Prof. Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: ‘Lesssons from the Twentieth Century’ (2017) recently came my way. By design, it’s a brief presentation of twenty lessons that Snyder has discerned after a long career as a historian, with significant study and research on twentieth-century European history.
It’s a small, inviting pamphlet addressing a big, unwelcome subject.
We’ve reached the point, and probably reached it some time ago, when many on Snyder’s list of tyranny’s characteristics apply, at least in a rudimentary way, to this federal administration and its reach into American life.
The strongest evidence of this is the Republican convention: the party no longer advances a liberal democratic ideal. It rejects the existing constitutional order in favor of a herrenvolk state under an autocrat’s whims. This is a fascist party under Trump.
Preservation of a free and just civil society demands that Trump be defeated; candor about our present condition compels one to acknowledge that he has built a major American party into a fascist one.
Trump’s dark inspiration and accomplishment is doing what the Bund was never able to do.
Some years ago, when I began to mark the days since Trump’s election, someone wrote to ask why I was so focused on him. Why, of all places, would I do so in Whitewater, Wisconsin? Were there not other issues? And after all, were the city and nearby places not chock-a-block with red-hatted followers of Trump? Why risk alienating those people?
Trump deserves attention in the way that a rabid creature deserves attention, Trumpism deserves attention in the way that a suppurating wound deserves attention. Trump and Trumpism are destructive of liberty, justice, and morality.
Whitewater is not a place part from America, however much some might pretend so.
As it turns out, however, this website has done better each year over the year before, and one might hope that says something about the value of holding fast to reason and tradition, on local or national topics.
And yet, and yet — the price of alienating some would, in any event, be imperceptible as against defending sound principles that should be, as our forefathers believed, self-evident.
There’s nothing extraordinary about seeing as much, or doing as much. It’s the least that one should see and do, and so brings no credit.
What’s extraordinary is the size and power of the threat the American constitutional order now faces.
It’s hard to tell precisely what hour this is, but Snyder’s pamphlet suggests the hour is now into the evening.