A letter to progressives who will probably not read it

I wish I could say I wrote this. I did not. It was first on a Facebook group I am in, a group with more clear thinkers than elsewhere in social media:

Perhaps I can set your minds at ease about your fear that Nazis will be marching down Main Street in a matter of months. They won’t. The matter bedeviling you is a definitional one. Progressives tend to be highly verbal people, meaning that they give tremendous weight to words. We see that in the Progressive collective’s need to label everything.

Progressives label people by their ancestors’ countries of origin (Italian-American, African-American, Irish-American, etc.), by their race (Hispanic, African-American, Asian, etc.), and, lately, by their sexual orientation or identification. One Canadian elementary school recently distinguished itself by broadcasting inclusiveness training for its “LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP” community. For the uninitiated, that means “Lesbian, Gay, Genderqueer, Bisexual, Demisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Twospirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Allies, Pansexual, Polyamorous.” That list is the short version. Facebook has 56 gender and sexual preference designations.

To appreciate how serious Progressives are about labels and the power they hold, take a moment to consider that, in 2015, New York City’s Commission on Human Rights, as part of its protections for people who are not cisgender heteronormative, announced that it has the power to impose as much as $250,000 in penalties against employers who willfully, maliciously, or wantonly don’t use a person’s preferred gender identifier. California is moving forward with a bill that imposes the same requirements against nursing care workers, with the penalty directed at a nursing home’s license. These rules bespeak a mindset that has an almost shamanistic reverence for labels.

Progressives also attach myriad labels to all things political. There are the more traditional labels, which tend to pair off opposing political ideologies, such as Democrat and Republican or Progressive and Libertarian. Old labels, such as socialism, are also making a come-back thanks to Bernie and to the New York Times’ recent rash of articles praising life under Communism. (Did you know that women boasted more orgasms under communism? That’s what the New York Time says. I kind of wonder whether communist women answered polls honestly. Honesty can be dangerous in a totalitarian world lacking the protections found in a Bill of Rights.)

In addition to those “official” political labels, Progressives also reserve a whole set of derogatory labels for those with whom they disagree — including people who hold belief systems that were normative right up until the last eight years or so. A handful of these labels include Right Wing, Nazi, Bigot, Racist, Hater, White Supremacist, Homophobe, Islamophobe, Religious Nut, and Fascist.

Being called one of those names will certainly silence some people. Whether it changes their thinking is open to question. Normally, if you seek to persuade someone, opening with an insult won’t work. Of course, if you wish to enrage or alienate people, name calling is a great tactic.

Donald Trump has accelerated the whole labeling thing. Progressives, once having applied the labels, now feel besieged by a world of evil. What’s funny about all of this is that we’re talking about the same Donald Trump who, up until about 20 minutes before he announced his run for president, was a Democrat who hobnobbed with everyone from the Clintons to Jesse Jackson. Seriously, if you’re looking for a KKK past, you need to ignore Donald and, instead focus on the likes of Sen. Robert Byrd (Dem.), darling of the Senate, or Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, another respected Democrat.

While you’re thinking about haters, you’re welcome to contemplate such people as Eric Williams, a professor at Trinity college in Connecticut, who calls white people “inhuman assholes” and to “LetThemFuckingDie.” Also, please enjoy Mark Naison, a history professor at Fordham, who contends that “We are a country with a few million passionate white supremacists — and tens of millions of white supremacists by default.”

Lastly, we can’t ignore the self-identified pre-school teacher at an anti-Trump rally in Seattle who really has a bone to pick with white people. After a diatribe about evil white people, she gets to the point: “We need to start killing people. First off, we need to start killing the White House. The White House must die. The White House, your fucking White House, your fucking presidents, they must go! Fuck the White House! Your fucking White House.” This is not a well woman.

The sad reality is that the pre-school teacher’s frenzy is not unique. Since Trump appeared on the scene, it’s been Nazi this, and Hitler that, and killer bigot, and woman hater, and whatever else, all of which are labels routinely hurled at Trump and those who support him (or at least, fail to hate him with sufficient energy). For purposes of this discussion, let’s assume, solely for the sake of argument, that Trump is indeed everything his political opponents describe: someone who thinks Hitler wasn’t all bad, that blacks and women are inferior beings who exist only to serve his animal appetites, and that Hispanics and Muslims need to be driven from the country.

Pretty scary, huh? But here’s where I allay your fears because here’s where I tell you that, when it comes to political systems, Progressives can jettison all their labels, except for the only two – TWO! Count ‘em, two! – labels that matter. These labels are “more government” (statist systems) and “less government” (individualist or liberty-oriented systems). Every government in the world, no matter the name given, its place in time, or its geographic location, falls along that continuum.

On the “more individual liberty/small government” side, you have libertarians and those conservatives who believe in Constitutional government limited by the Bill of Rights. These are people who trust their fellow man more than they trust far-off, impersonal institutions. On the “less individual liberty/big government” side, you have all the soft socialist states, such as most every nation in Western Europe. People who support these systems believe that government is the solution, no matter the problem.

That statist, big government side is also where you’ll find every tyranny ever. It doesn’t matter whether the government is classified as a theocracy, military junta, national socialist, communist, oligarchy, aristocracy, monarchy, or strongman – all are totalitarian systems in which state power is used to exercise complete control over individuals.

Given that American conservatives, as well as Trump supporters (not all of whom consider themselves conservative), are defined by their hostility to concentrated government power, how in the world did we end up with the glaringly false syllogism that “Republicans are right-wing and Hitler was a right-win fascist, so all Republicans are Hitler”? You can blame this mis-labeling on a two-part linguistic trick pulled after WWII. Step one was to make “fascism” synonymous with Republicans who were also called “right wing.” Step two was to claim that American conservatives, being “right wing,” are therefore fascist. This is pure disinformation.

The correct analysis properly begins with jettisoning entirely the terms “right wing” and “left wing.” These expressions arose in France, in 1789, when Louis XVI’s supporters in the National Assembly sat on the president’s right and the revolutionaries to his left. We are not in France in 1789. Moreover, that archaic division ignores the fact that both the left and the right in France were totalitarian in nature. Both wanted complete control; they just had different visions about the nature of that control.

“Fascism,” another historic term, is one that well-respected Western intellectuals (ranging from progressives to communists to socialists to Fabians) embraced until Hitler tainted it. The term first gained political traction in Italy in the 1920s, with Mussolini defining it to mean “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” In other words, fascism falls entirely on the statist side of the continuum, meaning more government control and less individual liberty.

A rising educated, technocratic elite throughout Europe and America believed that fascism was a great system provided that government control ended in their hands. They envisioned a world in which they would hold all power and then, using their brilliance and compassion, they would solve the world’s problems. Funnily enough, most of these educated people were familiar with the concept of “hubris.” Go figure.

The important thing to remember is that fascism is a subset of socialism (remember “National Socialists”?) just as communism is. Both ideologies require concentrating complete power in the state, leaving the individual entirely subordinate to the state and without any inherent rights. The primary difference between the two ideologies is that in communism the government nationalizes private property, whereas in fascism the government does not nationalize it but nevertheless still controls it.

That commonality explains why communists and fascists hated each other in the 1920s through 1940s — they were similar ideologies fighting for the same slice of totalitarian pie. When they weren’t fighting each other for power, they supported each other, as was the case with Hitler and Stalin . . . until Hitler decided he wanted Stalin’s territory, too. In Spain, there was a bloody civil war because communism and fascism were jealous rivals seeking total state control.

Without exception, two bad things happen in totalitarian governments: (1) the government ceases to see it citizens as individuals and views them only as widgets who exist to aggrandize the state and to enrich the nomenklatura; and (2) the people who control statist governments fall prey to grandiose delusions and paranoia. Remember that both Hitler and Stalin persecuted and murdered their own people. Hitler got the negative headlines only because he explosively sought control over Europe, without anticipating Churchill’s refusal to surrender or America’s ferocity when roused.

Had Hitler kept his purges primarily within his own borders, or at least confined them to a limited number of Germanic neighboring countries, his fascist, genocidal state could have lasted for decades. After all, the Soviet Union lasted 73 years, despite the slaughter of millions of Kulaks in the Ukraine and the hundreds of thousands summarily executed or worked to death in gulags. Mao’s communist government is still in place seventy years later, even though his Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution combined to kill fifty to one-hundred million Chinese. Pol Pot, by staying within Cambodia, slaughtered a third of his people with nary a murmur from the West.

The last paragraph should clue you in to an important point about an all-powerful government – it kills its citizens. The bigger the government, the greater its ability to kill people. A small government, even if it wishes to kill people, lacks the ability. That’s especially true if a constitution prevents the government from disarming citizens. (In case you’re wondering, the Framers of the Constitution, when they enacted the Second Amendment, were not worried about a deer and elk uprising that could bring America to its knees. Having just fought a war to free themselves from a country that was then the most powerful in the world, they were keenly aware that free people need to possess arms so they can resist government tyranny.) All totalitarian systems disarm their citizens.

In addition to mass murder, another thing that bigger government does better than smaller government is to part people from their money. After all, the government has no money of its own because it generates no wealth; it simply mints cash. It is individuals, on their own or in legal collectives called corporations, who create wealth.

The government takes money from citizens via taxes and fees that are requested politely, although the polite request is enforced with a gun. When a government forgoes collecting taxes, it is simply leaving money with its true owner — although even this can be abused if the government forgoes tax collection only for the benefit of a select few.

Once it has the collected people’s money, one of the things a big government does is to perpetuate itself. It uses the money for its pensions and salaries; to negotiate disproportionately beneficial employment contracts for government employees, who then return a percentage of that money to politicians mandatory contributions to unions that donate to politicians; to create more and more administrative entities; and to spend it on initiatives that the money’s original owners and earners might dislike or even morally oppose.

Let me take a moment to sum up here: Once one abandons labels, the only principle that matters is this: The bigger the government, the more harm it can do to individuals; the smaller the government, the less harm it can to do individuals.

President Trump has loudly proclaimed that he wishes to shrink government and, in fact, he has. He’s repealed hundreds of regulations, each of which represents government power over individuals. He’s also cut the federal work force by through a hiring freeze that pared down 9,000 workers – although that’s a small amount compared to the 2.3 million still on the federal payroll.

Now, you may disagree with his regulation-cutting decisions and think a firing freeze is a bad idea, you have to concede that these changes are what happen when control over the administrative state switches from one party to another. If we’re looking at people’s panic about an imminent Nazi takeover, the only important issue is that, if Progressives were correct that Trump is Hitler (and let me quote here Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, who said of Trump that he is “literally the epitome of evil”), he would be expanding the government’s reach and strength, not shrinking it.

Speaking (again) of Hitler, let’s turn to the latest Trumpian outrage, which is his failure to castigate properly that pathetic band of mouth-breathing, braindead, Neo-Nazis that emerged from parental basements to catch the 15 minutes of fame a grateful media so willingly bestowed upon them. In fact, Trump did castigate them and disavow them (as he has done repeatedly throughout his public life). Where he failed, according to Progressives, was in saying that Antifa is just as bad.

Well, Antifa is just as bad. Indeed, it’s probably worse, because it’s got more members and because the media is attempting to reframe it, not as a band of roving thugs silencing speech with violence, but as a new generation of freedom fighters. This is an Orwellian perversion of reality.

And no, the fact that these thugs call themselves “Antifa,” short for “Anti-Fascist,” is meaningless. To mutilate Shakespeare, “That which we call a corpse plant by any other name would stink just as badly.” Just as Charles Manson would not be a nicer person if he renamed himself “Loving Angel of God,” the fact that Antifa has labeled itself “anti-fascist” should fool only those unable to distinguish form from substance.

Substantively, Antifa is a classic model of fascist thuggery: Its members travel in anonymous packs, they carry weapons ranging from broken bottles to clubs with nails embedded, and they greet the exercise of free speech – including the ugly speech the Constitution guarantees – not with good speech, but with crude, bloody, boot-stomping, bottle-swinging violence.

Here’s a rule of thumb for you: If it looks like Hitler’s Brown Shirts and uses violent intimidation to quell speech, ideas, and identities like Hitler’s Brown Shirts, you can forget its self-serving name and properly conclude that it’s indistinguishable in values and conduct from Hitler’s Brown Shirts.

Oh, and about that antisemitism that the media suddenly discovered on January 21: I have for years now been trying to bring to the attention of my Progressive friends the antisemitism that is becoming deeply embedded in the Democrat party. My Progressive friends may have forgotten that, at the 2012 Democrat Party convention, a voice vote was held three times asking to include in the party platform language saying that Jerusalem, which has been the Jewish capital for roughly 3,000 years, is Israel’s capital. Each time, the boos of the mob overrode that request. Eventually, as a sop to those Jews who reliably vote Democrat no matter what, the power brokers included the language in the platform anyway.

And yes, before anyone asks, being anti-Zionist is being anti-Semitic. Holding the only Jewish state in the world to standards that are not demanded of any other nation is a kind of special treatment that can be attributed solely to Israel’s Jewish identity. Without that unique identity, it’s impossible to understand why those same Progressives who are loudly concerned with the rights of women, minorities, and the broad spectrum of non-cisgendered heteronormative people, are so hostile to the only liberal democracy in a region that is entirely given over to an ideology that violently embraces misogyny, homophobia, antisemitism, anti-Christianity, and a global denial of basic human rights.

On college campuses throughout America, hostility to Israel is revealing itself to be a genocidal impulse against the world’s only Jewish nation and is opening the way for blatant displays of old-fashioned antisemitism against Jewish students. The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement is deeply entrenched in these institutions. It then flows from colleges into the streets.

One of the most recent examples of overt anti-Semitism from the statist side of the political aisle took place during Chicago’s Gay Pride parade. A Jewish lesbian with a rainbow flag showing a Star of David was banned from marching with her fellow sexual identity cohorts because she was viewed as a representative of evil. The Chicago parade is a microcosm of the fact that, in every Progressive march and protest, a warm welcome is accorded to those protesters who demand Israel’s destruction and the death of all Jews.

Indeed, one of the most widely lauded spokespeople to emerge from the rash of anti-Trump protests (protests attended by millions across America) is Linda Sarsour, a woman openly dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Put another way, she doesn’t like Jews. Things are so bad that The Forward, a statist Jewish publication, is starting to write about the antisemitism on its own side of the ideological spectrum.

As too many don’t know, this statist antisemitism is bred in the bone. Marx was every bit as anti-Semitic as Hitler; he just wasn’t genocidal. I’ve always suspected that, in addition to Marx’s self-loathing (his p were converted Jews), he was confronting the fact that the Jewish Bible is the antithesis of socialism. Starting with Adam and Eve, it is a book about individuals and the worth of individuals (a trait reflected as well in the Christian Bible). Collectivism cannot tolerate this, hence the deep-dyed hostility to Jews and Israel.

Again, let’s pause and take a quick look back on what I’ve said so far: Trump was never castigated as anything foul until he abandoned the Democrat label and took on the Republican one, even though his values and conduct have been fixed for decades. Nevertheless, even if he is as bad as Progressives think he is, shrinking government, which is what he’s doing, makes it impossible for him to repeat Hitler’s Reich or reinstate Stalin’s gulags or introduce Mao’s reeducation camps or plow Pol Pot’s Killing Fields.

What this means is that you need to stop panicking. And if, as any morally decent person would, you despise White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis, use the gift of free speech to fight them with better ideas, rather than trying to dress up the Antifa Black Shirts as freedom fighters.

Frankly, if you’re really determined to change the world for the better, use on Antifa the same ideas you used on the Neo-Nazis and other White Supremacists. In this regard, you may want to recall that both groups are anti-Semitic, uneducated, angry, and often mentally damaged. The only substantive differences between the two are (1) that modern White Supremacists have abandoned their hoods while Antifa thugs hide their faces with black hoodies and scarves, and (2) that both ride on tides of hatred, with White Supremacists hating blacks and Antifa thugs hating police and other basic civil institutions. All these hatreds are indecent and dangerous.

I’m almost done here, but just have one more point to make about the sudden panic about antisemitism. If you just realized that antisemitism is, and for years has been, a burgeoning problem in America, I have a couple of suggestions: First, stop obsessing about, and giving air time to, a few pipsqueak, basement-dwelling, mouth-breathing neo-Nazis and, instead, use your moral suasion to address the toxic, open, and applauded antisemitism on your own side of the aisle. Second, stop relying so obsessively on labels, especially racial ones.

The reality of the world is that, if you’re relentlessly going to define the world by race, including telling certain races that they’re stupid, evil, and incapable of sympathy or empathy, don’t be surprised when they begin to act in accordance with your definition. After all, as someone wisely said, “Don’t tell me words don’t matter.”

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