Margaret Atwood Sounds the Alarm on Authoritarianism | Amanpour and Company

i’m honestly astounded by again the
prescience um that you wrote because
part of the crisis in handmaid’s tale
started with an attack on on congress
and and the the you know the fallout
from that i mean here all these decades
later in 2021
we had an attack on congress and there
are many who believe that the
fundamental democracy of the united
states is under threat so what does
totalitarianism look like in the u.s
or could
when when it arrives
uh well it’ll have a lot of god in it
um and a lot of things will be done in
the name of of said word
uh that if you actually uh believe in
some form of god and in the in the uh
latter part of that book uh you would
think that such a god would not
indulge in these practices i’m being
very circumlocations here
um yeah so it would have a lot of god
and it would have a lot of american
flags in it
and it would have a lot of let’s get
back to the old days in it
when were those old days and what was
going on in them
so you can’t separate anything that
happens in the united states from
uh its history of uh slavery
and um
so-called reconstruction and and jim
crow laws and segregation that’s all
very recent
i think the totalitarianisms of the left
lead through hope
so things are going to get much better
except we have to get rid of those
and those of the right to lead through
unless you follow me and do what i say
terrible things will happen
and there’s a list of terrible things
which are specific to each
circumstance but i wouldn’t say that’s
how it goes
don’t you think well it’s fascinating
again i mean just really
just watching all of this unfold things
that i personally never dreamed could
happen uh an attack on american
democracy of all places rolling back
quote unquote the woman question um
which we see right now and again goes to
the very heart of the handmaid’s tale
and that of course i don’t need to tell
you the texas abortion law the
mississippi uh abortion
decisions that are about to come up the
idea that roe versus weighed may be
overturned either in whole or in part
how well i mean you obviously are
concerned did you ever imagine though
that when you wrote the handmaid’s tale
this amount of reality would shape up so
many decades later
okay i’ve never believed in
i’ve never believed it can’t happen here

What Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale Prefer to Ignore

To picture a near-future United States that is a Christian theocracy with open, systematic, and brutal oppression of women, you have to picture some unbelievable changes occurring very quickly: repealing women’s right to vote; a re-acceptance of slavery; widespread Christian acceptance of government-mandated extramarital sexual intercourse; total repeal of the First Amendment; total bans on any other religious beliefs (there are references to “Baptist rebels”). Perhaps most absurdly, almost all men have accepted a regime where the only sexual outlet of any kind is government-monitored breeding with the fertile “handmaids,” reserved for the most powerful

Do you picture lots of American men signing on for asystem that denies them the freedom to have sex with women? You really have to have your “all men have fascist impulses just under their skin” blinders on tohear that and nod, “Oh, yeah, that could totally happen.”

But Margaret Atwood could have set her tale in other places and made it practically a modern-day documentary: say, Saudi Arabia. Or any corner ofTaliban-controlled Afghanistan.

.. Married women may not obtain a passport or travel outside the country without the written permission of their husbands.

.. Iran

.. The UN Children’s Rights Committee reported in March that the age of marriage for girls is 13, that sexual intercourse with girls as young as nine lunar years was not criminalized, and that judges had discretion torelease some perpetrators of so-called honor killings without any punishment. Child marriage—though not the norm—continues, as the law allows girls to marry at 13 and boys at age 15, as well as at younger ages if authorized by a judge. Authorities continue to prevent girls and women from attending certain sporting events, including men’s soccer and volleyball matches.

.. The world has plenty of awful places that can be fairly compared to Atwood’s fictional dystopian regime of Gilead. They’re just mostly Muslim.

Does This Administration Know What It Doesn’t Know?

.. Take a look at President Trump’s inner circle: Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Senior Counselor Steve Bannon, First Daughter Ivanka, First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner, Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn, and Counselor Kellyanne Conway…

Only Pence has spent any significant time dealing with the federal government from the inside as aCongressman. Most of those figures have been around politics, but haven’t necessarily been around government. And obviously, Trump himself has never worked in government.

.. That’s my best explanation about how the administration could spend weeks trying to figure out how to fund and pass a massive infrastructure bill, while at the same time, at least $20 billion worth of big energy-infrastructure projects — 15 of them in 14 states, all 100 percent privately funded and all holding the potential to create thousands of new construction jobs — are sitting in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, awaiting approval. FERC can’t give approval until it has a quorum, which it has lacked since the beginning of February.

The blame can’t be put on the Senate for taking too long with the nominees; the administration hasn’t nominated anyone yet.

.. The administration has a big, public promise — rebuild America’s infrastructure! — and an easy way to get toit, by staffing up FERC and getting those projects approved. But they’re simply not getting around to it because… they’re just not on top of things.

.. So Trump said his assessment of NATO’s obsolescence was based on not knowing much about it, and now he knows more and feels NATO is improving.