Due to the sickening events of yesterday in the USA, I found myself thinking back to when I was studying Weimar Germany in A level history. My main question at the time was ‘Did no one realise what was happening?’ The answer is of course people did, but it was ignored by the leaders. By the time any action was taken it was too late.
The violent attempt to suppress democracy yesterday is the culmination of years of slow creep, a radicalisation in America built around a cult of personality. Fascism, pure and simple. An attempt at a coup to cement their leader’s power. For now this seems to have been quenched but I would expect it to return.
If anyone thinks we are immune in the UK, I think we are on a similar trajectory. I remember last year when the Coulson statue came down in my adopted city of Bristol. What was less reported was the next weekend when bikers and far right groups showed up to defend the cenotaph. No-one was going to attack it, but that was not the point. The point was to make a show of strength and to demonstrate that these groups can mobilise when necessary. This is symptomatic of a swing towards nationalism in this country.
One of the reasons we have got to this point is the veneer of respectability these groups hide behind. They are violent hate groups but call themselves ‘protesters’ or ‘concerned citizens’. The media have been complicit in never challenging these terms and almost always use them at face value. It tactically endorses them by never challenging their terminology. While the attack raged yesterday, I saw several cries for balance or to listen to their concerns or asking what they wanted. Luxuries that were never given to the Black Lives Matter protests.
The language we use is important and has consequences. So calling an armed attempt to storm a seat of democracy a ‘scuffle’ minimises and downplays the violence. Calling those people ‘patriots’ is endorsing their actions.
Call it what it is. A violent attempt at a coup by fascists. Do not allow them to hide any longer.