Wednesday Vignette – Fascist tomfoolery

The past few days have been awfully dark – the kinds of days where daylight never truly came. And, records were broken in terms of rainfall – a whopping 3.32 inches in 24 hours, and subsequent flooding here in our fair city. To add to the soggy dreariness, this morning’s news reported that those who support the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump are “mostly non-college educated whites”. No real surprise there, I suppose – as he over the course of his campaign has insulted just about anyone with skin color other than traditional Euro-pink. This caused me to reflect on how effectively the fear-induced fury of uneducated citizens can radicalize and polarize the political playing field. I read this great quote by Isaac Asimov today:

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.

IMG_6975

A street near us under water.

A diagram in the form of a horseshoe, drawn by my high school social studies teacher, floated to the surface of my foggy brain. At the extremes were found the most totalitarian of philosophies; Fascism and Communism. Although on opposite ends of the “spectrum”, in actuality as well as practice, the expression of either is almost identical in how it is experienced – both are rigid and brutally enforced belief systems. So, calling it a spectrum is pretty much a misnomer, as they are essentially two slightly different takes on the same thing. It was a powerful visual revelation – I don’t even recall the teacher’s name, but I will never forget his diagram.

IMG_6976

Merriam-Webster’s definition of Fascist: “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition”

IMG_6977

Shadows of branches whipping across the wet sidewalk. It’s stormy out there.

You probably wonder where I’m going with this, but I’m going on the assumption that sometimes a vignette can consist of a pattern – however absurd. And I do admit, this is more of a mental than a visual one. Almost to the day, 77 years after Kristallnacht, Mr. Trump publicly declared that muslims should be marked, so they can be identified. Just like Hitler did with the jews.  His knuckle-dragging followers are apparently supporting this, as somehow they equate followers of islam with ISIS, as indeed their Leading demagogue suggests they are. Isn’t this interesting? Like ISIS, Mr. Trump finds his most ardent and willing supporters in those of limited intellectual capacity – those who accept without thought or question. Essentially, here is one fascist criticizing other likeminded fascists. Both Trump’s suggestions and ISIS’s actions echo the base behavior of the civilian nazi sympathizers from the 1930’s, who joined in with the SA on that dreadful night not too long ago. It is most definitely a recurring pattern – as dreadful as the weather outside. Neither happy nor beautiful, but nevertheless a mental vignette worthy of some thought. What occupies your mind this week?

UPDATE: November 23, 2016 – after the unthinkable happened… My dear friend Suss sent me an article from Dagens Nyheter (a major Swedish newspaper) which was essentially a tribute to the same teacher I could not remember the name of when I wrote this. I was beyond thrilled to read it! Lars-Erik Hedin was a true original. Judging from the article, his wisdom made an impression on others too. I’m so glad he didn’t have to live to see what we’ve done . What just happened would have represented his worst nightmare – the one he kept warning us about – the collapse of western democracy.

 

About annamadeit

Born and raised in Sweden, my aesthetics and outlook on life are strongly shaped by a culture rich in history and tradition. I care a great deal about environmental responsibility, and my aesthetic reflects the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia. I was trained as an architect at the University of Cincinnati and as a color specialist at the Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm. I'm obsessed with plants and gardens, and aim to take my skill set a step further by designing gardens as well as interiors. As someone so aptly said: " Architecture is the skin that separates the exterior from the interior". So true - you can't successfully focus on one without incorporating the other. I'm also an avid cook, and I love to ski. In addition, I put time and efforts into trying to rectify things that I feel are wrong in my immediate community. As you will see, The Creative Flux will touch on all these things, and more. For sure, it's all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blog!
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41 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – Fascist tomfoolery

  1. Hi, Anna. We were in your fair city last week and it was truly fair, with every day sunshine. I guess we dodged a bullet. This week I’ve vowed a couple of times to stay away from social media and the news, as it is all upsetting, but I keep getting pulled back in, and not in a good way. Thank you for writing this. Indeed dark times.

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh – I’m so happy you were here before this massive wetness rolled in, but sorry I didn’t get to meet you. 😦 So, did you have a favorite experience here? (I think I need to check your blog…) As for dark times – the title of your blog alone, could do wonders to cure an ignorant populace. I truly believe that people who are left in the dark, will promulgate it.

      • Anna, we had the best time in Portland. I love your city. My husband has two sisters there – one of his sisters founded Whole Child Montessori – and it was great to catch up with them as well as see the nieces and nephews. Best of all our two sons met us there so it was a real family reunion. And, but the way, do check my blog because yes, my best, best experience was the Wild Arts Festival. I’m SURE you will relate – maybe you even went to it? Anyway, my husband and I are interested in a possible move to one of the small towns your way or maybe near Salem which is more affordable – and we’re also checking out Olympia and the Olympic peninsula. If you have any favorite small towns out your way let me know!

        • annamadeit says:

          Sounds like a wonderful time! We spend a lot of our time sitting in traffic here in Portland these days, so thinking smaller is probably wise. Life is too short to be spent in a car… Have you considered Ashland, where the Shakespeare Festival is?

  2. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening! says:

    Wonderful post, with dark but beautiful photos. That second one is so great, and except for the fact that Peter beat you out with his “leaf impressions bats” image, it would be my favorite photo of the day. Would you settle for second?

  3. FlowerAlley says:

    Well said and very sad. Can I vote for you?

  4. Well said, Miss Anna. Excellent reminder. All of us who have the capacity to see through these dark ways and dark times need to speak up.

    • annamadeit says:

      It’s time for all people, and even more so, ALL politicians to stop pussyfooting around the issues – whether immigration, mental health or gun control. Failing to do so is exactly why, in the last Swedish election, the neo-nazis got over 10% of the vote, thereby earning themselves a fairly powerful voice in the government. It wasn’t that 10% were actual nazi sympathizers – the great majority were airing the frustrations with the sitting government’s inaction. Which, I suppose, means that all other current presidential candidates have a stellar opportunity to present their thoughts on the matter BEFORE our next presidential election here. I have a feeling if they don’t, and instead sweep it under the rug like the Swedes did, we’ll pay dearly for it. Conversely, if they drag it out in the open, and show some initiative, whatever Trump says will recede into the pond of many approaches, and give folks something to think about, and choose between. Right now, I think his only appeal is that he speaks his mind. No matter how crazy what he says sounds – a lot of people appreciate that. As for Sweden, if last year’s election were held today, the nazis would get 20%. Now THAT, my friend, is beyond scary, but speaks volumes of what people really think. I really hope politics as usual won’t let that happen here, but I’m not holding my breath…

  5. Alison says:

    Well said, Anna. It’s going to be a frightening election. I like your black and white photos too. My WV offering is here: http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2015/12/wednesday-vignette_9.html

  6. Oh Anna, you wrote out (a lot better than I could) a few of the thoughts that have been going around and around in my head. Why why why is that man still a viable candidate? (you answered that one)…why does there have to be so much hate? (never will get an answer I can accept to that one). As for the weather, ugh. I keep reminding myself that up above that dark heavy layer is the same blue sky that warmed me all summer long…

    My vignette: http://www.thedangergarden.com/2015/12/wednesday-vignette-new-agaves-in-hood.html

    • annamadeit says:

      Thankfully, we can go hang out in our restorative gardens when things get too gloomy. It’s amazing how spending a few minutes out there somehow melts all the nasty stuff away – even on a dark and rainy day. I think the other candidates can do a lot to diminish what Trump says, but simply criticizing him isn’t going to make him go away. I think they have to grab the bull by the horns, and offer real, implementable ideas to take back lost voters. (See what I wrote in response to Tamara.)

  7. Well said indeed. In difficult times we must resist the slide into totalitarian reasoning:

    “[The] true goal of totalitarian propaganda is not persuasion, but organization of the polity. … What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part.”
    ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    Trump: “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,”

    “There is hardly a better way to avoid [intelligent] discussion than by releasing an argument from the control of the present and by saying that only the future will reveal its merits.”
    ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    • annamadeit says:

      Good quotes for sure, Bart. The first one made me think of the idea of WMDs in Irak, which was repeated (though unsubstantiated) so often, and for so long, that people started perceive it as the truth. We invaded, and look what we have today… Jeez… I bet you if Saddam was still in power, the world would look incredibly different. (Not saying he was any good – just that we would have a different set of problems on our hands.)

      • So true. I often wonder if we didn’t invade Iraq would the Arab Spring movement have kick started the end of Saddam anyway — without an American invasion and the horrible aftermath. If toppling Saddam was engineered in the region, perhaps the subsequent Iraqi regime would have had more legitimacy, currency and success with the Iraqi people, whether Shiite, Sunni, Kurds or other groups.

        • annamadeit says:

          I’m pretty sure it would. There were those who tried. I have a friend in Sweden who was an officer in the Iraqi Air Force. He and a few others were involved in a plot to topple Saddam, but their plan was discovered. He was in the hangar when he got the warning call, jumped into the nearest Mig, and took off, never to return. He ran out of fuel over Iran, landed, and from there made his way to Sweden. What an amazing story, huh?

  8. A very powerful post that really resonates with me (the Asimov quote is spot on). Like you, I’ve been very preoccupied with what’s going on. 90 years ago my German ancestors did nothing to stop Hitler, thinking that he’s all talk. History proved them wrong. Now Trump is reviving many of the same policies Hitler pursued. We cannot stand by idly and let this evil take hold any more than it already has.

    My vignette this week is much cheerier than that, though. It’s all about a very specific kind of yellow: http://www.succulentsandmore.com/2015/12/wednesday-vignette-ginkgo-yellow.html

    • annamadeit says:

      I totally agree, Gerhard. I think we still have a chance to be on the right side of history, but I caution against ignoring Trump. He needs to be confronted with real ideas, not brushed off like the clown he is. The Swedes are now paying dearly for ignoring the message of the nazis during the last election. (See my response to Tamara..) So yes – let’s keep voicing our opinions!

  9. Kris P says:

    I’ve taken to yelling at the TV – something I used to laugh at when my husband did it. But Mr. Trump isn’t laughable – the way things are going I expect I may be throwing things at the TV soon, although I am heartened by the fact that this time, at last, Trump is getting much more criticism from all sides. Apparently people who tolerated the clown, bully, racist and complete narcissist who carries a bible but has clearly never read the Constitution, are beginning to awaken to the realization that he’s stepped into fascism. If you haven’t seen it, you may want to look at Nate Silver’s article on Trump’s polls as it puts them in better perspective, even if admittedly it makes him no less infuriating (http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/dear-media-stop-freaking-out-about-donald-trumps-polls/).

    My vignette post is a little scary too but not nearly as frightening as Trump: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2015/12/wednesday-vignette-modern-day-monsters.html

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh, I can’t wait to read that, but it will have to wait until I get home from work. For some reason, this comment ended up in the wrong folder, but after seeing your second comment, I looked for it, and found it. Thanks for commenting twice, and alerting me to it! 🙂

  10. Kris P says:

    I posted a response earlier but it appears to have gone astray, perhaps because I included a link to an article by Nate Silver providing perspective on Trump’s poll numbers. (If you haven’t read it, you may want to Google it.) In any case, like you, I find Mr. Trump’s rhetoric both disheartening and frightful. My Wednesday Vignette is here: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2015/12/wednesday-vignette-modern-day-monsters.html

  11. What FlowerAlley said. (This, too, shall pass [I hope!].) And my Wednesday Vignette seems like fluff and insignificance, but here it is: http://plantpostings.blogspot.com/2015/12/dandelions-in-december.html. Thanks for hosting!

  12. Evan says:

    This election genuinely scares me. Usually, it’s just tiresome. More politicians making false promises so they can get into office and make their financial backers happy (and make themselves rich). I cannot fathom how Trump is still a viable candidate, and I’ve been wondering if people are getting dumber since around the age of six. He and his supporters confound even my cynical view of humanity. I joke about this every election, but I’m not sure I’m joking this time when I say, “if that guy wins, I’m leaving the country.” I have one hope. Polls are basically meaningless numbers peddled by the media, usually in such a way as to paint the most shocking picture possible to up their ratings. I can only hope that is what’s happening now, though it still gives him too much attention and gets his words out to too many people. It’s like focusing on the shooter instead of the victims. It’s more inflammatory and thus people pay more attention.

    This is why I prefer nature, and that’s exactly what my WV post focuses on. http://practicalplantgeek.blogspot.com/2015/12/wednesday-vignette.html

    • annamadeit says:

      Seriously Evan – read Nate Silver’s post on the matter that Kris P posted – it will make you feel better. “…That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.” It’s too soon to worry, but I think buffoons like him need to be met with immediate and appropriate resistance rather than ignoring him. (As in, don’t fall into the trap Swedish politicians did.) As for leaving the country – I think I would too. I just got my American passport. How ironic it would be that the flag that I just pledged allegiance to will provide me with the tools I’d need to get out!

  13. I am finding you through Beth at Plant Postings. Your words resonate loudly with me as if you opened my brain and drew out the thoughts. I have been saying the F word as well…Fascist that is…and Nazi and terrorist as Trump opens his mouth and spews his hate….a scary and somber time for this country….

    • annamadeit says:

      Haha – I’ve been saying both F words… Life is too short for hate, but sadly, it’s not exclusive to this country. But, you’d think the most diverse nation in the world would have developed a little further than most others. When Trump gets his cheers, you realize that many here have a long way to go.

  14. Rose says:

    Very thoughtful post, Anna! The recent remarks by Trump and the comparisons to the Nazis remind me of the quote by Martin Niemoller that begins, “First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out…” I won’t quote the rest of it here because I’ll bungle it up, but you’ve probably heard it before. In other words, we cannot let this kind of fascist/racist talk go unchallenged. Whether he wins the nomination–heaven forbid–or not, he has certainly stirred up some awful ideas. I certainly don’t want the rest of the world to think that this is what Americans think!

    • annamadeit says:

      Rose – I know exactly which poem you’re talking about. It’s a good one, and very relevant to how we deal with Trump and his “apes” as a friend so aptly called them. Yes indeed – they need to be taken seriously, and challenged accordingly – BEFORE the election.

  15. Cath says:

    These photos are wonderful Anna, very evocative and beautiful, and far from politics to me. It seems unbelievable to us that anyone is really taking Trump seriously. It would be frightening indeed if there was a chance of him having an influence.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks Cath. Yeah, it does seem quite impossible, but then again – look at what is happening in Europe. Nazis in both Sweden and France have garnered considerable votes… Mind you, the Nate Silver link posted by Kris P made me feel much better – for now… 🙂

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