I was talking to a liberal friend I’ll call “Bob Nonexistent-Strawman” (he also drives a cab) about the president’s momentary loss of his Twitter account. In case you haven’t heard, the personal account that the president uses for blurting taunts and attaboys was deactivated by a Twitter employee in Customer Service. It was the employee’s last day on the job, and he/she/xhir/zoerple-deedledox or whatever pronoun they use — well, this person pulled the plug for the sake of the nation.
“Awesome,” my friend said, his expression indicating he was about to provide a perfect, clichéd quote I could use to tar his side with their own words. “Now that’s what I call resistance. That’s doing something. That’s the people striking back.”
“Against what, though?” I said, wondering which words to put in his mouth next.
“Look, Trump’s an authoritarian. Acts of small rebellion against fascism make people realize we can strike back. And maybe it’s not too late at all.”
Well. Here’s what would happen in an actual authoritarian regime if someone decided to unplug the president’s preferred method of communicating.
1) The government would demand the identity of the person responsible, which would be easy to get since Twitter had been nationalized a year before — a move that had swelled its payroll by 65,000 cronies, led to tight controls over who could use the service, decreased its content by 70 percent, and resulted in a black-market Twitter competitor whose founder fled to London after receiving threats on his life and was later found dead in his flat.
2) The offender would face a show trial, defended by an attorney who entered a plea of guilty and called for leniency: ten years in prison, followed by execution.
3) The offender’s family would lose their state-supplied housing and jobs; a roommate of the offender would go to the work camps for ten years under a charge of “intentional proximity” to the criminal.
4) The New York Times and the Washington Post, both run by government-appointed editors, would print editorials applauding the trial; the Post’s piece would be one word shorter than the Times’s, leading to the Post editor’s dismissal and imprisonment.
What will actually happen in contemporary America: nothing.
If you really thought fascism had descended on America, you wouldn’t put out a pumpkin with some knives, inviting students to “stab Trumpkin” to relieve their stress. Yes, that happened, according to a picture tweeted by freelance writer Michael J. Hout that was reported by CampusReform.org.
The Board of Multicultural Student Affairs at Providence College recently invited students to stab a “Trumpkin” as a way of relieving stress, eliciting outrage from conservative students. “If you ever feel angry or stressed, feel free to stab Trumpkin,” stated a chalkboard message next to a pumpkin with a pair of scissors stabbed into it.
Written above the exhortation: the words “stab stab stab.” In pink chalk.
Tiresome yet obligatory example of media bias: Imagine if the College Republicans hung a witch with a Hillary mask on Halloween and invited stressed students to stab it. They would be expelled like watermelon seeds tossed into a jet engine. If the incident happened in Florida and someone in Nome, Alaska, poked a Hillary supporter with a toothpick, we’d be talking about a Climate of Violence; Paul Ryan would be asked to denounce his party’s latest example of gynophobic hatred; Salon would be ablaze about the gendered implications of penetrative imagery in the era of the first female president.
We would also hear the witch-American community pointing out the cultural appropriation inherent in the display and how it underscores the historical violence done to pagans under Christian cultural hegemony. Those fascists, with their Sieg Hail Marys.
This would play out in Facebook and Twitter and BuzzFeed comments, where people who previously had confined their thoughts to private conversations — and never written a letter to the editor — would now feel secure leaving a digital slime trail a mile long. #Resistance!
You wonder how the previous resistance movements would have regarded all of this.
1942, a Paris basement: You understand why the lights are low and we wear masks, non? D’accord. Now. We will meet in a different place every week. We shall use only noms de guerre, to protect ourselves and our movement, and — attendez, shhhh! There are men outside! Ah, it is only Philippe, I can tell. He has used the secret knock known only to a select few. Relax. We may still die tonight, but we shall not die in this hour.
2017, Facebook: Hi, I’m Chuck Devere, senior benefits administrator at Oxihealth United. Anyone who breaks Ron Paul’s ribs should get an award, not an arrest, amirite? Here are pictures of my wife and kids and the Boy Scout troop I lead! Here’s a link to a story on how Trump and Putin killed that Saudi prince. PLEASE SHARE.
In short, when people draw the blinds because they fear the neighborhood block captain might see them watching Saturday Night Live, then it’s a fascist regime. When people fear telling a Trump joke because they might lose their job, we’re fascist. When big posters of Trump go up in the public square; when food is handed out according to party loyalty; when you get sent to work in the fields because you turned off Sean Hannity’s nightly shoeshine show: Then we’re fascist. In other words, when we’re like Cuba.
“At least they have free health care,” Bob Nonexistent-Strawman notes. “My premiums have been going up and up. We need state control so it’s free.”
Sigh. What a maroon. You can’t make this stuff up.
I mean, I just did, but you know what I mean.
– Mr. Lileks blogs at www.lileks.com.