When the bully cries, “They’re picking on me!”

It’s time—probably well past time—to notice a certain something that’s happening in the discourse in the United States.

“I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich,'” wrote venture capitalist Tom Perkins.[1]

“[Barack] Obama said people who feel a sense of outrage after reading the report should ‘not feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks [CIA torturers] had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”[2]

“‘Police officers feel like they are being thrown under the bus,’ said Patrick Lynch, president of the police union,” as a furor developed over a grand jury’s failure to indict a cop who killed a man with an illegal chokehold.[3]

This is a step beyond scapegoating. These are all people who have, in one way or another, abused a power relationship, whether through ‘success’ in a capitalist system, CIA-sponsored torture, or homicide. They now claim they are the ones being victimized. Yet while they face no substantive threat,[4]their victims may suffer poverty, unemployment, imprisonment, injury, and death.

As outraged as we may be over their actions, we have not much noticed a classic fascist move: reversing the portrayals of oppressor and oppressed such that the oppressor claims to be the oppressed and that the oppressed is the oppressor.

  1. [1]Tom Perkins, “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?” Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304549504579316913982034286
  2. [2]Jason Leopold, “The Senate Is Not Happy That the CIA Censored Its Report on CIA Torture,” Vice, August 2, 2014, https://news.vice.com/article/the-senate-is-not-happy-that-the-cia-censored-its-report-on-cia-torture
  3. [3]Tom Hays and Colleen Long, “Police: Chokehold Victim Complicit in Own Death,” ABC News, December 5, 2014, http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/police-cases-stir-national-protests-debate-27383589
  4. [4](Footnote added following publication.) In the case of CIA torturers and Bush administration officials who were responsible for overseeing torture, see Philip Bump, “Why Dick Cheney and the CIA don’t need to worry about international criminal charges,” Washington Post, December 10, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/12/10/why-dick-cheney-and-the-cia-dont-need-to-worry-about-international-criminal-charges/

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