“Fascism.” That word is being thrown around a lot lately… Many times by people who don’t fully understand what it is. I’m not going to give you a history of the word–It you’re interested, you can read a pretty good summary of fascism on Wikipedia. Basically, fascism found it’s first foothold in Italy with Benito Mussolini, and that turned into the model for Hitler’s Germany. There are a lot of definitions of Fascism, but as an overview, it is a far-right ideology that usually utilizes ultra-nationalism, populism, and anti-immigrant sentiments to bring an authoritarian leader into power. It usually pops up where large portions of the population feel alienated by the government. It is opposed to liberal democracy, and it redirects the people’s dissatisfaction by attempting to focus the power in the hands of a few… Allowing for little or no dissent. It is the stuff of the bad guys in the Avenger movies, it is the stuff America fought to defeat in World War II, and it has become such a pejorative term that no one really admits to being fascists anymore… Even when those leaders embrace all of its defining elements. And whatever your political stance, you should realize that it is opposite everything America stands for. The fascist regimes in history have been marked by some of the greatest atrocities ever committed.
There’s a quote that is often attributed to Sinclair Lewis that says, “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in a flag and waving a cross.” No one really knows who said it, but Sinclair Lewis had some similar thoughts. There’s also an uncredited New York Times article from 1938 that said, “When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism.’” Americanism. Wrapped in a flag. Waving a cross…
There has been much study done on this nearly 100 year old ideology. One of the people doing the studying is a political scientist named Dr. Lawrence Britt. He wrote an article for Free Inquiry in the Spring of 2003 called, “Fascism Anyone?” He studied the fascist regimes of Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet, and he came up with 14 defining characteristics of fascism. You may have seen a picture of those 14 characteristics (said to be hanging in the U.S. Holocaust Museum) which was shared quite a bit on social media with the heading “Early Warning Signs Of Fascism.” In case you missed it, here is a picture:
There is more to the each of these bullet points, and you can read about each of them RIGHT HERE. But really, I want you to take some time and really THINK about this list. Make a check list in your head. Think about where the country is right now, and think about where it is headed. Just in case you can’t see the picture, here are the 14 points…
1) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
“Everybody has to have a flag pin somewhere on their body, or they don’t really love America.” Did you know Trump officially declared his inauguration day a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion?”
2) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
“Everyone be afraid! Also, in order to keep us safe, we’re going to need to torture people.“
3) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
Whose fault is it? The Immigrants. The Muslims. The “Illegals.” The Other.
4) Supremacy of the Military
Even though our infrastructure is falling apart, and even though we spend more money on our military than the next eight nations combined, Trump is calling for increases to military spending.
5) Rampant Sexism
Do I really have to come up with something here? I mean, our country elected a man who was caught on tape bragging about being famous enough that he was able to “grab women by the pussy.” HERE ARE 11 of the worst things he has said about women.
6) Controlled Mass Media
He called CNN “fake news,” and then called on a reporter from Breitbart. The House Science Committee Chairman said we should get our news from Trump, and not the media.
7) Obsession with National Security
Did I already remind you to be very afraid? We need a WALL! We need to ban travel from seven Muslim majority countries, even though there have been exactly ZERO Americans killed here in terrorist attacks by immigrants or refugees from those war-torn countries.
8) Religion and Government are Intertwined
Jesus. If you’re not already seeing this one, I don’t know what to tell you…
9) Corporate Power is Protected
In fascist states, business leaders and aristocracy are the ones who put the leaders in power. And then they all get even richer.
10) Labor Power is Suppressed
Labor has been under attack by the GOP for years. Which makes sense, because it is a direct threat to corporate control and the businesses that stand to profit from fascism. Expect more attacks on the rights of workers to unionize…
11) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Anti-Intellectualism. Trump reportedly wants to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Apparently we have $20 Billion to build a wall that WON’T WORK, but we have to cut out the .02% of the budget that helps fund the arts.
12) Obsession with Crime and Punishment
“100%, we will cease to have a country. I am the law and order candidate.” ~ Donald Trump, while demonizing Black Lives Matter protesters as “inherently racist.”
13) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
He promised to drain the swamp, but then he filled his cabinet with billionaires and multimillionaires, with a combined net worth of OVER $14 BILLION.
14) Fraudulent Elections
Have you wondered why Trump has spent so much time calling into question the legitimacy of an election THAT HE WON? It’s not just his ego being bruised about losing the popular vote… They are setting up distrust in our electoral system and OUR VERY DEMOCRACY in order to challenge the results and stay in power when America votes him out. In the meantime, they can make it harder for minorities to vote, and also wear away at the feeling that our vote makes any difference whatsoever. And people who believe their vote makes no difference DON’T take the time to go to the polls.
I want to remind you of something: THIS LIST WAS MADE IN 2003! This is not a list someone drew up in order to describe what our Mentally Unstable president is doing–This list is 14 years old. And there are more lists of common characteristics of fascist leadership. THIS LIST is from 2002. Here are a few highlights:
- Limited public debate about policies.
- Control over media. Media only reports what government allows it to report.
- Leader passes laws giving himself even more powers
- Leader surrounded only by trusted friends and business people who profit handsomely.
- Most actions favor insiders, friends and Corporate entities at the expense of the people. Laws that monitor and control business practices are removed.
- Violates, disrespects or refuses to agree to World Conventions on Human Rights, international norms of conduct, and other laws. All manner of excuses offered.
- Many civil liberties restricted or suspended.
Any of these sound familiar? WE HAVE GOT TO RESIST THIS MOVEMENT TOWARD FASCISM. It doesn’t happen all at once… They will move in small steps. But another characteristic of fascist regimes is this: Once they are in power, they don’t give it up. Not without bloodshed. The things we are seeing right now are NOT NORMAL. They are calculated steps toward taking away the heart of what America is all about… Namely, that the people have the power. We have to RESIST. We have to get involved, we have to protest, we have to call our representatives and GET ANGRY. While we still have some power. Before it’s too late. Because here’s something else that’s true…
THIS IS NOT NORMAL. RESIST.
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I usually squirm a bit when the word fascist is thrown around. It is one of those ‘loaded’ words like Nazi or racist that I think one has to be careful about using lest the true meaning of the word is trivialized.
However, as I went through the check list of what constitutes a fascist, I had to admit that it applies, but only to Trump and his minions thus far. America is still resisting so strongly that it’s making my heart go pitter patter for my neighbours to the south even while I’m disgusted by the country’s leadership.
As the old saw goes, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck…then I guess it’s a duck!”
Funny, I thought of the duck test too, but Dale beat me to it.
I agree with your take on the situation, Chris. People might say that we’re overreacting. But no, we’re not. It’s chilling to me that that long-ago quotation talks about waving a cross. How disgraceful it is that these fascist rulers invoke the name of our savior, and how heartbreaking that so many of our brother and sister Christians have let themselves be deceived.
Right now the only thing we have going for us is Trump’s ridiculous unpopularity. The worst case scenario, then, is that someone popular starts doing similar things. And it could be someone on the left, leading the charge to correct Trumpism. Or such a left-authoritarian may raise Trump’s popularity.
Meanwhile, we need to erode the environment of division that’s aiding Trump’s cadre. Here’s one attempt: https://www.facebook.com/changetheperceptionDallas/ I think it should be duplicated in other cities.
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