Unreal Nation: Dispatches From The Cardboard Empire

​Well, it happened. What we all feared in the pit of our consciousness. Fascism has overtaken an already weakened, divided, and unjust United States Of America. So feel free to do as you will, before this temporary lawlessness gives way to new tyrannical laws and customs. Meantime, the radicals of the left are finding themselves, new ground, and one another amidst the chaos in their spate with the Trump regime. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite action.  And the reactionaries will ultimately destroy themselves, taking many with them into oblivion, both innocent and belligerent. As this conflict evolves into a full blown war, I for one plan on getting more and more belligerent myself.

Did it come from ignorance and hatred boiling over and ignored for far too long? Unmitigated and unpunished greed and corruption? Broken politics and confused, convoluted, obfuscated cultural divisions? The unwavering state monopoly on violence and overspending on militarization? The spiking influence of the prison- industrial complex and the public dependence on untouchable corporations to survive? The unfolding consequences of out- of- control man-made climate change?

Yes, of course it did, among many other places of human failure. But the penultimate cause of inhumane & extremist political ideologies and regimes is the amoral, ecstatic, rationalized and legitimized willingness — or conversely, the frustrated and infuriated fear and panic-induced desperation for political and economic change, to embrace them. Or, at the least, “give them a chance,” to toy and experiment with human lives and decency and see where it goes… for a change.

This has to be a massive form of shared psychosis on a national, and in fact, global scale. Is this not the end result of nationalism in every historical nationalist culture and coup? Voters and crowds of cheering masses demanding the arrest and exile of scapegoats, for the sake of national success and security, and as tribute to great generals and empires of the past. It comes around every now and then in all places, from Europe and Asia, to — well, here, like when Roosevelt decided to round up Japanese citizens and immigrants for internment during WWII, much to the satisfaction of those who wanted to kill every East Asian person on the street, but also those who quietly lived in a newfound racist fear of the Japanese without the actual urge to murder them.

That’s the nutshell of post- 9/11 pandemonium and Islamaphobic fanaticism. I should know. After the towers were attacked and smoldering just a mile and a half away from my high school at the time, I wrote the most vile and despicable lyrics to metal songs playing in my mind about all of the violent things I wanted to do to “Sandpigs” in the Middle East. I wanted to form a band based on these songs and literally call it American Hate Machine. This anti- Islamic rage of mine lasted about six months as I spent many hours on the Army website, wishing I was 18.

Just as some nations hold onto hateful fascist governments, many of my fellow Americans held onto their hate and prejudice long after the rest of us found a way to make sense of it all without working toward genocidal campaigns. Some of us found reason, and hope, and ethical ways to combat violent extremism without becoming the very evil we sought to defeat, with and without Muslim brothers and sisters- in- arms. Some of us even found peace, and love, and all that other warm & fuzzy hippy stuff.

But the rest of us just went on hating, until the hate warped and consumed them & all they believed. Many of these people had children, or started their own businesses, and transferred that same hatred and prejudice to the hearts and minds of their young and vulnerable, to their coworkers & employees, their church groups, their schools and offices, their political representatives, courts, and communities at large. In many places across the U.S., this burning fury and anxiety of the “others,” and the enmity against all that was

foreign or different from the false security of familiarity took hold and shaped every aspect of culture & being. It festered & grew like a cancerous tumor of what can only be described as evil, the same kind of evil that fuels all symbiotic terrorism, like Dylan Roof’s & Tashfeen Malik’s, mutating & evolving just as quickly as we tried to contain & undermine it. Now that evil has consolidated itself at the highest offices of what has become an unreal nation.

Unreal, because at this moment in history, the United States only exists in theory, by way of it’s past momentum. Unreal, because of shared delusions born from islolated caves of our insecurities & the resulting fallout of their dissonance. Unreal, because for whatever reasons we choose to explain it, millions of Americans either supported or capitulated to an outspoken & unapologetic malignant narcissist, & his proud base of white supremacists in 2016.

Right now, there is no real America. Only a void of darkness where it once struggled to exist & bloom. A breeding ground of selfish psychosis, implosive depression, & blissful ignorance. A political graveyard on what used to be, however hopeful or flawed, the land of the free and the home of the brave. One that threatens to become a legal, economic, & literal graveyard for us all.

This is the antithesis of the American dream, however hopeful or flawed it was, and this nightmare is the self- fulfilling prophecy of a relative minority of American citizens who see armageddon as providence. When you, your community, and your President can no longer tell the difference between striving for Heaven or Hell, there is no ability to communicate, and so no way to hear or feel the cries and pains of your victims.

You invite God to bless your nation by sacrificing innocent children to Him, children you label as dangerous killers, whose only crime was, against all odds, surviving the wartorn true Hellscape of their own homes and schools as their friends and loved ones lay dead and scattered as far as the eye can see. What God is this, pious soldiers of His will? What is His true nature, and where do you hope he takes us, if He would take such a brave and tortured soul and throw them back into a lake of blackened blood, smoldering rubble, and white phosphorus? If He works in ways too mysterious to justify your actions and motives, and you fear questioning his divine plan, then allow this old altar boy agnostic to blaspheme against your deluded self- righteousness and call it out for what it really is: an American Hate Machine.

That god is false, a strawman of self- deception, and a rhetorical device for the talking points of trolls no better than the universal pariahs of the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s champions in office are deceivers by trade and calling. Perhaps, in Christian terms, one might label them anti- Christs, and this so- called god of theirs Satan, The Great Beast, Beelzboul, The Tempter and Deceiver. They are, perhaps, the false prophets of the last hour we were warned of in John 2:18.

But to use these terms would feed the delusion they have built, granting them false grandiosity when really, they’re just talented, bigoted, lying shitbags who have no fucking idea what their own endgame is even as they fantasize about molding the nation and all of civilization in their own image.

In case there’s any doubt that these great leaders of American Greatness aren’t at war with the values of the Abrahamic God worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, just remember that God did not allow Abraham to sacrifice his son. God did not favor Cain over Able, and punished him for killing his brother. Jesus lauded the Good Samaritan who would care for the stranger dying on the road, after he was ignored and avoided by holy men. Jesus said to love thy neighbor as thyself. Yet, they choose to sacrifice refugees and innocent people, condemning them to death or a life pursued by death’s hand in the wake of war and petty tyrants, because Donald Trump & Stephen Bannon are themselves petty tyrants.

They demand we all sacrifice blood, bone, and earth just to feed their flagrant egos and satisfy their endless lust for power. They are the men of ill intent who beat, robbed, and stripped the crippled stranger on the road who many of us pass by day after day. Some of us are the stranger bleeding in the dirt, praying for a miracle, or an angel to rescue us.

Some of us can be that miracle, together, a legion of Good Samaritans willing to face whatever consequences that may come just to save unknown brothers and sisters, someone we never met before, and may never meet again. We can be Good Samaritans alone, braving the weight of the world with nothing but our determination to do what’s right. We can put our love into action, even if Trump and his spawns of Pride have no idea what love is and no desire to understand it. We can, with sacrifice on our own terms, and a zealot’s commitment to helping our brother instead of striking him down as Trump would do, heal the pain, the pride, and the prejudice within our own souls, and make a real change for the better in a world that desperately needs it.

That is how we can remember the difference between Heaven and Hell, and who we truly are. Remember the difference between righteous faith and heretical madness. Even if reality seems grim & confusing, and ever twisted by agents of chaos and corruption, we can find our way back out of the darkness and into the light again. It won’t be easy, or simple, or a matter of pure civility in the face of oppression. It will be a struggle in every sense for the soul and sanity of the USA. Which is why it’s important to remember that freedom was and will never be free. It has a price.

Despite all of the false advertising of political cons to have come and gone, the price of freedom is not liberty, justice, or the pursuit of happiness, no matter how many times they try to sell them for a profit. Those are the qualities of freedom that are incontrovertible to our democratic way of life, the very values we hold dear and defend the world over. The price is, to be clear, civic duty — nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes it requires our lives and even our deaths in the face of those seeking to destroy it. Certainly, freedom requires voting, fair elections, & civic engagement. At it’s heart though, the duty to protect freedom means protecting each other and those who cannot protect themselves from the physical & ideological enemies of our constitution.

Whether fighting Nazis on the shores of Normandy, secessionist slaveholders in Gettysburg, or an extremist plutocracy here and now, it is our honor and our duty to uphold freedom, for ourselves, and for all the world. If we allow ourselves to lapse and abandon our principles and our faith in justice, we will all suffer like never before and hate ourselves for not standing up to tyranny when we had the chance, in spite of our many fears.

Fear is an illusion, the enabler of hatred. Hatred is a lie, the enemy of justice. Justice is it’s own reward, the shield that shelters the wounded and unloved. And love is not weakness, it is strength. Love thy neighbor as you want to be loved. If we dedicate ourselves to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ourselves, then we must do the same for one another. If we demand justice for ourselves, then we must demand it for each other. If we will fight and die to protect our freedom, then we must also fight for the lives of each other.

There is no middle ground between sanity and violent psychopathy. There is no compromise between oppression and emancipation. There is no merit in willful ignorance, no victory in endless war, and no sense in giving fascism a chance to govern. But courage can overcome fear and love can unite the divided. Unlike lies and half- truths, logic is accountable to reason, not bias or bigotry. And so long as there is one free person alive, or one free child to protect and raise, freedom can never die. As long as we fight for freedom, freedom can never die.

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