Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wan-Nazi Be Starting Something

OK, you come up with a better post name about Nazis and provoking fights...

I was debating whether to publicly share what I'll be sharing in a few paragraphs because it really hit me hard personally, and frankly I'm still debating whether I actually will be able to write it.

But before I give it a shot, some context.

Talking Points Memo today highlights two instances of members of the incoming Trump regime rubbing elbows with politicians who could be described as at least "Neo-Nazi-adjacent."

The first involves Mike Flynn (who else?):

We learned overnight that Trump's designated National Security Advisor Michael Flynn met secretly in Trump Tower with the chief of the Austrian Freedom Party. The Austrian Freedom Party is not just any foreign political party or even any right-wing populist party. The Freedom Party was founded in 1956 by former Nazis, though that lineage can be slightly misleading. It is not and was never simply a refounding of the Austrian Nazi party. Still, it is a far right nationalist party, made up in its early years disproportionately of former Nazis which for many of these early years was shunned in national politics but also provided a home for people who were shunned by or unwilling to join the country's big two political parties. In more recent years it has had surges of popular support as a far-right anti-immigrant party.
I actually disagree a bit with Josh Marshall here about the lineage being slightly misleading. It really isn't. Any Jewish person following trends of anti-Semitism in central Europe in the last couple of decades will remember that the Austrian Freedom Party was the party of Jorg Haider:

Haider was frequently criticized for statements in praise of Nazi policies, or considered antisemitic.[43] International reports on Haider often referred to his remark that the Nazi government had produced a "proper employment policy" as compared to the SPÖ government. He was forced to resign as governor of the Carinthia province in 1991 because of the incident. Haider years later apologized.[15] On one occasion during a parliamentary debate, Haider described World War II concentration camps as "punishment camps."[15]
On several occasions Haider made remarks about Austrian World War II veterans that were represented as broad endorsement of the war and of the Nazi SS. Speaking to a gathering of veterans from several countries in 1990, he said that the veterans were "decent people of good character" and "remain true to their convictions." Haider stated that he did not specifically address Waffen-SS veterans with his remarks.[15] On another occasion, he said, "the Waffen-SS was part of the Wehrmacht (German military) and because of that it deserves every honor and recognition."[44] In 2000, at a gathering of Wehrmacht veterans in Ulrichsberg, including Waffen-SS veterans, he said, "Those who come to Ulrichsberg are not the old Nazis. They are not neo-Nazis, they are not criminals."[45]
Haider also compared the deportation of Jews by the Nazis to the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II.[46] Haider's detractors also pointed to a punning reference to the leader of the Jewish community of Vienna, Ariel Muzicant; Haider indicated that he did not understand how someone named Ariel (also the name of a popular laundry detergent) could have gathered so much filth, implying the real estate agent's business methods were crooked.[47] Haider's critics characterized the remark as antisemitic.[47] Haider also maintained that Muzicant faked antisemitic hate letters to himself. He later withdrew this and other accusations, and apologized for his "derogatory remarks."[48]
Haider was closely watched by Mossad, the Israeli secret service; FPÖ secretary general Peter Sichrovsky - a Jewish-Austrian politician and formerly one of Haider's closest aides - had gathered inside information on Haider's controversial contacts with prominent "Arab dictators".[49] Due to Haider's perceived contacts to Holocaust deniers, the Israeli Foreign Ministry on 29 September 2008 declared it was heavily concerned about the 2008 Austrian elections;[50] a spokesman of the ministry said that Israeli officials were "very worried about the rise to power of people who promote hatred, Holocaust denial, and befriend Neo-Nazis. We see it as a disturbing development and are following the matter very closely".[51]

 And these were his parents:

Haider's parents had been early members of the Austrian Nazi Party (DNSAP, the Austrian affiliate of the NSDAP, the German Nazi Party). They were from different backgrounds. Haider's father, Robert Haider, was a shoemaker. His mother, Dorothea Rupp, was the daughter of a well-to-do physician and head of the gynaecology ward at the general hospital of Linz.[4]
Robert Haider joined the DNSAP in 1929 as a fifteen-year-old boy, four years before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. He remained a member even after the Nazi Party was banned in Austria and after Engelbert Dollfuss had dissolved the Austrian parliament and established the Ständestaat, a fascist dictatorship. In 1933, Haider senior moved to Bavaria but returned to Austria the following year after the failed Nazi attempt to overthrow the Austrian government. He was arrested and chose to move back to Germany where he joined the Austrian Legion, a division of the Sturmabteilung.[5]
Haider senior completed a two-year military service in Germany and returned to Austria in 1938 after it was annexed by Nazi Germany (the Anschluss). From 1940, he fought as a junior officer on the Western and Eastern Fronts in Europe during the Second World War. Having been wounded several times, he was discharged from the Wehrmacht with the rank of lieutenant. In 1945, he married Dorothea Rupp, at that time a leader in the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM).

So, yeah, Mike Flynn welcomed a Neo-Nazi to Trump Tower (think about how surreal those last six words are!).

The second story might even be crazier:

A representative of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team was among a group of conservative lawmakers and officials from the U.S. and Europe who boycotted a meeting with Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely this week over her decision to exclude a far-right Swedish pol from the briefing, the Times of Israel reported Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry told the Times that the delegation had canceled its briefing with Hotovely (pictured above) because she would not allow the attendance Swedish pol Kristina Winberg, whom the spokesperson described as "a member of a party with neo-Nazi tendencies."
A representative for the group also told the Times that the delegation was boycotting the meeting in protest of Winberg's exclusion.
Becky Norton Dunlop, deputy to the senior adviser on Trump’s transition team for policy and personnel, was among the delegation scheduled to participate in the briefing. She is in Israel for the three-day Jerusalem Leaders Summit, a gathering of conservative politicians and advocates. The meeting with Hotovely in the Knesset was canceled just hours before it was scheduled to begin Wednesday, the Times of Israel said.
Apparently, the Trump transition team chose to side with a Neo-Nazi over conservative Israelis? Not that Israel is my beat, but if you ever hear a Trump supporter talk about how Trump is "good for Israel." send them the link to that story.

Moving from Neo-Nazis to another one of Trump's Nuremberg rallies, where he's busy helping his adoring supporters transition into Brownshirts:

“You people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall? We want the wall!’ Screaming, ‘Prison! Prison! Lock her up!’ I mean, you are going crazy,” Trump said during a stop in Orlando, Florida on Friday.
“You were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right? But now, now it’s much different. Now, you’re laid back, you’re cool, you’re mellow, right? You’re basking in the glory of victory,” Trump added.

I really don't want to share the video because I don't want his face permanently on my blog, but click through if you'd like and hear the venom in his voice as he praises these awful, awful people for being "nasty and mean and vicious." Yeah, that's gonna end well.

So, with that as background, we move to the results of the Presidential election, where the final count has Clinton winning by quite a bit:

The Democrat outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

That's not so much the news as how Trump stormtroopers are reacting to it. Chez Pazienza points out:
The latest Team Trump talking point is that Trump actually won the popular vote. All you have to do is remove New York and California and -- presto! -- Trump wins by three million votes. Yes, the conservative Daily Mail seems to have started this ridiculous meme and it's of course caught on like wildfire among the Trump faithful. Just pretend two entire states and the 60 million who live there don't exist and suddenly Little Donny can sleep at night without throwing a fucking tantrum because he didn't get what he wanted. By this logic, of course, we could just remove, say, Florida and Michigan, and Clinton is officially president because she'd beat Trump in the electoral college.
Or, in the same spirit in which the knock at New York and California is surely being offered, maybe we just eliminate all those flyover states and their extras-on-Hee-Haw populations and make it a rout for Clinton? See how that works? 
The fact that a lot of Trump's supporters are comfortable going to these kinds of supremely stupid lengths to prop up the unprecedentedly flimsy presidency of Jabba the Putz speaks volumes about the overall era that's now upon us. It's not just post-fact; it's the outright twisting of reality in an effort to make it fit a preconceived design, one from which its adherents absolutely refuse to deviate.

Jumping back to Nazis (I'm worried I'll be typing that often in the next few years), I didn't much like Philip Roth's The Plot Against America because I thought of it as alarmist and trying to tell us "it can happen here" when I've always insisted it couldn't. But read this and substitute "Trump" for "Charles Lindbergh," "Shmuley Boteach" for "Lionel Bengelsdorf," "Carl Icahn" for "Henry Ford," and "a treaty with fascist Russia and Vladimir Putin" for "a treaty with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler," and squint a little.  You'll start to see it.

The novel is told from the point of view of Philip Roth as a child. It begins with aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, already criticized for his praise of Hitler's government, joining the America First party. As the party's spokesman, he speaks against American intervention in World War II, and openly criticizes the 'Jewish race' for trying to force American involvement. After making a surprise appearance on the last night of the 1940 Republican National Convention, he is nominated as the Republican Party's candidate for President. Although criticized from the left, and hated by most Jewish-Americans, Lindbergh musters a strong tide of popular support from the South and Midwest, and is endorsed by conservative rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf. Lindbergh wins the election over incumbent president Franklin D. Roosevelt in a landslide under the slogan 'Vote for Lindbergh, or vote for war.' He nominates Burton K. Wheeler as his vice president, and Henry Ford as Secretary of the Interior. With Lindbergh as president, the Roth family begin increasingly to feel like outsiders in American society.
Lindbergh's first act is to sign a treaty with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler promising that the United States will not interfere with German expansion in Europe (known as the 'Iceland Understanding' after the place it is signed), and with Imperial Japan, promising non-interference with Japanese expansion in Asia (known as the 'Hawaii Understanding').

Trump and his people mingling with those who swing towards the swastika and praising violence to cheering crowds who deny facts....Here's where it gets personal for me.

Last night, I visited a local watering hole in Brooklyn that I tend to frequent. I was busy studying for an exam, so I pretty much had my head in a book for much of the night. However, I couldn't keep it there because there were not one, but two incidents of Trump supporters in this bar (where there were maybe 15 people) trying to provoke others.

First, a very inebriated 40-something white male stumbled into the bar and began shouting threats and racial slurs at a Latino guy and an African-American guy while praising Trump. The Latino dude actually slapped him twice, but the guy kept yelling at the other two and wouldn't leave when the bartender asked. I ended up calling the police, who escorted him out about 15 minutes later.

Shortly afterward, three military guys in their 30s, one from Tennessee and two originally from NYC, struck up a conversation with me about my studies. Right off the bat, we were in strange territory when one of the three stated that he believed that fewer people should be allowed to go to state colleges because going to college provides an unfair leg up over those who don't, and because he didn't like paying taxes toward it. Over the course of about 20 minutes, the conversation became increasingly heated as we touched on the following topics:

  • How exciting it is that Trump will be President, particularly his Cabinet picks. They felt especially strongly about James Mattis as Defense Secretary, despite the fact that his selection blatantly disregards the rules about who is eligible for that position
  • How climate change really isn't happening because there was once an Ice Age (huh?)
  • How the media can entirely not be trusted because they only support Democrats
  • How transgender people should not be allowed in the bathrooms of their choice because, "What if I said I wanted to go into the girls' room? You're OK with that? Well, how about if I went in, took a woman out to the corner, raped her, and smashed her head in?" (where the f**k do their minds even go to envision this stuff?)
  • How they wished they could bring their guns into bars in NY so they could feel safe
The gun issue was where any sense of cordiality started to vanish. I shared that having a gun statistically does not make you safer. The Tennessean said "that's only because people aren't trained. I've been shootin' a gun since I was at my mama's teat!" (I'm not making that up). I tried to cite statistics on lower gun violence in countries where there is more gun control (you're 46 times more likely to be shot in the US than the UK!) -- that's apparently because of the "thugs" in "Chicago, Baltimore, and other cities" -- and then that U.S. states with less control tend to have a higher gun death rate per capita. The three of them began to get more agitated and began to ask me why I'm talking about the 30,000+ gun deaths per year when a million abortions (which are apparently murders) are performed annually or the GMOs that are giving hundreds of thousands of people heart attacks (*scratches head*). The Tennessean helpfully noted that if I wanted to ban guns, why wouldn't I want to ban barstools, since he could bash me over the head with one? I probably should've walked away there, but they continued to cite statistics about abortions and telling me that any statistics I gave them were totally false because the "liberal media" invented them. They finally got to me. I banged my fist on the bar and exclaimed, "Are you stupid? These are scientific studies! This is science! This is math! If you don't believe in science and math, you're stupid?"

The Tennessean then asked me if I knew what the "wood treatment" was. I said no, and he said, "It's when I slam your head into the bar." Despite the fact that he was much bigger than me, I thought to myself that I had a moral obligation to stand up to him. I did exactly that -- I got off my seat, and said "You think so?" and he somehow backed down, and then the three glared at me as they left without finishing their beers.

I was actually a bit embarrassed. I'm not the kind of guy who gets into physical fights. I apologized to the bartender for the situation, and he said, "No, don't apologize. I thank you, because someone needs to give actual facts and statistics to guys like that."

So, two in a night. That's actually four incidents started by rowdy Trump supporters that I've witnessed in New York, three involving me directly, since Trump was nominated back in the spring. I'd say "Maybe it's me," but I've lived in NYC for eight years before and have never come close to fighting anyone.

These guys are getting brazen, and it's dangerous. They proudly deny facts and counter them with Alex-Jones-inspired lies and threats.

When you start seeing swastikas on the Upper West Side and Trump agitators in Brooklyn, what do you imagine it's like in less progressive parts of the country? I'm really worried, if you couldn't tell. I can't believe "bystander training" is becoming part of my vocabulary.