(Editor’s Note: This was a letter to “The Daily Call” in the midst of the midwinter 2011 putsch in the Wisconsin State Legislature. Some readers objected to my use of the term fascism to describe what was occurring at that time. Mark L. Taylor, Editor)
The first thing that made me sit up and take notice of your info stream was your not being afraid to use the F-word appropriately.
My mother was a 1st generation Russian Jew who grew up in the depression and after WWII married a European Jew in the 1950s. She instilled in me the notion that what happened in Germany could happen again, suddenly, anywhere, at any time and to ever keep a diligent guard against racism, bigotry, fascism and totalitarianism. She also stressed that the next time it could be some other group (e.g., the LGBT community) but could be the Jews again as well. She often spoke at length of the denial both in Germany among Jews and Gentiles and in the world at large. This denial was a huge factor in the Nazi ascension to power.
Later in my life I have heard and read of other historical experiences of the shutdown of liberties and rights in societies and many authors speak eloquently of how the progressive intellectuals of the day denied what was really happening in their country.
At the moment a book that comes to mind that speaks very clearly and personally about this denial is “Reading Lolita in Tehran“. I highly recommend it for an insightful real-life account of this denial factor and how it works until it’s too late to do anything about it.
I had a conversation when we were standing in the street during the Jim Milsna CAFE event that Walker and Kapanke never showed up for. A guy who is a public employee union pipefitter from Eau Claire had come down for the protest. He and I started talking and he remarked that he had been offended in Madison by some folks talking about fascism, he said he really reacted emotionally to the extent that when he went home he looked up the definition. He said reading the definition completely changed his mind to the point where he now believes that fascism is exactly what is happening.
So I think we need to keep defining the word so that it begins to have concrete meaning for folks rather than historically emotive associations.
Naomi Wolf speaks about how there comes a point in the shut down of democracy where democratic actions are no longer effective and this speaks to the need for us to wake each other up pronto before it’s too late. Keep on using the f-word and educating us about its meaning. We are experiencing fascism’s ugly rise first hand, in America the Great, the Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave. Hah!
Feel free to use my name and my town, Viroqua. I was fiercely and lovingly taught to always stand up and speak truth to power and always to say my name.
Here is link to the Naomi Wolf piece KJ refers to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjALf12PAWc&feature=related