COLUMN: From Here and Back Again

Jim Coufal

Fear and Anger, Part II  Fascism & Religion

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power.” Benito Mussolini, Fascist dictator of Italy
To start, a quick rehash of the 14 traits of fascism follows:
  1. Powerful, constant nationalism
  2. Disdain for Human Rights
  3. Creating enemies and scapegoats
  4. Supremacy of the military
  5. Widespread sexism
  6. Controlled mass media
  7. Obsession with national security
  8. Religion intertwined with government
  9. Corporate power is protected and enhanced
  10. Suppression of labor power
  11. Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
  14. Fraudulent elections
A quick review of some of what Trump and his minions have done and are doing should be easy to fit into the above traits. To start, as reported by the NY Times, “Trump’s political rise was built on a lie” (birtherism). He continues such lies as with the Russia investigation, and with the constant “I never said that,” or Sarah Huckabee’s clear lie that Trunp never promoted violence. The NY Times concluded that “He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant.”
I suggest that the unreality he creates is quite relevant, as with the simple acceptance of lying that has become widespread.
Trump’s atmosphere of lies is built around “…isms;” sexism, racism, anti-scientism, ethnic and others. His cabinet and executive appointees have been those who are the antithesis of what the department or agency stands for. His latest move is to nominate Sam Clovis to be the chief scientist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Clovis has no background in science or agriculture, denies climate change, and further has shown racism and homophobia.
Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education has no public school experience and has worked to destroy public education. Along with such appointments, Trump has issued orders to stifle communication from government scientists when their research doesn’t meet his beliefs, and such action has trickled down to Republican governors.
He has taken actions such as halting a mining health study and disbanding a climate health advisory panel. Why would he need one when his mind is made up: climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China (yes, he said it).
Trump has tried to make equivalency between peaceful citizens marching for diversity and human rights and white supremecists and neo-nazis. He denigrates judges who do not rule in his favor or who happen to be Hispanic. His budget includes huge increases for the military while cutting funding to education, the EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (forest fires, invasive species), the arts and humanities and others. At the same time, he proposes tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
These actions show up across the country through the increased number of hate crimes, through the Georgia cop who told a white woman he stopped not to worry because they only shoot blacks, through a mayoral candidate who asked people to vote for her because she was smart, Republican and white. And of course, through  Charlottesville. It’s too easy to forget that the people marching in Charlottesville weren’t, as Sarah Chapin reminded us in the NY Times Magazine, exotic. They were neighbors, colleagues, study buddies, drinking buddies, book club members and so on. And the racism, the Nazism, expressed there was not new, but similar to that of Nazi Germany. 
Trump’s policies are expressed as a specific kind of racism; that of Obama-ism. His executive orders and few true items meant to be worked through legislatively have been aimed at undoing anything Obama accomplished during his tenure; it is not a positive policy agenda, but one of negation. His election was widely attributed to dissatisfaction with economic conditions, which certainly played a part. But several studies have clearly shown the most influential factor was racism, which you don’t have to look far to find in his continued supporters.
He has lied to provoke fear of Iran, he has lied about the problems of voter fraud, even setting up a commission to investigate such non-existent fraud headed by a Republican leader of actions aimed at denying minority voting. His lies are not without consequences for America.
Finally, I apologize. Ending Part I,  I noted I would look more closely at the role of religion in all of the above, underestimating what space the above would take. Now I realize the will be the focus of Part III, to come. Here’s a teaser.  
White evangelical Protestants remain the dominant religious force in the GOP. More than one-third (35%) of all Republicans identify as white evangelical Protestant, a proportion that has remained roughly stable over the past decade. Roughly three-quarters (73%) of Republicans belong to a white Christian religious group. PPRI, 9/6/17.
Jim Coufal of Cazenovia is a part-time philosopher and full-time observer of global trends.

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