Read the entire essay by Masha Gessen, “The Reichstag Fire Next Time“.
The war that began in 2001 is unlike other wars: The enemy is not a nation or an army but a tactic, one that has existed for millennia. This war cannot be won, because a tactic cannot be eradicated. A war that cannot be won cannot end, and so it has not. Nor have the liberties surrendered by Americans in response to 9/11 been restored. Under President Obama, the war on terror morphed into the more grammatically sensible war on terrorism. The Patriot Act became the Freedom Act. The use of torture appears to have been largely discontinued, but the camp at Guantánamo Bay continues its shameful existence—with a reduced number of inmates, though numbers are never a good measure of liberty. Millions of Americans who voted in the last election have lived with the war on terror for as long as they can remember.
In his farewell address in Chicago, Obama could claim only that he had “worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans,” he said, interrupted by cheers before continuing, “who are just as patriotic as we are.” Over the course of more than fifteen years, the essential premise—that the United States is at war, and that the Other in this war is Muslims—has remained unchanged. Trump claims that Muslim Americans celebrated 9/11, while Obama says that they are just as patriotic as we are; that they are not us is one of the few things the two men agree on.
In New York, Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park put on a production of Julius Caesar. The character of Caesar was made to resemble Trump, and of course Caesar was assassinated, so Republicans lost their minds. Unprecendented! Liberals would never have stood for something like this directed at a liberal President! Never mind the fact that there was a 2012 production of Julius Caesar that featured a charismatic black guy in the role of Caesar, obviously Barack Obama, with not a peep of actual objection from actual liberals. There’s no reason for facts to get in the way of the rage.
So why am I surprised that a Texas, repeat Texas, theater troupe has started getting death threats for producing Shakespeare?
Now that white supremacist Steve Scalise, the Majority Whip in the House of Representatives, has been shot by a liberal, Republicans think that our politics has gotten too mean.
“It’s now incumbent upon the governing class in Washington to do their best to, if not end the gridlock, then at least end the hellacious, completely critical rhetoric that has just done nothing but divide our nation over the last election cycle,” said [Gillian] Turner, a Fox News contributor and former White House National Security Council member under Presidents Bush and Obama.
Did you hear this from Republicans before a Republican Congressman was shot? No you did not. A small sample of what you did hear:
- Donald Trump encouraged rally attendees to “knock the hell out of” protesters, and promised to pay their legal fees if they did.
- Ted Nugent said at a concert in 2007, “I told [Obama] to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.” He had dinner with the President at the White House in April.
- A Republican member of Congress says it’s not appropriate to physically assault a journalist, unless the journalist deserved it.
- The President of the United States referred to journalists as “enemies of the people“, a phrase used by Stalin among other tyrants.
- A Republican state legislator called on those who take down Confederate monuments to be lynched.
- Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General, described undocumented immigrants as “filth.”
To be fair, Ted Nugent at least claims that he’s going to tone it down from now on. I’ll believe that when I see it. Call me cynical, but I think their newfound distaste for hatefulness and violence are going to apply only to Democrats, not to fellow Republicans. If I’m wrong, call me out in the comments on this blog.
They want to pass a bill with no debate because they’re doing something indefensible. Call our Senators’ staffers who are working on the bill, and let them know why the people of Iowa won’t support taking health insurance away from 23 million people, so the rich can get a tax cut.
Joni Ernst’s staffer is Danielle Janowski, 202-224-3254, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chuck Grassley’s staffer is Karen Summar, 202-224-3744, email@example.com.