May 21, 2013
Stan Goff is a retired veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces. During an active-duty career that spanned 1970 to 1996, he served with the elite Delta Force and Rangers, and in Vietnam, Guatemala, Grenada, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Somalia and Haiti....
Sowing the Seeds of Fascism in America
On April 19, 1995, a fan of these martial male fantasies detonated 7,000 pounds of explosives at a federal office building and killed 168 human beings, in what he described as a defense of the Constitution of the United States.
Before we judge his claim too harshly, we should take note that this “defense of the Constitution” is the core of the oath taken by every U.S. military member who is now “serving” in the bloody occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It was the oath I took that led me to burn down the houses of Vietnamese, and the oath taken by Captain Medina and Lieutenant Calley before they ordered the massacre in My Lai, where the body count was three times that of Timothy McVeigh.
It’s magic, this defense of a sacralized political document; it changes forms. And white male supremacy (we always leave out that second modifier, though it is just as consistently true as the first) is not simple; therefore it cannot be simply dismissed.
The reason I bring this up at all, this old news of white male terrorism in the U.S., is anything but academic. The U.S. military is inducting avowed white supremacists again after an alleged hiatus ... one begun in response to the discovery of Timothy McVeigh’s ideological orientations, and the murder of a black couple in December that same year by neo-Nazis in the 82nd Airborne Division.
John Kifner, writing for the New York Times on July 7th:
This, of course, is remarkable for its abnormality ... or so some might have us think.
These explicitly white supremacist groups, contrasted with the implicitly white supremacist Republican Party, for example, openly embrace a vision of fascism, and openly admire fascist leaders. And while I take issue with those who throw the F-word around as a mere epithet stripped of any operational meaning, the alarm sounded by the SPLC about fascists joining the military under less than perfect oversight to prevent their entry raises some very interesting issues about our entire political conjuncture.
I believe the case can be made that these young men joining the military, embodying a racial-purity version of military masculinity, are anything except ab-normal. They are hyper-normal.
A norm, after all, is defined as a standard or model or pattern regarded as typical.
We need to first see for how long white supremacy has been considered ab-normal in the United States; then we can see how ab-normal it is right now, and only then begin to focus more tightly on the question of fascism and fascists joining the military.
What is seldom examined in public discourse outside the universities and a handful of anti-racist political formations, is the question of what it means to be “white.” Thinkers from Toni Morrison to Noel Ignatiev to bell hooks to Theodore Allen to Mab Segrest to David Roediger have studied whiteness extensively, in its economic, cultural and political dimensions, and conclude unanimously that there is no “objective” measure for what it means; but that it is a social construction linked absolutely to social power. The insistence on existence of a white race, by racists and non-racists alike, is symptomatic of a form of mystification that conceals the concrete relations of power behind a set of widely accepted abstractions.
White supremacy as a beliefhas evolved out of the practice of people in power, who defined themselves as white as a way of differentiating themselves from those over whom they wielded that power. Some very well-known American presidents who made openly white supremacist pronouncements were Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon. Of course, until the dismantling of Jim Crow in the South, white supremacy was a norm, and before the Civil War, slavery was a norm.
White supremacy was so normal in 1964 that after the defeat of Goldwater, the Republican Party adopted thinly veiled racist appeals to attract white voters who felt betrayed by the reluctant Democratic Party support for civil rights legislation. Openly racist public officials like Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott, even after their affiliations with white supremacist organizations were publicized, continued to be elected. The Republican appeals to white supremacy were cloaked as opposition to welfare, as “states rights,” and as concern about “crime.” As late as 1999 the Republican-controlled House of Representatives blocked a vote to condemn the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist organization with whom then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had close ties.
How normed does something have to be before we can say it is normal?
Denial supports this “non-racist” racism. A poll by the Washington Post in 2001 showed that half of all white people believe blacks in the U.S. are just as economically well-off and secure as whites.
The survey in fact notes that half of whites have convinced themselves that African-Americans and Euro-Americans are educated equally well in the U.S. The empirical evidence, of course, points to a contrary conclusion. This misperception by whites is based on two things: (1) the need to believe that race as an issue is “all in the past now” and (2) the association of middle-class whites with middle-class African-Americans, which lends anecdotal support to the idea of equality-achieved, by exclusive exposure to a non-representative sample of the black population. Half of all whites believe that African-Americans enjoy economic parity with whites, another staggeringly wrong impression (the poverty rate for blacks is double that for whites, as just one example).
Racial attitudes are constructed around existing material advantage. This is not nearly as newsworthy as a Klan rally. It is far more important, though, as a causative agent for our social antagonisms. And there is an element of white supremacy in the mainstream discourse about the Iraq war, for example. Both liberals and conservatives articulate the notion that the U.S. has to “stay in Iraq to prevent a catastrophe.” There is no recognition here of the orientalism (a white supremacist meme) that assumes the superiority of Western tutelage and the deviance (violent irrationality) of Arabs and-or Muslims. Privilege naturalizes itself. It portrays itself as an outcome of nature; and we all know that the laws of nature remain out of critical reach. Alas, that’s just how it is ... what a pity.
Dig last updated on Oct. 3, 2006