History shows that if you give fascists an inch, they will take a mile, and they never play by the agreed upon rules of justice and decency that we often naively think will protect us from them. We cannot cajole, cater to, covertly control, or compromise with fascists. We cannot quietly influence them from positions in Congress, through the courts, in the president’s cabinet, or even on the golf course or in the country club. Appeasement of fascists is not an option. Resistance is the only remedy. Removing fascists from power is the fiercely urgent priority of now.
Our current president and many around him have given the green light to fascists around the world in Poland, Hungry, Italy, and Brazil; and they have given aid and comfort to other nationalist authoritarian regimes throughout the world such as North Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, and Russia. Other countries such as Austria, France, and the UK have seen fascist elements gain significant numbers and influence since the rise of Trumpism. Even Germany is experiencing a fanning of the flames of fascism they have not witnessed since the end of Nazism.
To stop this global rise in fascism and other forms of authoritarian nationalism we are seeing around the world, we must first end its hold on power here in the United States and become a positive force for democracy, diversity, justice, and global cooperation. If we do not end fascism here and very soon, it will lead us where authoritarian nationalism and fascism always take us – unspeakable suffering, horrific violence, and millions upon millions of deaths.
If you do not think this can happen, you have failed to learn the lessons of very recent history. If you think fascism can be confined to simply “making America great again” without including all of the evil inherent to fascism, you have not looked long enough into its dark soul to see the killing fields and death chambers to which it beckons those who think they are expressing patriotism but who soon find themselves doing unspeakable evil for the cause and cult of country.
The evil begins with attacks on the freedom of the press and an assault on truth itself; with vilification of persons who are seen as “other,” be they of different race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender identity; and with a call to put the interests of our country first to the point of being in conflict with the well being of the world. Then it progresses to the rejection of refugees, deportations, the building of walls, the building of detention camps, and the separation of families – even the separation of parents from their children. But it will not end there. Fascism never ends there.
Step by step fascism will desensitize its followers into not seeing their actions as evil but as necessary, even as heroic, for the good of the “People.” Step by step it will intimidate those persons who might speak up or act out against it, with intimidation quickly giving way to violent oppression. Step by step it will come to dominate the systems of law and justice that its opponents once thought would protect them, but which become the very systems that routinize the evils that eventually lead where fascism always leads us – to the ways of death and even to the ways worse than death.
As Winston Churchill warned us not too long ago, “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”