Opinion | Muftic: Fascism is on the rise. We saw the results in New Zealand.
Felicia Muftic / My View
I cannot believe I even need to write this. Do we still have to remind ourselves of what has made America a standard of good civic behavior?
As Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address to the nation, “In my mind it (America) was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be a city with walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and how I see it.”
Many may have quarreled with the public policies Reagan promoted, but his vision of its ideals was not in dispute. Always lurking under the surface in American history are demons of violence and racial hatred and Donald Trump has unleashed its demons.
Those are the same demons that lie in the hearts of others around the world like the mass killer of at least 50 Mosque worshippers in New Zealand March 15, who was motivated by an ideology of violent white nationalism.
Are white nationalists also fascists? Merriam-Webster defines fascism as exalting “nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in her recent book, “Fascism: A Warning,” limits her definition of fascism to include acts of violence or military action. Viktor Orban, of Hungary, whose platform was racial purity, is an example she used.
The Anti Defamation League reported that every extremist murder in 2018 in the US was committed by a right-wing group or individuals. We are living in a time when violent racial and religious hatred is acted out with terrorism, pipe and IED bombs, and assault weapon massacres. We have been fixated on stopping ISIS’s fomented terrorist acts promoted by international social media, recruitment, and violent ideology. However, we need to devote that same attention to white nationalist terrorism that uses similar techniques and is even more deadly in the US.
Getting tough on right-wing terrorism will be unlikely so long as Trump is president. He has risen to power by fomenting racial strife, calling Mexicans rapists and murderers on his escalator ridden campaign kick-off. One of his first actions was to try to ban all Muslim immigrants. His dog whistles and coded oratory to rally audiences chanting “build the wall”gained widespread political support and still does.
In the wake of Charlottesville, he called neo-Nazi marchers promoting racial hatred, Nazi symbolism and salutes, and antisemitism “fine people.“just as the protestors were. Immediately after expressing condolences on the New Zealand shooting, Trump used the shooter’s same word to describe immigrants as “invaders.”
So is Trump himself a white nationalist? Nick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff, says he is not a white supremacist.
To paraphrase Andrew Gillum, a candidate for Florida governor whose opponent had used racist tactics against him: he answered the question of whether his opponent was a racist, he responded that he did not know if he was a racist, but the racists think he is a racist. Substitute the word white nationalist for racist, and that is the answer. The former head of the Ku Klux Klan and a candidate for office in Louisiana as a white nationalist, David Duke, said on the election Trump it was a great victory for “our people” and the New Zealand killer cited Trump and his “common purpose” in his manifesto.
While he is quick to call himself a nationalist, is Trump advocating violence? We should be very alarmed by some voices threatening they will take to the streets if Trump is impeached or loses the next election. Trump himself has more than once threatened violence against journalists and hecklers at his rallies. In a recent interview on Breitbart media, he did not sound like a president. He sounded like a thug unleashing fellow thugs to keep him in power with “I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
There are still lessons to learn from the Hitler era besides the atrocities of the Holocaust. These new voices of violence are the epitome of modern-day fascist brown shirts. The brown shirts and firebombing of the Reichstag were key to Hitler’s rise, even though he represented a minor party at the time. Trump seems to think that the “police, military, and bikers” are his loyal brown shirts. If Trump is not a fascist, he has taken a page from them … threatening violence and even not abiding by the results of an election.
I still have faith in Americans to right the course for our Democracy. It is institutionalized in our Constitution that includes a method for peaceful regime change through the ballot box and to protect the right of dissidents to be heard and find hope for success, but it depends upon our willingness to support it. There are plenty of modern-day examples to remind us how autocrats come to power, manipulate their constitutions, and suppress any opposition with violence, mind control techniques, and abuse of human and civil rights. In modern times, democracy is destroyed with stealth on the internet, magnifying messages on social, broadcast and cable media. Without popular support of the rule of law, separation of powers, and civil rights protections, the Constitution is only a piece of parchment.
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