This week in Scheer Intelligence, Stanley and Scheer begin their conversation on how the failures of democratic governance has led us to be “actually the society that is closest to what Germany was” just preceding Hitler. Stanley points that Hitler saw the United States as something of a model when he wrote Mein Kampf, especially the 1924 Immigration Act, which Jeff Sessions has praised, that established quotas for some immigrants and an outright ban on many others.
The discussion continues around fake news and how it has been directed to Black America, from the myth of the black rapist to super-predator diatribes in the 1990s. Racism is a topic that threads throughout the conversation and connects how the Democratic Party does not represent progressive democracy and in fact, “both political parties kept racism alive with these coded messages,” opening ourselves to a politician that has “come and decode the messages,” and that is by being explicitly racist and welcomed by the public. Trump has bonded and created a following by appealing to ultranationalist views and ignoring the true creators of economic hardship. “The idea in fascism is to destroy economic politics… you don’t mention the actual economic forces… The corporatists side with politicians who use fascist tactics because they are trying to divert people’s attention from the real forces that cause the genuine anxiety they feel,” Stanley says.
The rise of fascism, many have argued, is due to economic anxiety. However, Stanley, argues economic anxiety is dubious, because black and brown people have suffered greater economic anxiety, pointing to statistics where of $100 of accumulated wealth that whites have, blacks have only $5. Or where a white male has a 1 out of 17 chance of ending up in the prison system, but if you are a black man you have a 1 in 3 chance. Instead of black and brown people moving towards a fascist politician, they are moving towards progressive populism.
Scheer raises the subject of patriotism. Stanley discusses “the toxicity that certain forms of patriotism can take,” of making the country great again, and when a demagogue rises and creates “a nostalgia for the past, it creates a sense of intense victimization for a past that never was… and when you see the dominant group made to feel like they’re victims, that they’re terrible victims, in the face of all the facts, that’s when you know that fascist politics is taking grip.”
The interview concludes with a discussion of fake news wherein people accept certain knowledge and facts presented by the media, which Scheer argues, many times has been fake news. For example, when the media fed us government propaganda to support wars like Iraq and the Cold War, to which Stanley replies, “the whole concept of empire is based on fake news, all of colonization is based on fake news…The whole idea that we have the right to invade other countries, because we’re better, is based on mythology…So whenever you find the massive military incursions…that clearly do terrible harm to other countries, you have done under the banner of, oh, we’re spreading democracy or spreading civilization or spreading Christianity, you’re going to have myth, you’re going to have fake news. But I also want to emphasize in my work that no, America has never been great. But the idea of America can be great. It’s a future thing, our greatness, not a past thing. The past is something we’re trying to overcome, and we’re trying to realize our greatness with certain ideals.”
Photo Credit: Edwin Tse