A MODEST WORRY AND A MODEST PROPOSAL

 

Living next to the American juggernaut puts Canadians in an ambiguous position. It’s not that we’re worried that the current American drift towards fascism is going to spill over the border. Not all, but I think enough Canadians find the level of political maturity south of the 49th so risible that we’d be too embarrassed to imitate it. But not unlike the Poles in the summer of 1939, we do worry – perhaps too much, perhaps too little – that his base will find our ridicule of their Fuhrer too “curbing of their enthusiasm,” and they’ll feel a need to do something about it. North Korea and Iran could and would fight back, as did England and Russia. But we’d be little Denmark.

It wouldn’t last. Fascism never does. But putting up with it while it does would be, at the very least, an inconvenience.

The signs of this approaching courtship with fascism are multiplying daily. Economic, military, and moral brinkmanship are always the three dead giveaways. But so are the signs of seeing the signs. Already many Canadians are avoiding flights that touch down in the U.S. en route to or back from Europe or the Far East. There are just too many horror stories. Why court that kind of anxiety?

I live abroad a third of the year. Republicans don’t travel. And certainly not abroad. So when I encounter an American I never get other than a shaking of the head and deep embarrassment. This time it’s not the Jews who are thinking twice about returning home. This time it’s everybody else.

There’s a culture war taking place in America. It’s about who can use what bathroom and who must use what pronouns. And, well, maybe a few other things. Americans caught in the middle aren’t going to go to the wall over bathrooms and pronouns, so they go to ground instead, leaving everything above ground to the alt-right. Who knew the alt-right was even there?! And now it’s everywhere.

Fascism can’t grow and survive without an enemy. And the forces of bathroom and pronoun silliness are providing it with one. It’s the makings of a perfect storm.

I’m an anti-awfulizer. I’m guessing it’s all going to just blow over. But I think there are a few things the rest of the world can do to ensure it does.

Start by insisting that every international scientific, academic, and professional association moves its convention to a venue outside the U.S., and do it on the grounds that Moslem would-be attendees can no longer be confident they’ll be allowed into the country. That threatens to turn America into a hewer of wood and fetcher of water, which earns precious little foreign currency compared to software programs and MRI’s. In very short order the best minds in the country will have left it, and the best students, both foreign and domestic, will have followed them out.

In short, shun and isolate where it hurts the most. Where it hurts the most is not in Iowa. Where it hurts the most is in Silicon Valley and Seattle. That’s what “makes America great”. Soybeans don’t.

But it wouldn’t need to come to any of this. No need to threaten. Just do. The talking heads will figure it out soon enough. Soon enough that it needn’t come to any of this.

But, of course, this is a collective action problem. And as Garrett Harding pointed out, all too often the result is a tragedy of the commons. This tragedy – the tragedy of a bout of fascism in America – won’t destroy the world, but it would be, at the very least, an inconvenience.

 

 

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