he is not “woke” and a “wimp” and knows how to keep Russian women and gays in their places; while some women hold some offices, yes, it is the MEN who clearly RULE Russia. However, his invasion of Ukraine has proven problematic for MAGA admirers in that Putin is not at the front leading the “manly” charge, while Ukraine’s President Zelensky is the one besieged and fighting like Churchill – who “Dear Leader” also admires – against superior forces and offers up “manly,” and rather 1940 Churchillian, turns of phrase such as his much-quoted reported response when American officials offered to fly out him, his wife and children early during the Russian assault: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”)

The three “Dear Leader” MAGA appointees to the Supreme Court since 2017 were central to this decision to overturn Roe. They have managed to concoct a revised view of the 14th Amendment which does not necessarily uphold a “right to privacy” and imposes that view on what is by most polls 60-70 percent of the population, which is par for the course from a Court imprinted there by a man who was a minority president himself from 2017-2021. One is a woman who was rushed onto the Court by him (and his MAGA-allies in the then narrow-majority Republican-controlled U.S. Senate) only days before the 2020 presidential election, and if pressed for her opinion on it would almost certainly state she considers herself “second” to a her husband in their marriage.

[Eleanor Roosevelt statue at the FDR Memorial. Washington, DC. Photo by me, July 2017.]

Much is heard from MAGAs about the need to overturn Roe to “protect children,” but this is not really about that and never has been. What will not follow the overturn of Roe from MAGA people is a suggested creation, for example, of a “national health service” providing free medical care for all children from conception until age 21. Indeed under the MAGA-led Supreme Court decision, a right to obtain even birth control could well also be overturned by the same court eventually because a “right” to birth control falls under the same (what had previously been thought to have been) 14th Amendment’s “right to privacy” as Roe did. So those – women especially – who naively think banning abortion is just about “protecting children” are being played and hoodwinked.

No sane woman wants to have an abortion and most never have one. However, actively removing the legal ability to obtain one as well as creating the legal groundwork to undo their access even to birth control, is to begin to reduce women to the second tier once more, for a woman who cannot control when she will bear a child cannot as readily earn her own income (perhaps even more than her husband’s) and therefore cannot in a marriage avoid being beholden to her husband. Returning a wife to needing her husband’s support returns her also to social submissiveness and largely restores male primacy as was the social and political American world that existed prior to Roe in 1973…

[A now infamous news photo. A January 6, 2021 MAGA U.S. Capitol invader bearing a secessionist, racist, Confederate battle flag. From my Instagram Stories, January 9, 2021.]

…and doing so is, in the MAGA fascist worldview, yet another step, they believe, to be accomplished in order to ”Make America Great Again.”