The worst thing about Donald Trump’s naked appeals to a new kind of Fascism in America is that it establishes a permissive environment for all kinds of discrimination. Black Lives Matter protestors are viewed as terrorists, and Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia says it may be argued that black Americans are better off at universities that provide a slower, inferior education, where they may do well, and not at top schools where he feels they may be over their collective heads intellectually. A New York Times reporter with a disability is mocked at a Trump rally, and Neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups are falling all over themselves to endorse Herr Trump, one going so far as to say his slogan really means “make America white again,” and referring to Trump as “The Glorious Leader.”
Donald Trump began his campaign by telling Americans that Latinos, especially Mexicans, were criminals, rapists, drug dealers, and infiltrators set about destroying American values and taking jobs belonging to native born Americans. This week he told Americans that all Muslims would have to be banned from the United States. Earlier, he had let reporters know that he would consider a system to track Muslim Americans, potentially close down Mosques, and that more guns are the solution to a host of ills that face the nation.
He even pointed directly to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II by FDR as precedent indicating that his policy initiative is based on common wisdom Americans have always held. Yet they have not always done so. And the internment of Japanese-Americans came to be viewed as a great mistake, and not what the nation has always stood for.
This permissive attitude to all sorts of discrimination of demographics that are seen as “the other” is made especially dangerous by the example of the front-runner of one of the two major parties giving voice to things that have been lying just beneath the surface, within the dark, unseemly underbelly, of the American psyche. It empowers those with the desire to employ intimidation and outright violence to engage in those behaviors.
Trump’s entire campaign is about exclusion. “Making America Great Again” is one huge dog whistle to a resurgent white racism; a complete rejection of the civil rights revolution of the 1960’s that has been an article of faith with Republicans and the basis for the culture wars of the period of the 1970’s,1980’s, 1990’s and continuing to the present day.
He proclaims himself as the great leader that can get things done, and who simply knows the wisest course as a matter of course. His extreme narcissism, common to totalitarian dictators, who encourage a cult like following, is central to his appeal. His moniker of “The Donald” is really not all that far off that of “Der Furher” adopted by followers of Adolf Hitler. It won’t be long that the ball caps handed out at rallies include shirts of a distinct uniform color or color scheme. There may be a distinctive symbol to mark out the true believer. Pelfry’s Silver Shirts in the Upper Midwest and the German-American Bund of the 1930’s especially come to mind as disturbing precedents.
Trump said in a recent interview:
“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule. . . And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
What are those unthinkable measures? We have seen some of them already. It is born of a last desperate clinging to white supremacy, which is simply the more honest term for white privilege. White America is more likely to feel the aggrieved party these days, even though oppressed or disapproved of groups still lack much of the power the dominant race or class has enjoyed all along. It is the fact that a growing majority of citizens both white and of color are becoming comfortable with a greater measure of equality and tolerance for those very same traditionally disapproved of groups.
White Americans from the South with less education and dislocated economically are the backbone of his support. Republicans with a college education are much less likely to support him, though like Republican leaders would probably support Trump if he won the nomination of his party.
The gross income inequality we now face, and a Congress so dysfunctional it resembles the Weimar Republic, requires scapegoats—other explanations for the economic forces pressing down so hard on Trump supporters. Bernie Sanders is right to point to how our economy and a corporatist society, authoritarian and oligarchic, leave the nation vulnerable to demagogues employing the very same fascist ideology as Hitler, Mussolini, and Pinochet of recent times. A far right party is poised to win control of the French government on much the same themes.
The employment of the word Fascism is not overplayed. We really are right there should Trump win the Presidency. If one of the other Republicans does, we will get a milder form of the same thing.
American intellectual and social justice advocate Henry A. Giroux, writing in Truthout.org argues:
“Trump gives legitimacy to a number of fascist policies through his appeal to hypernationalism and disdain for human rights, his portrayal of Muslims and immigrants as a racial and religious threat, a rampant sexism, his obsession with national security, his aggressive mobilization of a culture of fear, his targeting of dissent and individual groups, his endorsement of human rights abuses such as torture [A return to Waterboarding] his support for the ongoing militarization of public life, his invocation of an external enemy as a threat to “our way of life, . . .”
We live in an era when more than one right-wing activist has spoken openly of “cleansing America of Liberals” or another suggesting he can’t wait to actually gun down a few hundred with military assault weapons and his Para-military group’s support.
The great “unthinkable” is to fail to respect the citizen rights of actual American citizens. There are millions of Muslims from many nations across the globe here in the United States who are, in point of fact, American citizens committed to the rule of law and our Constitution irrespective of Sharia Law. When we or should I refer to Trump and his followers as “they” devalue American citizenship—going to unconstitutional and even extra-legal means in the name of national emergency, they devalue it for all American citizens. If they come to take away the human rights and citizen rights of Muslims under the Bill of Rights to the Constitution they can do it to you just as easily.
If a President Trump in early 2017 not only bans Muslims from entering the United States, but requires Muslim-American citizens to submit to tracking via ID cards or badges, and not ruling out the establishment of internment camps how different is that from the Nazi example where German Jews had to submit to the very same thing?
Trump’s American Fascist movement appeals to fear, the father of hate and intolerance. He does not build up Americans to do their very best to support what so many Americans died on many battlefields to protect and continue. He fans racial antagonism, anti LGBT sentiment as if those people were the gypsies, and supports big business or corporatist solutions to our economic woes as Hitler left German corporate business alone and re-arm for a world war. He purifies what it means to be an American in direct violation of the very founding principle of the United States to a select few.
The disappearing American Middle Class and attendant income equality at home, and the panic of Muslims run amok everywhere and a need for a major war overseas in the wake of San Bernardino make Trump’s elevation to the American Presidency more likely with each passing week.
Once the angry, gun toting American right-wing tastes the heady tonic of government outside the rule of law, these United States will be more than well on the way to a Fascist dictatorship where no citizen is safe, and democracy cannot live.