Are you one? Are you not? Do you care? Do they care whether you really are one or not?
The term “fascist” gets thrown around more than a football on Sunday, and it gets wielded as a weapon any time a conservative does something a lefty-progressive does not like.
Considering what we discussed in last week's column which covered Sam Harris' obsession with Trump, it is not surprising that a term like “fascist” becomes the go-to label to slap onto anybody who disagrees with the current administration. Conservatives at the moment are considered extremely dangerous, and should be treated as such.
Enter Joe Biden, the unifier-in-chief, who came to heal the political divide and step above the divisiveness in America.
Our unifier-in-chief, speaking not too long ago, said something that dripped with love and compassion for every American. "What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy," Biden said. "It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism."
And in case you thought it was Biden's supposed stuttering issue and not his sometimes...incoherent thoughts, we can look to Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to clarify Mr. Biden's meaning.
"So what we're seeing from Republicans and what we have seen from Republicans these past several years is that they are attacking our democracy. They are taking away our freedom. And they are trying to put on the chopping blocks Medicare and Social Security. That's what we are seeing, and it's being done — if you look at the Republican Party, it is being done by this element, this MAGA element of the Republican Party. And that is what we are trying to prevent. That's what you heard from the president today,"
I feel so much better. Don't you?
Labels, Labels, Labels
Political rhetoric is nothing new, and it is beneath us to believe that some how political slander and labeling did not exist for centuries. Conservatives cannot get caught up in the game of “They called us such and such!” Though, as a possible counter-argument, I do believe Hillary Clinton's “Deplorables” comment may have cost her the election. It became quite the slogan for Trump and his supporters.
At this point, you're more than welcome to ask, “So if we shouldn't care about political labels, then why write a whole blog about it?”
I'm glad you asked. My answer to you is: we still need to participate in the language war. We just cannot sit on the step and complain that they're calling us names. Progressives are keen on using language to demean, confuse and destroy their opponents. The common man creates massive assumptions with a single word, and the progressive is always looking for that one label, that one name which creates movement against their enemies.
They've tried it with nationalism. White supremacy. Racist. Sexist. Homophobe. Look no further than Hillary Clinton. She said in a campaign speech, “You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call, 'The basket of deplorables,' right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, islamophobic... you name it.”
The term “ultra-maga” was actually the result of a 6-month, progressive-funded, focus group research project. It took them 6 months to figure out what label they wanted to lob at conservatives this week.
Trump understands this, and has used similar tactics with varying success. His names for people like “Lyin' Ted Cruz”, “Crooked Hillary”, or my favorite, “Low Energy Jeb,” (Please clap) stick harder than anything the candidate themselves can attempt to achieve. Trump knows that a catchy, derogatory nickname lobbed at his opponents will consume a person's mind and push out any nuance as to who that person is.
Why should we care? Because language matters. But we cannot be surprised when it happens. We also need to care because our fellow Americans deserve to know the nuance behind such a name, and hopefully can be persuaded that the people lobbing the label have less than righteous intentions.
What is a fascist?
Are you a fascist? A semi-fascist? Before I get into a brief description of fascism, I want to explore the label of “semi-fascist.”
After WWII, some scholars created labels to categorize people who did not neatly fit into the fascist or neo-fascist political parties, yet “displayed some characteristics of historical fascist movements and regimes,” as reported by Britannica.com.
These various labels used behaviors and attitudes, and were applied to people who seemed to resemble various fascist leaders. Of course, Donald Trump was described by Britannica.com as “borderline fascist,” due to his “contempt for democratic values and the rule of law, demagoguery, appeals to racism, incitements to mob violence...attacks on the legitimacy of the press and of established institutions of government, and the exploitation of scapegoats.”
The Britannica.com description of Trump's “borderline fascist” record pointed to the Muslim-majority immigration ban (written in the Obama era), separating children from parents (also done during the Obama administration and used to confirm a child was not being trafficked) building a wall, a reinvigorated militia movement, and the claim that he never disavowed neo-nazis or the KKK (which is an outright lie. He disavowed David Duke, the neo-nazis, and white supremacists.)
If you narrow in the lens enough, you can make anyone look like a fascist. The description is wide and all-encompassing, and the history spans across plenty of nations.
However, a few similarities seem to work their way through different fascist regimes. They tend to include a call to a national identity, an authoritarian approach that pushes into a dictatorship, a firm belief in the group over the individual, and the preparing and training of the people to become unified and strong under the national banner.
Fascism tends to have an open economy when compared to communism, but often congregates power over the industries through government and committee means. While personal property and wealth are still considered privatized, the ideology or race of the owner could quickly see them lose such privileges.
Fascist parties, when coming to power, tend to outlaw other parties, and work towards a single-party system. They are more than happy to use violence, and in fact tend to encourage violence to crush their enemies. Most often, the biggest enemies are Marxists and communists, and such groups attract the strongest ire of the fascist regimes. Typically, this is because both parties are fighting over the same piece of pie: complete control over the nation-state, economic system and the identity of the people.
The fascist will use the democratic system to his advantage, and many times will become a wolf in sheep's clothing to garner the support of the masses. While some fascist movements outright spurned the common man, most invigorated the common man with dreams of becoming a greater man. Such language swirled around the idea of creating the ideal man or race, and sometimes built on humanism and materialism as it's backbone. Hitler's idea of the superior race found it's pillars in Darwinism, Nietzsche and materialism.
While some fascist movements embraced Christianity and Catholicism, the Nazi party tended to have a disdain for true Christianity, instead linking itself to it in certain cases to win the opinion of the people. The parades, celebrations and events that the Nazi movement revolved around, tended to use more iconography, symbols and rituals from secular, roman, and pagan influences, as opposed to Christianity. The Nazi party also pressured families to ideologically train their children with education that replaced Christian prayer with sun-worship and Teutonic rituals.
Britannica.com reports, “Martin Bormann, the second most powerful official in the Nazi party after 1941, argued that Nazi and Christian beliefs were 'incompatible,' primarily because the essential elements of Christianity were 'taken over from Judaism.'” Which makes sense. Would the Nazi party really support a religion that had a Jew as its messiah?
Hitler himself, saw warrior paganism as a driving spiritualism, and there are plenty of reports of the occult in his circle.
These defining characteristics are not the only ones that describe the political ideology, but they do enough to clearly define the central aims of the movement.
Question is: Who is using the label?
The concept of a fascist swings so widely that it is in danger of losing definition. In America, the term is thrown at everyone; and the hope of those who lob it at their enemies, is that everyone will immediately picture Hitler, his soldiers goose-stepping, and the American infantrymen standing against the obvious evil fascists.
What many may not realize is the storied past of using the term as a title for an enemy. Unemployed, college-educated, slacker blue-haired kids who pass themselves off as adults are now joining a movement that has loosely titled itself “Antifa.” This is not a recent invention, but the group known as “Antifaschistische Aktion” popped up in Italy and Germany in response to the fascist dictatorships taking hold. The Antifa movement is, at its central core, communist. The battle between the communists and the fascists, especially in Germany during the post Weimar-republic days, was for control of the government and the nation. In Germany, the communists were crushed by the fascists, and the rest is...history. The use of the term in America is a continuation of communist rhetoric.
It becomes the label of anyone who does not come into alignment with the communist movement, and then gets parroted by unsuspecting folks who are just angry with Trump or conservatives in general.
Many who use it, believe that Trump was a dictator who just barely missed taking power over the government. They conflate restricting access to abortion with taking away individual rights (although communists only care about individual rights when they need to) and the restriction of illegal immigration as racism. Communist and progressive elements have decided that all white people are racist, and the racist history of America is a sign of the current conservative movement's attempt to re-establish racism in today's culture.
This title: semi-fascist, was a shot by Biden to begin to strengthen people's assumption that Trump, the MAGA faction, and conservatives in general are all “Literally-Hitler.” But I assure you, the connection is tenuous and may in fact show more of the democrat party's intimate ties with communism/Marxism, than it does the conservative base's fascist leanings.
The vast majority of conservatives, and especially the MAGA base, abhor authoritarianism, battle increased governmental influence on systems and institutions, hate the politicization of law enforcement, do not endorse racism, and would rather see a truly free market established, Christianity as the guiding spiritual foundation of the people, and a individualist spirit regain its place as the people's ethos.
None of these things are close to fascism. They are not semi-fascism. What does look fascist, though, is: a plea to blindly obey experts and create unified government systems in order to enforce the judgment of the experts, the use of emergencies to curtail individual rights in the name of safety, the criminalizing of political opposition, the attempt to create a single-party system, and the demonizing of an entire group of people because they do not align with the values and ideologies of the ruling class.
You, as a conservative, are watching gas-lighting in real time. You're called a fascist, when you want nothing of the sort, but they do. Do you want the family supported and uplifted? Yes. Do you desire to have the spiritual nature of the nation restored? Yes. Do you wish your nation could be healthy and have a unified vision? Yes. But none of this rises to the level of fascism. You are not required to take on that title, and there is no reason to accept it.
The title is filled with history, and it is intended to associate you with that history. If you believe in liberty, individual rights, limited government, free markets, reduced regulation, equality for all men, the precious nature of life, and controlled immigration to protect the health of the system...then you are probably a conservative.
Be a conservative with pride, and pick apart any argument that attempts to attach “Fascist” to you.