Playing with fire


Owen Foster

Pictured above are images related to the rising Fascism in the United States.

Owen Foster

The neighbors were taken last week. You don’t know if a neighbor ratted them out or if they are being targeted for their jobs. Opinions are not allowed, and if you oppose the government, you suffer. 

   Those living under a fascist regime are controlled by fear. Fear of being persecuted. Fear of saying the wrong thing. Having an opinion could get you killed, or worse, those you care about. 

   The propaganda and national leaders continually say the nation is united. Yet, you feel like everyone is in conflict. Fear hangs over your head like a guillotine. 

   You dread the knock on the door in the dead of night. The sudden crashing of a window as your house is stormed by darkly-clothed figures. Your family will never know what happened to you. No contact, no knowledge of your health, you just disappeared. 

   This reality has been replayed in countries around the world. Europe in the 1930s and 1940s was rampant with fascist leaders and nations. Names like Mussolini and Hitler are instantly recognizable for the atrocities they committed. 

   The horrors of fascism are recognizable and feared, yet the more you look, the more you can see how rampant fascist ideas are, and the deep connections they have in modern American politics. 

   To see how rampant these ideas are, you must look at some of the key tenants that led to the rise of a fascist leader. Some of the more famous ones, and ideas you may recognize in the news, are strong senses of nationalism in a political party, obsessions with protecting the country through national security (Trump’s Muslim Ban, 2017), and disdain for the media. Other factors might be the protection of corporations, something Trump did frequently in his presidency, or an obsession of crime and punishment. 

   Trump was known for his outreach to Republican voting evangelicals, due to their proud support for him aligned with their belief of dogma. Trump then would repeatedly denounce the Islamic religion, claiming it to be backwards and filled with terrorists. He supported Christianity as a key focus in his presidency, which couples with the idea of intertwining government and religion. Not to mention claims of elections being fraudulent. The 2020 election cycle is a glaring example of claims of voter fraud and unfair elections.
  American House of Representatives member Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, Georgia) applies one of the most famous parts of fascist ideology: the use of scapegoats for a nation’s problems as a unifying cause. She consistently uses Islamophobic remarks claiming Muslims as terrorists, and even commenting on fellow members of congress. She went as far as calling the election of house members such as Ilhan Omar (D, Minnesota), “an Islamic invasion of our government.”

   Adolph Hitler’s blaming of Jews for Germany’s financial and political issues after World War I, just may be one of the most infamous examples of Fascist leaders’ scapegoats. He wrote his book, Mein Kampf, while imprisoned in Bavaria for an attempted coup. The book highlighted his anti-semetic views and blamed the Jewish people for Germany’s problems. 

   Using scapegoats, Hitler rallied his people around the fear from the death and tragedy of World War I, and found someone for the people to put blame on for their problems. It wasn’t a solution, but that hate created a strong, nationalist base for him to draw his power from. 

   Sound familiar? Donald Trump rose to power in the Republican party by using scapegoats. His most prominently used scapegoat is Mexicans and migrants on the Southern border. 

   “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Trump said in his campaign announcement speech.  

   Just for reference, Trump’s iconic slogan, “Make America Great Again,” shares an interesting similarity to Hitler’s common speech theme of, “making Germany great again”. Both leaders used the rallying cry for their bases, and both intended it as a promise. 

   Fascism always incorporates the need for supremacy of the military. If you look at Blue Lives Matter, you might see a movement around supporting law enforcement and public security. If you look deeper, you can see the underlying Fascist nature that is the notion of Blue Lives Matter. 

   Hitler’s Schutzstaffel (SS) was a nationalized police force that was given the power to take and kill people if they did not support government ideals, or in the case of Jews, simply being Jewish. They acted as Hitler’s own private military. Police departments in America are already militarized to a point where they can easily crack down on freedom of speech, and other personal freedoms of American citizens. 

   If we keep militarizing police, providing greater funding, and giving them more power, how long until America has its own SS? America is at the point where not complying with police can lead to death.

   America has what it needs to become a fascist nation. You must identify the warnings. You should be scared of how attached American politics has become to Fascist ideology. 

   You should be terrified. 

   Various European nations have had the same warning flags as us, but failed to recognize them. We refuse to acknowledge these cautionary points time and time again. They are nothing new to the U.S. 

   Madison Square Garden, a hub for sports in New York, and a revered music venue, is packed to the brim. The arena erupts in a thunderous roar. This is no basketball game or concert, however. 

   Men and women cram into the venue, some dressed in Nazi storm trooper outfits, others with Swastika armbands. In the front by the stage is a flag of George Washington hung between American and Nazi flags. Racist signs and banners hang in the arena, with some dotted in the hands of those in the crowd. 

   This cannot be in America right? 

   You are dead wrong. 

   The year was 1939, just months before the Nazi invasion of Poland that kick started World War II. 20,000 Americans, dressed in Nazi insignias and attire, packed Madison Square Garden, heralding the fascist ideology and its rhetoric. You can look and see the rally was nearly 100 years ago. This cannot describe America today? 

   Charlottesville, Virginia. 2017. The Unite the Right Rally. 

   Thousands of fascist and right wing supporters flooded the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Chants of hatred against those of the Jewish faith, innumerable racist remarks and violent calls to action echoed for days. 

   Fascist marchers screamed, “you will not replace us, Jews will not replace us,” blatantly touting their anti-semetic views. 

   Another common chant heard was,“blood and soil,” a translation from the Nazi Germany chant, “blut and boden.” The chant was often related to Hitler’s call to gain lebensraum (“living-space”) and expel unwanted people from German lands, most often Jews. 

   The chaos ended with one counter-protester being run over by a right-wing supporter, killing them and injuring various others. 

   January 6th, 2021. Washington D.C.. Armed protesters march on the capitol under then President Trump’s call. They claimed the election to be fraudulent, and demanded power be handed to Trump again. 

   You could look at what happened and draw immediate connection to the march of the Blackshirts (armed fascist supporters) in Rome in 1922 under Benito Mussolini, where he beckoned his supporters to march on the Italian capital and demand he be installed as the country’s prime minister. Under threat of violence, the King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, had no choice but to crumble to Mussolini. 

   The evidence is there. The flags, the sayings, the use of power and influence to gain more power are all in play. The incorporation of the key tenants that led to fascist uprisings in Italy and Germany can be seen daily. 

   The US is dabbling in the fire starters of fascism. The ideology has what it needs to take control. If you’re not afraid, it’s just a matter of time.