America is, like, fascist and stuff now.
We saw it happen. We did nothing.
Right off the bat, I’m going to violate an unspoken rule of argument: invoking German Nazism. You’re not supposed to bring up Nazis or Hitler or Germany circa 1938 in a debate because nothing could ever really be that bad. If you bring that stuff up, it must be because you’re grasping at straws.
Except it really is That Bad™. Proof? I had to specify German Nazism in the last paragraph. You know, as opposed to American Nazism, which is a thing now.
The path to fascism moves more slowly than the plot of Mad Men. So we’ve been told time and again. But we are not frogs in a pot of boiling water, nor are we television characters unable to see the consequences of their actions. We saw this coming years ago, and we did nothing.
This week, President Trump verbally endorsed nationalism (as in National Socialist, as in Nazi). “Use that word,” he yelled, flinging spittle toward the microphone. “I am a nationalist!”
Donald, we knew that already.
Still, it’s terrifying in a unique way to hear him say it out loud. Until now, Trump has settled for dog whistles to his nationalist base while insisting to the general public that he does not condone their beliefs. Granted, his dog-whistles are more like regular whistles, but at least he made the effort to hide his true colors.
This proclamation came in the same week that Trump got mad at Saudi Arabia, not because they dismembered a journalist for The Washington Post, but because they did a bad job at covering it up.
It came in the same week that George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and CNN had bombs delivered to their mailboxes.
It came in the same week that Trump promised to deploy the military if a group of several thousand Honduran refugees reach the U.S. border. What did Honduras ever do to us that we now consider them the enemy? Well, Trump answered that question quite clearly. Nationalism is the supremacy of one group and the suppression of all others.
In Trump’s mind, there is white America, and then there is everyone else.
And, lest we forget, there are still children being held in abandoned Walmarts and tent cities by the thousands. Large concentrations of them. In camps. For fuck’s sake!
Fascism starts small, and it does not announce itself by name until late in the game. It starts with a Muslim ban that the fascists insist is not a Muslim ban. It starts by terrorizing the press into submission and by shaking hands with brutal dictators.
Fascism moves the goalposts of decency in small increments. Every time it does so, we are forced to ask ourselves, “Is this worth acting against? I wasn’t out in the street when the Muslim ban happened, so maybe that wasn’t actually so bad. Sure, I was alarmed when a Supreme Court Justice got forced onto the bench, but is it worth fighting against?”
Confused yet? Good. It’s working. Slowly but surely, fascism strips away your ability to know what’s worth fighting for.
And, let’s be honest, when you look out your window, things seem pretty much the same as they did two years ago. You hang out with the same people, go to the same job, shop at the same shops.
You start to wonder whether you’re just being paranoid. If things were really that bad, you’d be huddled in an attic waiting for the stormtroopers to find you, right? There is no gunfire, no bombs falling on buildings, no soldiers goose-stepping down Main Street. You start to think things might be okay.
And then the President declares that we are nationalists. You can almost see the outline of a hammer about to drop. When it does, you will be crushed by your own inaction.
The fact of the matter is, fighting fascism is hard. You don’t want to be the only one fighting it. You’re a good German, but what can one person do?
We have a vote coming in a little under two weeks. The ballot box is the last hope of ending this peacefully. If the President’s party retains control of both Houses, every “good German” will be called on to make terrible, difficult choices. History counts on those choices. God forgive us.
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