Monday, August 14, 2017

Norks and Nazis

So.

In the past week, the President has tried to out crazy North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un and there was a straight up Nazi riot in Charlottesville, Virginia where three people died. This is not the 2017 I was expecting and it sure as shit isn't the future that I want for my children. I was hoping, hoping that maybe, maaaaaaaaybe that I could get through the majority of my life without having to worry about a straight up nuclear exchange. Guess that's out the window now. Ditto with Nazis. Haven't we had this argument? Can't we consign fascism to the dustbin of history where it belongs along with all the other shitty, terrible -isms that infect our daily lives?

Let's deal with the Norks first: Am I worried about war with North Korea? Yes and no. In the short to medium term, unless Kim Jong-Un says, 'fuck it, let's do this thing' and starts something, I doubt that we'll launch a preemptive strike. The status quo is what China wants to maintain and they've said that if the Norks start something, they're on their own. I don't think we want to start anything in the short to medium term either. A war on the Korean Peninsula would be rough stuff- most of the defense and strategic summaries I've read from people who know more about this stuff than I do seem to be of the mind that a war over there could be won, but the initial few days would be rough rough stuff indeed until Allied air power comes to bear and starts degrading Nork capabilities. 

The long term is where I sort of bite my nails a bit. I don't think it's in our national interests to let North Korea develop a nuclear weapon capable of striking the US Mainland. I think unless some serious diplomacy gets a breakthrough, I think we will be forced to act militarily to prevent that and I'm not sure how the Chinese will feel about that. Could be they're fed up with Pyongyang and make a lot of angry noise and do not much else. Could be they intervene themselves to preserve the status quo. Either way, I think this is coming to a head in the next two to eight years anyway and I don't know a Presidential candidate of either party that would think it's a good idea to let North Korea have nukes that can hit the US mainland. 

The Nazi Riot in Virginia... I don't even know where to begin with this. Three people died. The President's abject failure to condemn the white nationalist marchers was beyond disgusting. While I wasn't Charlottesville and I will concede that maybe, maybe we haven't been given a full picture of what actually happened, it sure as hell looks like the Nazis showed up armed and ready to rumble. This wasn't a peaceful protest. They were spoiling for a fight and they got one. So, let's clear a few things up:

1. Fuck fascism. (And all the other -isms, for that matter. But, this weekend- especially fascism.)

2. Anyone who flies a Confederate flag isn't a good American. The Confederacy lost. The streets should be renamed, the statues torn down, Stone Mountain dynamited to rubble. You people fucking lost. Americans laid down their lives to make sure they lost and anyone who tries to convince that it's flag or any of it's symbol should be used to celebrate 'our heritage' can fuck right off. I went to Shiloh for the 150th Anniversary of the battle and they had a grand illumination, with a candle lit for every fallen soldier- it stretched all over the damn park. One of the many things that still burns me about Steve King is his insistence on keeping a Confederate flag on his damn desk when so many Iowans died fighting the Confederacy- nowhere more so than at Shiloh. There's a beautiful memorial to them down there. Anyone in Iowa who thinks the Confederate flag is something to celebrate should take a trip down there and look at it.

3. Statistically, in a nation of 300 million people I honestly don't think that there are that many of these Nazi scumbags in America. What this weekend made clear, however, is that President Trump's failure to clearly and openly condemn them and their ideology is sure as shit emboldening them.

4. Violence is bad. It was bad at Berkeley when those idiots tore up their own campus of the Milo Speech. It was even worse here where people actually died. And yes, as Ferguson proved there's a difference in the way people get treated when they protest in this country. It's not wrong to point that out.

5. Do you remember how the right collectively lost it's mind when President Obama refused to condemn radical Islamic terrorism? Because I sure as shit do. So I don't want to hear another goddamn word about it after this weekend.

6. I am both appalled and amused that we now live in a world where Tiki Brand has to put out a statement condemning the use of their torches by Nazis. (Oh and the delicious irony of them using Tiki torches, which are Polynesian in origin.)

7. Naming and shaming these people I am 100% fine with. If you're going to march for what you believe in, then you shouldn't be afraid of the consequences. Like you losing your job. Or people finding out that you're a Nazi. The flip side of that, of course, is that when AntiFa/Anarchist types start throwing bricks through windows, I'm fine with the same thing happening to them. Public shaming all round!

8. 50% of the country doesn't bother to vote most of the time which makes me wonder what's going to happen when that 50% gets tired of the extreme ends of what amounts to 26% of the electorate running the show and decides to do something about it. Our political discourse is poison. The internet is an open sewer after tragedies like this. Congress can't legislate it's way out of a wet paper bag and there is a great, big, silent majority out there. What happens when they get tired of the hyper-partisan rancor? Because a true political independent with a relatively sensible platform who just wants to get things done and help some people out...  right now, that sounds batshit crazy. But if we keep doing this to the country, then who knows. Each side is now convinced the other is out to get them. What does 'victory' even look like in our ongoing culture wars? I'm not sure I want to know.

9. The right wing counter narrative is already emerging today: where were the police? Did the Democratic mayor order the police to stand down in order to blame the ensuing violence on President Trump? I think it's a good question to ask, but given how armed a lot of the Nazis were, I can understand the impulse to contain and restrain instead of obstruct and separating the protestors, especially from the point of view of officer safety- though admittedly, I haven't had need to learn about riot tactics thus far in my job. That said, there's a whiff of: 'oh this is a grand liberal conspiracy and really this is all their fault' which is bullshit. Nazis rioted in an American city. Blaming the police or looking for leftist/liberal conspiracies under the bed should in no way shape or form excuse an administration that is actively emboldening white nationalism by it's silence.

10. Ditto with the "this is what identity politics looks like" narrative that's coming from the right as well. Yes, broadly speaking 'the left' should have a message that cuts across race, gender and class to win elections and trying to assemble a political coalition like Voltron- one giant robot cat at a time lead to white people sort of kind of voting in a block as well. However- once more with feeling: 'oh this is a grand liberal conspiracy and really this is all their fault' is a bullshit rationalization for this. Nazis rioted in an American city. There's no excuse for that.

In general, this was not a good week for America. It's Monday, people. Lets do better this week.

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