Monday, November 30, 2015

American Fascism: "At long last?"

I mean that question in two senses. One is in the sense of the original author, Joseph Welch, calling out Joe McCarthy in the 1954 Army-McCarthy congressional hearings. Welch asked:

"You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last?"

Ian Reifowitz, in a Daily Kos post, asks the same question of GOP presidential candidates with respect to Donald Trump.

Yes, John Kasich has released a terrific new ad that features a surrogate, Colonel Thomas N. Moe (U.S. Air Force retired), paraphrasing the famous words of anti-Nazi Martin Niemoller ("First they came for …"). I give a ton of credit to Kasich, but where are the Republicans who are, you know, polling above 3 percent nationally? I’m looking at you Messrs. Carson, Rubio, Cruz, and Bush. Well, I’m not really looking at Ben Carson, who—even if he did offer something productive—probably would end up saying that "he doesn't stand behind his comments" by the next day anyway.

A few on the right, including the lowest polling presidential candidate in the field at 0.0 percent (Jim Gilmore), have begun to use the word "fascist" to characterize Trump. But that’s far from good enough. When will the Republican party as a whole reject this man, reject his lies, his cynicism, and his hate? That they have not yet done so stands as a mark of their immorality. The next Republican presidential debate takes place on December 15. Whatever they say between now and then, whatever ads they may release, the leading Republicans not named Trump will face a real test that night, appropriately in Las Vegas.

Do they have the moral courage to risk taking on Donald Trump live in front of a Republican audience? Will they do more than criticize an absurdly unconstitutional proposal (and remember, Rubio couldn’t even do that)? Will one of them finally stand up and condemn Trump as powerfully as Joseph Welch did Senator McCarthy?

At long last?

I don't think so. The reasons for my pessimism are explained in another Daily Kos post (by Mark Sumner) on the march toward Fascism in America since World War II. Sample snippets follow.

Sixty million people died in World War II, but fascism won. It didn’t win on the battlefield. It didn’t win right away. It won because the same fears, the same greed, the same hatred that fueled its growth in the first part of the twentieth century never went away. The symbols of fascism became anathema, but the causes … went deep. And gradually, slowly, one step at a time, all those vices became first tolerated, then treated as virtues, and then as the only acceptable view.

It was French poet Charles Baudelaire who said "the finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist." The finest trick of the modern fascist? The same. Nothing is ever fascist. It’s just "very conservative." And this week’s very conservative, is next weeks middle of the road.

Sinclair Lewis never actually said "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross, " but he should have. And he should have mentioned that no one would dare speak its name.

Check out the post for a collation of steps on that march to American Fascism.

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