New Internationalist

Let’s stop pussyfooting. Trump’s presidency = fascism

Anti-Trump protesters in Oxford [Related Image]
We have to make a stand: anti-Trump demonstrators in Oxford after the announcement of Donald Trump's travel ban on citizens from seven mainly Muslim states. © Vanessa Baird

Among the chants that rang out as thousands took to the streets in anti-Trump marches in cities and towns across Britain on Monday night was: ‘This is what democracy looks like!’

Indeed. And it was heartening to be part of it. Even Oxford, not known for its febrile political culture, massed thousands in a speedy response to two things: President Donald Trump’s travel ban on all citizens from seven mainly Muslim states, and British Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise of a state visit (Queen, pomp and circumstance included) to the new US leader.

The 90-day travel ban, officially on the grounds of protecting Americans from terrorism, demonizes a specific group of people on the basis of race and religion and effectively calls open season on Muslims. It is also without logic. Syria, Iran and Iraq are among the countries included but not Saudi Arabia, which provided most of the bombers for 9/11 – still the biggest terrorist attack the US has ever suffered.

Over the weekend we witnessed the pain and suffering of people, many of them refugees, affected by the US president’s brutal and suddenly imposed executive order. That the chaotic order was made on Holocaust Day was not lost on many observers.

But we still seem reluctant to say, of the politics emerging from the White House, that: ‘This is what fascism looks like!’

Now trying to define fascism is a tricky and highly contentious activity. But a quick survey of around 20 different political and philosophical attempts to do so reveals that Donald Trump meets the criteria of a fascist leader (pudgy) hands down.

In the first few days of his presidency, the fascist rhetoric has turned into reality. The scapegoating and apocalyptic fearmongering that fuels fascism has not toned down with high office. Trump’s wish to bring back torture is a clear indication of repressive intent. The similarities with Nazi Germany in its early days are too chilling to ignore.

But if you use ‘fascist’ to describe Trump – or indeed any of the other nationalist leaders on the rise in Europe (including Britain) – you are likely to be accused of hyperbole.  

Part of the problem is that the word has been overused, especially by some on the Left, to insult anything they don’t like. But when you see an actual wolf in the henhouse, it’s necessary to cry out that this is what you are seeing – rather than quietly say that there’s a greyish-sort-of-a-dog about.

It may be semantics but what we call things matters. One of the most destructive effects of the machinery of fascism is that if you do not properly identify it and take a stand against it, you can easily become a part of it – especially if you do not, at this moment, belong to a group that is being targeted.

Those who lick the boots (let’s be polite) of fascists – say, in the quest of a post-Brexit trade deal, or to protect a ‘special relationship’ – need to have no illusions about what they are doing.

Identifying Trump as a fascist puts on the spot those who are doing his bidding, and gives due credit to those who follow their conscience and refuse to obey, as he makes his way through the list of targets – Muslims, women, sexual minorities – whose rights and freedoms are to be assailed.

Hitler was democratically elected. Say it three times, à la Trump. The trouble was not enough people, at the time, saw the monstrosity of his hate-fuelled politics and where they could lead. Not enough people took a stand at the time – or in time.

This is why immediacy and numbers matter – whatever the armchair cynics at the BBC say about the pointlessness of protest.

We need to be out there on the streets wherever in the world we live; clogging the system with our petitions; holding politicians, officials, corporations to account; agitating at every point and turn.

This is a critical moment in history. The good news is that we are alive to do something about it.

Here are some petitions:

Avaaz petition against Trump bigotry

Petition to UK Parliament to stop Trump state visit

Open Rights Group against UK passing bulk data to Trump’s administration

And a planned protest on 18 March in London.

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  1. #1 Penelope Sachs 02 Feb 17

    You are still being too cautious.Too intellectual. The right-wing who voted him in still love him.I don't read right-wing media. How can we expect them to read other than they wish to endorse their crazy views

  2. #2 Jamie Williams 05 Feb 17

    Protests through central London ARE a waste of time.

    Any protest where you have to register and ask permission, is not worth the energy!

    Any frustration with the system needs to be channelled into direct action.
    Politicians will listen if we are at their office.s

  3. #3 Williambtm 13 Feb 17

    Interesting how the mainstream media in America has been anti-Trump right from the beginning of the US President election, at the outset their media were pro the Clinton camp.
    This support from the mainstream media never abated, no matter to the Congressional hearings, no matter that through the American Secretary of State ISIS were being funded, sold weapons, even sold stinger missiles during Hillary Clinton's appointment as Secretary of State.
    Now the mainstream people never announced that Benghazi was an arms trading venue because America was broadcasting to its people that it was engaged in the war on ISIS.
    Ammbassador Stevens was the direct link in the chain back to America that knew the treason that was being engaged in, so Steven had to be silenced so not to return to America carry that information of back into the United States, thus he was thereby considered expendable by Hillary, so to the 3 security persons also.
    I had followed the congressional investigation of Hillary and her infamous emails hearings, then of the mysterious Hillary liaison in the time of the Libyan invasion with a person named Blumenthal, a type of war profiteer.
    It is no wonder the people of America voted Trump, this came about largely as this was the information flowing from Congress and was being published outside of the mainstream media. (MSM)
    In other words a cover-up by the msm.
    The Amrican administration at that same time were occasionally claiming some kind of advance against the enemy ISIS even though the American administration of the fuel oil sales from within Syria then transported by by road tanker across into Turkey and extracting enormous revenues in return. That was when Russia stepped in and began bombing and rocketing which took its toll on entire convoys of contra-oil being transhipped (a black-market oil sales program) unknown to the people outside the American administration and the Pentagon.
    The continuation of false/fake news by the MSM news publishers/broadcasters not unlike the methodology od America's CIA.
    Donal Trump was chosen by the American voters hoping to end the contagion of dishonest government, so please understand that a Clinton President would have continued the news fakery and false information being transmitted into the minds of the American people. It is my opinion that the MSM were also determinedly committing a treason upon the American people.
    America had began the declining spiral downhill from the time of the George Bush senior Presidency through to the end of the Obama Presidency. Donald Trump has now began to drain the poisonous reptile-infested Swamp of corrupt Federal and political individuals.
    Donald Trump has began his rebuilding of America as he had promised.

    You will be able to confirm my claims in this comment at your liesure while you continue to observe the World-wide media depiction Trump as the enemy of the World, for he has the information available and now the determination to clean up America.
    Please bear in mind I am no US citizen but I have been sharing their grief over their corrupted government administration that has continually held its hostile war creating invasions before my own time in South Vietnam.
    Soon you will read or hear of the Hillary Clinton arrest for her alleged connection with the MSM mostly suppressed hideous and reprehensible Pizzagate revelations.
    This particular information being the news from the non-MSM sources.
    Furthermore I have read the history of Bill Clinton from his school days in Arkansas up to his habit of seeking oral sex from whosoever submitted.
    Please, I do not mind if you choose not to publish my comment not being published.
    Thank you.
    Williambtm Australia.

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About the author

Vanessa Baird a New Internationalist contributor

Vanessa Baird lived and worked as a journalist in Peru during the tumultuous mid-1980s, and she maintains a passionate interest in South America. She joined New Internationalist as a co-editor in 1986 and since then has written on everything from migration, money, religion and equality to indigenous activism, climate change, feminism and global LGBT rights. She also edits the Mixed Media, arts and culture section of the magazine.

Vanessa’s books include The No-Nonsense Guide to World Population (2011), Sex, Love and Homophobia (2004), The Little Book of Big Ideas (2009) and, People First Economics (2010). In 2012 she won a prestigious Amnesty International Human Rights Media award.

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