In fairness to Italy’s proto-fascist street thugs, they brought a fashion sense that has resonated through the ages with club-hoppers, swell deviants, clothing designers, self-admiring auteurs and various cultural sheeple all around the world. They looked smart, even if they weren’t.
America’s new militant and militarized would-be fascist bullies favor polyester and Ban-Lon when the insurrectionism is casual; sporting goods camouflage or vintage store mufti when the occasion calls for dress-up. A firearm is the di rigueur accessory for virtually every occasion.
Fashion distinctions aside (the Italians win this one hand’s down) the objectives are much the same: intimidation, thuggish pressure, the leveraging of mob insurrection, and brutish defiance of civic and democratic process.
The ultra-right radicalism that first seeped into, and finally absorbed Republican politics entirely is moving into its street phase. I mean, what sort of seditious, rightist authoritarian movement worth its salt doesn’t have a paramilitary?
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released a report prompted by the latest cluster of rightist thuggery, some of it deadly, focusing on the Cliven Bundy Ranch anti-fed Hootenanny, which drew a ragtag platoon of rightist fruitcakes looking for an OK Coral finale, or pretending too, anyhow.
A certain kind of legerdemain occurs in the anti-government dumbass brain, transforming a scofflaw like Cliven Bundy refusing to pay his grazing fees, and trespassing his bovines on taxpayer-owned land into a combination of William Wallace and Ethan Allen fighting the British with cow pies. When the feds stood down rather than risk a gory mess, it was a giant boost to the goofy egos of the Guns and Ammo set, even though The Bureau of Land Management ain’t the 81st Airborne exactly, if ya know what I mean.
Bundy’s argument seems to boil down to: “I don’t have to pay to graze my cattle because the federal government can’t own land you see,” he and others of his ilk, including several elected Republicans suspended in some pre-America Anti-Federalist amber.
Shortly thereafter, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who had been dishonorably discharged from the Bundy Bunch for insufficient sanity (Imagine!) killed a couple of Nevada cops in the name of the revolution. Around the same time, Richard Marx, a “sovereign citizen” (I believe the technical term is fuckhead) went on a guns and explosives binge in a Georgia courthouse, doing so in order to save the country from death panels and fluoridation no doubt. The shame of having Marx as a name in Georgia may be a legitimate psychiatric defense in those parts.
Strong powers of observation no longer a sought after quality in the journalism hiring process apparently, it isn’t terribly surprising such incidents of murder, illegality and insurrection remain too subtle for the mainstream press to report as anything other than individual, isolated incidents. I’ll be the first to admit the rightist coconuts ought to get better organized. They have to present a more coherent message if Politico and the New York Times are going to find a Narrative they can hang their feathered caps on.
Which brings me to America’s real Blackshirts: The National Rifle Association.
Now eons away from being a gun safety or even gun advocacy organization, the NRA is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the far-right, an adjunct of an extremist cause proliferating the message of more guns in the street, and of violence as the settler of American disputes.
The potent combination of guns, radical ideology and the anti-rational is coercive, and intended to be. Furthermore, claiming gun saturation makes citizens safer, or that people have the right to gun other people down in public if they feel threatened (Stand Your Ground laws) besides being unsound and anti-rational is a menace to public safety. Indeed, combined with the right’s ideological hostility, often crossing into dehumanization outright, of the poor, the “takers,” immigrants and the racially stereotyped, if allowed to proliferate it holds the potential, if not to be as grossly perilous as claims for superior races or weeding out abnormality and racial impurity, but to be extremely dangerous, and certainly grossly perilous to racial segments of the population (Hello, George Zimmerman).
The NRA both pushes around Republican politicians and serves them at the same time, sharing ideologically extremist beliefs as they do, and compatible absolutism and fanaticism. Regarding them as an armed wing of the GOP or street presence of the American right isn’t much of a stretch now. Showing up at every anti-government rally, protest, incident or standoff with guns displayed prominently isn’t intended to communicate an advocacy message, but a threat and a warning.
The mutual gratification from the GOP’s and NRA’s reciprocal massaging of one another’s sphincters with their pistol barrels is most shamelessly on display in the states, where Republican-controlled governments now enact promiscuous gun laws that guarantee the bully boys can bring their guns to the streets with them, or wherever fellow citizens gather or go about their daily business. Having their kind of people waving their guns around in the street isn’t something way in the back of either organization’s mind, do you think?
If you can’t interpret this gun-infusion into the public domain as stark political intimidation sold with a wink and a sneer as the usual gun worship, I’m genuinely sorry to hear it. Folks with considerably more cosmopolitan sangfroid than I perhaps, may look at chronic rabies sufferer Wayne LaPierre’s kamikaze splats in front of a microphone following every mass shooting that happens, as far too preposterous to make a difference, except that every single gun reform measure dies in its tracks. I don’t find the menace or the implicit threats or the weapons at the ready if necessary references to be especially subliminal, but maybe I’m just an excitable boy.
Yes, it wouldn’t take much real force to brush back this collection of fatsos and bozos should they ever live the dream (I’m convinced they’re thoroughly chickenshit) but even if the public doesn’t take the “pry it out of my cold, dead hands” imagery literally, it’s implanted in the national psyche, and serves its purpose as psychological bullying. It’s not that subtle an advertisement that rightist goons on behalf of the extremist Republican cause are there, only for the mobilization.
Am I going too far with this? Maybe. But at the very least, thousands of the irascible, semi-hinged, and ideologically aswoon in the hinterlands hear what is coming out of their radio hosts, NRA mouthpieces and even elected officials about rising up and Second Amendment remedies, they couldn’t be expected to feel other than somewhat bullish about the potency and legitimacy of guns in the streets intimidation. Killing, and threatening the lives of abortion doctors on behalf of “life” is a clue to the potential there.
On the bright side, fashionistas continue to do it the Italian way.