Monday, April 23, 2018

Who Goes Trumpzi?

When I read Charles Pierce's short take about the whining of youngish proto-fascist scribblers about how discriminated against they are by "liberals." from their perches in the roster of writers for allegedly liberal rags like the New York Times, it rang a bell for me.  He points out what set them off, this time.

Noah Rothman gets the award for the Worst Performance By A Pundit In A Supporting Role this week for leaping to the electric Twitter machine in order to send this baby aloft.

"If there is one thing the experiences of Stephens, Weiss, McArdle, and Williamson has clarified for all objective observes, it is what true courage in writing really is. The kind with personal and professional consequences."

(Bret) Stephens and (Bari) Weiss bravely write for the New York Fcking Times. (Megan) McArdle bravely writes for The Washington Post. Kevin Williamson’s snowflakery, which apparently prompted Rothman’s tweet, appears in Friday’s Wall Street Fcking Journal. True courage, dude? Veronica Guerin would like a word, and Maxim Borodin is holding on Line 1. Jesus Christ on a three-year contract, what a bunch of histrionics.

What Kevin Williamson got slammed, then canned from the tattered remains of The Atlantic for were  his advocacy in a podcast in which,  called in effect for considering the death penalty for a quarter of the adult women in the United States who have had abortions.  That is not to mention the ones who had had miscarriages or who some massive a-hole of a county attorney or DA of elected judge decided to make use of who would have inevitably been swept up in the enthusiastic enforcement of such a ban on abortions.   One imagines Williamson would be in favor of lesser penalties (or not) for women who are convicted of any range of things which lead to a miscarriage, based on some of the prosecutions that have been brought against women for all kinds of things by such nationalization of their bodies by prosecutors, cops and judges in recent history.   Not to mention what  use employers would make use of such a legal regimen to discriminate against women and pay them even less. 

Is there any profession that has more entitled cry-babies than the media?  And are there any bigger cry-babies than the conservatives in it, especially those in the NY-DC media?   Entitlement is what they do and what they demand and even the big-fat pretend liberal organs of it like the New York Times, the Washington Post and the big magazines are only too eager to go along because if there's one thing they know, it's which side their bread is buttered on.

But what it brought to mind for me was a too little read 1941 article by one of the great journalistic heroes of the run up to World War Two,  Dorothy Thompson,*  Who Goes Nazi?   The piece is an imagined party game for an upper class household gathering in which the various people, or, rather, types, are evaluated on their potential to "go Nazi" as things go that way in the country.   I have to say that all of those listed by Pierce were recognizable to me in Thompson's examples of types.   Guess which ones (including those who hired them) I recognized in this one, not in every particular.

I think young D over there is the only born Nazi in the room. Young D is the spoiled only son of a doting mother. He has never been crossed in his life. He spends his time at the game of seeing what he can get away with. He is constantly arrested for speeding and his mother pays the fines. He has been ruthless toward two wives and his mother pays the alimony. His life is spent in sensation-seeking and theatricality. He is utterly inconsiderate of everybody. He is very good-looking, in a vacuous, cavalier way, and inordinately vain. He would certainly fancy himself in a uniform that gave him a chance to swagger and lord it over others.

I think it is a joke of history that Thompson used Trump's first initial for that one.   Though I was thinking of people in the media.

A lot of the types Dorothy Thompson imagined in the piece would have to be modified, I think a lot of the young equivalents in Trumpian fascism today have different aspirations, though social-climbing, personal enrichment and that most delightful of all vices, believing deeply that you are superior to other people is timeless and universal.  So is the urge to make things easy for yourself by conformity and going along with what those with money and so power want.   I think that's the primary motivation of the newspaper and magazine publishers and others in the media who have promoted and created Trumpian fascism - centered on money and the value of their publications and programs and networks.   The part that the media played in the creation and elevation of people like Hitler - whose earliest promoter was a publisher and Mussolini who, like the Italian Trump Berlusconi, got his big start in the media, would have to be explored far more than it has been.

I think one of the biggest things we've found out in this go round of fascist ascendency is what a total fraud the idea that the media is going to save us is.  That part of the media that has fought against it is was certainly not powerful enough to prevent the descent into Republican-fascism that has been a slow moving threat since the late 1960s, what such rags as the New York Times gave to fight it, they presented it with even more opportunities.  The electronic media has been, if anything, worse.  The archive of National Public Radio could present a few doctoral students studying the rise of American fascism with a lot to cite in that regard. 

The old saw that history doesn't repeat itself but sometimes it rhymes seems to be true.  I think we're finding out by the august and formerly august organs of the free press who hire proto-fascists using the excuse of "even handedness" "covering both sides" etc. just who is likely to go Trumpzi because they already have.  And there are lots of others, essentially not liberal but 18th century - enlightenment style libertarian-liberals in the media who accommodated and enabled it.  The most disgusting of them are the ones who presented their work for media corporations as "principled".

*  Dorothy Thompson was heroic in a way that  too few of today's media professionals are.  Her doomed defense of Herschel Grunszpan, the teenage boy who assassinated the Nazi diplomat Ernst von Rath and who was used shamefully by all sides, including those who allegedly defended him in trial,  is heroic.   That is if anything you can do while writing in relative safety can be considered heroic.  And for lots of her career, she was hardly safe and secure.   She was the first American journalist the Nazis expelled from Germany for a reason, that was because she was courageous and honest.  Lots of them hedged their coverage until they couldn't anymore.  Most all of the big figures in our media today would have folded like a wet paper doll of a crusading reporter, one made of tissue paper. 

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