Know Who You’re Dealing With

Compulsory prayer, Phoenix Indian School, circa 1900

Compulsory prayer, Phoenix Indian School, circa 1900


2024 will quite possibly be remembered as the final stand-off between two visions of US identity.

And no, I do not believe the two-party system serves these visions in any meaningful way.

As someone who turns 60 this year, I’m just about old enough to have witnessed the ebb and flow of USA politics long enough to have noticed a few things.

The Democratic Party now occupies the space once inhabited by American Conservatives.  It is controlled by Big Business.  It throws a few bones to progressive causes, but only until lobbyists and corporate donors say “Stop!”.

The Republican Party took a sharp turn towards right-wing populism under Ronald Reagan in the 80s, and is now in thrall to a man who believes in nothing but his own centrality to everything, a man willing to stoke the fires of White Christian Nationalism (aka fascism), if doing so will keep him from serving time in prison while allowing him to exact revenge on his enemies.

There is no longer any need to feel shy about comparing the current GOP to National Socialism in 1930s Germany.  The Republican Party nominee for President openly states his intentions.  The “scapegoats” for America’s problems will not be primarily Jews this time.  It will be immigrants, mostly Hispanic.  It will be “Libs”. It will be members of the LGBTQ+ community (never forget that the Nazis murdered members of the disabled and gay communities before moving on to Leftists, Jews and Romani people).

I cannot apologise for posting political content in this year of all years.  The ideas being spread today go to the very heart of what I write about – people in power through the ages who amass wealth by manipulating the less-empowered and less-educated into believing false history and outright lies.

My very working-class family did a one year “test run” move to the American Southwest in the late 60s, before making a final move there in 1976.  Places like Arizona were being sold as a Sun Belt Paradise to working-class people from the rural Mid-West and Appalachia, people who had no idea that Big Business was moving to the Southwest for their own nefarious interests – factories with no heating costs, and a nearby Hispanic labor force so desperate they would work for peanuts…

Arizona property speculators put up cheap houses in the desert even faster than the coal barons back east had slapped Appalachian “company towns” together one or two generations earlier.

Even though many businesses had moved to Arizona specifically in order to exploit cheap Hispanic labor, they were quick to demonise Mexicans when it suited them politically to pit “poor whites” against them.

Over the past four years, the MAGA “brownshirts” have made Maricopa County (the most populous region in Arizona), virtually ungovernable, with election-deniers storming various official proceedings and intimidating election workers and officials.  This is EXACTLY the playbook used by the Nazis in 1920s and 1930s Germany.

Sometimes we are all guilty of thinking that we live in different times, and we believe that the worst excesses of humanity are a thing from the distant past.

I write about the things I do, because the past is never really the past.  That is a nonsense propagated by liars and the ignorant.

How many of us have heard someone say “I never had slaves, we freed them over 150 years ago, and I’m not going to lose sleep over things which are long past.”?

I’m not even going to get into the ugliness of the “we freed the slaves, and they should thank us” mindset.

But every time you read about Maricopa County, Arizona this year – and you will hear about it – remember just recent its history is.  A vicious and nasty history.

I sat and talked with my great-grandmother in the late 1960s.  She and her first husband, my great-grandfather, were born in the early 1890s.

They were children when the Indian Wars ended and the first indigenous children of Arizona were rounded-up in the 1890s and sent to places like the Phoenix Indian School, in order to be indoctrinated and forced to assimilate into “white” culture.

When did Phoenix Indian School close its doors? 1990.  Over 20 years AFTER my family first moved to Maricopa County, Arizona.

The people who thought it was their right to force Christianity and “white culture” onto the Hopi, Navajo, and Apache were the parents and grandparents of the people who want to force White Christian Nationalism onto Americans in 2024.

I am not a member of the Democratic Party.  But if the candidate standing against the GOP this year was a cardboard cut-out, or even a plate of cold oatmeal, I would still vote for them to stop fascism.

A person can only look for a shiny new car if they manage to escape from the one rolling down a hillside on fire…

#history #arizona #electionyear #indianschools

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