And, to complete the circle I tried to draw in my posting earlier today about corporal punishment of children, slavery, and the right-wing mobs now rampaging at town hall meetings, I offer the following illuminating analysis of how one should deal with thuggery, by Sara Robinson at Alternet:
Back in elementary school, most of us learned that when a bully learns that intimidation and threats work, he'll will keep doing more of it. In fact, the longer he goes without comeuppance, the bolder and badder he becomes, and the harder it is to make him stop. Every success teaches him something new about how to use terror for maximum effect and tempts him to push the envelope and see what else he can get away with. Do nothing, and he'll soon take over the whole playground.
And it happens like this for bullies in groups, too. Living in a fascist regime is just living in a town dominated by the Mob, a street gang, the KKK, or a corrupt sheriff.
It only takes a small handful of thugs to terrorize people into giving up their civil rights, abandoning democracy and doing what they're told, just so they can keep their jobs, windows and families intact.
The main imperative in life becomes staying off the goons' radar. All the enforcers need to do is make an horrific example out of one or two troublemakers every now and then -- and the resulting fear will keep everybody else quietly in line.
Conservatives have tried to subdue other Americans this way for centuries, so there's nothing new going on here. And this is the way they've always done it: they used race (and yes, the birthers and anti-health care rioters are, at root, all about race) and economic calamity to whip up a posse of terrified, well-armed vigilantes, and then turned them loose on society to "enforce order."
Given their colossal investment in organizing and indoctinating the teabaggers, we'd be stupid to believe that this is all going to go away when Congress returns to Washington in September. Having had a taste of power and publicity, these newly empowered mobs are very likely to stick around town and see what else they can do to keep the muck stirred up.
Our choice now is stark: knock them back while they're still new, small and not yet entrenched; or deal with them later, when they've got some real power to fight back with, and the cost to all of us will be so much higher.
This is our new reality -- and it comes straight out of Hitler's playbook (check out Chapter 6 of Mein Kampf). Their intention is to keep the outrage junkies high by giving them a never-ending supply of new, made-up reasons to act out.
When the birth certificate fracas cools, they're standing by with "death panels." When that one's run its course, there will be something else -- over and over, every few weeks, for as long as the Dems rule.
Which means that even if we win this round, we can't stand down. We're going to be pushing back against these bullies, over and over, for the next three to seven years.
There are only two outcomes here. Either we get very good at spotting and stopping these attempts at a brownshirt takeover the minute they crop up; or they're going to get very good at public intimidation and keep ratcheting it up further toward outright violence and goon rule.
That's how it's going to be for the rest of this administration. The sooner we resign ourselves to the zero-sum nature of this fight, the sooner we can get on with getting good at it.