The Bitter Pill #9: The Phantom Menace

Dismantling the Fascist Takeover of Eugene

If you’re a resident of Eugene, you might not have noticed that your home town was a “hotbed of emboldened white nationalism”, “overcome” by neo-nazis summoned into being by the shocking election of Donald Trump. Don’t let the thousands of people who showed up in support of the second annual Women’s March fool you. Somewhere in Springfield, there’s a middle-aged admirer of Hitler out to exterminate the Jews, as soon as he gets help out of his armchair – and someone gives him some sort of death ray or time suit or something. Even he knows his five dopey acolytes are not going to cut it, armed with spray paint and a modicum of graphic ability.

Candace King, of the Communist Labor Party of Eugene, complained in the EW about the “journalistic integrity” of the UK Daily Mail, after calling it “a garbage rag” and labeling its treatment of Eugene’s fall to the Far Right “hyperbolic.” This scare piece, she claimed, and The Oregonian article butchered in its creation, both provided “another platform for white supremacist ideas,” by not framing their gross misrepresentations of the situation on the ground within historical context. Context, that is, sufficient to justify this escalation of a tiny minority into a grave threat to us all.

To its credit, The Oregonian article quotes a researcher from The Anti-Defamation League puncturing the claim that the increased visibility of Eugene’s miniature neo-nazi cohort has led to “escalating… recruitment”:

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has closely tracked the statements and activities of Jacob Laskey and Jimmy Marr.

“Those guys have been hanging around the movement for years,” said Carla Hill, an investigative researcher with the center.

She’s seen no evidence that either have gained followers, she said, but they’re taking advantage of the historical moment as white supremacy emerges from the shadows.

Isn’t that just like a Nazi to take advantage of the historical moment? Cunning bastards.

Adding to this offensive objectivity, The Oregonian puts the sharp rise in reported hate crimes into context:

Statewide, hate crimes were up 60 percent in 2016 from the previous year, representing one of the largest increases of any state, according to an analysis of federal data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

In 2016, Eugene had more hate crimes than any other place in Oregon, said Brian Levin, director of the center. …

Eugene officials attribute the city’s disturbing lead position to a unique and longstanding system that encourages residents to report hate crimes. Starting this year, Eugene police officers have been strongly encouraged to record instances of hate-related graffiti they encounter during their work.

Levin added that better reporting systems as well as an active regional group or “serial offenders” “can all drive local hate crime reporting way up.”

To counter the threat of this “journalistic objectivity,” King chooses to ignore the report that there’s no evidence of increased recruitment, or the explanation of the increase in reported hate crimes that dovetails with it, as neither serve her goal of recruiting more people to the Communist Labor Party meetings where this alarming, if illusory, rise of fascism will all be explained.

Given this goal, King welcomes the tabloidification of the original Oregonian article, which is weighed down with too much “New York Timesian” reporting of actual facts. The egregious distortions of clickbait serve the end of convincing people that a fascist takeover is right around the corner – if, indeed, it is not here already, insidiously concealed by the overwhelming number of people in Eugene who are not part of it and never would be.

The fact that fascists hold no political or institutional power on any level in Eugene might tip us off that the so-called fascist takeover is more poetic truth than actual reality. The real crime behind this poetic conceit, as antifa activists anonymously put it, is the “unchallenged existence” of people like Lesky and Marr.

For Antifa, hyperbolic misrepresentation of the fascist threat is key to their attempt at conscripting the larger population into their end of eliminating people like Jimmy Marr, and in so doing, rewiring the structure of society and the meaning of many words. From their perspective, the open society that tolerates marginal figures like Marr as an unpleasant but necessary consequence of freedom is the real enemy. From their perspective, such freedom as we enjoy is in reality oppression, and they need some lever to turn the world upside down for everyone else.

Tabloid journalists and Communist Party members similarly benefit from the wild exaggeration of a phantom menace. For online news sources, clickbait drives ad revenues. For Communist Party members, the forces of historical fascism provide a raison d’etre and a foundation for recruitment.

For all three groups, rendering idiots like Marr as a grave threat is a necessary means to the end of manipulating a shame-driven population into serving their ends, whether that be generating ad revenue, driving membership, or radically reorganizing society.

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