Have you heard the one about the Sicilian peasant who got his revenge? They say he waited fifty years… and he only struck then because he was in a hurry.
The fascist backlash to the American civil rights movement has been building for just about exactly that same amount of time, since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. At the just-concluded Texas Republican convention, they finally stopped mucking around with “dog whistles” about welfare mothers, inner city crime, and imaginary vote fraud, and declared that they want the Voting Rights Act gone, now!
That was always going to be the end game. But the Republican luminaries of the late twentieth century, Saint Nixon of the Blessed Burglary, Saint Ronnie of the Blessed Eye-Twinkle, and Read-My-Lips Poppy Bush, learned how to toy with the hopes of the quondam Dixiecrats and their cousins, the white “ethnics” of the North. Perhaps you remember that time in 1980 when Saint Ronnie told the long-suffering crackers of Philadelphia, Mississippi, who had gone to all the trouble of murdering them three civil rights workers, yet still ended up having to let the n—–s vote, that he was in favor of “states’ rights.” Dammit, Ronnie, we made y’all president, twice, and you still didn’t stop them voting! Jest like y’all toyed with the barefoot-pregnant-and-in-the-kitchen crowd by literally phoning it in to each year’s Pro-Life Rally.
Patience, young Jedi. Stacking the Supreme Court with out-and-out fascists is the work of two generations. But the Republican luminaries were riding a tiger all that time, dangling that red, red racist meat in front of it while never giving it anything more than a nibble or two, and finally the poor, starved beast turned around and ate them. Now we antifascists have little choice but to make common cause with the shell-shocked surviving luminaries, like Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney, in the forlorn hope that together we will be strong enough to cage the monster up again. If I were a betting man, ladies and gentlemen and gender fluids, I would not bet on our side being able to hold the line this November, nor in the predicted Götterdämmerung of ‘24. The future is yet unwritten, but the immediate prospect before us looks bleak.
Here’s the thing, though. If the fascists patiently organized for generations, how dare we who stand for justice throw in the towel just seven years after their breakthrough? If like Augustus Caesar they choose to maintain the forms of the Republic they have destroyed, as seems likely, then we have to organize for a long, long fight to take them back and make them do what they are supposed to do, administering democracy and fairness for all the people. If the outcome is instead the disintegration of the United States, as I have said many times I consider to be the most probable outcome, then we have a different sort of struggle before us, building peace and understanding and justice out of the ruins of America. Churchill warned the British people on taking office in 1940 that he had nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. Such may be our lot as well, but we are forbidden to despair.