Law And Odor

This was the kind of right-wing hysteria we experienced not so long ago:

Every single one of Obama’s friends is a dangerous lunatic…With one association after another that is beyond the pale with Barack Obama. I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power saying, “Oh well, I didn’t know. I had no idea he was going to be like this.” With this guy Americans ought to know. The media is covering up except on this channel. Thank you, Sean Hannity.

That was Ann Coulter speaking on Fox’s Hannity & Colmes on October 30, 2008. We all remember those “dangerous lunatics” in the Obama administration and how President Obama tried to transform America into Nazi Germany, right? Certainly we will never forget all those fascist rallies Obama presided over, complete with swastikas and Sieg Heil salutes and paeans to white supremacy. Those eight years were sure terrifying. I don’t know how we made it through them. Lawlessness was everywhere. And that lawlessness was best demonstrated by Obama’s stance and eventual action on immigration, an issue that fired up right-wingers, including the white nationalist movement and its anti-immigrant racist hero, Tr-mp.

In July of 2014, Sarah Palin—John McCain’s proud pick to be next in line to what he hoped would be his presidency—accused President Obama of deliberately “[o]pening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants.” She then wrote the following:

President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights.

It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.

The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.

Lest you think Palin’s nuttiness was unique to her, Steve Benen pointed out that right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer also played the impeachment card in 2014, saying a then-unknown executive action by Obama on immigration “is an impeachable offense” and a “flagrant assault on the Constitution.” Benen also gave other examples of the impeachment-immigration hysteria on Fox, including from Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly and, of course, Sean Hannity.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who was a U.S. Senator in 2014, said Obama’s potential “executive amnesty” was “a threat to the constitutional order.” Today that same man, whose very name memorializes racist and treasonous men, is the Attorney General for Mr. I Alone Can Fix It, for Mr. Birther, for Mr. Muslim Ban, for Mr. The Press Is Our Enemy, for Mr. Pardon Joe Arpaio.

When we consider the Arpaio pardon, we certainly should emphasize the fact that Arpaio was clearly a cruel, creepy, racist. But the most important fact about him, in terms of contextualizing the pardon, was that he was the most lawless lawman in America, a fascistic sheriff who once called his infamous Tent City “a concentration camp.” Thus, Tr-mp’s pardon was a tribute to such lawlessness, a salute to moral confusion, a signal that we are indeed living in an America quickly headed toward something ugly and perhaps irreversible. Joe Arpaio gave the justice system the finger of defiance and the system lawfully broke that finger. The pardon is Tr-mp’s own way of flipping justice the bird, of defying a system he never has and never will respect.

Whatever you think of Tr-mp’s mental health, Arpaio’s pardon must be put in context, must be added to Tr-mp’s vicious attacks on the free press, to his cashing in on the high office he illegitimately holds, to his cultish rallies, to his winking at white supremacists and Nazis in Charlottesville. I’m talking about intimations of fascism.

As reported by HuffPost, an 88-year-old man named Jack Rosenthal saw the significance of an image in the aftermath of the Charlottesville chaos that almost nobody saw. While reading an article about the pro-Nazi terrorist who killed Heather Heyer with his car, Rosenthal saw this Reuters photograph:

That is a picture of Matthew Heimbach, who lives in rural southern Indiana. Heimbach is chairman of a Christian hate group called the Traditionalist Worker Party, members of which believe white genocide is a real possibility, who believe the Holocaust didn’t happen, who admire Hitler and Putin and other white “strongmen.” Heimbach was a supporter and promoter of the racist “Unite the Right” rally that Tr-mp had so much trouble condemning.

Jack Rosenthal, who was born in Romania, noticed the shirt Heimbach was wearing. It featured an image of Corneliu Codreanu, a Romanian fascist and founder of the Iron Guard, a paramilitary Christian terrorist group whose members believed in an uncompromising nationalism that, of course, excluded Jews. As HuffPost noted,

Codreanu was the face behind pogroms in Romania. The large-scale violent riots killed tens of thousands of Romanian Jews during the 1930s leading up to the Holocaust.

Codreanu’s brand of murderous hate, it turns out, has been enjoying something of a revival among right-wing extremists in Europe and, now, in the United States. But there are still some people around who can directly speak to the horrors of the past and the present danger signs, people like Jack Rosenthal:

I recognized the name right away. You see something like this, you know, it brings back memories and I’m concerned about what could happen in this country.

Rosenthal has a right to be concerned:

He was 16 when he was taken to the German Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland. Later, he was transferred to Buchenwald, another camp near Weimar, Germany, where he was forced to work for the Nazis ― the only reason he was kept alive until U.S. military forces began to evacuate the camp’s 28,000 prisoners in 1945. He came to the U.S. hoping to find a new beginning.

“After I was liberated, I thought to myself the world has learned what terrible traces hate can bring to humanity,” he said. “And now this gives me a depressing feeling because it’s happening again, and it’s happening now.”

Thus speaks a man who lost seven members of his family at Auschwitz.

I began this post with Ann Coulter’s attack on Barack Obama in 2008:

I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power saying, “Oh well, I didn’t know. I had no idea he was going to be like this.”

Of course that remark was stupid. Of course it was outrageous. Of course there are people around who warn us all not to be as stupid and outrageous today as Ann Coulter was back then. But an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor smells something familiar in the air. He smells fascism.

And we shouldn’t hold our noses and pretend we don’t smell it, too.




  1. Well said, Duane. You remind us that when it comes to human nature, anything imaginable is possible. This is both a blessing and a curse.


  2. ansonburlingame

     /  August 29, 2017


    While I know most of the situations described above, you did an excellent recap of same to remind us all of ………..

    One thing I add however. To me the “institutions” in America are holding rather firm in response to trump. Note the small letter, showing my thoughts that he is in fact a very small man, lacking any depth of anything needed for leadership, anywhere, any time.

    However (as I usually write herein, or But…….).

    What next, after trump?

    Hardly ever do I agree with R. Reich but he hit the nail on the head of late writing that trump has become or is becoming “irrelevant”. No one is listening to him now, even good men in his own cabinet. Tillerson will probably leave, in a huff, soon. Mathis, Kelly and McMasters may try to stay the course just for the sake of keeping trump on hold and not let him fly off and do ……..

    GOP leadership is also inadequate for the challenge of trump or even getting the whole party to follow THEIR lead.

    But “institutions” are holding at least for safety’s sake, so far, which is about all we can hope for until impeachment (for what I still don’t know for sure, meaning “high crimes” that can be proven in a court of law) or, probably he completes his term as now an irrelevant and basically ignored President.

    While I am “scolded” for many things herein as the lone conservative writer I believe there are millions just like me today, disgusted with “both sides”. No, not here in Jasper Cty for sure, but …….. All the “deplorables” wanted change from Obama and still do. But even most of them are disgusted with trump, now. NO THAT KIND OF CHANGE is now their sentiment, outside of Jasper Cty, at least.

    Remember all the “hope and change” with Obama that turned to NOT THAT KIND OF CHANGE in 2016. If Dems continue down the evident path (to me) with Sanders, Warren, Pelosi, even Schummer in the coming months I will still be opposing DEMS and GOP, again and again.

    Permit me to tell a “sea story”. In early WWII my uncle commanded a sub on four war patrols. He took his ship into Australia immediately after one patrol. He and his other officers went to a British O’Club and basically tried to destroy it, at least the decorum, therein. He was accosted by a stuffed shirt British Colonel dressed in starched uniform, knee hi riding boots and a riding whip in hand. Creed responded to him, “Sir, my men and I have been a helluva lot closer to the enemy than you and your God Damned HORSE”. Creed continued to make war patrols, “command climate” not withstanding.

    We have too many “British Colonels” running the show today in America on both sides of the aisle.



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