Hello, there, Dear Reader, and welcome to another edition of A Certain Point of View, Too. In my corner of Florida, it’s already midafternoon on this, the last Saturday of August 2020. Currently, the temperature is 90˚F (32˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 70% and a southwesterly breeze of 8 MPH, the “feels-like” temperature is 106˚F (41˚C). Definitely not a good day to be outside unless being outside entails swimming in a pool or reading a book in a shady glade with a nice cold beer within reach.
As the title of this post implies, I am not exactly feeling at my best, neither physically nor emotionally. I had a rather “bad sleep” night – plagued by a not-quite bout of insomnia made even worse by homesickness and fretfulness over my future. I stayed up way too late – I even watched a not-so-good movie called Vantage Point in an effort to get sleepy.
I eventually made my way to bed sometime around 7 AM and slept fitfully until 10 AM, but I obviously didn’t sleep enough. I’m tired, irritable, and I have a headache that if I had to quantify on a pain scale of 1-10, I’d say it feels like a Level 1000 migraine.
Part of my irritability is related to personal issues that I’m not going to get into, but most of it is due to the sad state of American politics and the current chasm between those who identify as conservatives and those who identify as liberals. And what I find particularly enervating is not just the polarization in the body politic that is fragmentizing America – a polarization on par with that convulsed the nation during the Vietnam War (1965-1973) – but the fearmongering and vilification of liberals by supporters of President Donald Trump.
I am not an expert on U.S. political history. My focus in history as a field of study has always been more on military history, especially on conflicts in which the United States has been an active belligerent nation. But I do know that while there have always been intense rivalries between adherents of different political philosophies, e.g. Federalists vs. Democrat-Republicans, Whigs vs. Democrats, Republicans vs. Democrats, etc., the animus between “left” and “right” has never been in such stark relief as it is now.
Consider: Earlier today I had to unfollow one of my high school classmates in Facebook. I met her when we both sang in our school’s choral groups, and in most respects she’s a warm and kind woman and is deeply involved in her community as a private school teacher.
Of course, back in the Eighties we never discussed politics, and even if we had, chances are that we would have agreed about most issues; in 1982-83 I was a moderate conservative who supported many – not all, but enough – of then-President Reagan’s policies, especially those related to national defense and a tough stance against Communism.
Now, nearly 40 years after we graduated from high school, my classmate is a full-on conservative who, although she’s not rude on social media like many Trump supporters, is deeply into the Democratic Party-is-really-Communist philosophy.
Today, for instance, she shared a post from the Virginia-based conservative website World Tribune on her Timeline. The post is an anonymously-penned letter ostensibly written by an elderly Cuban-American woman to her family, warning of the Communist takeover that will be the result of a Biden-Harris victory over Trump in the November Presidential elections.
Whether the letter is genuine or not is irrelevant; whenever you venture into a “conservative” media site like World Tribune, you have to wonder if the content is created by a professional propagandist or if it is really written by honest people who truly believe the views they promote. In the end, it doesn’t really matter; what does matter is the message that conservatives constantly send to likely Republican voters.
Here is an excerpt from that post:
Socialism is the precursor of communism. The moment that the government starts to “pay” for everything democracy diminishes. When I hear free medical, free college, tax the rich to oblivion etc. what it really means is that we cease to be a free democracy. The truth is there will never be enough money, once the government runs out of money it starts to raise taxes of course it always starts with the rich, and like a snowball running down the mountain it eventually explodes hurting everyone. Laws are passed arbitrarily; socialism does not believe in self-government. It will eventually set a common salary for all alike, by freezing all bank accounts, you may only withdraw up to a certain amount. Followed by the collapse of businesses for lack of funds or too high taxes. In some countries it does not wait for that but rather confiscates the business which will now be owned by “the people” meaning the government. Today I heard that there is a boycott of Goya products because the owner went to the White House and supports Trump. Communists do not waste an opportunity even as innocent as a trip to the White House. The idea is to create followers, to incite discontent, it has nothing to do with a trip to the White House, it has to do with creating an environment of protest against anything and everything, they thrive on discontent. It has already started, they are testing the ground, actions like this are like a light rain, but it is the precursor of the storm that will follow. I encourage you to listen to both sides, not just the liberal press and their interpretation of the other side. To make an informed decision we must listen to both sides. Enjoy the free press while we have it, that will be the first thing to go. The One thing that is common to all countries is the belief that it’s not going to happen to them.
These are the constant themes that I see on conservatives’ social media posts every single day:
- Distrust of “the Other”
- Constantly conflating liberalism/progressivism with socialism/Communism
- Claiming Republicanism/conservatism is the only acceptable political philosophy in the U.S.
- A belief that Christians in the U.S. are under attack by liberals and atheists
Here’s another sample of the Trump-supporting right-wing mindset.
This was written by another of my high school classmates, who is basically a super-nice guy in most areas – except for politics:
JANUARY 1, 2026, CNN HEADQUARTERS, NY: The long anticipated invasion of the United States, the last free nation, has begun. Having successfully weakened the U.S. military through their manipulation of the Coronavirus, and the hacking of the US defense network, communist Chinese troops penetrated the northern US border this morning. Chinese battalions easily overtook the cities of Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle, cities without strong police departments. Citizens in those cities who began to protest were immediately executed by Chinese soldiers.
In New York City, the Chinese invaders toppled the Statue of Liberty and entered the streets of Manhattan, armed with lists of politicians, professors, and business leaders. Assisted by local Social Democrats, the Chinese rounded up the city leaders and took them to the NY countryside to communist re-education camps. In a bizarre twist, the Chinese soldiers then proceeded to execute some of the Social Democrats who helped them, on the spot, reports that others were buried alive by the Chinese are not confirmed at this point.
In Los Angeles, Chinese soldiers quickly occupied the city, meeting little resistance. Groups of Chinese soldiers then sought out local celebrities and politicians for communist re-education. One Hollywood producer was executed in his driveway, in front of his actress wife, while pleading for his life. His wife was then placed in a van and driven away by the Chinese troops, her whereabouts are unknown.
In MIAMI, the scene was different: it was not Chinese but CUBAN soldiers who quickly occupied the city. Our sources have learned that these soldiers, who call themselves BALSEROS, had actually been living in Miami for many years under assumed identities. With monies stolen through Medicare fraud, the Balseros were able to purchase firearms and munitions , which they used in the battle for Miami. Throughout Little Havana, American flags were torn down and many residents, Balseros themselves, cheered for the invaders.
This is the message that Trump supporters put forth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and every other social network. In timeline posts, the comments sections of news stories from various news networks, newspapers, and digital channels, the right’s message is never a positive, spirit-raising balm calling for unity and reconciliation.
Rather, it’s a constant tattoo of war drums that predict the downfall of the once-great United States, a downfall that can only be prevented if the “evil Demonrats” are excised from the American body politic.
I’m not saying that all conservatives or that all Republicans are fascists in the making; obviously there is a large number of what one might call “establishment” Republicans, including ex-President George W. Bush, the late Senator John S. McCain III, General (and former Secretary of State) Colin Powell, and former Republican pundit George F. Will, who have rejected the hyper-nationalist, neo-isolationist, protectionist, and racially divisive brand of conservatism that many have come to call “Trumpism.”
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”James Wilkerson Wise, often misattributed to Sinclair Lewis
What I am saying is that there has always been a core constituency – mostly white, mostly Protestant, and overwhelmingly rural and/or Southern – that espouses a value system that is, as I call it, “fascism with an All-American face”. You can recognize the type easily on social media; a cursory look at a typical rabid Trump supporter’s Facebook profile usually features:
- Photos of a white, middle-class male or female, usually in the 45-75 age group, but there are younger ones, too
- Attended the “School of Hard Knocks”
- Posts festooned with “frames” that say “I Stand for the Flag, I Kneel for the Cross”
- Posts or status messages that proclaim “Blue Lives Matter”
- An exaggerated reverence for the U.S. Armed Forces
- Posts or re-posts of “news” articles that vilify liberals, Democrats, or Republican moderates that do not support Trumpism
- False claims that Facebook is taking down any posts that praise God, quote The Lord’s Prayer, or proclaim any pro-Christian views
- Propagandistic posts that show Trump in Stalin-level cult of personality poses, including photoshopped images melding Trump’s head and face onto the body of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa
- Comments on news stories about Trump or any happening where violence has marred a protest that overwhelmingly express support for law enforcement and berate protesters and blame people of color (POC) who are shot by LEOs for “not complying with police”
- False claims about the COVID-19 pandemic and an outright refusal to criticize the current Administration’s handling of the health crisis
Some of these social media accounts, no doubt, are fake, created by Russian employees of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed “troll farm” created by Vladimir Putin’s intelligence apparatus in order to exploit and exacerbate existing divisions in American society.
While this effort is not intended to destroy the United States outright – though I strongly suspect that some Russians would not mind if the Union dissolved, like the USSR did in the late 1980s and early ‘90s – it does weaken the country’s ability to react to sudden overseas crises either fomented by Moscow or enhance the Kremlin’s national goals. If the U.S. can be distracted by internal turmoil and/or be cleaved from its Western allies, Putin is happy and can claim to his base, “See. I made Russia great again.”
However, many other profiles that profess conservative opinions and ideology are not fake. They are the genuine article. And that, Dear Reader, is scary,
Fascism is attempting to make a comeback across the Western world, including Putin’s Russia. So is white supremacy, which is paradoxically being fanned by the spread of the equally dangerous world view of radical Islamists.
And considering that every culture has its share of people who are perfectly fine with the idea of authoritarianism – especially if it is married to religious fundamentalism -it’s not surprising that a quote – erroneously attributed to Sinclair Lewis but was coined by James Waterman Wise – on the subject of right-wing extremism in the U.S. is currently in vogue:
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
If you don’t believe me, just log in to Facebook and look at some of the posts on your conservative friends or relatives’ Timelines. Some of them may be circumspect about their views and will only post cute animal videos, Facebook game “accomplishment” announcements, and other inoffensive material.
Others, though, are more up-front about their politics and are not shy about posting memes that vilify well-known liberals or Democratic Party leaders. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Adam Schiff are among Trump supporters’ Top Villains’ list, although Bernie Sanders, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar are also targets for the vitriol of “conservative” Facebook members, both real and unreal.
Again, their message is hardly ever a Ronald Reagan-like “Morning in America” theme that reflects optimism and hope for the future. Instead, it’s always the same tattoo of war drums that say “the Demonrats will take our guns away if Biden wins, or they will tax us into oblivion, or they will shut the free press down.”
And they will embroider these doom-and-gloom tapestries of hate with pictures of the American flag waving proudly in the breeze, or bald eagles soaring in the sky, and the ever-present cross that symbolizes their belief that Gott mit Uns: “God is with us.”
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”