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So over coffee for this Sunday breakfast there is this wake up call, a siren in the night, a warning that our democracy is in deep trouble.

And much of it is coming from my hometown, Redding, California.

One of the criteria of fascism is a sense, irrational by the way, of loss, of being treated unfairly, always finding a scapegoat to blame for mostly economic ills.

Redding, California is a perfect example of why fascism grows in rural areas.

Redding used to be the center of logging of Northern California. The U.S Plywood plant was in Anderson, there were mills all over town, that turned out the lumber that built post war America.

Unfortunately the almost century of clear cutting caught up with the town and county, and mortified men and women who were making well over minimum wage, with nice benefits, lost their jobs over a ten year period due to clear cutting….

The anger grew and the political affiliations switched from Democrat to Republican in less than a decade!

Bizz Johnson had been a congressman representing Shasta County and parts of other counties for over 30 years. He was the last Democrat to hold any position of power in Shasts County from 1975 to present

Hoards of people were fleeing the cities because of the racial protests that went on from 1960 on. This influx of people accelerated when the defense plants began closing after the 1980s, with the Cold War going cool.

Thousands flooded into rural areas like Redding escaping “them”, and the brought the traditional ultra right Republicans viewpoint with them.

This all ran straight into a never ending recession fueled by unemployment of former well paid lumber industry workers.

Ironically President Nixon had signed the EPA bureaucracy that declared that clear cutting had for too many years caused the need to stop cutting lumber on federal lands. Federal lands constituted a vast expanse of timber what was in reserve, only to be used in national emergencies. Public lands, where the lumber industry lived, was out of lumber thanks to decades of clear cutting..

The rub was big lumber wanted to harvest timber in public lands and the EPA stopped them

Clear cutting was the real cause of Shasta County’s plight, but the logging industry deflected the blame of their decades long greed by blaming liberal “tree huggers”ie., conservationists who were trying literally to stop the industry from cutting down every tree in the west.

With the sudden end of the lumber economy, now in the north state for distanced immigants, there was only one recourse for employment, join retail workers, who made much smaller compensation for their labor.

This created immediate anger, blaming progressives in conservation, blaming commies, blaming eveyone but those who really were to blame: greedy lumber interests.

Moreover, the labor movement, traditionally moderate Democrats, imploded, with non labor retail minimum wage jobs supplanting large wage and benefits jobs of lumber business workers. Retail is not unionized, and the Reagan Revolution ended the growth of private unions forever. Reagan vowed to end the New Deal and he did….

The only demographic who is unionized of any size now is the public teacher’s unions, who are attacked mercilessly every day by the right wing radicals who have literally taken over the county. Charter schools thrive in this anti-union environment, leaving again workers to make minimal incomes.

Of course teachers, whose lives are on the line, were for vaccinations and mask wearing and for virtual learning at first to protect everyone. This caught the new comers also, because now they had to stay home with their children who were learning via zoom and could not use day care.

So these immigrants had a double attack on their sense of reality; losing child care and having to cut their paltry income in half and take mandatory mask wearing and vaccination. It was not surprise when Shasta County, home of a large religious cult was a center of pandemic health regulation opposition.

In Redding you literally risk your life in some bars if you bring a mask.

In short, everyone in Shasta County except public employees are living paycheck to paycheck and are very very angry all the time.

People have no where to go, they already had come to Shasta County after WWII to work in the lumber industry, and later an exodus from Orange County of right wing defense and industry sector workers.

Now they cannot go anywhere because their burn singed neighborhoods cannot even get fire insurance, leaving even those who have not burned out, with homes that are not sellable. In many neighborhoods the emergency is real and resilient and causes desperate behaviors.

Add to this the pandemic, Shasta County has a high infection and death rate, per population size and you have the perfect storm of radicalism.

Reactionaires wound up in Shasta County that already was reeling from the closing of federal lands to “harvest”; leading to a chronic over 15% and up unemployment rate.

Middle Aged women were forced to join the economy in low paying jobs, to keep the ridiculously cheap homes (those who fled the big cities got huge income from selling homes they had previously purchased for far less money).

Thus, they came to Redding able to buy beautiful homes east and west of Redding, right in the middle of wildfire zones; and several burned down during the Carr Fire, leaving displaced Southern Californians who just migrated, without a home; those remaining are pepetually angry because, well because of liberals of course. That is what Fox News tells them to do.

Put this together with anger over the pandemic and you have perfect storm, rural California who already are right wing, then add having your home burn down your insurance cancelled and no help…no wonder why they fight a person with a mask or go to public meeting with guns..Most of the people in Shasta County are either angry all the time, or afraid of the angry ones.

No wonder people in Shasta County are angry, they got worked by real estate agents selling homes in fire zones, they got worked by having to take low paying jobs with no benefits, they got worked by having little say in their plight; and they are getting angrier every day at liberals who Fox News (the only TV many of them watch) tell them who is to be blamed for all of their ills.

Never mind the truth of clear cutting or the irresponsible real estate industry, they feel the need to kill liberals, literally.

It is the perfect storm to develop fascist behaviors. The religious cults of Shasta County are just as right wing as Fox News, promising heaven if followers attack people that are unclean…ie., everyone except them.

It was not uncommon to see older couples, living in 100,000 dollar homes (1970s prices) when they had sold their home in San Diego for 400,000 dollars. In a real sense these fugitives of big cities at first were living in luxury, but after their neighborhood burned down, they got very angry.

New Deal Democrats who had worked to build Shasta Dam aged and their children adopted the political right wing behavior from L.A. It was simple as that; since even long standing citizens of Shasta County were getting screwed or told they we getting screwed, by “regular” politicians. Trump was the perfect foil of this tragedy play….he took as usual the easy path of politics, he blamed left wing politicians (socialists), and took no reponsibility for his utter failure in dealing with the pandemic…He is very good at that, not so good at governing.

And New Deal Democrats that had built the great dams of Northern California left or died, leaving a majority of Fox Followers and developing fascists to take their political place.

I know this, I was born and raised in Redding California. Up until four years ago I lived it.

I used to play golf with these Southern California refugees and ran straight into right wing ideology. I keep up on Redding and it has turned into a den of ideologues; who have racist goals to comfort their realizatons that they got swindled by moving into Redding.

Nobody told them the place might burn down, nobody told them the lumber industry was gone…but they did not need any help in the racist department, the Redding of my youth was almost completely white. People moved from southern California to get away from “those people”…they came into a country that is highly white.

Add the pandemic and you have the perfect storm of racism (leaving Watts); fascism (commies did this) and all sorts of Fox News entertainment that has propagandized people who feel they got screwed.

It is the perfect environment for the development of fascism; like textbook…

Truth is, they did get screwed but not by liberals, but by unscrupulous real estate interests who sold people with lots of money on living in one of the most combustible areas on the planet!

Home sweet home?

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Greg Beale

Stanford grad, BA Political Science, MA from Sac State in Government. 36 years in public education as teacher, coach, athletic director, and administrator.