Freedom News
Notes from the US: Repression

Notes from the US: Repression


‘Notes from the U.S.’ has reported before on the fascist governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, as he has defied federal laws requiring him to dismantle the barriers that his administration has built along the Rio Grande to keep non-white people out. It appeared for a short while in the summer that he would comply with these laws.

Contravening a federal cease-and-desist order, in late January, however, Texas troopers (re-)installed fencing, gates and barbed wire along the two-and-a-half mile stretch of the river near the city of Eagle Pass. This caused the death of a mother and her two children, who drowned in the river. The order was repeated: Surely he’d comply with that? No, he didn’t. So the U.S. Supreme Court, no less, ordered Abbott’s administration in Texas to remove the lethal barriers. This time, he would follow the law, wouldn’t he?

Again, No.

So determined is Greg Abbott to keep black and brown people out of the U.S. that he moved to keep the barbed wire barriers in place by armed force – in open defiance of the highest legal authority in the U.S. But he was not alone in his lawlessness, bigotry and sadism. Within days, the governors of half of the states in the U.S. sided with Abbott in his overt racism. They pledged support for his supremacist stand: they would send in armed personnel if asked.

This prompted one observer to liken Abbott’s and other governors’ racism to the concerted intransigence exhibited by southern states in the 1950s and ’60s when they refused to follow a ruling which mandated the integration of races in schools. Those acts of racism were 75 years ago. There are also parallels with the circumstances that precipitated the American Civil War in the 1860s when many members of the white élite saw the enslavement of black families as right and proper.

There was another echo of the past this month. Half a century ago or so, the former US-backed Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, took to sending his opponents up in helicopters and having them thrown out alive over the Andes or the Pacific Ocean. Republican congressperson Mike Collins (Georgia) commented that the U.S. élite should do the same with its ‘unwanted immigrants’, although their rights – setting aside from their nett contribution to the U.S. economy – justify their admission to the country. Even if what Collins said was hyperbole or a joke, it was in extremely bad taste.


Republican legislators in Ohio voted last month to overturn their governor’s veto of a new law which would ban gender-affirming healthcare for transgender young people; it would also stop trans athletes from playing on school sports teams. In other words, members of that state’s population may well now die – will certainly suffer – because of the bigotry and ignorance, intolerance and delusions of superiority by what the American Civil Liberties Union in Ohio called a “…state-sponsored vendetta against some of Ohio’s most vulnerable young people…”

Florida – no surprise – also continues to make the running in hatred and bigotry, ignorance and fear. The state’s new legislative session began at the end of January. Barely two days in, its legislators had introduced almost two dozen repressive and thoroughly nasty bills. For instance, the SB1780 (‘Defamation, False Light, and Unauthorized Publication of Name or Likenesses‘). If passed into law (it is to be hoped that there will be successful legal challenges), it would be illegal merely to draw attention to anyone’s homophobia, transphobia, racism or sexism – even when an accusation is demonstrably true. Those who want to challenge such slurs and limit their damaging effects will have to hold their tongues or be fined at least US$35,000 (£27,000). The measure also seems aimed at suppressing free speech and ‘hiding’ homophobia, etc – as if they didn’t exist.

Still in Florida: last month, the body which oversees higher education in the state, the ‘Board of Governors‘, ruled that publicly-funded universities there can no longer use money provided by its taxpayers to promote tolerance or access to education and academic progress for all students regardless of their race, gender, class, disability or sexual orientation etc. Spending on DEI (Diversity, equity and inclusion) is now illegal.

And again… the Florida state legislature continues its censorship of materials: for fear that reference books – no less – could violate H.B. 1069, all dictionaries and encyclopaedias have been removed from one school district’s (the equivalent of the LEA in the U.K.) libraries: the Escambia County School Board. That’s right: essential reference books join nearly 3,000 other (innocuous) books in Florida, which its future citizens are not trusted to consult. They will be trusted with deadly weapons, though: every day, over 20 people die or are seriously wounded by the ‘right to bear arms‘ in Florida, making the state the 25th most violent in the U.S.

Hunger is not absent from the U.S. Children, in particular, suffer. But over a dozen states whose legislatures are controlled by Republicans have refused aid offered to their residents by a food aid programme this summer from the Department of Agriculture. The Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is planned to help low income families: over 20 million children in 35 states. Typical of the sadistic refusal of this help is, no surprise, the Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis. He rejected the funding shortly after introducing a bill in his state to weaken child labour laws.

Lastly, a peek at high culture in the United States. Many allusions in American English draw their imagery from the anatomy and its more intimate actions: buttocks, copulation, excretion and genitals. “Kicking the buttocks” to refer to a strong or distinct action which the speaker wishes to describe as decisive, popular or in some other way outstanding is one well-known example. “(Assembling) one’s array of resources” is often referred to as …one’s excreta. To “lose all hope, or fail” often cites copulation, and so on.

As deft, decorous and dignified talk as ever was heard, isn’t it?

Is it surprising, then, that a growing number of shops across the country are choosing such a delicate and exalted linguistic register to determine which merchandise they offer to promote Trump and his re-election? Such shops are obviously enamoured by this rarified and highly sophisticated – not to say utterly original – elevation of the English language. Their owners and managers are in awe of physical representations of what the ‘coarser’ and ‘less well brought-up’ sort would probably spoil all the fun by counselling that such argot is best left in the bathroom (and bedroom). In ‘Trump Town USA’ in Boones Mill, Virginia, for instance, you can buy ‘objects’ drawing attention to the great man’s testicles, praising his excrement, and celebrating – again – his buttocks.

Heady, edifying stuff.

In this crucial election year, shouldn’t we all also admire and support these highly imaginative and infinitely graceful ways to lobby for and facilitate the return to power of their candidate? Who are we to look askance: could we hope to find anything more elegant, refined and worthy of emulation? Culture in the U.S. has reached a new and stunningly-polished zenith.

~ Louis Further

Image: LearningLark / CC BY 2.0

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading