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New American Fascism?

Don Rose 30 December 2015 3 Comments

Much has been made of Donald Trump’s vulgarities about normal bodily functions such as elimination and menstruation, his phallic Yiddishisms and pledge to “bomb the s–t” out of ISIS, so I am devoting this column to the “F” word about Trump: Fascist.

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You don’t have to be a progressive to recognize that his rhetoric, including, but not limited to, his call to register Muslims in America and to deny any more Muslims further entry, is little more than the new American fascism. Numerous conservative Republicans are saying the same thing that we on the left have observed for some time.

“Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it.”

That tweet didn’t come from a columnist for The Nation or even the New York Times. It was from the eminent neoconservative military historian Max Boot, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who is an advisor to Marco Rubio’s campaign.

Farther to the right,  Ted Cruz endorser Steve Deace, a conservative Iowa radio host, said: “If Obama proposed the same religion registry as Trump every conservative in the country would call it what it is — creeping fascism.”

“Forced federal registration of U.S. citizens, based on religious identity, is fascism. Period. Nothing else to call it,”  Jeb Bush adviser John Noonan tweeted recently.

“I just don’t agree with that kind of thing….I’ve said it’s fascist talk,” said the all-but-forgotten GOP presidential candidate Jim Gilmore, former Republican governor of Virginia.

It took a strong progressive to give the leading Republican candidate the benefit of the doubt:  “I’m still not sure it’s 100 percent clear that Donald Trump really understands that he’s a neo-fascist,” Michael Tomasky wrote in the Daily Beast.

The simplest Wikipedia definition of  fascism is “radical authoritarian nationalism,” which typically scapegoats “inferior” peoples, whether blacks, Jews, Muslims or whatever. The far-right political philosophy began in Italy around the first World War, first codified by the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, who disdained representative democracy. His follower, Benito Mussolini, created the Fascist Party in 1919 and became dictator of Italy. Although Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party was not technically the same as Mussolini’s, the term fascism quickly became used generically to describe both—as well as Francisco Franco in Spain.

We’ve had our share of native American fascists through the decades–neo-Nazis, KKKers, Skinheads and individuals such as Father Coughlin and Huey Long in the 1930s. Senator Joseph McCarthy came close. But none rose as high as Trump today, potentially being nominated for the presidency by a major party.

Trump’s speaking style is very close to Mussolini’s, with the thrust jaw and flapping arms–and he gets much the same vociferous audience reaction. You hear echoes of “Heil!”

His self-aggrandizing words suggest he can accomplish all his goals–stopping Muslim immigration, expelling 11 million Mexicans, etc.–by fiat rather than through legislation, implying dictatorial powers over-riding the Constitution. How?  Simply because he is the greatest manager and the greatest negotiator the world has ever seen while all his opponents are stupid and disgusting.

Heed the words of conservatives Boot, Deace, Noonan and others–and be very afraid.

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Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

3 Comments »

  • John Powers said:

    Franco was never a member of the Fascist party (The Falange), and was an expressed opponent to it’s anti-Religious tenets. Rather than being anti-Semitic, the Francoists rescued/sheltered around 500,000 Jewish refugees during World War, while the supposed Democrats in the United States routinely drove away Europeans facing the Nazi and Communist Holocausts.

    Blacks and Muslims were a key part of Franco’s armies. I think they definition does not apply well here.

  • Pot Calling Kettle said:

    Not a Donald Trump admirer by any means, but could not the same be said President Barack Obama’s modus operandi for promoting his agenda “by fiat rather than through legislation, implying dictatorial powers over-riding the Constitution.”

  • Terry P. said:

    Anyone who has goose-stepped behind Obama for the past seven years and has had nothing whatever to say about his desire to rule the country solely through executive orders and bureaucratic edicts (with no input from Congress or the people), neutralizing the opposition party (most likely with Chicago-style blackmail tactics), promising to “fundamentally transform” the country, allowing himself to be presented (and worshipped) as a cult-like “Messiah” figure, etc., etc., is in no position to accuse anyone of fascism, Don.

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