Notes from the US: a Winter solstice tale

A Year’s End Yarn

Once upon a time in a country far far away called the Untied States of Amnesia (with due acknowledgement to Gore Vidal) there arose a puzzling and preposterous political party which took the name, ‘Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity’ – ‘TWERP’ for short.

Officially, the TWERPs described themselves as ‘conservatives’. But no-one was sure what they wanted to ‘conserve’. Most of what they did, most of what they said they wanted to do, was destructive. In fact, those TWERPs who got elected to political office did very little; instead they concentrated on lots of shouting and threats. They didn’t seem to understand the idea of doing good.

Even so, they thought of themselves as ‘patriots’. They used ‘love of country’ as an excuse for many of their weird ways. One of their little slogans was ‘America first’. This meant that they wanted everyone else in the world to come… second, third, or – best – last.

The starving, refugees, immigrants driven from other countries by war, famine, and by oppression previously visited upon them by the country which the TWERPs claimed to be so proud of. They all must come after The Untied States.

Behind the Untied States must also come the poor, and – most importantly – people who didn’t look like ‘TWERPs’ – none of them mattered.

Indeed, the ‘movement’ which formed around the ‘Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity’ had a slogan: ‘MAGA’. That stood for ‘Mutual Aid Go Away’.

TWERPs had been emerging from the old Rethuglican Party for decades. But five years ago a new leader took it over. His name was Ronald Thump.

Nobody knew whether Thump had the nous or not by himself to tap into the worst, most selfish and ignorant traits of those who elected him. Or whether he stumbled upon the kind of situations that greed and prejudice always make inevitable. Thump was only ever interested in himself.

Who was this Ronald Thump, around whom members and supporters of the ‘Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity’ congregated, and whom they idolised? A lying, narcissistic, incompetent, immature, misogynistic, belligerent, semi-literate, vulgar, boastful, oafish racist, who hated immigrants. That’s who.

Makeup

Members and supporters of the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity included nearly half the adult voters of the Untied States – from all sectors of the electorate, although the vast majority of Thump’s supporters were white and lacked a college education. TWERPs included serving police and members of the armed forces and the National Guard, which was supposed to protect the public from political movements like the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity.

TWERPs often wished to shoot people who saw through them and what they stood for. Especially because they’d fooled themselves into believing that the last election was stolen from them. In fact, the TWERP became a cult which increasingly ignored the boundary between (para)military action and changes brought about through debate and the rule of law – be it ever so skewed in favour of the rich and powerful. TWERP leaders applauded and encouraged physical intimidation and potentially the death of their opponents.

Failings

Thump and the majority of his followers seemed to have real difficulties when it came to understanding science. For instance, they consistently failed to acknowledge the ongoing climate catastrophe – and certainly did nothing to face it. More of that later in this rather unbelievable tale.

Of course scientific analyses are not the only ways to look at the world. But indisputable evidence of climate collapse is undeniable to most people. But not in the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity world.

One of the party’s little elfin helpers had long been ALEC. This is a semi-secretive outfit funded by the infamous Koch organisation. It prepares oppressive, destructive and regressive legislative templates for states governed by the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity party. One of ALEC’s recent wheezes has been to wreck initiatives to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, which threaten to extinguish life on Earth. ALEC’s plan (likely to be taken up by many Thumpy states) punished companies, institutions and organisations which – by disinvestment, for instance – have found and used alternatives to fossil fuels. That’s right: the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity’s ideal supported an increase in the adoption and deployment of forms of energy which will eventually render our planet uninhabitable. TWERPS mocked green initiatives as ‘wokeness’.

 
TWERPs also denied the science as applied to the severity of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
 
By the end of 2021, for instance, that pandemic had infected and taken the lives of more people per capita in that cult leader Thump’s country than in any other nation in the world, and was more severe than the so-called Spanish Flue of 1918-1920.
 
Almost 800,000 people in the Untied States died. There was a mania for confusing wishful thinking with informed thinking.
 
The TWERPs response to the pandemic varied from denying it as a hoax dreamt up by Black Lives Matter to defeat Ronald Thump in the last election, to suggesting drinking disinfectant to ‘knock it out’. As recently as last month, for example, a leading TWERP addict (elected in 2016 with over 50% of the votes cast and a net worth of US$24 (£18.5) million) swore blind that mouthwash was a ‘proven cure’ for Covid.
 
The advent of the Omicron variant, one TWERP congressperson and former doctor in the Thump White House (Ronny Jackson of Texas) said, was an effort to steal the midterm elections in 2022 from the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity. Though Jackson failed to explain how and why so many countries across the globe could have co-ordinated such a plot at such detriment to themselves.
 
Followers of the ‘TWERP’ cult believed they had a right – a duty even – to avoid vaccination, distancing and masks as mitigators of the infectious disease’s dangers. More important to them was the assertion of their personal ‘freedom’. TWERPs had a right to infect as many other people as they wanted with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Other people could go to hell. One of their number, Marjorie Taylor Greene, was fined more than a third of her salary by November 2021 for choosing to risk infecting and potentially murdering her fellow Congresspeople and refusing to wear a mask in the House of Representatives.
 
TWERPy states were keen to ensure that as many people as possible became ill – as long as the bodies of both the dead and those left alive were ‘free’. The same thing didn’t apply, though, to women’s right to determine their own physical health. A leading state in spreading the virus and killing its residents was – you’ve guessed it – Florida. In November 2021 Governor Ron DeSantis convened a special legislative session called ‘Keep Florida Free’ to debate and sign into law four bills designed to prevent life-preserving vaccine mandates as issued by employers in line with national public health measures from becoming law.
 
The bills provided for greater penalties (increases from the original US$5,000 (£3,730) to US$10,000 (£7,460) for small businesses; and US$50,000 (£37,290) for businesses with more than 100 employees, and for local government, public and private businesses etc. The fines were to be levied, for example, on schools requiring masks. By the end of 2021 TWERP-inspired law suites challenged the mandates for wearing masks and being vaccinated in many states.
 
Sometimes you worry that the TWERPs may have lost their way completely. Another collection of TWERP helper elves, the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), decided that it was essential to ban (characters from) the popular children’s educational TV show, ‘Sesame Street’ from its conference in February 2022. ‘Sesame Street’ has received more major awards than any other comparable television series.
 
So why the ban? Before you answer, remember that CPAC was designed to attract grown adults.
 
Were the puppets exposing themselves, or revealing their manipulators’ hands? No. Worse, their ‘handlers’ arms? No. Did the scenery catch fire? Not that either.
 
A leading Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity senator took the move because one of the programme’s characters, a bird, had been used by public health officials to advocate vaccinations.
Lies

Despite any evidence at all (indeed with overwhelming proof to the contrary), Thump and his addicts disputed the outcome of the presidential election in 2020; they described the current holder of the office as illegitimate. Indeed, instead of working with anyone they could to confront the Untied States’ many challenges, various groups in TWERP-land giggled themselves into a slobbering heap in the corner promoting merchandise with the slogan ‘Let’s go Brandon’, after a sports commentator misheard <> a vulgar criticism of Joe Biden.

The TWERPs wanted to get and keep power in as many places as possible. So, many of the states in which the party already controlled the legislature, they passed laws to suppress votes for their opponents.

They realised, though, that there were going to be challenges to this tactic. So TWERPy states began to grant party operatives the (apparently unchallengeable) right to decide the outcome of elections themselves if necessary – regardless of the actual voting tallies. After all, they already had a strong record of threatening and intimidating election officials.

Indeed, Thump actually endorsed one Mark Finchem to oversee elections in the state of Arizona. Like many other such officials appointed by the TWERPs, Finchem had put his name to the Big Lie (or as Thump described it, “…his incredibly powerful stance on the massive Voter Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election Scam…”) and quickly became a committed supporter of the Qanon conspiracy.

TWERPs appeared to be somewhat delusional at times. They seemed to think they were (already) in power when they were not: in the middle of November 2021, for example, defeated and twice-impeached ex-President Ronald Thump sent former acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, to the border between Serbia and Kosovo. Ostensibly this was to promote peace between the countries. In reality it seems to have been because Thump really thought that he was still the president… such a mission is something which only a siting president can legitimately do.

Overturned

In January 2021, of course, Thump and the TWERPs planned, advocated, fomented and provoked an armed insurrection against the Capitol in Washington DC. This, of course, was the very same seat of legislation and power which both the Rethuglicans and now the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity had always claimed to exalt. So TWERPs must have forgotten that they were the soi-disant party of ‘law and order’ and that they spawned the Blue Lives Matter group… there were more police casualties resulting from the Putsch than civilian ones.

When the Putsch failed, Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity party members quickly set about denying its nature and seriousness. They mischaracterised it as a ‘tourist visit’, a boisterous and legitimate reaction to having the election ‘stolen’; and an event for which their enemies were responsible in order to discredit the “great”, “peaceful” and “lovable” patriots who were just having “fun” there. Some TWERPs denied that it happened at all.

Key officials in the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity orbit were called to testify to the Select Committee which was formed to investigate the Putsch. This was an investigation designed – if for nothing else – to try both to salvage the reputation of American ‘democracy’ and to prevent the repeat which is still thought possible or even likely.

But they systematically obstructed the Committee’s efforts to investigate what – throughout the rest of the world – is surely regarded as the most serious attempt to overthrow a government in the history of the Untied States. Some TWERPs ignored and/or refused to comply with subpoenas issued by the same House of Representatives that members of the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity had so vociferously claimed to venerate. Or they showed up and played dumb. The wider TWERP ‘movement’ and its allies in the ‘news’ media gleefully supported this approach and widely applauded non-compliance. In this they were aided by judges, who happily delayed the trial dates for those already indicted. This was obviously in the hope that a TWERP-run House of Representatives would simply scrap the Committee as soon as they next took office – thereby legitimising armed insurrection in the Untied States.

Violence

Members and followers of the ‘Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity’ were also in favour of armed vigilantes. In August 2020 a 17-year-old Thump- and cult addict, Kyle Rittenhouse, crossed state lines (from Antioch, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin) with an AR-15 rifle looking for trouble at a protest there against police brutality. He mixed with white supremacists, all but pretended to be a medic and/or member of the local police force, provoked aggression towards him; and then shot three people, killing two of them. Yet was found not guilty by the white jury. ‘Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity’ factions rallied behind Rittenhouse. They called him a ‘hero’ and endorsed what he had done. Propaganda outlets drunk on TWERPdom aired interviews with the murderer which were recorded while he was under arrest and on trial. The obligatory records and T-shirts hailing him as an exemplary figure worthy of their undying and eternal adulation came next. Several TWERP congresspeople offered Rittenhouse internships and tried to honour him with the Congressional Gold Medal.

From time to time a member of this ever more alarming ‘Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity’ party actively, openly and unambiguously incited violence. Just after the acquittal of Rittenhouse, representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina posted a video on Instagram with this message: “… Kyle Rittenhouse is not guilty, my friends. You have a right to defend yourselves. Be armed, be dangerous …” Cawthorn had been no stranger to such exhortations, though. At a rally in 2021 he brandished a gun and spoke about ways to “…bust out…” those in jail for their actions on January 6 that year. A member of the crowd asked Cawthorn, “When are you going to call us to Washington again?” Cawthorn answered, “We are actively working on that one.”

TWERP party members’ approval and happy embrace of violence and death is wider, though. In the same week as the deadliest school mass shooting since May 2018 – at Oxford High School near Detroit in Michigan –  Representative Thomas Massie tweeted a photo of himself with his entire close family celebrating Christmas with guns and a plea for ammunition. Other such elected officials soon followed – in one case depicting children as young as eight holding their guns.

After one of the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity’s members (Arizona Representative Paul Gosar) tweeted a video suggesting that he would kill one of his (black, female) legislator colleagues, and attack President Biden, he was censured and his membership of committees revoked: the most severe ‘punishment’ which a congressperson can receive. But he was not expelled.

What was Gosar’s response? Apology? Contrition?

No – he retweeted the offending video. Thump endorsed Gosar as a person and representative (“… [he] has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”). The leader of the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity in the House of Representatives made it plain that such death threats would be rewarded if his party were returned to office in 2022 by re-instating such committee memberships.

Supremacists

Lastly, let’s look at the defining issue for the Party. The one which TWERPs perhaps feel most strongly about: race.

Not long ago, they came across Critical Race Theory (CRT); and turned it into a major bogey around which TWERPs could rally.

CRT was actually developed over half a century ago by thinkers and academics – neither activists nor politicians. They saw how changes as a result of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s were being undone and advances eroded; and began to examine deliberate structural, economic and legal frameworks for racial inequalities.

TWERPs haven’t so far shown themselves even remotely capable of grasping this basic analysis. Rather, they worked themselves up and went full bore to denounce it. States, governors, legislators (local and national), members of elected school boards and the main TWERP propaganda organs frothed at their mouths, and seemed in danger of bursting blood vessels in their necks because they suddenly discovered that thoughtful and well-informed people acknowledge and accept that racism has been and still is intentional throughout the history of the Untied States.

No! No! cry TWERPs. Was there really a slave trade? Was a hair on any Native American’s head ever hurt? Was it impossible for blacks to vote in many states until the 1960s? Have African Americans, LatinX and Asian Americans been incarcerated, unable to secure jobs and housing in wild disproportion to whites?

To acknowledge any aspect of systematic racism in the Untied States of Amnesia, TWERPs bellowed, is to punch their precious patriotism in the gut and undermine the supremacist image of themselves which children must be encouraged to cling to.

Although of course it ought to have been, such history as explored intelligently and with usually impeccable supporting evidence has rarely actually been taught (especially as ‘CRT’) in many places in the TWERPs’ homeland. Nevertheless, the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity seems never to have been a movement whose addicts worried about looking… silly. North Dakota’s Republican governor, Doug Burgum, for instance, didn’t hesitate to sign legislation into law last month which not only banned the teaching of critical race theory. Again: it is not taught in his state’s schools. But he also made it illegal for pupils in North Dakota’s schools even to be taught that there is such a thing as racism.

Viable

So – would any reasonable person ever have wanted any aspect of their life to be affected by anyone in any way involved in – or even marginally associated with – the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity party?

Does it even sound like a credible or appropriate outfit to take the pubic stage? Surely they were afraid of being laughed off?

Could it really be have been funded by millions of supporters?

Would major telecommunications companies actually have poured funds into its propaganda outlets?

 
Could the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity party even survive after a performance like this?
 
You wouldn’t have thought so, would you?
Blame

We must note, however, that the Untied States is a ‘young’ country. It’s huge and relatively isolated from many other centres of (political) thought. Those who follow the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity can’t be blamed for that.

Despite what its politicians say, US ‘democracy’ (as usual, two sides of the same global capitalist coin) is relatively unsophisticated and inherently corrupt: the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity addicts can’t be blamed for having created such a state of affairs.

The schooling (not the education) system in the Untied States is by and large based on competition, materialism, and behaviourism. It isn’t designed to encourage pupils to think for themselves, to challenge received wisdoms or to be discriminating. Let’s not blame Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity supporters for their teachers’ methods and the schooling culture they work to.

Lastly, a substantial segment of those who support the directions of the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity party are either too young and/or too poorly-informed to remember or necessarily know about and understand the dangers of incipient Fascism. It seems likely that they simply miss (or see no reason not to ignore) the warning signs. And when their favourite TV station exalts Fascism’s resurgence in, say, Hungary, many Thump addicts born after 1970 may actually be tricked into welcoming such authoritarianism.

No, responsibility for the rise and grip of the Thump for White Exceptionalism and Racial Purity lies elsewhere.

Happy Holidays!

~Louis Further

Image by Anthony Quintano. Published under CC BY 2.0.