Thursday, August 24, 2017

Calling a spade a spade

"His Struggle: Neo-nazis, KKK, racism:
How Donald Trump stirs up hatred
in America,"
with an obvious play on Hitler's Mein Kampf.
It was once considered "over the top" to call Trump a fascist. People would hedge, say something like "he shows fascist tendencies," or "OK, he's not an actual fascist, but..." or remind us you can't be fascist unless you're invading Poland or some such. 

But the gloves are coming off. Leading the pack at the moment is the German weekly Stern (Star).

There it is, folks. Donald Trump as the American Hitler.

I'm amazed, actually, at how unrestrained the criticism of Trump is in the German public discourse. I watch talk shows and news reports all the time and hear German political leaders talk about Trump as a walking disaster. In a recent interview, Martin Schulz, when asked how he would approach Trump if he were to beat out Angela Merkel in the coming election in September, called Trump a danger to the entire world and suggested what was called for was a German leader who could say no to him.

That's, of course, not the same thing as comparing him to Hitler. For that, you still need people not constrained by the need for diplomacy. The leftist media, for example.

Stern has a patchy history of going out on a limb. They were once badly wounded when they published what was known as the "Hitler Diaries," which turned out to be forged. It took them ages to recover from that.  Generally associated with the Socialist Party, they also made headlines back in the 70s for publishing a list of women who had had abortions, to protest the law in effect at that time against abortion. But this direct reference to Hitler is new, even for Stern.

This image of Trump as a fascist will likely strike many Americans as going too far. I'm not talking about the lockstep Trump supporters but about ordinary people across the spectrum who read and write. Yet the parallels are undeniable.  For starters, just as we speak now of how Germans read Mein Kampf and took note of Hitler's intentions to make war and to exterminate the Jews, but went ahead and elected him anyway, we listened to Trump trash Obama and claim his presidency was illegitimate because he was actually born in Kenya. We ignored his racism and his encouragement of violence. We overlooked the way he narcissistically pushed himself as the "leader" who alone can fix things and made the scapegoating of minorities the center point of his campaign.

And now we're surprised when Nazis and KKK march together, that he claims there are problems "on many sides?" Don't forget we live in a time when everything that happens is filmed 24/7, and the whole world can fact check that statement and see that there weren't "many sides." There were only two: the fascist side and the other side. And the other side was simply protesting the marchers who were shouting things like "Jews will not replace us" and "blood and soil" - the Nazi slogan "Blut und Boden."

It's at this point when I feel the need to urge caution. Calm down. We don't want to overdo it. That only gives the Tucker Carlsons and Ann Coulters more ammunition to belittle the hothead "libtards" as we are called. But when you see the pace at which Trump's fascist tendencies have accelerated, seen how he made that stupid "many sides" remark, and then recalled it, and then recalled the recall... And then had another of his Nuremberg rally events, this time in Phoenix, with his select crowd of "my leader, right or wrong" types, well...

Let's not get caught up in arguing over whether it's premature to slap the fascist label on this wretched man in the White House. But we definitely need to keep the lights on. Fascism is as fascism does.

And lest you think it's only the German media shouting fire, take a look at the latest covers on The New Yorker and The Economist.

new yorker/economist covers:

1 comment:

Alan McCornick said...

See Paul Krugman's article on American fascism in today's (8/28) NYTimes: