Conversing with Fascism

A guy walked into a bar wearing a Make America Great Again hat. Unfortunately, this is not a joke.

I was sitting at the bar of a local saloon when the big red hat blasted through the door. The guy asked me if I was a Trump supporter. His tone of voice implied that I’d better be.

“No,” I said. “I’m not. But that’s okay. We don’t have to agree.”

But apparently we do because he was soon in my face, growing angrier and angrier.

I had no interest in arguing, but I was interested in trying to understand his position.

“Why do you support Trump?” I asked.

“Because he’s great!”

“Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Hypothetically speaking, if we found out beyond any shadow of a doubt that Trump committed treason by helping the Russians undermine our election, would you still support him?”

His response was a jumble of: “Hillary! Benghazi! E-mails!”

“Hillary’s out of the picture,” I said. “She lost. She has nothing to do with it. I’m asking you, if you found out that Trump is guilty, do you still support him?”

“Yes!”

“Even if he were guilty of treason?”

“Yes!”

“So you put Trump above our country. Above the Constitution?”

“Trump no matter what!”

I was floored. This was not ordinary partisanism. This was the willful acceptance of fascism. Of tyranny. This guy would follow Trump “no matter what.” I got the feeling that Trump could ban freedom of the press and this guy would cheer it as stopping liberal fake news. Trump could imprison all non-Christians and this guy would sing his praises. He could nullify the Supreme Court and Congress and this guy would be proud of Trump’s show of strength. He could eliminate the EPA, Health and Human Services, Social Security, Education, OSHA, Centers for Disease Control and every other agency or department that protects Americans from the horrors of Ayn Randism and this guy would wet himself with excitement.

This guy was terrifying. I wondered how many more like him there are out there, itching to don the jackboots and brown shirts.

Our conversation quickly deteriorated into him yelling at me for liking wolves, for being a “granola,” for not being born in Montana.

I tried to ask why he was so full of anger and hate, but he wasn’t hearing a word I was saying.

He was looming over me, face as red as his hat, seething in anger, spitting venom. I was certain that in another moment he was going to punch me in the face. I took a drink of my beer, wanting to enjoy the rest of it before this writhing ball of fear, hate and ignorance put me in the hospital.

Fortunately, the bartender cut him off with, “Hey! I told you, no politics in here.”

He went sulking back to his own bar stool. I paid my tab and left.

But I couldn’t shake this encounter from my mind. I’ve dealt with all kinds of right-wing, conservative, Republican, fundamentalist, jingoist, racist, bigoted people before. They are not pleasant, but they can’t be dealt with. This was different. This is what years of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the Koch brothers have incubated, to be finally unleashed by Trump’s call to arms.

When Trump is impeached or forced to resign, nothing will change. The MAGA Army will refuse to accept that their great leader is no longer president. He will still be “great!” and anyone who doesn’t believe that will be a target.

I have to believe that people like this are a minority and always will be. However, every great crime against humanity, every destruction of liberty and freedom, every tyrannous evil committed in history has been perpetrated by a minority and witnessed by a majority that failed to stand up to them soon enough.

I don’t know what the solution is, but we better figure it out soon.

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High Plains Book Awards – Double Finalist!

I was very happy to get the news that both Unearthing Paradise: Montana Writers in Defense of Greater Yellowstone and Poems Across the Big Sky, Volume II: An Anthology of Montana Poets have been named as finalists for this year’s High Plains Book Awards.

Unearthing ParadiseUnearthing Paradise was edited by Seabring Davis, Max Hjortsberg and myself, and includes my poem “HeartStones.” Poems Across the Big Sky was edited by Lowell Jaeger and Hannah Bissell and includes my poems “Golden Gate Bison” and “After the Storm.”

Congratulations to everyone who contributed to these two books, as well as all the finalists in all the categories.

The winners will be announced at the awards banquet during the High Plains Book Festival on October 21. Stay tuned.

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The Attic presents “Jazz/Poetry Thing”

The Attic presents “Jazz Poetry Thing” a performance of music and spoken word featuring poets Marc Beaudin and Dave Caserio, with Parker Brown on upright bass and Billy Conway on drums, on Saturday, June 10. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the show starts at 8:00 p.m. The Attic, Livingston’s premiere music venue, is located at 110 N. Main St., above the Whiskey Creek Saloon.

Tickets for this one-night-only performance are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased at Whiskey Creek, Elk River Books at 120 N. Main, or online at TicketRiver.

 

 

Marc Beaudin has performed his poetry and spoken word with jazz and rock artists around the country, including Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne, Michigan jazz legends the Northwoods Improvisers, and fronting his own bands, Miscellaneous Jones and Remington Streamliner. His work has been published in numerous journals, collected in chapbooks as well as the full-length The Moon Cracks Open, and is included in the anthologies Unearthing Paradise: Montana Writers in Defense of Greater Yellowstone and Poems Across the Big Sky, II. His latest book, Vagabond Song: Neo-Haibun from the Peregrine Journals, was called “a jazzy, freewheeling, rollicking road trip into the beating heart of the Eternal Now” by Montana Quarterly.

Dave Caserio is the author of This Vanishing and Wisdom For A Dance In The Street, a CD of poetry and music. A recipient of a Fellowship in Poetry award from the New York State Foundation of the Arts, Caserio works with various community outreach programs, Humanities Montana Conversations and Arts Without Boundaries. He is a founding member of the writer’s collective, Big Sky Writing, and producer of a series of poetry-in-performance events: A Feast For The Hunger Moon, WordSongs, Arc of the Communal, and I Conjure A Stubborn Faith, that combine poetry, music, dance and the visual arts. Recent publications include the Coachella Review, and the anthologies, Unearthing Paradise and Poems Across the Big Sky, II.

Specializing in double bass, electric bass and guitar, Parker Brown is a private instructor, songwriter and a freelance and studio musician. He teaches at Allied Music in Billings, MT, and as adjunct instructor at Sheridan College in Sheridan, WY and Rocky Mountain College in Billings. Brown has performed with jazz musicians Jeff Hamilton, Ronnie Bedford, Jack Walrath, and Nick Mancini. As a studio musician Parker has recorded as a bassist and guitarist on over twenty albums, working almost primarily with Base Camp Studio in Bozeman. He recently released his first solo album, We Were Young.

Billy Conway entered the Boston music scene in the early 1980s playing in the punk-blues band Treat Her Right with Dave Champagne, Jimmy Fitting and Mark Sandman, touring extensively and landing a major record deal. This was followed by nearly a decade of recording and performing with the internationally acclaimed band Morphine, featuring Sandman on two-string bass, Dana Colley on sax and Conway and Jerome Deupree on drums. Since the untimely passing of Sandman, Conway continues to perform with fellow Morphine members and others as Orchestra Morphine, Twinemen and Vapors of Morphine. He has played on or produced dozens of records, and toured with many bands before and since working with Morphine, most recently with Chris Smither and Jeffrey Foucault.

For more information, contact Beaudin at (406) 224-5171 or info@crowvoice.com.

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