Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Ku Klutz Kaukus

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
Yesterday, Punchbowl News' Twitter account exposed a seven page draft document announcing the formation of an "America First Caucus." It quickly proved to be one of the biggest bombshells and scoops of the still-young year. Reading the seven-page draft, it's easy to see why it's, for now (with all due disrespect to Matt Gaetz), the biggest lightning rod on the Hill.
     The eye-catching part is the blurb on immigration that states in part, "America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo Saxon political traditions."
     There's so much to unpack from these 21 words. First off, all nations have borders, even island nations. Sharing borders with two other North American nations hardly makes us unique. Secondly, it's only possible to see how America's "Anglo Saxon political traditions" are commonly respected only if you exclude the opinions of people whose continuing interests will be ignored by this caucus and that of the entire Republican Party in general. Go ask an African American, Latinx, Native American or Chinese American how they feel about our still-prevalent "Anglo Saxon political traditions." I'll wait here.
     The platform draft goes on to state that it wishes to roll back immigration law to pre-1965. That was the year the Johnson administration abolished immigration quotas on certain nationalities. It was known as the Hart-Celler Act and radically broke with Caucasian-centric immigration policies that heavily favored the white European model still heavily favored by right wingers, including those responsible for creating this nativist draft policy.
    Less than an hour after Punchbowl News' bombshell, the backlash was swift and, surprisingly, bipartisan. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) was among the first to pile on and the dependably-wonderful Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) asked, "I have some questions about your Anglo-Saxon caucus: Will non Aryans be allowed to join? If so, do we have to sit in the back of the room because we're not white? Can we have fried rice and nachos during the meetings? Asking for a friend."
    After the inevitable dust-up began, MTG, typically, lashed out at the "POS" "Communist" media, pointedly not her fellow Republicans. As one could expect, the criticism was filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing (Pointedly, she didn't deny its existence, just that the media misinterpreted it). Kevin "Charlie" McCarthy hopped off Trump's lap long enough to somehow stand at a microphone sans backbone to say the GOP was the party of Abraham Lincoln.
   Yes, he went there, with the classically right wing historical illiteracy fully-intact.
   Of course, one of the reasons why McCarthy has been so wishy-washy against the very most dangerous elements of his own caucus is because MTG has immediately proved to be a cash cow. In the first quarter of 2021, Forbes reported, Greene had taken in a haul of $3.2 million. As always with Republicans, as long as they bring in the parishioners and keep the collection plates full, who gives a fuck about horrible optics?

“(A) certain intellectual boldness..."
At first, it might be easy to dismiss this Nativist stunt as something comical that can and should be easily laughed off. This is especially tempting in light of Matt Gaetz (R-She Said She Was 18, I Swear!) announcing his support and pledge to join (Perhaps someone should take Gaetz aside and remind him the diminutive Congresswoman is considerably above the age of 17).
    That would be a grave mistake. After Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany in 1932, no one took him, seriously, either. In fact, Hitler was initially laughed at and looked upon as just another in a long line of ineffective, figurehead Chancellors who'd came and went in rapid succession before him. Likewise, it would be a mistake to laugh off this Nativist power play that seeks to catapult America back to the 19th century and beyond.
    Just the very idea of such a major party caucus automatically brings back the antebellum south, in which "Anglo Saxon political traditions" viciously fought its own government for four years at a cost of 600,000 American lives for the right to own black people as slaves. It raises the ugly shadow of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that barred Chinese laborers from entering the US by making use of the odious National Origins Formula that nakedly discriminated against certain immigrants based solely on their country of origin, one of the things abolished by the Hart-Celler Act of 1965. It brings back the hideously tragic specter of the Trail of Tears that killed countless tens of thousands of displaced Native Americans during the 1830 Indian Removal Act of Andrew Jackson's openly racist administration.
     Making the nascent Neo Nazi caucus even more vulnerable to dismissive laughter is the fact that its very name is cribbed from Donald Trump's own cribbing of the "America First" Committee that was founded in 1940 from the ashes of the all but defunct German American Nazi Bund that collapsed the year before under the weight of its own corruption and unpopularity. It was disingenuously billed as an anti-war committee (and perhaps it originally was) until it had gotten co-opted by authoritarian figures such as Charles Lindbergh  as a means to not oppose Nazi Germany's international rise to prominence.
    When Trump began his own Iron Eagle ascendance in US politics, we began seeing old Dr. Seuss cartoons drawn in 1940 and 1941 ridiculing the very concept of a movement that prized human life provided it was the "right" kind of people. Like Anglo Saxons with traditional political beliefs, for instance.
     Shamelessly, Herr Drumpf sallied forth, as historically illiterate as the party he'd cynically hijacked and without which he would've a been just a fringe also-ran third party candidate. Equally cynical Republicans, seeing the manic hatred and racism squirming like a sea serpent at his rallies and mistaking it as harmless political energy that would never one day turn on them, brought the shambling homunculus of Queens into their midst and they've been looking over their shoulders ever since, especially since January 6th.
     And here we now are, watching the terrible beauty of Yeats blossom like a corpse flower, a once in a lifetime event filling the political arena with the smell of putrefaction, proving the Republican Party is not the party of Abraham Lincoln but George Lincoln Rockwell.

Addendum Wow, that was quick.


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