It once seemed absurd to link the words “American” and “Fascism.” It seemed extreme and counterproductive.
Not today warns New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning economist and columnist Paul Krugman. Not today according to former secretary of state Madeleine Albright. Today, we could be at the tipping point between democracy as we know it and fascism.
Albright’s book “Fascism: A Warning” does nothing to allay that fear.
The best starting point to this analysis is with a definition of fascism: a system that exalts extreme nationalism and racism above individual rights, equality, justice and a free press. It’s a system that suppresses opposition, and it centralizes authority. It destroys the independence of the judiciary and facilitates large-scale corruption.
Here are these points with a contemporary corollary:
A system that exalts extreme nationalism –– make America great again; shred all past trade agreements and international alliances claiming they were unfair to America; rather than negotiation and statesmanship, threaten, ridicule and impose tariffs; keep refugees and immigrants out, especially those from “xxxxhole” countries and those from Mexico that sends criminals, drug dealers and rapists; separate immigrant/refugee parents from their children; create an atmosphere of such fear that people don’t voluntarily seek to renew their work permits.
Centralizes authority –– “I alone can fix this”; threaten to dismiss an independent investigation into challenges to your legitimacy; appoint department heads who have threatened to eliminate the departments they now lead.
Cultivates racism and discrimination –– retweet racist posts, use dog whistles, restrict voting access, claim some Nazis are good people, falsely characterize a football player who peacefully protests police brutality against African Americans as someone who defiles the American flag and disrespects the sacrifices of veterans; marginalize same sex couples and allow corporations to continue to discriminate.
Delegitimizes a free press –– continue to gin up hatred against journalists, labeling them liars and enemies of the American people; ridicule real journalism and support fake news; encourage violence against journalists.
Undermines justice –– allege repeatedly that your own department of justice is weak and ineffective and your appointed secretary should step down or be fired; label a judge incompetent because of his Mexican heritage; pack the courts with appointees who support you and your elitist ideology.
Large-scale corruption –– continue to operate your businesses and blur the line between foreign diplomacy and patronizing your own hotels; appoint billionaire members to your cabinet and allow them to continue building their financial empires through their government positions; loosen protections against fraud; refuse to release your own tax returns; relieve Wall Street from public disclosure reports; praise and support a dictator while disparaging the FBI and the Secret Service.
Suppresses the opposition –– Restrict access to voting locations and call for increased voter ID allegedly to counter voter fraud –– something that is virtually non-existent. Support mass incarceration under the guise of safety. Call an esteemed member of Congress “Pocahontas” because of her opposition to you; call another “an extremely low IQ person” and call women who oppose you promiscuous, fat, stupid, ugly and corrupt.
Draw sharp divisions between people. Characterize people who support you as good patriotic Americans, those who oppose you as enemies of this country. Continue to repeat a lie even after the lie has been exposed. Elevate the power of corporations and dismantle environmental regulations. Ram tax reforms through Congress that reward the rich and buy silence from everyone else by giving them a small benefit before ramping up their taxes.
Fight deficit budgets until deficits are needed to support your tax cuts for the rich, and then look to cuts in Food Stamps, Medicaid and Social Security to keep the system afloat.
Why is this happening in America? According to Krugman, it is not because of “economic anxiety” but is due to racial resentment and white nationalism, and “we are very, very close to the point of no return.”
75 and Homeless
Minnie Deffenbaugh, 75, was pictured in the August issue of Community Word in a bed at the Dream Center homeless shelter. Peoria township supervisor Frank Abdnour and his staff worked to get “Miss Minnie” into Saint Sharbel Village Apartments behind Westlake Shopping Center. She’s been there in a small efficiency apartment since early last month.