Neofascism, political philosophy and movement that arose in Europe in the decades following World War II. Like earlier fascist movements, neofascism advocated extreme nationalism, opposed liberal individualism, attacked Marxist and other left-wing ideologies, indulged in racist and xenophobic scapegoating, and promoted populist right-wing economic programs. Unlike the fascists, however, neofascists placed more blame for their countries’ problems on non-European immigrants than on leftists and Jews, displayed little interest in taking lebensraum (German: “living space”) through the military conquest of other states, and made concerted efforts to portray themselves as democratic and “mainstream.”
As a lifetime Wisconsin resident I ask myself each and every day “how much lower can our state sink?” Unfortunately, each and every day I get an answer. Today was no different. Over the last five years we have seen a state that, although no stranger to brutality and sadism toward wildlife no matter who was in charge, devolve deeper and deeper into the politics of revenge, corruption, and blatant cronyism. When one thinks that we possibly cannot get any lower into the world of Koch-fueled neo-fascism a story like this comes along that even makes a jaded and pessimistic person such as myself sick to my stomach and questioning how I can even belong to the same species as these types.
In the Wisconsin legislature a bill is currently being circulated that would allow land owners and developers to dig up ancient and sacred Native American burial mounds to “prove” whether or not there are human remains at the site. Not even sites of cultural and spiritual significance are off limits to the neo-fascist greed of Wisconsin’s Tea Party zealots and their ingrained hated of anything and anyone not like them or that align to their sick beliefs.
The bill from Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, would force the Wisconsin Historical Society to allow property owners to excavate in order to prove whether human remains exist in effigy mounds on their land, but opponents of the legislation contend that allowing excavation defeats the purpose of mound preservation entirely.
In 2012 the Ojibwe Tribes of Wisconsin made it very clear that they would not support not allow the killing of their “spiritual brother,” the gray wolf, in Wisconsin. Despite this and despite the manner in which the Tea Party zealots in the legislature pretend to care about “religious freedom” they passed the most offensive and revolting bill against wildlife that this state had ever seen to spite both wildlife advocates and the tribes in the state. The bill, Act 169, mandated that each year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources must facilitate a yearly killing season of gray wolves beginning October 15th of each year. The bill also mandated that hounds, traps, bait, electronic calls, and everything short of artillery be allowed against the species. The bill passed easily despite the objections of the tribes and wildlife advocates. Several so-called “Democrats” also voted for it despite their stated “reservations.” What followed was three years of mass slaughter where wolves were killed with the aid of everything listed above and each year the kills went over the allotted “quota.” This year there was no slaughter season because of the December 2014 federal court ruling returning Endangered Species Act protections to wolves. This ruling was partially due to the reckless “management” allowed by states such as Wisconsin. This reprieve may be short lived as Congress, including several so-called “Democrats,” is seeking to strip protections once again from wolves in the Great Lakes through the deplorable act of attaching a “rider” to a must pass spending bill. This despite the overwhelming objection of many scientists and tribal governments.
I have long advocated for tribal governments to challenge any gray wolf delisting and hunting seasons in federal court as a “religious freedom” case. History shows the significance of the gray wolf to their cultural and spiritual way of life. For the federal government and hostile states like Wisconsin to thumb their noses at the tribal belief system and what they hold sacred is an affront to not only the tribes but to all Americans. As an atheist I do not share any religious belief system with my fellow Americans, Native American or not. What I do share is a respect for the Constitutional right of religious freedom as long as government stays out of it and does not force it upon anyone. For states like Wisconsin to attack the spiritual beliefs of Native Americans in regard to wolves and their sacred burial mounds it should horrify all decent Americans. Of course we are talking about Wisconsin so decency doesn’t always come into play under the regime currently in charge.
The Tea Party zealots in charge of each and every element of Wisconsin have essentially declared war on every segment of our state that is even remotely “liberal,” “progressive,” or not lily white, Republican, or Christian . When even sacred burial mounds are not off limits to the money grubbing and greedy ghouls in charge of our government, I believe that we have crossed a line that should NEVER be crossed. How can these smug and arrogant zealots look in the mirror and not see the face of cold and dark evil greed staring back at them? Better yet how can we as Wisconsin residents stand by and let these affronts occur each and every day right under our noses?
When does basic humanity override the the pathological and frankly horrifying desire for money and power? What controls Wisconsin today should terrify each and every person with any semblance of decency. Even if you don’t care about wolves, tribal culture, or the sacred nature of their significance to the tribes you should be outraged and speak out. History has shown us what happens when people remain silent in the face of zealotry. If you think that this neo-fascist cabal in charge of Wisconsin will stop with wolves, teachers, union members, the tribes, the environment, free speech itself, and a myriad of other legislation designed to solidify one party control and to control us you are sadly mistaken.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely and nowhere has this ever been better exemplified than Wisconsin since 2011. If you think that they are done then you are also sadly mistaken. I fear for what else these people can do to those that do not share their extreme and twisted ideology. What kind of person thinks that ancient and sacred burial mounds should be dug up? What if the shoe were on the other foot and the tribes circulated a proposal to dig up an old Christian cemetery to “prove” if remains were their or not so that they could pave it over? The outrage would deafening and rightfully so. How about if the tribes decided that deer should be hunted with hounds much as they decided to allow night hunting? How would the anti-wolf factions, killing cartels like the deceptively named Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, and a myriad of other wolf hating groups respond? Again the outrage would be deafening. So why is it different when tribal beliefs and traditional practices are under attack?
Wake up Wisconsin and wake up now. This is not who we are, is it? Legalized dog fighting? Legal corruption? Open racism and cultural denigration? Is this what we are?
Take the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller as a warning of what happens when we are silent in the face of extremism and zealotry. Wisconsin is not Europe in the 1920’s, 1930’s or 1940’s but the formula is in place and one must never ignore attacks on an entire culture or belief system by extremists using their positions of authority as justification.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
If these words sound like they could have been written today in Wisconsin rather than in post-World War Two 1946 Germany you wouldn’t be that far off. History repeating itself is a cruel joke that plays out in human society again, again, and again. Will we ever learn?