smiling in a time of contagion
There is rarely much correlation between the things that are funny, and the things that should be.
A few days ago the American president declared war on something called ‘Antifa’. It was perfectly odd because Antifa isn’t a real organisation. Short for ‘antifascism’, it refers to anyone who thinks people like Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito, or even the Emperor in Starwars, deserved what they got.
If Band of Brothers made you think ‘hey, good thing we stopped the Nazis from taking over the world,’ then you’re a member of Antifa. It isn’t an organisation, just a general ethos.
Antifa is much the same as RPWWNTU, another organisation that doesn’t exist, whose acronym stands for REASONABLE PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT TOLERATE UNICORNS. RPWWNTU serves people who’re sick of these blasted unicorns. Like those guys, Antifa designates anyone whose allegiances would lie with the rebel alliance in Starwars – which also, by the way, doesn’t exist as an organisation in the real world.
I should mention that my grandfather was a member of Antifa, having joined the Royal Australian Air Force in the late 1930s. He killed fascists mainly while piloting an American-made bomber. Grandpa was a staunch conservative. He was one of those hawkish old blokes who fretted about communists during the Cold War. But above all, what he hated was the fascists.
And it’s true, no fascist could reasonably feel safe around my Grandpa. He’d killed an awful lot of them. Then, after the war, he came home and took up golf. I would not have recommended any fascist attempt to play a round of golf with my grandpa. I don’t know for certain if he ever bludgeoned one to death with a seven iron, but after that nonsense he went through with the Japanese on the island of Singapore, I don’t think he’d have hesitated, really.
In my entire life nobody has suggested that Grandpa was doing anything problematic when he dropped ordinance on fascist dictatorships. Well, not until a couple of days ago.
Watching an American president declare war on people like my grandfather was surreal. Nobody has cause to be afraid of Antifa – well, not unless they have swastika flags hanging in their homes.
If you ever imagined yourself alive in World War II, and thought – yes, I’d have gone to fight those Godless sons-of-bitch Nazis – then you know something? Right there and then you accidentally joined Antifa. It’s so easy to do. For most, it happens when they watch Indiana Jones punch a Nazi in the chops.
You might say that South Korea is affiliated with Antifa, having been at war with fascist North Korea since the early 1950s. Not that anybody would bother saying such a thing; most of the time, fortunately, we forget that fascists are out there in the world. Normally the only people who fret about things like Antifa are weirdos who feel that Indiana Jones was being totally unfair to that poor, innocent gestapo agent.
When Trump declared himself a fascist, he didn’t do it just by declaring war on anyone who opposes fascism. He did a few extra things, too, just to clear up any ambiguity.
First, he stated that he would invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to bring the US military into American cities to “dominate” the millions who are out there now, protesting against police brutality.
Next, he ordered police to attack some nearby peaceful protestors with tear gas, then took a walk to a nearby church and posed for cameras while holding a Bible. It brought to mind the unimaginative theatrics of a tin-pot El Presidente. We shouldn’t be surprised that when fascism finally came to America it was holding the Bible upside down.
I feel sympathy for American conservatives. Trump isn’t the president they wanted him to be, and now they have to either denounce him or become precisely the people that the Greatest Generation went to war against. It’s a simple choice to make, though; nobody who knows anything about it would choose fascism. It is almost literally like working for a badly-run corporation, except that the people around you get arrested or murdered all the time.
Imagine a bombastic, authoritarian CEO takes over your company and replaces management with bullies. Gradually things stop functioning. Employees are brow-beaten, too afraid to report waste, theft, or wrong-doing – which is rife, by the way – and your colleagues are mistrustful and demoralised. There’s no incentive to perform well because the higher-ups are stealing things while screaming ‘Law and Order!’ in officious, overbearing tones. Then, as a way of excusing some rather glaring systemic deficiencies, the management encourages all employees to persecute a randomly chosen department. Disgusted, all the talented folk leave. And eventually, the CEO steals all the company’s money and flees to a non-extradition country.
You think this is metaphor? … drum roll, please …
“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”
By now, the world knows enough about fascism to feel zero sympathy for anyone who’d willingly embrace it. They might as well embrace a hand grenade.
Because fascists have always been the great losers of history. They’re always ridiculous. Will someone please explain why this is? Why do authoritarian leaders look so physically stupid? It’s not just Hitler’s toothbrush mustache (though what was he thinking?!) – look at Colonel Gaddafi, will you? He wore outlandish clothes, he pinned gaudy military medals on himself – who does this?
Well, fascists, I suppose – but why?
And true to form, there is something strange about this American president, isn’t there? For one thing, he likes to paint himself orange. Let’s be frank – this is unusual. And it bears consideration. After all, the man knows that millions around the world laugh at him about it. Like all fascist leaders, he’s famously thin-skinned. He seethes when he’s mocked. And yet, the man can’t seem to stop. He keeps painting himself! Deliberately!
This is a very peculiar individual. But I have to mention this specifically because you wouldn’t normally expect a man who paints himself orange to be a white supremacist. If I put that into a novel then, look – the emails I’d receive! But facts are facts, and here’s another. I didn’t want to mention but I really have no choice: the American president is openly racist.
I can’t imagine how minorities must feel right now. It’s awkward to be light-skinned in the United States today. I always want to grimace apologetically at every minority in sight, and perhaps offer to carry their groceries or something. I can’t imagine what orange people must be feeling.
Whenever Donald Trump tries to sound like a dictator, I always find myself staring at his hair. Wouldn’t a billionaire get it fixed? Then I think about Gaddafi, and that’s me distracted for a full five minutes. After that, I gradually recall that people eat up this silliness with a spoon, and then I feel nauseous for a while. Eventually I notice Trump’s hair again, snicker, and the whole cycle repeats.
Pompous, puffy, so-called Strong Men. Fascists love them. I wouldn’t buy a used-car from a man with that smug attitude, but some will line up around the corner just to lick his boots. And the most messed-up thing about fascists is that their followers are always the first to be crushed by those same boots.
Here’s another noteworthy thing about them – they die. In large numbers. Look what happened when Covid-19 entered fascist countries. Who could ever have guessed that silencing experts, ignoring doctors, and placing clueless political appointees into senior public health positions wasn’t a recipe for disaster?
In healthy democracies, leaders stepped-aside and listened to the experts. It bears mentioning that the last time I checked, Dr. Fauci hasn’t been able to talk to the president for the past two weeks.
Suddenly, I’m reminded of a buffoon-like Austrian who was famous for ignoring his own generals. One day, he decided to invade Russia. The experts suggested that this was ill-advised, but they just lacked vision and greatness, I suppose. You know, if compelled to come up with something positive to say about fascists, I think it would be that they’re good at killing themselves in large numbers. The problem, of course, is that they like to insist on dragging everyone else into it, too.
Which is why my Grandpa had to quit being a lifeguard in New South Wales. Imagine his frustration – it was the 1930s, he was surfing every day, and he had to quit that, travel across the world, and drop bombs on complete fucking idiots.
Meanwhile, 81 years later, Trump is stomping and ranting. He’s called the free press ‘the Enemies of the People’, but everyone in the world nowadays is a citizen journalist, and carrying a phone that can record police abuses. The world gets to witness the American police’s attempt to dominate protestors and it’s not a good look.
It used to be that Americans couldn’t usually attend protests without risking their jobs and health insurance. But 40 million have registered for unemployment in the past few months, which means that, for the first time in their history, they have the opportunity to stand up and say ‘no’ to police murdering black people. The Orange Overlord can rant all day about how unfair everything is, but for every whining tweet there are hours of footage of police brutality being broadcast to phones and devices, all over the world.
We are watching. It’s like the Hong Kong protests, except in all the major cities of the United States. This is obviously an intensely difficult time for Americans, but the good news is that the bad guys are going to lose.
I’m not American but I’ve lived among them now for more than a decade, and I can recognise that they’re not cut out for this fascism nonsense. They have their faults, of course, but they’re generally good-hearted. Also, their pizza is pretty good, and they also gave the world the criminally underrated Fast and the Furious franchise, so I think they deserve our support in these troubled times.
As long as they fight the good fight, we should stick by them. Anyway, everyone knows Americans are kinda crazy, but you know something? They’re still family. And, as Dom Toretto always says, You don’t turn your back on family. And one time, that guy drove a sports car out the window of a skyscraper and into another skyscraper, so I think the man has earned our attention at this point.
All of it really makes me think about what Americans could achieve if they dropped this fascist nonsense, pooled their collective knowledge of street-racing, and came together in multi-ethnic harmony. Because, if you can’t imagine a socially progressive vision of post-racial America, then you need to sit down and watch The Fast and the Furious franchise right now. They are everything that America stands for – and way more plausible and coherent than the demented mutterings of a racist old man who wants to be the next Mussolini.
There is rarely much correlation between the things that are funny, and the things that should be.
For about a month or so, Boudica and I had almost daily arguments about the existence of Yetis.