I know a group of teachers. Several are, individually, my friends. We laugh, we talk, we discuss arcana, we share alcohol, in other words we do the stuff that people who like each other’s company do. That’s individually. Yesterday they were a group. When I walked in the lady on my left turned to her left. The man to my right turned to his right. They had effectively turned their backs on me. The message, ‘you are not of us and thus must be shunned’ was clear. From Emperor Penguins, to chimps on the Savannah, to biker gangs to knitting circles, the urge to surround ourselves with our own is strong. I believe, and have stated often, that if we are to succeed as a species it is an urge we must overcome. Being proud of who and what you are need not come at the expense of others. And right now, proof of what I am saying is being writ large on the national stage. Worse, it has echoes of some very dangerous times.
In 1923 a guy named Adolph led a couple thousand men into a beer hall and demanded all sorts of stuff. The event, called the Beer Hall Putsch was such a dismal failure that dear old Adolph was the laughing stock of the country. He was derisively called “the little man” (which in German implicates the penis as well as the man sporting it) and was written off by the learned among the masses. Ten years later he was running the country and leading it into a world war.
In 2003 Dr. Lawrence Britt examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American dictatorships. He found 14 defining characteristics common to each. I have added commentary under each.
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
– All you need to know here is that the Tea Party is adamantly pro death sentences even in cases where the defendant is later proved innocent. Better safe than sorry is their motto.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
– Google Obama Muslim for all you need there.
4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
– This one gets a little murky since we seem to be fighting several wars at once. That being said, they were all started by a staunch conservative who disregarded facts.
5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
– All I need here is the phrase “transvaginal ultrasound.”
6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
– Hello Fox News
7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
– Hear anyone asking for a border closing lately? Of course you have.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed
to the government’s policies or actions.
– The minister who prayed that God would kill presidnet Obama now is demanding that all gay people be killed. No one really expects someone wielding a bible to actually have read it anymore.
9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
– Hello Koch Brothers.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
– Hello Michigan, Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama & Arizona.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
– Hello again Fox News.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
– Hello Sheriff Joe.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
– Hello Clarence Thomas.
14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
– Hello Florida circa 2000.
Dr. Britt was looking at history. I’m not.
Ignoring the name calling for a moment, the similarities are frightening.
Make no mistake the Nazi’s of old were never the majority. Even when Hitler rose to power the majority of Germans derisively kept calling him “little man.”
There is no singular leader for the Tea Party yet, despite what Ted Cruz thinks, so they’re just malformed blobs of hate. But that could change in a heartbeat. Like the Nazis the Tea Party is well funded by people who want unfettered access to power. Like the Nazis the Tea Party faithful will ignore anything that contradicts their world view, even when said contradiction is clearly proved. The Nazis had the Jews as scapegoats for all they deemed evil and the Tea Party has Muslims, but that seems to be the only difference.
They both enjoy gay bashing and hating anyone with darker skin. Which makes Clarence Thomas one very confusing man.
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