Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Nazis Poisoning the Well: Digital Blackface

My friend had a rather unpleasant encounter on Twitter with what she assumed to be a Hotep. His avatar was that of the face of a Black man. His display name (Sofa King Woke), though campy, seemed a plausible play on words for such a person. She said the account attacked her for tweeting about the ACLU Election Protection Program with something about "illegal aliens." First clue: Nazis almost never stay on message. Next was the user's @: @MumiaDouche. An obvious swipe at Mumia Abu Jamal and his supporters.

Nazis really can't help but give themselves away. In fact, I think it's part of the game, to make it in some way obvious that their ruse is a hoax. This gives them the ability to claim humor, a prank.

Friday, November 2, 2018

It's Happened

So we've finally done it. We've broken the fourth wall of US politics. Touched the third rail. Antisemitism is back and it looks like 11 dead congregants at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. It looks like defaced temples and vandalized grave stones.

I'm at a loss.

Friday, October 26, 2018

How Mussolini Sealed His Regime

August 12, 1924. An Italian railway worker finds a clue to a prominent socialist minister of parliament’s murder. Giacomo Matteotti, the stirring voice of opposition to Mussolini’s Fascism, is exhumed from a hastily prepared shallow grave. In late summer, the gains the National Fascist Party had made over two years seemed ready to unravel.

As the party gained power, it sought also to separate itself officially from the black-shirted squadristi who roamed in trucks assaulting and murdering various designated undesirables. In an age of ascending eugenics, the social purpose of the blackshirts was variously regarded if not their methods. Fascist power was materially realized through the appointment of Mussolini to the Prime Ministership in 1922 and in April of 1924 through control of the legislature.

For four months from August 1924 to January 1925, Mussolini was in the hot seat. On the one hand, the blackshirts wanted an orgy of violence to cleanse Italy of their designated undesirables. On the other, the opposition, now a minority within the state apparatus because of the Acerbo law, wanted an end to the lawlessness of the blackshirts.

Mussolini sought to appease both sides. On January 3rd 1925, Mussolini delivered a speech to parliament taking responsibility for the blackshirt violence. In promising to resolve it, Mussolini embarked upon a campaign of restricting basic democratic freedoms, and by 1929, liquidating electoral representation altogether.

Government was replaced with the party apparatus which was unified under the capricious vision of Il Duce. Mussolini’s successful maneuvering allowed him to unify a party whose fractures became apparent in the Matteotti crisis. It also allowed him to complete his fascist revolution through reform and repeal of existing law. Elections were replaced with referenda on the party’s leader who won them handsomely with well over 90% of the vote.

In the end, the investigation into the murder of Matteotti and other actions of the blackshirts didn’t matter. Mussolini became the law in order to absolve himself of his transgression of it. When Trump finally accepts responsibility for the escalating violence committed in his name, let's not give him the same opportunity.

Monday, October 22, 2018

HHS Proposes New Policy on Sex Discrimination

The New York Times got its hands on a memo suggesting the Department of Health and Human Services was considering a definition of sex for Title IX purposes to be determined by genetics. Per the Times:

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
This is problematic for a number of reasons: What of people who do not conform genetically to this binary conception of sex? What of people who have already undergone sexual reassignment surgery? Do people really face discrimination on the basis of what's on their original birth certificate?

If and when this new policy is put into effect, it will be at least the 3rd department to do so, following the Department of Defense and the Department of Education.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Griffin and Paxton: The Best We Can Do?

The 2016 US presidential election brought into sharp relief the state of fascist studies in the early 21st century. Coming to the fore were British scholars Roger Griffin and Robert O. Paxton. The former's 1991 The Nature of Fascism sets forth a definition of fascism based on ideology. The latter's 2004 The Anatomy of Fascism seeks to jettison ideology, which fascists lie about anyway, and opts for an approach highlighting the actions of fascist movements. Thus, Griffin was able to diagnose Trump as a fascist while Paxton was not. I find both of these definitions of fascism wanting for their own reasons, and I see emerging a new direction built upon their work.