The Changing Nature of Tyranny

Curt Wechsler  | Feburary 14, 2018

Whether Trump/Pence is a direct replica of the Nazi regime has little relevance compared to the serious challenges he poses, argues Henry Giroux at Truthout. When people with power and influence remain silent in the face of "lies and ruthless polices" of the Trump administration, they sanction state violence characteristic of authoritarian regimes: racial cleansing, unchecked militarism and class warfare. "The first casualty of the Trump era is truth, the second is moral responsibility, the third is any vestige of justice, and the fourth is a massive increase in human misery and suffering for millions."

Trump is an ominous threat to democracy and lives, observes Masha Gessen, staff writer at The New Yorker. "Merely mitigating the damage done by the endlessly ascendant anti-immigrant right" just doesn't cut it. She frames the issue of immigration in moral rather than economic terms (that immigrants are good people who benefit the economy). Gessen's approach would address "American responsibility in a world in which tens of millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, and violence...

"This would mean talking not only about the Haitian or Salvadoran refugees who are being deported from the United States but also about the hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Yemeni refugees who have no hope of entering the one country in the world best situated to give them shelter. It may address the future of a planet that is slowly becoming unsuitable for human habitation, and the American responsibility to those who lose their homes as a result. It may even question the premise that the dumb luck of having been born in the United States gives a group of people the right to decide who may enter the premises."

British historian Richard Evans notes that there is more than one way to destroy a democracy (sending troops into the streets, storming radio stations, and arresting politicians). "Even if Hitler wasn't directly elected to power, his appointment as Reich chancellor was legal and constitutional." Donald Trump's intent to shred political and social norms  was clear from the start -- "In the first weeks of the Trump/Pence regime they have begun subverting the separation of powers, the separation of Church and State," reads the Call to Action:

"..[they] called for a new nuclear arms race, demonized the press, dismissed the very concept of truth substituting their own fabricated 'alternative facts'.  It can already be said of Trump/Pence that 'first they came for' the Muslims, then the Mexicans, then all refugees, then women, then Black and Latino people, LGBTQ persons, the environment, and anyone who doesn't conform or submit to their vision and plan for a nation cohered around white supremacy and a political form of Christian fundamentalism, that should rightly be called Christian Fascism."

Today fascist and neo-fascist movements are on the upswing, warns social studies educator Alan Singer. To those who profess fascism "can't happen here," he reminds us that the domestic threat to the United States prior to World War II was all too real: on February 20, 1939, an estimated 22,000 American fascists held a "pro-German, pro-Nazi rally" in New York City's Madison Square Garden. Photographer John Gutmann recorded an even earlier assembly at San Francisco City Hall in 1935 (photo). Similar rallies occurred across the country.

During World War II the United States War Department issued a memorandum called "Fascism!" which declared "Fascism is not the easiest thing to identify and analyze; nor, once in power, is it easy to destroy... it is important for our future and that of the world that as many as possible understand the causes and practices of fascism in order to combat."

"What makes it possible for someone like Trump to attain power and hold it is the acquiescence of people, both voters and politicians, who aren't white supremacists, who sort-of kind-of believe in the rule of law, but are willing to go along with racists and lawbreakers if it seems to serve their interests," wrote New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in an opinion piece on the conviction (and subsequent pardon by the President) of white supremacist sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The authoritarian policies we currently suffer aren't static; Fascism advances in stages. Accommodation, conciliation, even collaboration serve to normalize the crimes against humanity perpetrated in our name. "Even as the Trump/Pence Regime is moving fast, they have not yet fully consolidated their regime, or, as yet, been able to implement their full program," says "But, this is their objective and it is very possible. It might only take a single serious crisis -- international or domestic -- for this regime to drop the hammer. We do not have much time."

  1. here to strengthen the movement to Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!