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On ‘A Brief History of Fascist Lies’ and its current relevance

In July of 2018 Donald Trump said, “Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” In other words, whatever the fake news media is saying about me is a lie. And the adoring crowd at his rally goes wild.

Federico Finchelstein
Federico Finchelstein
When a reporter asks a question he doesn’t like, Trump routinely replies: “You’re fake news,”  to make the news go away simply by asserting it’s fake, without any facts or evidence.

That what-you’re-seeing is-not-what’s-happening quote at the top appears on page 1 of a new book titled “A Brief History of Fascist Lies,” by Federico Finchelstein, chair of the history department at the New School for Social Research.

Finchelstein specializes in the history of fascism.

In the opening of the book, the Trump quote from 2018 is paired with two other quotes by two of the most famous and most dangerous liars of the previous century. They were:

Adolf Hitler, who said (in the group of quotes): “A struggle between the truth and a lie is taking place. As always, the truth will emerge victorious.” Like Trump, what Hitler meant was that what he said was the truth, and what others said were lies.

And the other quote from Finchelstein’s page 1 is from Benito Mussolini, who said: “You must believe me because I have the habit – it is the system of my life — of always and everywhere telling the truth.”

Hitler and Mussolini, the two most famous fascists of their time, came to power without getting the majority of the vote until after they were in office (as did Trump, nor even a plurality) and their leadership ended badly for their countries.

I need to add quickly and clearly that I am not literally calling Trump a fascist. Nor, I gather, is Finchelstein, who grew up in Argentina and lived under the quasi-fascist dictator Juan Peron.

Being a historian with Ivy League credentials who specializes in the history of fascism gives Finchelstein some expertise in the matters above. And he is, rather obviously, troubled by certain similarities between Trump’s methods (including lying frequently while always claiming to be telling the truth) and those of Hitler and Mussolini.

“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening” symbolizes one of Trump’s tricks, part of which is to condition his followers to not only believes his lies, but to disbelieve whatever they might see, read or hear that questions what he has said.

Trump, if you haven’t noticed, is in the habit of using what Kellyanne Conway once categorized as “alternative facts” to sell his soap. Not “lies.” Just “alternative facts,” many of which are actually falsehoods, in other words lies.

“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening” comes dangerously close to this: “The facts are lies, and my lies are the truth.”

In the happy stories on which we were raised, such people eventually get caught in their lies and lose their following. But does that always happen, and how far down the road to perdition do we get before we, or at least enough of us to remove the liar from power, stop believing that that happy ending is possible?

I’m quite comfortable calling Trump a liar of colossal proportions. But this column makes me slightly fearful of running afoul of “Godwin’s Law.” So I spent a little Google time to see how others dealt with the boundary issues. I found this is in a 2017 column by New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who handled it deftly:

Trump is no Hitler, but the way he has manipulated the American people with outrageous lies, stacked one on top of the other, has an eerie historical resonance. Demagogy has a fixed design. …

Trump has found a way to couch the lies so that people believe they don’t emanate from him but pass through him. He is not a producer but a projector.

One way he does this is by using caveats — “I was told,” “Lots of people are saying” — as shields.

Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post addressed this in June 2016, writing about Trump’s use of the phrase “a lot of people are saying”:

“Trump frequently couches his most controversial comments this way, which allows him to share a controversial idea, piece of tabloid gossip or conspiracy theory without technically embracing it. If the comment turns out to be popular, Trump will often drop the distancing qualifier — ‘people think’ or ‘some say.’ If the opposite happens, Trump can claim that he never said the thing he is accused of saying, equating it to retweeting someone else’s thoughts on Twitter.”

The full Charles Blow column is here.

The full Finchelstein book is very brief (barely 100 pages) and deals with Trump appearing in the Introduction. Finchelstein then spends the bulk of book describing the relationship between lying and fascism in previous periods and other countries.

Then the epilogue, which is pretty much about Trump and Trumpism, emphasizes Trump’s utter disregard for factual accuracy or truth and his heavy reliance on lying without ever saying that this makes Trump a fascist.

If Finchelstein’s take interests you, I should tell you that I stumbled on him and his book via an online event that I, in my search for things to write about while social distancing, recently watched in which Finchelstein was interviewed by the editor of the University of California Press, which published “A Brief History of Fascist Lies.”

The interview is only 13 minutes long. The California Press guy who conducts the interview starts it out by saying: “I would prefer your book to be less relevant to the world we’re living in today, but that’s not the world we’re living in right now.”

The interview is viewable here:

Comments (52)

  1. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 05/01/2020 - 10:51 am.

    “I need to add quickly and clearly that I am not literally calling Trump a fascist.” E. B.

    That is one name you have not used – yet?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/01/2020 - 11:09 am.

      Trump hasn’t been seen carrying a bundle of sticks (fasces) — yet.
      But there are uncomfortable parallels.
      Let’s hope that he is stopped before he reaches the point of 19th and 20th century Fascism.
      Takes us back to Ben Franklin.
      When asked ‘What do we have, a republic or a monarchy?’
      Franklin replied, ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’

      • Submitted by Richard Steuland on 05/02/2020 - 01:54 am.

        People have not been actively watching just who and what has spent over 40 years to capture power. Extremists with Bronze Age understanding and an agenda that is not favorable to lovers of Liberty. I’m talking about Christian extremeists. Truly those that have much more evolution ahead of them. Trump and his fellow Republicans use these ridged types but do not take the. Seriously except to mouth platitudes when their numbers help. I have great hope for the comming generations because they largely reject religious politics. We will always have extremists but the numbers declining help keep them in check.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/01/2020 - 11:09 am.

      The key point, putting Mussolini, Hitler and fascism aside, is:

      Would you dispute that Trump has more trouble with truthfulness than his predecessors?

      And a distinct lack of truthfulness is a problem for an individual as influential as the POTUS?

      The inability of Trump supporters to come to grips, or even address these questions, is what enables him.

  2. Submitted by Mike Chrun on 05/01/2020 - 11:12 am.

    What’s amazing is that now there are countless snippets of video and recordings of Trump saying something dishonest not to mention absurd, dangerous, racist, stupid, etc. etc. and he literally denies saying that hours and even minutes later. Yet, it matters not to the cult.

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/01/2020 - 12:19 pm.

      In a comment earlier this week, an argument was made that if the speaker does not know/believe the statement to be untrue, it is not a lie. Similarly, I suppose, if the speaker does not recall an earlier misstatement, denying having said it would also not be untrue?

      It is unbelievable how low the standards have fallen.

    • Submitted by John Evans on 05/01/2020 - 01:53 pm.

      The problem is not that “it matters not to the cult.” The cult is not huge or particularly influential. A much greater problem is the press.

      Major media outlets continue to give Trump more free, direct, unfiltered, un-contextualized airtime than any other president.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/01/2020 - 05:47 pm.

      I think Don Trump’s lies do matter to the cult. They love the lies, it’s a way of own the libs & driving them crazy.

  3. Submitted by Alan Straka on 05/01/2020 - 11:20 am.

    Fascists don’t have a corner on the market for lies. Both ends of the political spectrum use lies to advance their agenda. Authoritarians are all basically the same regardless of their purported philosophy. For them it is all about power. Hitler was an execrable human being but Stalin was no less so. Trump is horrible but then so are Maduro, Diaz-Canel, Ortega, Xi, Kim, etc.
    I hope Trump is an aberration in American politics and now that he is exposed as a would-be tyrant will be gone after the next election.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/01/2020 - 12:09 pm.

      There is no excuse too feeble for a “both sides do it” argument, is there?

      • Submitted by Kurt Anderson on 05/01/2020 - 02:59 pm.

        I think Mr. Straka is more than justified in the additions he makes to the list. I once heard a comment that the political “spectrum” is more like a horse shoe – the extremes approach each other.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/01/2020 - 03:55 pm.

          Sorry, but I don’t see the point in making a list in the first place. The article was about Donald Trump who – G*d help us – is the President of the United States. Adding in the names of foreign dictators to complete a parade of horribles is deflecting attention from the point that, in any sane version of a representative democracy, Trump would not be the President.

      • Submitted by Alan Straka on 05/04/2020 - 01:49 pm.

        I don’t disagree with your sentiment. I was not trying to say it is okay because both sides do it. I was arguing against extremism on both ends of the spectrum. That kind of behavior is wrong no matter who is doing it.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/01/2020 - 04:42 pm.

      The political continuum is defined by where power resides. The Right pole is all power in one individual. The left pole is all power exercised by the consensus of the polity. Authoritarianism is by definition near to the Right pole. Leftist authoritarianism is a contradiction in terms.

      A similar contradiction is to speak of authoritarian “lies.” The concept of a lie has meaning only under a theory of democratic speech that rests on facts, reasons and mutual respect in discourse. Authoritarian speech is about the exercise of power to achieve ends. Whether a statement comports with reality is irrelevant, the only question is whether it advances one’s ends. The inability of the mainstream media and others to make this distinction is a chief reason why they don’t know how to deal with the fact that the speech of Trump and the Republican party is unconcerned with reality, and why they principally serve to advance the authoritarianism of the Right.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/01/2020 - 05:50 pm.

      Don Trump is not an authoritarian.

      In the current pandemic, the bone spurs-afflicted leader has not tried to seize more power. He’s done the opposite, putting it all on the states.

      If the Dear Leader were an authoritarian, he’d have been consolidating his power for the past three months.

      • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/01/2020 - 08:58 pm.

        Trump is not an anything in political terms, because politics concerns the relation of people to each other, and Trump is not aware of other people, at least as people. However, the way he is compelled to act in pursuit of his own absent ego is compatible with his being used to advance the aims of the authoritarians who surround him.

      • Submitted by T.W. Day on 05/02/2020 - 06:30 am.

        So firing the congressional oversight director, the head of the FBI, hoarding national emergency supplies and using it as leverage against states he doesn’t like, and the miles long list of administration corruption and criminal behavior doesn’t amount to having “tried to seize more power?” I think he is obsessed with power and authority, he just avoids responsibility.

        The quality of the discourse here is really encouraging. I’d about decided that the US had inbred itself into an anti-intellectual pigsty that has no hope of surviving Trump or whatever comes next.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/03/2020 - 03:20 pm.

          So firing the congressional oversight director, the head of the FBI, hoarding national emergency supplies and using it as leverage against states he doesn’t like, and the miles long list of administration corruption and criminal behavior doesn’t amount to having “tried to seize more power?” I think he is obsessed with power and authority, he just avoids responsibility.

          The quality of the discourse here is really encouraging. I’d about decided that the US had inbred itself into an anti-intellectual pigsty that has no hope of surviving Trump or whatever comes next.

          Nope, Don Trump does not want more power. If he did, he’s letting this crisis go to waste. He keeps pushing authority down to the states.

          Don Trump is vindictive & petty. He wants credit for any successes, like the Obama stock market rally. He deflects blame for any failures. But he’s terrified of power & accountability. That’s why he fires any IG he can. Not because he wants more power, he just doesn’t want accountability. It’s also why he loves to delegate decision making to others.

          When the GOP took over in 2017, did Don Trump take the bull by the horns & tell the GOP Senate & House leadership how healthcare reform would look? No. He told them, “You figure it out & I’ll sign it.” He’s lazy, too lazy to read a book, and he isn’t interested in details.

          Don Trump is a lot of bad things. Being an authoritarian is not among them.

  4. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/01/2020 - 01:22 pm.

    Fascism is an elusive creature to define, partly because it is such an incoherent doctrine.

    All fascists are authoritarians, but not all authoritarians are fascists. Trump has authoritarian tendencies, but I don’t think he has either the knowledge or the focus to be a real fascist. Looking through one of the better definitions of fascism, Umberto Eco’s list of fourteen traits of “Ur Fascism,” Trump comes up wanting in a few significant ones. For example, I don’t think Trump has rejected modernism, because there are too many aspects of the contemporary world he relies upon (Twitter and fast food, to name two) for him to reject. He also has not established or latched on to a cult of tradition, because tradition would mean following, at least in theory, some rules.

    On the other hand, Trump’s contempt for, and hostility towards disagreement is definitely of a piece with fascism, as is his appeal to social frustration, and the strong current that fears difference. His frequent use of “weak” to describe anyone who crosses him is, likewise, a fascist trait.

    What is preventing our slide into fascism right now is that a majority of Americans oppose Trump, and have opposed him all along. Dictators who have imposed fascist regimes may not have had electoral majorities at first, but still did not face serious popular opposition. The better angels of our nature may save us yet.

  5. Submitted by Alan Nilsson on 05/01/2020 - 03:04 pm.

    Biden, unlike Trump, has lied primarily about his past political stands in order to further his own political career. His stances regarding the invasion of Iraq, promoting social security cuts, supporting the banking and creditor sectors vis-a-vis consumer debt; These are all of public record and yet he denies them. From the left-of-center Counter Punch magazine:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2020/05/01/if-trump-is-a-pathological-liar-what-type-of-liar-is-biden/

    Why has the CDC set the stage for another four years of Trump?

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/02/2020 - 08:58 pm.

      40 Years in the Senate put almost all on every side of every issue over time

      Horse trading votes to get what you want is the order of the day

      Biden should get no credit for what he claims or blame for what he denies

  6. Submitted by Alan Nilsson on 05/01/2020 - 03:21 pm.

    Oj,
    DCC , CDC. Perhaps we can construct a conspiracy theory which will explain the similarity.

  7. Submitted by Dennis Barrett on 05/02/2020 - 09:43 am.

    Mr. Black: I can honestly say, and this is totally honest from a Republican, that your problems with Trump would be completely solved had “this” not happened. If “you” are a completely honest democrat you will invest some energy into reading this: (Why Putin Hates Hillary-Politico) If not for this event and it’s results, I’m convinced your problems with Trump would be long ago solved.

  8. Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 05/02/2020 - 10:13 am.

    From this article and the ensuing comments, it is again clear that too many neither understand Trump nor those who voted for him. This article parallels Trump with Hitler who tortured and brutally killed millions. It also parallels Trump with fascism which is one-party dictatorship. Sounds more like chicken little than a logical progression.

    Such obtuse comparisons are so commonplace they hardly stand out anymore. But while these articles seem innocuous, many centrists balk at how extreme the left takes the discussion and end up voting for Trump.

    Articles like this sell. And they get Trump reelected. A win-win situation.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/04/2020 - 07:59 am.

      Sorry, Ray, but this comment forces me to question your reading comprehension, since Mr Black clearly states that he “is not literally calling Trump a fascist”, and (approvingly) quotes Mr Blow, who directly says “Trump is no Hitler”. So your use of the word “parallels” is doing quite a bit of work here.

      And of course you don’t make any attempt dispute the professor’s main point, which is the extreme disdain for truthful pronouncements and dialogue by both traditional fascists and Trump. Because no one can.

      But for some reason you (as a claimed centrist?) are more comfortable with actual extremism by the American right than (possible) rhetorical extremism by the American left. Why is that? (Of course, we’ll leave to one side the incredible slanders and invective that “President” Trump throws at his Dem opponents…)

  9. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 05/02/2020 - 12:50 pm.

    According to the Wikipedia entry link: “The invocation of Godwin’s Law is usually done by an individual that is losing the argument.”

    I don’t think Godwin’s Law disqualifies comparisons between Trump and Hitler or the GOP to the Nazi Party or fascism to make a truthful point about the refusal of people to admit the truth and the facts about evil as it develops and grows in plain sight before their eyes. Many of us are incredulous that seemingly reasonable, functioning adult Americans remain enthralled by this President as he unleashes a torrent of obvious, provable lies on a daily basis. As Eric says: “. . . how far down the road to perdition do we get before we, or at least enough of us to remove the liar from power, stop believing that that happy ending is possible?”

    But let’s agree: Trump is not Hitler. Hitler was after all seen as a competent and effective dictator (before WWII) which made him very popular in Germany and even in the US as a leader who was effective in “making the trains run on time.” Trump and I would say the GOP exhibit some of the same evil tendencies as fascism or Nazism or Stalinism, such as scapegoating the least powerful to expand their power while cultivating a following of nihilistic true believers. I think that’s what modern “movement conservatism” and the GOP have in common with fascism, Stalinism or Nazism.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/03/2020 - 06:00 pm.

      Hitler was one of many right-wing nationalist politicians in Germany. he was able to out-maneuver his rivals to consolidate his power.

      Trump on policy is a hopeless muddle. He has seized on the conservative agenda because it’s what happens to be the thing to propel him to fame (fame being more important than power). He owes his success not to deft machinations but to bombast.

  10. Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/03/2020 - 09:21 am.

    Creating a polluted environment of constant political lying is just one element of the condition of fascism, but it is an important one, and certainly the perpetual disinformation, false information and direct lying is one of the most defining elements/characteristics of Trump and Trumpism.

    But I would only note that this sort of political lying has been a mainstay of the conservative movement and its candidates for decades now, and, with the advent of social media, it is only getting worse. In 2012, Romney ran the greatest campaign of lies in history until Trump’s campaign in 2016. That campaign will be the greatest campaign of suffocating lies until Trump/Pence 2020. We can now expect there will be no end to the progression, unless the electorate somehow decides to politically annihilate this longstanding movement of lies.

    We’ll leave the how close American conservatism is to “traditional” fascism for another day, but let’s remember that having to say “Trump is not Hitler” is not high praise, nor very reassuring…

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/03/2020 - 10:01 am.

    Yes, those of us who were paying attention noticed way back in 2015 and 2016 that historians assured us that Trump is no Fascist… they were wrong- Trump is a Fascist. Obviously some people have more trouble accepting the fact of Trump’s Fascism than others, and the reasons for that are a wholenuther discussion, but we all flirt with disaster when deny the Fascism in our midst.

    The mistake historians and academics like Finchlestein (and others) make when they fail to recognize Trump’s Fascism is that they expect an American Fascist emerging from an election in a liberal democracy in 21st century to look like Hitler or Mussolini. That’s a facile expectation. Basically historians are blinded by their own historical tunnel vision.

    The question isn’t whether or not Hitler or Mussolini were Fascists, and the question isn’t to what degree Trump resembles Hitler or Mussolini. The question is Whether or not Trump and his fellow Republicans will or would tear up our Constitution and establish a totalitarian regime based on their dictatorial impulses. If you doubt for one second that Trump would tear up the US Constitution if he could, and that his “Party” would support that action, you simply haven’t been attention.

    We have to remember, this isn’t an academic exercise, this is physical reality, Trump is an actual US President, and the Republican Party that supports him unconditionally is the only other REAL political Party we have in the US. Trying to find some other definition for Trump other than Fascist might be an interesting academic game, but to the extent that it obscures the nature of our crises it’s probably nudge in the direction of collective suicide.

  12. Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/04/2020 - 06:37 am.

    Really?

    This is an example of why people don’t take the left seriously. It’s like a silly cartoon which mocks the teacher, being passed between kids in grade school.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/04/2020 - 07:44 am.

      Pretty weak refutation, Jim…

      Thank goodness for Godwin’s Law, eh?

      • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/04/2020 - 08:02 am.

        How does one refute children behaving badly BK? Somehow, I don’t think a stern lecture followed by a time out will do the trick in this case. Godwin’s law is as good as anything I guess.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/04/2020 - 08:49 am.

          “How does one refute children behaving badly BK?”

          We deny their ringleader a second term in the White House. Technically, that’s not a “refutation,” but it will have to do.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/04/2020 - 08:39 am.

      Thank you Tim. One additional feature that Trump (who has said himself that his mentality hasn’t changed since he was 11 years old) doesn’t share with Hitler or Mussolini is a degree of sophistication and intellect. In the end history may record that America dodged the Fascist bullet because our first big Fascist was simply too big of a buffoon to stay in power. Maybe historians will record that rather being a Fascist Trump was just a poorly behaved “child” who wandered around the White House having tantrums.

      The weird thing is his ability to promote childish tantrums by so many others… have you seen those folks protesting the pandemic response all over the country? Somebody parents parents failed them big time eh?

      • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/04/2020 - 09:45 am.

        Trump’s thin skin certainly evokes childish responses from him to slights.

        But the protests are a reasonable response I think. Evidently you are not in a tough financial position, and I’m glad for you, but lost of people are losing everything they’ve worked for.

        Savings and retirement accounts are being emptied, and many can see foreclosure and re-possessions in their future.The reaction isn’t due to a viral epidemic; I think most people understand these things have always happened, and always will, it’s because the government’s response is seen as ham-handed.

        Healthy, working age people are ready to get back to work. We’ve seen the statistics, some (like me) have actually had this virus, we understand the risks and don’t see financial ruin as the lesser of 2 evils. Governors like the one in Michigan are not making things better, either.

        I do agree that the knuckle heads that show up to these protests with rifles are not impressing anyone with their intelligence. Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should do it.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/04/2020 - 02:24 pm.

          The protests are not very reasonable. We’re all quite aware of the economic impacts the shut down has on livelihoods… but some of us are also aware of the impact that death and dying has on a persons livelihood as well.

          Do any of these people really think that their business, IRA’s, and salaries would all be thriving if 3 times as many people were dying and sick? The “opening” these people are demanding would just trigger another lock-down and prolong the one we already have.

          Everyone is looking for a way to get things open again, but some of us want to do it as intelligently as possible while others seem to think that economic panic is the best policy.

          By the way, this idea that’s floating around Republicans circles that the only people who need to be worried are old people in their 80’s is as ignorant as it is immoral. I can explain that if somebody wants but frankly, if you need me to explain it you shouldn’t be making any policy demands.

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/04/2020 - 08:46 am.

      I think the only people who don’t take the left seriously are the same ones who don’t find the President’s lies troubling.

      • Submitted by Jim Tingsdale on 05/04/2020 - 09:15 am.

        On the contrary, Brian. Trump is Hitler screeds are every bit as cringe worthy as the worst of Trump’s silly denials and deflections.

        The fact is, the left’s unhinged reaction is the reason many people don’t pay attention to Trump’s gaffes, and I think he’s completely aware of that.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/04/2020 - 11:10 am.

          Trump is not Hitler. He is Moe Hailstone, an incapable bungler who has somehow been thrust into a position of great power.

          Moe was funnier, of course, because he was a fictional character and had no actual power.

        • Submitted by ian wade on 05/04/2020 - 03:42 pm.

          Look at this list and tell me how many Trump has not engaged in.

          Powerful and continuing nationalism
          Disdain for human rights
          Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
          Supremacy of the military
          Rampant sexism
          Controlled mass media
          Obsession with national security
          Religion and government intertwined
          Corporate power protected
          Labor [sic] power suppressed
          Disdain for intellectuals & the arts
          Obsession with crime & punishment
          Rampant cronyism & corruption
          Fraudulent elections

        • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/04/2020 - 08:08 pm.

          I’ve looked thru all of the comments, and I don’t see a single statement that Trump is Hitler. Nor is a calm observation, made against a well-worked-out analytical frame of authoritarianism, “unhinged” just because it concludes something deeply troubling about the state of our society or the capacity of humans – as leaders or supporters – to be truly monstrous. Instead of skirting substance with tendentious terms such as “screed,” “unhinged” and “gaffe,” you might attempt a reasoned argument that the Republican party has not followed an authoritarian path for the past 50 years, or that it is not destroying norms and institutions of a free society as determinedly as it is able. Certainly among our thinkers and pundits in the acceptable channels of public discourse , I’ve not seen the argument attempted. The terrain of reasoned argument is not where the Right wishes to engage.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/04/2020 - 08:22 am.

    I guess I have to come back and say that the academic resistance to classifying Trump as a Fascist has always kind of surprised me. Beyond simplistic attempts at taxonomy haven’t we always known that unlike Hitler or Mussolini American Fascism would arrive wrapped in our flag and waving a bible? So American Fascism arrives and our historians tell us he’s not a Fascist because he doesn’t look Hitler or Mussolini? Someone didn’t get them memo.

  14. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/04/2020 - 08:46 am.

    Any implication that Trump understands anything about history and has any deep seated political philosophies is a total falsity.

    He simply bumps along from day to day, following his latest “gut instinct”. If he took daddy’s million and gave it to Charles Schwab he would be richer far richer than he is.

    He is, though, the “Rainman” of self promotion. A true idiot savant of brand awareness:

    idiot savant, id-ee-uh t sa-vahnt,

    A mentally defective person with an exceptional skill or talent in a special field, as a highly developed ability to play music or to solve complex mathematical problems mentally at great speed.

  15. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/04/2020 - 10:15 am.

    A description of Donald Trump, “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, Fox “News,” and, sadly, the latest iteration of the Republican Party:

    “The really dangerous American fascist…is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

    They claim to be superpatriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjugation.”
    …Henry Wallace, The New York Times, April 9, 1944

    That Mr. Wallace fell out of public favor after WW 2, chiefly for supporting a foreign policy sympathetic to the Soviet Union – which he later publicly admitted was a practical and ideological mistake – doesn’t negate the accuracy of much of his judgment above.

    Trump hugging an American flag does NOT make him a patriot in any real-world sense of the word. Neither does waving a large American flag while carrying your AR-15 to a “protest” march in the Michigan capitol building that’s been funded, at least in part, by some of the same right wing trolls Mr. Wallace was talking about generations ago. “Moscow Mitch” is merely licking the President’s… um… boots because he’s an opportunist who likes the perks and power that go with being the Senate majority leader. Mike Pence will, in future decades, come to symbolize “sycophant” in new and unsavory ways, and “Fox News,” if we’re lucky, will be widely recognized for what it is – a right-wing propaganda network only incidentally interested in presenting actual news, financed by a network of wealthy neofascist trolls.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/04/2020 - 09:29 pm.

      Good way to present it Ray. Many of us can see it for what it is, but to define it with a twist of the 14 points of Fascism is illuminating, well thought out.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/05/2020 - 08:35 am.

      Those same Michigan gun toters should be bringing their march to the White House front gate.

      Only a few weeks ago Trump told us he had the ultimate authority to reopen when and where he wanted. Of course, the next day he retracted all of that, AKA: chickened out, because taking responsibility for such as decision would entail accountability and for Trump responsibility and accountability are to be avoided at all costs.

      Yet, the Trumpian gun toters are happy to march around the Michigan state capital seemingly clueless that their man is, if he wanted to be as he told us he could be, the final authority on reopening.

      A lot easier for these guys to attack a Democratic, female governor than their idol…

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/05/2020 - 03:33 pm.

        “Those same Michigan gun toters should be bringing their march to the White House front gate.”

        A friend of mine posted a reference today to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Address. There was a passage in there that seems pertinent to Trump, lies, and armed goobers stalking the halls of state capitols:

        But let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle. At its birth violence acts openly and even with pride. But no sooner does it become strong, firmly established, than it senses the rarefaction of the air around it and it cannot continue to exist without descending into a fog of lies, clothing them in sweet talk. It does not always, not necessarily, openly throttle the throat, more often it demands from its subjects only an oath of allegiance to falsehood, only complicity in falsehood.

  16. Submitted by Carl Brookins on 05/08/2020 - 12:53 pm.

    I am listening to the President right now, using the exact phrases “somebody told me” and “they say”. The problem is not, however, that the media reports what he says. The problem is that too many people believe him simply because he IS the Pesident.

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