Broad-Daylight Fascism and the Bombs of October

Even in the smallest corners of New Hampshire, far from the doings of the great and powerful, the word is out and the fear is real.

“Over the past couple of days, several suspicious packages addressed to well-known persons were intercepted or discovered in various locations by law enforcement officials,” reads the notice sent to all municipalities by the NH Department of Safety. “In light of these events, we have attached the New Hampshire Suspicious Package Protocol to assist public safety agencies in response to such incidents. Please share this protocol with those individuals that are responsible for handling your mail to ensure they are aware of the process should they deem a package suspicious in nature.”

And so it came to pass this very morning in little towns like Pittsburg, New Hampshire — population 813 souls, the last US stop before Quebec — that the workers in the post office on Main Street, along with the workers in every other post office in every other town and city in these United States, were warned by the authorities to beware of bombs.

We have come to it at last. The moment too many have been whistling past in the ill-placed hope that everything would fix itself has arrived. The Achilles heel of democracy — the use of the democratic process to install a government bent on dismantling democracy — has been pierced with deliberation and intent. It is everywhere now, and all of us are involved.

“We must disenthrall ourselves,” I wrote 12 years ago, “from the idea that our institutions, our traditions, the barriers that protect us from absolute and authoritarian powers, cannot be broken down. They are being dismantled a brick at a time. The separation of powers has already been annihilated. It is a whispered fascism, not yet marching down your street or pounding upon your door in the dead of night. But it is here, and it is laying deep roots. We must listen beyond the whispered fascism of today to the shouted fascism of tomorrow.”

The “shouted fascism of tomorrow” is here today, right now, blaring from the television whenever the networks decide to air one of Donald Trump’s rage-flecked campaign rallies. Last week in Montana, the president gave a clinic on the deployment of fascist rhetorical tactics to the masses. It began, of course, with the glorification of the military and the state:

We’re going to have the most powerful military by far that we’ve ever had. And a lot of it’s already coming, those brand-new, beautiful planes, those incredible stealth F-35s, the — you have the F-35, you have the F-18s, the Super Dupers, the Hornets. We have them all. We’ve got them coming left and right, and you know the great thing?

There’s nothing more important than the military, but we build them all right here in the USA. We don’t send them to other countries to be built. We build them right here. We have the best military equipment in the world. We build the best. There’s nothing even close. Best missiles, best planes, best ships, best everything. We build them here, and there’s nothing like best submarines. Submarines, we’re so far ahead of everybody, forget it.

… before pointing the crowd toward his enemies:

And now we’re starting to find out — and I won’t say it 100 percent — I’ll put a little tiny question mark at the end — but we’re probably not going to need it, but we have the fake news back there. Fake news. But a lot of money has been passing to people to come up and try and get to the border by Election Day, because they think that’s a negative for us.

Number one, they’re being stopped. And number two, regardless, that’s our issue. So this is the problem with them. They have one thing. They stick together. They vote together. They’re bad politicians. They have horrible policy. They hate ICE. They don’t like our military. They don’t like our vets. They’re always fighting us on that.

Crooked Hillary is a great unifier. [Audience chants: “Lock her up!”] It is incredible the deep state where they don’t even look at her. Isn’t it incredible? Think of it, 33,000 e-mails, she gets a subpoena from the United States Congress. Forget about all the other things, forget about — and you can never forget about Benghazi, ever. But forget about everything else. Never forget Benghazi.

Within a week of this venomous diatribe — just one of the hundreds Trump has unleashed in the last three years — pipe bombs packed with shards of broken glass were delivered to the homes and offices of two former Democratic presidents, a former Democratic vice president, a former Democratic candidate for president, a former attorney general, a former CIA director, a pro-Democrat philanthropist, a former Democratic congresswoman, a sitting Democratic congresswoman, a world-famous liberal-leaning actor and a major news organization. On Friday morning, two more bombs were interdicted after they were sent to a sitting Democratic senator and a former director of national intelligence.

What do these people have in common? They are all either Democrats, critics of Donald Trump, or both. At one time or another, and many times for most, Trump has leveled his invective against each and every one of the bomb recipients.

The term “stochastic terrorism” was coined by a DailyKos blogger several years ago, and is defined as, “The use of mass communication to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.” The word is derived from the Greek stochastikos, which translates to mean “skillful in aiming.”

Make no mistake: I neither believe nor allege that Donald Trump has any knowledge whatsoever about the origin and intent of this attempted bombing spree. But someone out there was listening to Trump’s every word. His name is Cesar Sayoc Jr., a Florida man with a long history of making threats who has been arrested for posting these pipe bombs. I believe Sayoc listened long and hard to what Trump was saying, and finally decided to pull the pin.

I do not believe there are accidents in politics. Trump’s long record of cheerfully inciting violence with his bombastic rhetoric has been well-documented. He may be willfully and brazenly ignorant on matters of vital national import, but he is as media savvy as any man alive today. If nothing else, Donald Trump is very “skillful in aiming.”

An example of that savvy is the laughable fact that Trump has blamed the media itself for the current poisonous tone even as he deliberately uses that media to establish that very tone. His defenders have taken to the airwaves to blame the recipients of these bombs, claiming it is all a “false flag” operation to generate sympathy for the Democrats on the eve of the midterm elections. Their best argument? The bombs didn’t explode, therefore the whole thing is fake. These claims are old tricks found on the pages of an old, bloody book that should never have left the shelf.

Earlier this week during a rally in Houston, Donald Trump proudly named himself a “nationalist.” Those still trying to whistle past the bare-naked truth of that statement argued that he doesn’t really know what the word means, he’s just doing his “America First” routine. Balderdash.

Trump’s proclamation was yet another escalation of his deep dive toward right-wing authoritarian rule, and I believe Cesar Sayoc took the cue and put bombs in the mail. Donald Trump knows exactly what he is doing, as do his fervent supporters, and it is high time the rest of us got right with the truth of this before it is too late. “When someone shows you who they are,” said poet Maya Angelou, “believe them the first time.”