Fascism, like any sickness, has distinct symptoms which we ignore at our own peril and possibly the world's peril. A current combination of Edenism and suspicion of reason is one of them.
One symptom of this sickness is Edenic fantasy in which scapegoats are banished. Hitler reveled in this fantasy of a Judenfrei world, as if destruction of a people would have soothed his particular psychopathology. Feminist fanatics I had the misfortune to meet as a graduate student and young playwright had similar fantasies of women's kingdoms that never existed but which were, of course, free of men, all of whom were considered potential rapists in the same way the all Jews were considered potential rapists of the body politic according to Nazi ideology. Living in the Berkeley area while those beliefs circulated was like living in a mental hospital and paying rent for the privilege.
Another symptom is rejection of logic, of reason, of demonstrable evidence: if global warming is a fantasy, what is a 175 mile an hour hurricane doing in the middle of an American city? Why are polar bears drowning? Why are glaciers melting like ice pies in a bath?
And why do the religious right and its followers deny science as a possible key to understanding and healing parts of our world while at the same time pretending there is an Eden somewhere to which intellectual stupidity can help gain entrance? The Rapture fantasies make me sea sick, picturing human beings sucked through some type of straw.
If these are the alarming symptoms, what is the cure?
George Orwell believed that freedom to say two plus two is four is the most important of all beginnings: "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."
Attempting to rid the religious right of its fears is like trying to calm a terrified child in the dark after he or she thinks they have seen the Boogeyman under the bed. Unfortunately, the religious right are cynical politicians who probably don't believe their own words and are restating Nazi-like superstitions within the draping of red, white and blue; they don't have the child's ability to be soothed or calmed, as a child at least has the emotional honesty to know that at some point, his or her feelings are heartfelt, yes, but their Boogeyman is not real and they are capable of finally recognizing that. Oh, sleepy parents and brothers and sisters, how grateful you must be!
What would lessen the feverish politicization of superstition, of anti-intellectual fear?
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