17 November, 2015

Return of the Gator Men: the weeping, the gnashing, and the rise of fashionable fascism

Life has been stacked up and overflowing with busy-ness, Dear Friends and Readers. For my students, the impending pendulum approaches. The end of the semester is nigh. After Thanksgiving (National Turkey and People Stuffing Day), there is one short week left of actual class before the dismal miasma of Finals Week... a week that I do not actively participate in, and haven't since the last time I was forced to give a final exam*.

I'm also hard at work on a cover story for LEO Weekly, which is why I haven't had much to post in the NEWS column there. It's not for the lack of things to write about, because down here in River City there is all manner of beast and man (mythical and otherwise) that needs raked out of the muck and drawn into light. But there is only so much time, only so much me, and only so much space managing editors are willing to give over in the light of Dining Guides and other leisure-driven** focuses which have become the marrow of the alternative press in these, the dying days of empire.***

Recent world events -- the ISIS bombings in Paris, the less publicized bombings in the middle east -- are drawing out the American nativists in droves. Seemingly rational people are starting to trumpet Donald Trump's wall building/jack boot brigade idea of scrubbing out any potentially dangerous**** people who want to do us harm.

Nativism is nothing new. It was all the rage when Irish, German, and European immigrants ran the Ellis Island gauntlet. Here, in fair River City, the 1855 Bloody Monday Riots^ are hardly ever talked
about.  Anti-Semitic sentiment ran strong in ol Amer-i-kay well even after Pearl Harbor, and anti-Japanese sentiment ran so strong after Pearl Harbor that Japanese Americans were herded into internment camps with the same speed and rapidity that Hitler's German Army was cramming the Warsaw Ghetto and then the concentration camps -- you know, the ones with the ovens. And we we shouldn't forget about President Dwight D. Eisenhower's grand scheme in May 1954 known as Operation Wetback.

Nativism is nothing new. The poor sots on your Facebook feed did not invent xenophobia. Neither did Trump, Saddam Hussein, Glenn Beck, Ike,  FDR, Hitler, or Franco. Racism isn't anything new, either, and none of the afore mentioned folks or your politically incorrect Uncle Bob invented it.

It's nothing new, and every generation has to come to terms with it -- or in our case, fight it. Nativism, nationalism, and the corporate take-over of the government do not make for a free and democratic society. There is no example of any of those things working in tandem. Freedom and democracy always run counter to bigotry and hatred. Always.

But, if the fascists win out, the buses will probably run on time. There's always that.

The days of myth and legend are upon us again, Dear Friends and Readers. The Gator Men are a crawling out of the river. This isn't the Apocalypse... but it sure will feel like it for some. Bring a sturdy hat.


* I teach writing -- composition, for those of you inclined to ask whether I teach poetry. I don't teach poetry writing because my pedigree isn't pedi enough... there's no F breaking up my MA, and I don't expect there will be one. While I see nothing wrong with anyone pursing an MFA, I don't see much point in it for me. The urge to write, access to good libraries, and a few stalwart and honest readers are all I need. The larger community of writers is a nice compensation for for a guy who spends a lot of time alone scribbling, too. 
** Please note use of the term  "leisure" instead of "culture." Culture means art, which walks hand in hand with current and historical events and ideas. LEISURE is the snooty version of REALITY TV -- which is nothing more than bubble gum for brains being mushified by reliance on GPS to find the grocery store.
**** Read: anyone not white who does not subscribes to un-Christlike Christianity, or anyone of color whose name is non-Eurpoean in origin, or anyone of color who is not an apologist for Caucasian xenophobia.
^ The Bloody Monday Riot was a nativist uprising against immigrant voters who were mostly Irish or German, but almost entirely Catholic. The nativists, who were members all of the American Whig Party, sometimes remembered as The Know-Nothings, attacked voters as they walked to their polling places, as well as in their homes and neighborhoods.  The Whigs eventually disintegrated into the Republican Party. Apparently the Whigs have decided to take their political party back in the name of  God, Country, paid for in the blood of anyone who might look like what they think a terrorist is supposed to look like.
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