The stench of fascism

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Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

It’s no longer possible to ignore the stench of fascism. After a Trump worshipper attempted to assassinate numerous prominent targets of the president’s ire, historian Douglas Brinkley concluded on CNN that something was seriously wrong:

“It’s a kind of neo-fascism. And I don’t see any other way you can say it. They want to put down the press, destroy the Democratic Party and create a kind of Trump movement. The GOP is rudderless right now. It’s all Donald Trump.”

How much can you blame Trump for the actions of a deranged fan? He does express a sort of joking recreational cruelty about his political foes at his rallies that could be interpreted as encouraging violence. Is it surprising that a study found that “one in five perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump policy, or a Trump campaign slogan” between November 2016 and November 2017?

The Republicans had hoped their tax cuts would be popular with voters in the midterms. But polls showed that most Americans had turned against the law after they discovered that 80 percent of the law’s benefits went to the richest one percent of Americans.

In desperation, the Republicans have turned to fear and bigotry. In campaign TV ads, non-white Democratic candidates have been subjected to particularly vile attacks.

Trump and his minions in right-wing media have been focused on warning us of the brown hordes surging toward our southern border. They are stirring up hysteria about the caravan of destitute Central Americans walking hundreds of miles to seek food and safety for their families. The Trump administration is threatening to deny refugee status to all of the migrants. That would be a violation of America’s treaty obligations as required by the Convention Relating to the Status of Migrants, which is a United Nations Multilateral Treaty (1951, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1946), which the U.S. government helped to draft. Many migrants are seeking asylum because the communities from which they are fleeing are taken over by violence. The U.S. has laws that allow such refugees to seek asylum and we have a due process system for determining who is eligible.

These people are escaping dismal conditions significantly created by U.S. foreign policy. There’s the increased poverty and U.S. corporate domination as a result of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. There’s the social disintegration and violence coming after U.S. military intervention in wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s. There was the vicious decades-long dictatorship in Guatemala imposed by the CIA which overthrew a democratic government in 1954. There was the U.S. supporting a coup in Honduras in 2009.

Obviously, we could have a sensible discussion about how we deal with refugees and immigrants. We can’t admit all of the planet’s poor and persecuted. But Trump and the far right aren’t interested in such a discussion.

Meanwhile in Grand Junction, Trump supporters calling themselves the “Mesa County Deplorables” held a “Stop The Invasion” rally. Their news release proclaimed: “The phalanx marching up from Central America is a planned invasion — a liberal invasion — of our sovereign territory.”

On Denver’s right-wing KNUS (AM 710) talk radio station, host Peter Boyles hyperventilated:

“There is a method to this madness, and this is my personal belief. They want a bloody confrontation, thinking it will hurt Trump. They, meaning progressives, libs, crazies, media, all of them. They want a showdown on the border. And my guarantee is that the Antifa people will show up, the open-borders idiots will show, the progressives will show… And there will be a battle for that border! And if Trump puts GIs on that border, you are really going to run a lot of risks, but it’s gonna happen. It’s gonna get nasty. And this is being funded from the outside. Don’t kid yourself that this isn’t concerted. It’s being done for and by purpose.”

Boyles later said Muslim jihadists are in the caravan. As usual, he didn’t provide any evidence.

This wild talk has consequences. Militia groups are preparing to go to the border. On Oct. 27, a man in Pittsburgh decided he needed to act right away. Robert Bowers was going to attack the real culprits — the Jews. He entered the Tree of Life synagogue with several weapons shouting, “All Jews must die!” He murdered 11 people and wounded six.

He hates the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). Just before the massacre, Bowers posted on the social network Gab, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Earlier, he posted: “Open you Eyes! It’s the filthy evil jews Bringing the Filthy evil Muslims into the Country!!”

HIAS is a global not-for-profit organization founded in 1881 to help Jews fleeing pogroms (organized massacres) in Russia and Eastern Europe. The group protects refugees of all kinds. It partners with the U.S. government to resettle refugees as part of the U.S. refugee admissions program.

HIAS has protested the Muslim ban and other Trump anti-immigrant policies, visited refugees in detention, and provided housing for Syrians and others fleeing persecution.

Bowers believes the migrant caravan is a part of a Jewish conspiracy. Maybe he got the idea from Fox News and various Republican politicians like Trump. They have been charging that George Soros, the liberal Jewish philanthropist, is the evil mastermind behind the caravan (along with Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March, the anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations and much more).

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.