This past Friday was the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht and Saturday was the 120th anniversary of the white supremacist massacre & coup d’état in Wilmington, North Carolina. Ishmael Reed wrote a great essay last week, linking the latter with the recent murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
We’re thinking of the leftist Jews around the world who are taking to the streets this weekend, responding to a call for actions against Fascism made by the new Outlive Them network.
Unfortunately, Europe continues to be a total nightmare in its return to open Fascism. A 200,000-person nationalist march took place in Warsaw today, with the President and Prime Minister participating alongside Fascist groups. The French Prime Minister spent last week defending a Nazi collaborator who sent Jews to concentration camps. And in Germany, a Neo-Nazi faction was recently discovered within the military, with plans to assassinate leftist politicians and immigrant leaders.
We’re thinking of Traute Lafrenz, the last surviving member of the anti-Nazi White Rose Resistance, who recently said, “maybe it’s not coincidence, we are dying out and at the same time everything is coming back again.”
Last week’s mid-term elections are also on our minds. They contained more overt Anti-Semitism than any campaigns we can remember seeing. Here are a few examples of how many people voted for openly Anti-Semitic/white nationalist candidates:
-56,000 people in Illinois (Arthur Jones)
-43,000 people in California (John Fitzgerald)
-216,000 people in Florida (Matt Gaetz, who won)
-157,000 people in Iowa (Steve King, who won)
The Trump administration’s announcement of ‘Operation Faithful Patriot,’ made just before the elections, is sitting with us too, like a series of pits in our stomachs. We can’t stop thinking about what will happen to all those making their way toward the US-Mexico border.
We’re thinking about Masha Gessen’s work on the ways authoritarian regimes normalize themselves & limit visions of liberatory futures via cynicism. Her work on the construction of the authoritarian subject has made us consider whether we’ve been witnessing a growth of this kind of psyche in the US and Canada.
We’re also thinking about how the emergent discourse of Liberal Democracy vs Fascism is limiting our understanding of what’s occurring. White supremacy has always been an essential part of this society and we’re thinking about the continuity of violence. We’re thinking about how today marks the 187th anniversary of the hanging of Nat Turner. And of Marshal Curry’s restored video of a 20,000-person Nazi rally held at Madison Square Gardens in 1939.
We’re thinking about Aimé Césaire’s writing from the 1950s, about Fascism as European colonialism come home to roost. Of how Germany’s colonization of Africa & the Herero and Nama genocide were immediate precursors to the Nazi genocide. That the ideological basis for Fascism was always present within European colonialism, and how the racist brutality of settler colonial states like Canada and the US particularly inspired the early Fascists. We’re thinking about the Brown University study released on Thursday that described the bodycount of the US war on terror as “barely scratching the surface” at 500,000. Imperial violence doesn’t require Fascists at the helm.
At the same time, we’re terrified by the rise of the far-right in Brazil and the new regime’s intention to destroy all remaining indigenous territories. We’re reminded of how following Kristallnacht, one of the few displays of international solidarity with German Jews was by a delegation of the Australian Aborigines’ League, who protested at the German embassy in Australia.
We’re thinking today about how William Cooper, the Indigenous Yorta Yorta man who led the delegation, saw a direct link between the colonial violence they were experiencing and what was taking place in Germany.