All through the dark years of the Bush Administration, progressives watched in horror as Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history's worst dictators. With each new outrage, the small handful of us who'd made ourselves experts on right-wing culture and politics would hear once again from worried readers: Is this it? Have we finally become a fascist state? Are we there yet?Alas for America, Ms. Robinson has wiped that wan smile of reassurance from her face. Having grimly trained her gimlet eye on the nascent "teabag" (sic) movement and the resultant unpleasantness where jack-booted seniors and people who work for a living brutally assault, with harsh words and raised voices at "town hall" meetings, dedicated members of our Congress as they heroically but vainly assure them hard-working public servants in Washington D.C. know what is best for them when it comes to health care, Ms. Robinson declares now fascism has arrived, albeit lightening her tragic pronouncement somewhat by continuing the virtuoso display of her powerful gift for metaphor.
And every time this question got asked, people like Chip Berlet and Dave Neiwert and Fred Clarkson and yours truly would look up from our maps like a parent on a long drive, and smile a wan smile of reassurance. "Wellll...we're on a bad road, and if we don't change course, we could end up there soon enough. But there's also still plenty of time and opportunity to turn back. Watch, but don't worry. As bad as this looks: no -- we are not there yet."
It's odd that I haven't been asked for quite a while; but if you asked me today, I'd tell you that if we're not there right now, we've certainly taken that last turn into the parking lot and are now looking for a space. Either way, our fascist American future now looms very large in the front windshield -- and those of us who value American democracy need to understand how we got here, what's changing now, and what's at stake in the very near future if these people are allowed to win -- or even hold their ground.All is not lost, however. The saintly Ms. Robinson has promised us she will reveal in her very next post how our republic may be rescued from the evil forces looming in the collective, bug-splattered windshield. Bless her selfless soul.