Discover more from New Means
Fascism Comes Home to Roost
Peace activists attacked at the DNC, protesters attacked in Atlanta, and politicians rally against a ceasefire.
Last night hundreds of people went to the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee to call for a ceasefire. Instead of any sort of dialogue or even basic respect for this non-violent protest and activism, the police were swiftly called and they almost immediately began assaulting the predominantly Jewish crowd. Not long after the attack on these activists, Congressman Brad Sherman tweeted out that the protesters had pepper sprayed the police, had tried to break into the DNC HQ, and were terrorists. His first two statements are both disproven by video of the scene, and the third is a horrifying accusation to level at Jewish peace activists simply and earnestly seeking to halt a genocide and promote a ceasefire. There is a growing and disturbing fascistic consensus among the ruling class that anyone organizing for a ceasefire must be demonized and marginalized. There’s just one problem. The majority of America wants a ceasefire.
Everything that unfolded at the DNC last night would have hit me hard at any time. I hope to convey my deep solidarity and gratitude with the folks from Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, and the DSA through this piece. These heroes organized and participated in the powerful action last night, and are now being attacked by some of the most powerful people in the country. On the other hand, opposite these activists, the immediate and brutal violence from the police was sickening and enraging, particularly in the context of this protest for peace. And last night I was doubly struck, because I was already in the middle of writing this newsletter for you, and this piece today is all about how supporting fascism abroad is directly linked to the rise of fascism at home.
I was writing on fasism coming home to roost because this week had already shown us how Israel and policing demonstrate the clear linkage between foreign policy that supports genocide and ethnic cleansing and domestic policy that gives police free reign to abuse their power and abuse Americans. And that’s because two things happened this week. Well, many things took place this week, but two major events occurred in quick succession, and their sharp contrast reveals so much. On Monday, protesters, activists, and people of all kinds converged in Georgia, at the construction site of the infamous Cop City. Atlanta police plan to build a massive training center to practice repression tactics. It’s been dubbed “Cop City” both because of its massive scale and because the plans include a mock neighborhood to practice policing protests, going house-to-house, and more. Then, on Tuesday, Zionists from around the country converged on DC. Several thousand people rallied for Israel, including many leaders of both political parties. Notably, the crowd booed at the suggestion from Van Jones that bombs stop raining down on Gaza, roundly rejected the idea of a ceasefire, and cheered as Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders proudly linked arms on stage.
New Means is a reader-supported publication. If you’re able to support my writing it allows me to dedicate more time to writing for you. Thank you!
These two disparate events, hundreds of miles apart and without overt ties, are intimately connected. In Atlanta, the Stop Cop City protesters showed us how these seemingly unrelated situations are intertwined. As the activists marched towards the planned construction site of the police repression center they chanted “FREE, FREE PALESTINE,” and Natasha Leonard writes: “Stop Cop City participants see their struggle over the forest acreage outside Atlanta as one among many fights to see land and territory liberated, rather than violently bordered and occupied. ‘We’ve made the connections between the police, militarized complex, and international policing,’ Franklin told the gathered crowd. ‘The murderous tactics of the Israeli police and military against the Palestinians. We’ve made those connections.’”
These connections occur both on the zoomed-out level of liberation struggles and movements around land and freedom, and on the granular level of collaboration between Israel and U.S. police. This past May there was an exchange program between the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), the Atlanta Police Foundation’s Atlanta Police Leadership Institute, and the IDF. Other police programs across the country have similar relationships with Israel. The NYPD even has an office in Tel Aviv. All of these relationships are racked up to training and counter-terrorism, but the past month has made a whole lot more people wonder why U.S. cops are receiving training from people who specialize in policing occupied populations. And the Stop Cop City activists are on the front lines saying that they don’t want a specialized repression center built in their community. One that some protesters say will help police better occupy their community.
And yet, despite these qualms and despite a comprehensive movement resisting Cop City, Atlanta’s political establishment is doing everything they can to keep a vote on the policing facility off the ballot. Local residents submitted well over 100,000 signatures for a ballot measure. Yet they’ve been met with stonewalling. Many, many observers say that the Democratic mayor and other elected officials, not to mention the police forces, have leapt to fascistic repression rather than listening to the people. The 10 a.m. march on Monday was met almost immediately with tear gas, police dogs, and tank-like vehicles. People have been arrested for handing out fliers. Many have been charged with domestic terrorism for simply being in the forest in the vicinity of the construction site.
As George Jackson described 50 years ago, the United States has seen our capitalist system become increasingly authoritarian and fascistic. In explaining Jackson’s analysis, Colin Jenkins writes that one of the key pillars of this evolution has been, “a complete reliance on state violence both home (militarized policing) and abroad (imperialism/war) to control working-class angst and develop new markets outside of the United States to replace living-wage labor.” More and more people are seeing this reality with increasing clarity. The day after people were attacked for marching against Cop City in Atlanta, a pro-Israel crowd rallied in DC. And on stage, Democratic Leaders like Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jefferies held hands with new GOP House leader Mike Johnson and raised them together in the traditional symbol of victory. Except what they were celebrating was the rejection of calls for a ceasefire, and thus the enabling of Israel’s genocide and ethnic cleansing of Gaza.
Aime Cesaire has a cutting and necessary line about Europeans tolerating "Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples.” And he’s right. Growing up in a Jewish community and in the United States I was taught both explicitly and implicitly that the Holocaust was singular, was the unique and worst atrocity of all time. But in the Congo, Belgium murdered somewhere between 8-10 million people, and injured millions more when they were the colonial rulers. They regularly cut off hands if the Congolese didn’t produce enough rubber. The Belgians were the genocidal barbarians we’ve been warned about. Amaresh Misra, a writer and historian based in Mumbai, argues that there was an "untold holocaust" in India where the British caused the deaths of almost 10 million people over 10 years beginning in 1857. Some estimates place the death toll much, much higher over the course of British colonialism in India. All of this is to say that Cesaire is fundamentally correct. European powers tolerated Nazism when it took the form of their colonial projects in the global South. It was only rebuked when it came home.
What we are seeing today is, of course, not a carbon copy of the 19th century. But the ruling class in the U.S., and much of Europe, are united in unflinching support for Israel. For many of them, there are no red lines. Schools bombed, UN workers and journalists murdered, hospitals invaded, and yet Democratic and Republican leaders hold hands in unity. Non-violent activists assaulted by cops for calling for a ceasefire. Funding for Israel and the police ramped up, as it's one of the key things both parties heartily agree on right now. Politicians readily lying about protesters simply calling for peace. In one sense it's crystal clear; when politicians support fascism abroad, they have to increasingly support fascism at home in order to repress our outrage at their decisions and priorities. On the other hand, there is a more gradual and insidious creep towards fascism around the globe, where the growing weakness of capitalism leads to slowly growing discontent and a rising left. And the capitalist class, including most politicians in the West, would rather repress left-leaning movements than allow them to flourish. If we want to address fascism in this country, we csn’t just focus on MAGA and Trump, we need to focus on these systemic problems that enable mass violence abroad and bring that violence home.
We who support peace and real freedom, we who do not want fascism here or abroad have no choice but to keep organizing and struggling against this system. Moments like this allow us to see with even more clarity that the problems we face are on the systemic level. Bipartisan support for the bombing of Gaza, bipartisan support for policing protesters, and a bipartisan agreement to fund violence. So we must aim for a new world, a new system that values life above all, and doesn’t consent to its destruction and desecration. We can do it. People are doing it all around us as we speak. We see the wave of change rising up, and we see people organizing for the long haul, not just one spontaneous eruption. What we must do now is continue to build. I’ll leave you with these words Brittany Packnett that inspired me yesterday, in the midst of everything: "Train yourself toward solidarity and not charity. You are no one's savior. You are a mutual partner in the pursuit of freedom." We can build a better world, not out of charity towards others but because we ourselves desire liberation, desire a world free from the slaughter of innocents and full of life, thriving life. Let’s get to it.
Thank you for reading! If my work has been valuable to you, I hope you’re able to consider becoming a supporting reader. Thank you so much - Josh