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By Bill Shunas
What a time it is in which we live. I know that gets said in this country every four years [and sometimes two] in which politicians beg for your support because the upcoming election is the most crucial in a long time. It will, they say, have a major effect for or against a war, for or against an economic direction, for or against a right, such as the right to vote, and therefore, the election will be crucial. The war being debated will end in a dozen years if not fought in Afghanistan. The economy will change back and forth, careful not to offend the wealthy. Rights will be won and then violated and lost. These things are meaningful and fought for regularly. But a couple of things are happening that are bringing change that will have long periods of disruption. First and foremost is global warming and whatever is left in its wake. The number and intensity of disastrous natural events are growing. And it's not going to be solved by someone in four years. Global warming and its effects take place gradually so few are in a hurry to get things changed. Meanwhile drought and flooding dance together. Fires. Rising sea levels. Starvation. Yes, pestilence.
We're technologically and scientifically way ahead of the dinosaurs so I don't think we'll wipe ourselves out or come close to it. But it will be cataclysmic for many [most?]. Not quite Mad Max, but close—depending where you sit. Today we are closer to disaster than solutions. Just Sayin'.
You think the poor are suffering now? We as a society will find a way to make them take the brunt of Global Warming. Too many folks think that we turned on these environmental problems and therefore we can turn them off. Like a spigot. Nah. It's more like turning an aircraft carrier in the opposite direction. It's a wide turn taking miles and miles. In its wake masses starve and drown. I'm not scientifically trained. Only an observer. And this is what I observe. Those who have the power think turning a spigot on and off will work. It won't. There is step-by-step dealing with the problem, but the problem is not step-by-step. It is exponential. Just Sayin'.
This attempt to destroy our planet's infrastructure may be something that happens only every millennium. Meanwhile, the attempt to bring fascism to the US may someday be a regular battlefront. Right now it's kind of new, with apologies to Father Coughlin and his cohorts in the 1930s. Ninety years ago—during the Great Depression—fascism reared its ugly head as a solution to end the Depression. It happened in many countries around the world, often accompanied by violence. It was a threat here, but never gained traction—at least overtly. Here in the US, we're seeing it in large part from Trump and his delusions of grandeur. Fascist foot soldiers have met their man in Trump. Millions have voted for the man and half would do it again. They were waiting for him. He encouraged what? Use of force to gain and retain the Oval Office. And more people support that than most of us thought possible.
Would-be dictators appear now and then. Some are strong. Some not. Weak or strong, it can happen here. The odd thing here is that this budding fascism is linked with a denial of reality. It is something I have trouble wrapping my head around. How do you discourse with these people? And then you have elections where the results are not accepted by the state's governor or Secretary of State. So a phony count is verified. This alternate reality is not only about voting. It could be an accusation that a child porno ring was being run out of a pizza parlor by politicians, or various lies about the COVID vaccine.
How do you deal with this unification of fascist ideology and altered reality? Hitler had Goebbels who propagated the Nazi program. Trump has the Big Lie, used to justify anything he wants. But then he brings in QANON and other unrealities and there is no basis on which you can debate. It's hard to take on true believers. Arrest them and jail them for their deeds and more people become believers and MAGA followers. Remember the movie Invasion of The Body Snatchers? MAGA reminds me of that. Ordinary people, with a grasp of reality, somehow become pods with new beliefs. And this marries with the rise of fascism to produce a formidable threat.
Trump won't be with us forever. It will not be a good idea to think that the problem will be solved when he goes. The doctrine he is pushing will be around especially on the net. This won't be the last time fascists visit these shores. It could come back stronger through lies and deception.
Bleak is the future. Maybe this brush with fascism is only that. Maybe it goes away in four or eight years. Maybe we get back to fighting normal right-wing conservatism. On the other hand, the environment looks to be getting out of control. The natural world is a delicate balance, and we're not paying attention. Old-fashioned capitalism has got those in power heading down the road to at least many little disasters. Or worse. The Pakistan flood seemed awful. Or is it the new normal?
Bill Shunas is a Vietnam veteran, author, and long-time VVAW member.