I sometimes wonder why the poor whites of the Confederacy fought to the death in a war for the wealthy that their neighbors who owned enough slaves (twenty) were exempt from fighting in. It turns out one big reason is that the Confederacy was ruthless in hunting down and executing deserters. The same beefed up patrols that hunted down runaway slaves hunted down “disloyal” white men who would not fight and die to defend “home rule”. The leaders of the Confederacy kept it simple: this is a war to defend our noble way of life, uplift the white race and keep the inferior race where it belongs. If you are a traitor to our glorious cause we will hunt you down, kill you and perhaps also burn your family home to the ground.
Life is damned complicated, which is one reason a system that simplifies the world, no matter how grotesquely, is so appealing to so many. There has always been a large wedge of the US population that has no interest in nuance, cause and effect, the reverberations of history recurring like a bad meal. They want to keep what they have, get more, be entertained and believe what they want to believe and you can kiss their asses over whether what they believe is “correct” or not.
Covid-19? Obviously a deadly scam run by Joe Biden and the Chinese Communist Party, first to steal the election from the Man of the People who actually won in a landslide, then to tyrannize the population into abject surrender to the coercive government. Global warming and so-called climate catastrophe? So much liberal fucking bullshit, these regular new record high temperatures, killer storms, droughts, floods and so-called wild fires are just nature being nature. These themes resonate with desperate people who truly do not give a fuck about anything but “winning”. What do they actually win? Membership in the winners’ circle, cuck.
Not that long ago, in this great nation, people assembled to be entertained and uplifted by the public torture and murder of some purportedly demonic bastard, most often Black. We couldn’t make laws to outlaw this popular entertainment because all federal bills to criminalize lynching were filibustered or vetoed in the interest of maintaining power relationships just the way they were between the races. Politicians in areas where lynching was popular knew that allowing a vote to make this wildly popular sport a federal crime would kick their career in the nuts, not that they’d ever dream of supporting this kind of federal overreach, not after fighting a long and bloody war for “States’ Rights”.
The following is from a long, excellent discussion of the roots of American fascism. The author notes that “Fascism was always about entertainment, however: the deep root of its poison was that it made hatred entertaining.”
Public lynchings in the United States, at which thousands sometimes gathered in the early 20th century, functioned as a spectacular display of white power that terrorised the black population and exhilarated white audiences with a sense of their own racial superiority. But they were sold as amusement. Lynchings were often advertised ahead of time in the local press and on neighbourhood flyers, just as a funfair or circus might have been. Sometimes street vendors sold popcorn and other snacks.
Lynchings were the violent obverse of folk traditions such as minstrelsy that had long unified white crowds over the degradation of black people. Whether through ostensibly comic mockery or overtly sadistic violence, both were performed for the pleasure of a crowd enjoying its political dominance by dehumanising other people. The forms that lynching took included not only hangings, but public torture, dismemberment, castration and burning alive, sometimes for hours. Spectators took photographs that circulated openly in the mail as postcards, and collected body parts as souvenirs. It was all just another carnival.
That lynching was a barbaric form of mass entertainment was perfectly clear at the time. The influential journalist HL Mencken observed as early as 1917 that lynchings were a local “sport” that took “the place of the merry-go-round, the theatre, the symphony orchestra and other diversions” in larger communities.
Within a few years, movie theatres were advertising Westerns with a “special added attraction” of exciting footage showing the “Klu Klux Klan in Action” during a “midnight initiation”. In 1934 the New Yorker published a cartoon that showed a grandmotherly white woman holding up a small girl in a large crowd in front of a burning house while excitedly telling her neighbour: “This is her first lynching.”
Then, as now, groups like the Klan were motivated not purely by racial hostility, but by a sense of economic grievance they had been encouraged to understand in terms of race. In a 1926 pamphlet called “The Klan’s Fight for Americanism”, the Klan’s imperial wizard argued that the organisation’s members were the “average citizen of the old stock” motivated by “economic distress” who found themselves “increasingly uncomfortable and finally deeply distressed” as “the assurance for the future of our children dwindled. We found our great cities and the control of much of our industry and commerce taken over by strangers, who stacked the cards of success and prosperity against us.” But the Klan was also itself a money-making venture, a pyramid scheme populated by grifters and hucksters, literally setting up stalls at state fairs so that racial violence and economic resentment could make a buck .source
Racism, xenophobia (fear of “others”) and cultural and economic resentment continue to be great for the old fascist bottom line. One of Trump’s most glorious “fuck you” pardons (which the DOJ should challenge as corrupt and integral to his seamless pattern of ongoing obstruction of justice, quid pro quos for the silence and perjury of criminal co-conspirators like Stone, Manafort and Flynn) was of Steve Bannon, arrested (by the US Postal Service!) aboard a Chinese billionaire’s yacht for fleecing a crowd of loyal Trump supporters out of their hard earned money in a fake “Build the Wall” campaign.
Welcome to the winners’ circle, chumps.
Of course, don’t try teaching any of this ugly history in Florida, Texas or any other GOP-controlled Covid hotspot state. There are new laws, in these “Right To Work” states that will put you out of a job right quick if you bad mouth the Klan, or the Texas Rangers, who began their existence chasing down and killing Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches and Mexicans who were on disputed (by the Texans) Mexican territory. Texas justice, y’all. Who doesn’t get excited at a good old neck tie party?! Don’t try peddling this kind of dogshit (see below) in Texas!
Despite the fame of their deeds, the conduct of the Rangers during this period (post-Reconstruction] was illegally excessive. In particular, Leander H. McNelly and his men used ruthless methods that often rivaled the brutality of their opponents, such as taking part in summary executions and confessions induced by torture and intimidation  . . .
. . . The Rangers were responsible for several incidents, ending in the January 28, 1918 massacre of the male population (15 Mexican men and boys ranging in age from 16 to 72 years) of the tiny community of Porvenir, Texas, on the Mexican border in western Presidio County. Before the decade was over, thousands of lives were lost, Texans and Mexicans alike. In January 1919, an investigation launched by Texas lawmaker José Tomás Canales found that from 300 to 5,000 people, mostly of Hispanic descent, had been killed by Rangers from 1910 to 1919, and that members of the Rangers had been involved in many acts of brutality and injustice. The Rangers were reformed by a resolution of the Legislature in 1919, which saw the special Ranger groups disbanded and a complaints system instituted.source