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Charlottesville: The aftermath



Give yourself a pat on the back, anti-Trumpers. Your powerful, united Resistance to this nightmare is bearing fruit.

Yes, I know the battle is far from over. He’s still there. Still insane, still disgusting, still dangerous. And from the sound of yesterday’s “both sides are to blame,” moving further and further into Bannon lunacy. And, yes, his followers are as psycho as he is, with their stupid nationalism and white supremacism and violence.

But we made him put out that second Charlottesville statement! While it’s true that every word of it was a lie, we know that he had no choice but to say it—and how that rankled him! We forced him to stand down, to look like a befuddled fool—which he hates–and in the process, he ticked off the very white supremacists who constitute his base, who accused him of caving to libtards. Yesterday, of course, he walked back his “moderation” speech and allowed full vent to his inner nazi. Well, good. All the world sees him in his true colors.

You can be proud that our Resistance has become the most significant political movement of this still young 21st century America. You don’t agree? Name me another that has had so much momentum, that arose from the grass roots even before Trump was elected, and now is rolling, rolling across the nation like a mighty wave. Occupy? It came and went. The tea party? A close second, but in our Resistance to Trump we see the tea party in its death throes.

The tea party, you see, was tactically successful for a while, but they committed a huge strategic blunder: They failed to dissociate themselves from the nazi-KKK-fascist elements that always have infested their ranks. Many Americans are very conservative, especially right wing Christians, and their calls for smaller government, law and order, self-reliance and more diligent immigration policies have a certain intellectual coherence. Truth is, many Democrats are on the same page on these and other issues.

But rank and file conservatives are extremely ill at ease with images of angry white men wearing nazi regalia and carrying weapons while calling for people of color to “go back where they came from.” It would have, and should have, been easy for the tea party to denounce these extremists from the get-go, but they chose not to. In this, the tea party made the same mistake as Occupy, which failed to evict from its ranks the “black bloc” of masked thugs and vandals who, frankly, turned off millions of middle-of-the-road Americans (including me) who might have made Occupy a movement of true historical importance. Occupy committed suicide, by refusing to cleanse its ranks; and we see the same happening today within the tea party. Its fringe crazies are killing it.

So, fellow Resisters, weary not! Last Spring I heard many of you sigh in despair, “What can we do?” My answer was, “Anything you can. Write a letter to the editor, tweet your congress person, donate to a political candidate, talk to your family and friends.” That is still the best advice. Individually, we are small to the point of powerless. Collectively, we are America.

More than 25 years ago I wrote this cover story in the East Bay Express:

“The Nazis Next Door” exposed the stupidity and fatuousness of local Nazis and white supremacists who wore camo clothes and fought paintball battles in the East Bay woods, preparing for the day when they would slaughter Jews, communists, liberals, blacks and homosexuals. The three men I met, who let me get to know them (for which I was grateful), all were losers. Who knows where they are today. Dead? In jail? Perhaps they were in Charlottesville. Wherever they may be, their younger versions, who were complicit in the murder of Heather Heyer, also are losers, led by the loser-in-chief, Donald J. Trump. Resisters, you are winners. Future generations will hear of your heroic exploits in standing up to this regime, and compare you to the freedom fighters in occupied Europe who resisted Hitler’s nazis, and the civil rights marchers of the Sixties. Be proud! Remember these glorious days.

  1. Bob Henry says:

    Tom Lehrer had some acerbic observations on this subject — worth revisiting.

    “I Wanna Go Back To Dixie”



    I wanna go back to Dixie,
    Take me back to dear ol’ Dixie,
    That’s the only li’l ol’ place for li’l ol’ me.
    Ol’ times there are not forgotten,
    Whuppin’ slaves and sellin’ cotton,
    And waitin’ for the Robert E. Lee.
    (It was never there on time.)
    I’ll go back to the Swanee,
    Where pellagra makes you scrawny,
    And the Honeysuckle clutters up the vine
    I really am a-fixin’
    To go home and start a-mixin’
    Down below that Mason-Dixon line.

    Oh, poll tax, how I love ya, how I love ya,
    My dear old poll tax.

    Won’tcha come with me to Alabammy,
    Back to the arms of my dear ol’ Mammy,
    Her cookin’s lousy and her hands are clammy,
    But what the hell, it’s home.
    Yes, for paradise the Southland is my nominee.
    Jes’ give me a ham hock and a grit of hominy.

    I wanna go back to Dixie
    I wanna be a dixie pixie
    And eat cornpone ’til it’s comin’ outta my ears
    I wanna talk with Southern gentlemen
    And put my white sheet on again,
    I ain’t seen one good lynchin’ in years.
    The land of the boll weevil,
    Where the laws are medieval,
    Is callin’ me to come and nevermore roam.
    I wanna go back to the Southland,
    That “y’all” and “shet-ma-mouth” land,
    Be it ever so decadent,
    There’s no place like home.

  2. Bob Henry says:

    And this puckish observation — likewise revisited.

    “National Brotherhood Week”



    Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
    And the black folks hate the white folks.
    To hate all but the right folks
    Is an old established rule.

    But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
    Lena Horne and Sheriff Clarke are dancing cheek to cheek.
    It’s fun to eulogize
    The people you despise,
    As long as you don’t let ’em in your school.

    Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
    And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
    All of my folks hate all of your folks,
    It’s American as apple pie.

    But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
    New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans ’cause it’s very chic.
    Step up and shake the hand
    Of someone you can’t stand.
    You can tolerate him if you try.

    Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
    And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
    And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
    And everybody hates the Jews.

    But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
    It’s National Everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week.
    Be nice to people who
    Are inferior to you.
    It’s only for a week, so have no fear.
    Be grateful that it doesn’t last all year!

  3. Bob Henry says:

    Fire and fury circa 1959.

    “We Will All Go Together When We Go”



    When you attend a funeral
    It is sad to think that sooner o’
    Later those you love will do the same for you
    And you may have thought it tragic
    Not to mention other adjec-
    Tives, to think of all the weeping they will do
    (But don’t you worry.)
    No more ashes, no more sackcloth
    And an armband made of black cloth
    Will some day never more adorn a sleeve
    For if the bomb that drops on you
    Gets your friends and neighbors too
    There’ll be nobody left behind to grieve

    And we will all go together when we go
    What a comforting fact that is to know
    Universal bereavement
    An inspiring achievement
    Yes, we all will go together when we go

    We will all go together when we go
    All suffuse with an incandescent glow
    No one will have the endurance
    To collect on his insurance
    Lloyd’s of London will be loaded when they go

    Oh we will all fry together when we fry
    We’ll be French fried potatoes by and by
    There will be no more misery
    When the world is our rotisserie
    Yes, we will all fry together when we fry

    Down by the old maelstrom
    There’ll be a storm before the calm

    And we will all bake together when we bake
    There’ll be nobody present at the wake
    With complete participation
    In that grand incineration
    Nearly three billion hunks of well-done steak

    Oh we will all char together when we char
    And let there be no moaning of the bar
    Just sing out a Te Deum
    When you see that I.C.B.M
    And the party will be “come-as-you-are.”

    Oh we will all burn together when we burn
    There’ll be no need to stand and wait your turn
    When it’s time for the fallout
    And Saint Peter calls us all out
    We’ll just drop our agendas and adjourn

    You will all go directly to your respective Valhallas
    Go directly, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dolla’s

    And we will all go together when we go
    Ev’ry Hottenhot an’ ev’ry Eskimo
    When the air becomes uranious
    And we will all go simultaneous
    Yes we all will go together
    When we all go together
    Yes, we all will go together when we go

  4. Bob Henry says:

    I proffer this book review.

    From The Wall Street Journal “Opinion” Section
    (August 16, 2017, Page A15);

    “When Bystanders Are Not Innocent”

    Book review by Jeremy Rabkin
    [professor at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University]

    “The Crime of Complicity”
    By Amos N. Guiora
    (Ankerwycke, 220 pages, $29.95)

    The ornate and imposing Peace Palace in the Hague, now home to the International Court of Justice, was completed in 1913. It is a monument to the optimism of a bygone era. Across the street is a more modest and somber monument, this one devoted to the local victims of World War II. There were, it records, 2,000 deaths attributable to wartime bombing and 2,000 to the effects of food shortages in the last months of the war, as well as 16,000 deaths among Jews deported to death camps—“all mourned without distinction,” as a plaque explains in Dutch. So people who were deliberately hunted down by Dutch officials and shipped to their doom by Dutch transport workers are remembered in the same category as inadvertent casualties of war.

    In “The Crime of Complicity,” Amos Guiora doesn’t mention this notable example of moral evasion. But his book is a kind of mediation on such self-protective detachment. Mr. Guiora is not interested here in the perpetrators of evil but in those who avert their gaze — even from shocking scenes that take place in front of them, as in the city streets and train stations where, in the 1930s and 1940s, grandmothers and children were herded to their fate by pitiless guards. To help him understand the bystander, Mr. Guiora visited the sites of such places in the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary, seeking out people who had memories or family stories of what had happened in that time or had taken it upon themselves to study the history of the era.

    Mr. Guiora, a law professor at the University of Utah, continually returns to episodes of passive acquiescence during the Holocaust. But he also invokes episodes he sees as contemporary analogues. Just within the past few years, he tells us, a young man assaulted and then murdered a 7-year-old girl at a restroom in a Nevada resort while a friend of his peeked at the assault and then walked away. A football player at Vanderbilt videotaped himself and teammates raping a drugged young woman while his roommate pretended to remain asleep in the same room. These witnesses didn’t even call the police and suffered no legal penalty for declining to intervene. Mr. Guiora urges that we fix criminal liability on such people. In so doing, he says, we would embrace “a primary lesson learned from the Holocaust: silence and nonaction kill.”

    His own models for reform do not seem likely to make a great difference, however. Mr. Guiora commends statutes in Minnesota and Wisconsin that (in contrast to the law in other states) do require bystanders to “provide assistance” to crime victims “exposed to bodily harm.” But the liability provisions still exempt bystanders when rendering assistance would pose “danger or peril to self or others.” And even where the liability would apply, lawmakers declined to impose severe punishment, probably recognizing the difficulty of judging intentions and capacities in most cases. Minnesota’s law characterizes the failure to assist as a “petty misdemeanor,” the lowest level of criminal offense.

    A law of this kind, in any case, would not have made a difference in wartime Europe, where bystanders had much more to more fear than subsequent misdemeanor charges. To confine liability within reasonable limits, Mr. Guiora stipulates that the obligation to intervene be limited to those in immediate physical proximity to a crime. In Europe under the Nazis, though, mounting an effective rescue usually required advance planning and coordination, so it depended on people who were not in the immediate vicinity of a particular atrocity. They were people with exceptional courage and foresight — heroes.

    But legal reform is not really central to “The Crime of Complicity.” As Mr. Guiora acknowledges in his last chapter, “what started out as a book examining a particular legal question became, over the course of time, something very different . . . when it transitioned from the abstract to the personal.” Instead, we learn of how his parents managed to survive in wartime Hungary, though his grandparents did not. He reports his father’s experience when victims on a death march were taunted by villagers even in the last months of the war. He also describes the agonizing choices made by householders in Dutch towns who agreed to hide persecuted Jews but only for one night or to hide one child but not the child’s family.

    Some readers will find such personal accounts moving, others may regard them as distracting or self-absorbed. But the book does highlight some painful general patterns. In the Netherlands (an example Mr. Guiora dwells on), collaboration and passivity resulted in the death of the overwhelming majority of Jews, while in France and Italy volunteer networks helped save the overwhelming majority. Circumstances differed —
    but also, it seems, the readiness of individuals to take risks and act outside normal routines. “We are not a brave people,” a former Dutch justice minister explained to Mr. Guiora.

    The challenge still resonates. When a terrorist tried to take control of a train heading from Amsterdam to Paris in 2015, three young Americans (assisted by a 62-year-old English businessman) leapt into action and managed to disarm him. The other passengers remained passive. Two of the three Americans were servicemen and surely helped by their military training. Taking the initiative requires self-confidence as well as concern. But it also requires a strong sense of what’s right — a sense of responsibility.

    Inspiring a culture of responsibility can’t be achieved by a three-point government program or a new criminal statute. But it may help to celebrate true heroes — and to remind people, as “The Crime of Complicity” surely does, of what happens when a whole society sinks into passivity.

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