April 30, 2020 | Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ersatz phallus swinging in Michigan

This is happening in Michigan right now. It was just Tuesday when I wrote these words. Remember those men at “anti-quarantine protests” strolling around state capitols carrying semi-automatic rifles? They said they were protesting stay-at-home orders. They said their goal was demonstrating their rights to bear arms, individual liberty and personal sovereignty. But that wasn’t…

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This is happening in Michigan right now.

It was just Tuesday when I wrote these words.

Remember those men at “anti-quarantine protests” strolling around state capitols carrying semi-automatic rifles? They said they were protesting stay-at-home orders. They said their goal was demonstrating their rights to bear arms, individual liberty and personal sovereignty. But that wasn’t their immediate goal.

Their goal was intimidating peaceful and unarmed protesters. Their goal was deriving pleasure from the fear of seeing men brandishing weapons the likes of which have massacred thousands in mass shootings for the last decade and a half. Their goal was savoring the flavor of gaslighting someone into thinking their goals were high-minded and pure rather than what they were: low and barbarous.

“Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters,” wrote Umberto Eco in his 1995 classic, “Ur-Fascism.” “This is the origin of machismo. … Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons—doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.”

“Ersatz phallic exercise” pretty much explains it all. These goons can’t win with normal arguments so they get to swinging their phalli hoping that does the trick.

It often does. Just as often, though, it doesn’t.

The Editorial Board works hard to bring you an interesting perspective on our national politics. Normal people need someone to speak for them, too. That’s why I’m here.

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John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition open and available to all. Find him @johnastoehr.

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