Are we a fascist country yet?

The transition of a society from liberal democracy to fascism isn’t a sudden thing.  The gradual transformation must have seemed normal and sensible to a lot of Italian, Spanish, and German citizens in the 1930s.  It’s worth asking today how future historians will view the America of 2018.  Will they wonder why we we went along, why we didn’t seem to notice what was happening?

Several signposts are already in the rear-view mirror.  The President has called news reporters “enemies of the state” and openly incites violence against them.  We had an open gathering of KKK members and actual Nazis in Charlottesville, described by President as “very fine people.”  Trump has repeatedly praised President Duterte of the Philippines, who literally describes himself as a fascist, and particularly likes Duterte’s program of mass murder.  He has asserted more than once that he is above the law.  We have Rep. Steve King, R-IA, openly and repeatedly expressing his support for fascists.  We have various Republicans saying, as Ted Nugent did, that Democrats should be shot, and that people who take down Confederate monuments should be lynched, and that it’s a good thing when reporters are beaten.  We have death threats against a federal judge who blocked Trump’s Muslim ban.  We have numerous incidents of anti-Semitism, including one at a Republican event.  And we have actual Hitler-loving Nazis praising our current administration.

So what has been happening lately?

That is an incomplete list of things that have happened in just the last two weeks.  We should probably all be thinking about how history will judge us for resisting, or failing to resist, in 2018.

 

Steve King friendly with another Nazi

Another shocking-but-not-surprising thing from Representative Steve King, the Republican who represents this very district: he shared, approvingly, a social media post from a British neo-Nazi, Mark Collett.  That’s not just my characterization of Collett’s views, he describes himself as a “Nazi sympathizer” and an admirer of Hitler’s Germany.

There can be no doubt about Collett’s abhorrent vision. As a Slate  piece explained, “According to HuffPost, Collett was once the youth leader of the British National Party, an extreme far-right party, and he once said that AIDS is a ‘friendly disease because blacks, drug users, and gays have it.’ He has also espoused anti-Semitic beliefs and appeared frequently on far-right and white nationalist podcasts. In his Twitter feed, he talks about white genocide, a popular concept among white supremacists, and the ‘price of multiculturalism.’”

But what matters in this case is not Collett’s disgusting worldview. It’s not even Steve King’s unsurprising willingness to promote Collett’s online content.

What shouldn’t go overlooked is the Iowa Republican’s ability to get away with stuff like this – because the right-wing congressman’s party has an endless tolerance for his offensive antics. Or put another way, the question is less about Steve King and more about what GOP leaders intend to do about Steve King.

For example, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is running for a full term this year, and she chose King to serve as one of her campaign co-chairs.

This isn’t new behavior for Steve King.  We have previously documented some of his white supremacist statements here and noted his friendly relations with fascists in France.

If the Iowa Republican Party is OK with this, and obviously they are, then they are un-American, and unfit to be in government.

Ted Nugent says Democrats should be shot.

NRA board member Ted Nugent compares Democrats to rabid coyotes who should be shot.  Not in a private conversaion, which would be bad enough, but on the radio.

So here’s a question for Matt Windschitl, Republican leader in the Iowa House:  what does it take for you to denounce Ted Nugent and the NRA?

Oh, wait, I think we already have Windschitl’s answer.

If it walks like a fascist and quacks like a fascist…

If Donald Trump says all those racist things when he’s putting on his best face for the cameras, what must he be like when the cameras are off?  We don’t have to speculate.  In June of 2017, this was Trump in front of his staff:

  • He said Afghanistan was a terrorist haven.
  • He said of legal Haitian immigrants, they “all have AIDS.”
  • He said of legal Nigerian immigrants, that once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts.”

That’s right.  The President of the United States said that people from the most populous country in Africa live in huts.  About what you’d expect from the guy who thought there were “fine people” among those making Nazi salutes in Charlottesville.

Yes, you may be thinking, but it’s a long way from being a racist to being a fascist dictator.  Not so long, perhaps.  Trump has just asserted, with regard to the Russia investigations, that he has the “absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department,” a claim that Richard Nixon would have been embarrassed to make.  I’d like to see a comment on this article, from a Republican who has one of those little copies of the Constitution in his pocket, explaining why this shouldn’t alarm the rest of us.

 

 

Abandoning even the pretense of caring about human rights

An internal State Department memo explicitly confirms what we already knew about the Trump administration’s foreign policy priorities.

Apparently, a deputy named Brian Hook, a former Bush administration official, wrote up a memo for Tillerson explaining how the U.S. looks at human rights. And guess what? After nearly half a century we’re back to Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy from the 1970s. According to Politico, which got a peek at the memo, Hook explained to the neophyte diplomat that “the U.S. should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” As Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state under Obama, told Politico, this “tells Tillerson that we should do exactly what Russian and Chinese propaganda says we do — use human rights as a weapon to beat up our adversaries while letting ourselves and our allies off the hook.”

Apparently Secretary of State Tillerson read and agrees with the memo.

Duterte: “I am a fascist”

Photo: AP
A lot of bleeding heart liberals, myself included, have been using the word “fascist” to describe Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. But now Duterte openly brags of being a fascist. No, really:

I will follow America, since they say that I am an American boy.  OK, granted, I will admit that I am a fascist. I will categorize you already as a terrorist.

It’s not clear who he means by “you” in that last sentence, perhaps the journalist to whom he was speaking.  Note that he says he’s following the lead of America.  Duterte enjoys a warm relationship with Donald Trump, who the aforementioned bleeding heart liberals have also characterized as a fascist, and if you doubted those liberals were correct before, perhaps you should reconsider.

If you, or one of your parents or grandparents, was among those who fought in World War II to defeat fascism, would you please speak up in the comments, and describe your feelings as you read that the Republican Party is on the opposite side today?

Now he’s openly defending Nazis

Trump gave a half-hearted denunciation of racist, swastika-wearing, Nazi-saluting white supremacists on Monday, days after one of them murdered an anti-racist protester in Charlottesville.  And if you think “half-hearted” is unfair, look at what he said today.

In a long, combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower, the president repeatedly rejected a torrent of bipartisan criticism for waiting several days before naming the right-wing groups and placing blame on “many sides” for the violence that ended with the death of a young woman after a car crashed into a crowd.

Mr. Trump repeated that assertion on Tuesday, criticizing “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the nationalist and Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park. He said there is “blame on both sides.”

Sounding very much like a right-wing Twitter feed, the president added, “Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

Trump went on to defend the tiki-torch-wielding racists who gathered on Friday night, before saying, in reference to the racist activists, “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.” …

He actually argued that there were “very fine people on both sides” and that he believes “there’s blame on both sides.”

If that sounds like a message white supremacists will be thrilled to hear, we don’t need to speculate: David Duke has already thanked Trump for this afternoon’s comments.

Where does it stop, indeed?

Donald Trump will not condemn the terrorist attacks on anti-Nazi protestors

No surprise there.

Donald Trump has canceled all press events today. Yesterday, he ran from reporters who asked him to call terrorism “terrorism.” Donald Trump, the “alpha” whose campaign dared Democrats to condemn “radical Islamic terrorism,” who finds it easy to condemn department stores and TV networks and Hollywood actresses in intemperate language, that man cannot find it in himself to risk the ire of his base by calling white supremacist terror “white supremacist terror.”

Donald Trump’s cowardice has made the Republican Party into the murderers’ party, the lynchers’ party, the party that stands idly by while their supporters murder anti-racists. The party that is, just maybe, a little happy to see it happen.

Racists rally in Charlottesville VA

Racists with torches giving Nazi salute
We’re not making up this fascism stuff.

The largest hate gathering in decades is going on now in Virginia.  White supremacists of all stripes, including the KKK and Nazis, are marching openly and proudly, chanting racist slogans like “White lives matter” and “Jews will not replace us.”  One counter-demonstrator has been murdered and nineteen injured by a man who deliberately drove his car into a crowd.

The President of the United States has condemned…both sides.  He is not in the habit of condemning violence, of course, inciting it is more his style.  Now that the logical consequences are here, he suddenly doesn’t want the credit.

Trump openly incites violence against reporters

Today the President of the United States posted a video on Twitter, a modified version of an old pro wrestling show, in which Trump pretends to knock someone down and punch him repeatedly.  The video has the CNN logo in place of the guy’s face.  Watch the video here.

CNN responded in a statement:

It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the President had never done so. Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, ‎dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he is involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.
When some reporter gets killed doing her job, is Donald Trump going to take responsibility?  Will Republicans be calling for civility then, or just say she had it coming?