Oh, the “f” word.
We’ve been taught that members of polite society refrain from using such language, no matter how accurate and applicable that language may be. Using the “f” word is so taboo, politicians run from it and media members have declared it off limits, obscene.
But what word exists that describes more accurately than the “f” word a society in which “right” has been declared wrong, and “wrong” (injustice, oppression, etc.) has been codified into law?
It seems the only people willing to use the “f” word are folk, usually young idealists, who have zero “fs” to give. But I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and use the “f” word here and now, even though I still have a few “fs” to give (i.e. bills to pay and mouths to feed).
We grew up indoctrinated with the idea that America cherishes freedom, justice and democracy. Thus, things like “equality” and “one person one vote” and “the common good” were taught to us as so fundamentally American that without them America as she was presented by our K-thru-whatever teachers and described in her founding documents, would cease to exist.
But what descriptor other than the “f” word do you use when laws are enacted that strip away the freedoms, agency and access to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for over half this country’s citizens?
See, “fascism” is defined as “a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society.” That’s pretty scary stuff. But the scariest thing about fascist societies is that at least half the people living under them don’t even realize they’re living under one. Why? Because fascist leaders have made labeling them “fascists” politically incorrect.
Put another way, fascist governments are operating at the optimal level of anti-democratic, dictatorial power when they’ve created an environment where elected officials, media members and ordinary citizens are socially punished for even suggesting that fascists are fascist.
What does this have to do with anything related to the good ‘ol U.S. of A? Unfortunately, a lot.
See, in fascist regimes, governments where the rights of people are regularly trampled upon, what the people who believe in truth, justice for all, democracy, etc., view as just and fair and right is literally defined as wrong. Democratic ideals are made illegal. It’s literally against the law to do the right thing.
Still not seeing what this has to do with America? Check this.
Exhibit A: Protest has been declared illegal.
No less that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther “the” King once said, “Somewhere I read that the greatness of America was the right to protest for rights.” King didn’t pull that idea out of his ass, he got it from America’s founding documents. And this right has been protected for hundreds of years. At least when whitefolk are doing the protesting. But even when we marched and protested for our rights over this past century, there were periods when our “right to protest for right” was actually honored.
However, after the Summer of George Floyd had people of all races, creeds and geographic locations calling for an end of police brutality against Blackfolk, eight states made such protests illegal. And 21 others have similar anti-democratic bills pending. That’s over half the country giving the “okay” to squashing our “right to protest for right.”
Need more evidence?
Exhibit B: Women’s freedoms over their own bodies are now against the law.
When Texas created a “bounty law” that empowered any citizen to sue women who got abortions, it was women’s freedoms being made illegal. See, as Defender Managing Editor ReShonda Tate recently pointed out in an opinion piece of her own, it doesn’t matter what side of the abortion issue you reside. Taking away a woman’s right to have agency and control over her own body is an afront to the individual freedoms those on the far-right swear they worship.
And quiet as its kept, this Texas anti-abortion law (coming soon to a Republican-led state near you) isn’t just an attack on women (but, mainly, it is). Any man, woman or child who supports a woman seeking an abortion can be sued for $10K plus court fees, making this a suppression of rights for spouses, pastors, medical professionals, parents, Uber drivers and other democracy-loving citizens, regardless of gender.
Exhibit C: Black History, voice, thought and perspective have been criminalized.
An August 2021 article published on The Economic Policy Institute’s website (www.epi.org) stated this: “Over the past several months, conservative lawmakers and activists have carried out a concerted assault against a wide range of efforts and ideas that raise awareness about the history of racial injustice in the United States, its embeddedness in our society, and the resulting inequities observed today. Attackers have grouped and conflated all these concepts and ideas into what they are dubbing ‘critical race theory.’ But those carrying out this campaign are not interested in what the actual academic critical race theory (CRT) says.
“In fact, what is actually under attack is the reinvigorated movement across the United States to engage in dialogue about our country’s continuing legacy of racial hierarchy and oppression—and the policy choices that could finally begin to redress that legacy.”
And if it were merely those who worship the myth of white supremacy talking noise amongst themselves, then no big deal. Their chatter could be ignored. But their racist talk has translated into racist, oppressive laws that can’t be ignored. Laws that have made this false boogeyman CRT illegal.
But as the EPI article breaks down, what’s really being made illegal, what’s really being forcibly oppressed and regimented is Black voices, Black history and Black perspectives on past and current realities.
Sounds like the “f” word to me. Sounds like a couple of “f” words, actually.
Exhibit D: Democracy is criminalized via voter suppression law.
As of July 2021, 18 states had already enacted over 30 voter suppression laws under the guise of fighting voter fraud. What’s maddening about this is countless members of the GOP have openly and on record said they’re about squashing Black and Brown votes by any means necessary, with no fear of repercussions. Why? Because where “right” is declared “wrong,” wrong, injustice, evil then become standard operating procedure. Never mind the fact that voting is supposed to be the penultimate example of US democracy. Republicans have absolutely declared war on the idea of “one person, one vote.” But I guess, since they don’t consider Black and Brown folk as “people,” their anti-democratic actions make all the sense in the world. To them.
American citizens who fled authoritarian, fascist regimes are probably the most dumbfounded with what’s going on right in front of all our eyes. They see clearly the illegal chokehold being put on democracy and can’t believe their US-born fellow citizens aren’t up in arms. Or rather, they can’t believe that millions of so-called Americans ARE up in arms, but to “Philando Castile” democracy rather than to save it.
The other group who “have the eyes to see and ears to hear” what’s really happening—The Blacks—have made a living off saving this “democracy” from its unjust, unfair, undemocratic caretakers. And like the 1619 Project declares, “America wasn’t a democracy until Black Americans made it so.” And when justice and freedom-loving folk of all colors worried that Trump and his mob bosses were about to get away with literally “Tamir Ricing” democracy while the entire world watched, once again Black people came to the rescue and saved what little piece of “democracy” this nation has left.
But with each passing day, all those heroic acts over the decades performed by Blacks to push America to live up to the ideals and standards it so arrogantly professes and holds other countries to, to save a democracy that has never allowed us to fully taste its fruits, are being made illegal by elected officials.
This isn’t the first time far-right, authoritarian, ultra-nationalistic, suppressive (i.e. fascist) ideas were the law of the land (slavery, anyone?). But, if we who believe in justice and equality don’t act fast, “right” will become but a memory and “wrong” will define both our present and our future. And that’s truly “f’ed” up.