WASHINGTON – Is it premature to talk about fascism: that deadly brew of mutual self-righteousness become hatred, the concentration of wealth and political power, official arrogance and secrecy and militarism?
Many of these ingredients seem to be crawling up out of their manholes.
Last Thursday, President Trump sent up the white flag – for now. He suffered a humiliating defeat in his attempt to use children as bargaining chips in his lurid campaign to make America white again.
Instead of being chastened, Trump found someone new to hate. He flew to Duluth, Minn., that night for one of his pep rallies. There, he hurled borderline homophobic taunts at protesters.
His crowd responded by wildly chanting "USA, USA," while pumping their fists in the air. "Get him out-a-here," he growled at a protester.
This immigration crisis was, as so many will be to come, built on a falsehood, a lie.
Trump claimed repeatedly that it is the Democrats' fault. But it was on Trump's orders. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen created the "zero tolerance" policy for illegal immigrants, and weeks ago provided for the forced separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border, and their children's incarceration.
There are elements of terror built in. Detained parents do not know what has become of their children – many of them toddlers, and at edition time cannot find out. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the Trump administration created a children's hostel in his city without telling him. Conventional media are not allowed into these jails.
Trump's supporters are already conditioned to this frightening behavior. Media are not allowed to see this new level of pediatric incarceration because it is, of course, "fake."
The children and their grown-ups are the hated "other," like the despised European minorities of the 1930s. Our president has for months classified their kind as rapists, drug dealers and killers – and even falsely called the House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California a friend of the depraved MS-13 cult.
Developing African countries are labeled s---holes by our president.
He has openly undercut Germany's delicately balanced governing coalition by falsely claiming immigrants are fueling a crime wave.
With each outrage, the American public becomes ever more polarized and subject to manipulation by media of all persuasions, and cascading hate. Americans have no playbook with which to deal with these events.
Reasonable people back home shrink at comparisons to the collapse of the German Weimar Republic, the rise of the Italian Fascist blackshirts, and the fall of the Fourth Republic in France.
As in the election of 2016, Americans mainly yell at each other, then stop talking altogether.
Backstage, another contributor to our polarization is the role of money in politics. It has sapped much of the Democrats' will to fight.
The guilty party is the 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. To repeat, this made for unlimited secret campaign gifts and spending secret.
Democrats have learned to play the game. Liberal partisans, please read on.
The top donors for five of the six leading Democratic Senate 2018 incumbents are, according to Opensecrets.com, are "lawyers and law firms." One cannot find out what these "lawyers and law firms" want from these senators. The five, and their campaign treasuries, are:
Dianne Feinstein, Calif., $7 million; Chris Murphy, Conn., $7.7 million; Kirsten Gillibrand, N.Y., $10.5 million; Debbie Stabenow, Mich., $8.8 million, and Sherrod Brown, Ohio, $12.2 million. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer, N.Y., who is not running this year, has a treasury of $9.8 million.
To most of us, speaking about fascism in America is an absurdity. It can't happen here. One wants to see signs; proof. Yet those European democracies were not smashed in a matter of days. Not in many months, but over a course of years, when their legislatures surrendered their spines for money, populations became fearful and polarized and when nice societies traded in truth for outright lies.