On the Alt Right troll farm otherwise known as Breitbart, there is a truly amazing piece of fiction being run today as an "exclusive" that attempts to intellectualize Trump's blatant fascism.
Breitbart hired 89 year old Berkeley professor A. James Gregor to pen the extraordinary piece designed to defend Trump's white nationalism, titling it "The Myth of Trump's 'Fascism': Leading Professor Explains Trump’s Populism, Nationalism".
The meandering, unstructured piece is laced with academic sounding words like "discursive", "lexical", and "criterial" (most of which appear in the first paragraph), ostensibly to set it apart from the usual juvenile race baiting Breitbart engages in. It is also laughably stupid, and anyone who has been paying attention to politics in America for the past three years should be able to see straight through it.
"Uninhibited by reality, Trump’s opponents have chosen to attack the legitimacy of his presidency by charging him with “racism,” “homophobia,” “misogyny,” and the “promotion of violence.”" argues Gregor. "Perhaps the most outrageous charge against Trump’s populism is that it is “fascist.” No other word in the lexicon of contemporary politics evokes so emphatic a repugnance. It conjures up images of racial oppression and genocide, against a background of absolute dictatorship and unrelieved oppression."
It is extraordinary to hear someone describe Trump's opponents as being uninhibited by reality, but then this is the task of sites like Breitbart -- to convince their army of trolls that up is down, left is right, and Trump is a certified genius.
Gregor's piece is long, dry and largely pointless. Much of it is not worth going into in detail, but the crux of his argument can be found in the following paragraph about Trump:
He [Trump] has sought to reanimate the United States with a soft, or sentimental (if well-armed) nationalism. His populism depicts the nation as an admirable cultural and historic continuity—neither biological nor class-based. It finds its strength not in a particular ideology, but in traditional symbols—in its history, its flag and its national anthem. His is a relatively benign form of nationalism. He is not a statist. His nationalism is neither aggressive nor expansionist. He will use, or invoke, the threat of violence whenever he is convinced (at times perhaps incorrectly) that the security, territory, or citizens of the nation are in jeopardy. Unlike other nationalisms, that of Trump’s United States has no specific racial reference; it has no irredentist claims on the territory of others, nor does it seek to secure external “vital spaces” to supply it resources.
It is worth noting that Trump's 'soft', 'sentimental' nationalism consists of calling black run countries "shitholes", describing Neo Nazis "very fine people," threatening countries with "fire and fury" on Twitter, locking immigrant children in cages and separating them from the parents, calling black NFL players who kneel during the national anthem "sons of bitches", labeling the media "the enemy of the people," leading chants to lock up political opponents, and actively obstructing criminal investigations into his dealings with foreign dictators.
If this is 'sentimental' nationalism, then America really is in deep, deep trouble.
Gregor goes on to argue that Trump cannot be regarded as a fascist because there are term limits in the United States and he is not looking to become a dictator. "Fascists aspired to totalitarian control of their demanding developmental environment for an anticipated period measured in decades," he writes.
"Trump’s populism seeks to win the next election. Its time horizon is measured in months. Almost all its tangible effects will be transitory and almost entirely remediable by its successor. That anyone should find an instructive similarity between the two systems could only count as evidence of prejudgment."
For a history professor who supposedly specializes in totalitarianism, this is remarkably flippant. Trump fits the archetype of a fascist dictator almost perfectly, and just because he appears to be abiding by the rules of democracy early on in his presidency does not mean he will continue to do so. Men like Donald Trump do not give up power once they have attained it, and as most sensible historian have concluded, he presents a mortal threat to American democracy.
As Andrew Sullivan noted in his terrifying essay back in May of 2016, "He [Trump] is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event."
Citing Plato, Sullivan argued that Trump's rise to power echoes other strongmen throughout history. This passage is particularly telling:
The longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.”...... when everyone is equal; when elites are despised and full license is established to do “whatever one wants,” you arrive at what might be called late-stage democracy. There is no kowtowing to authority here, let alone to political experience or expertise.
The very rich come under attack, as inequality becomes increasingly intolerable. Patriarchy is also dismantled: “We almost forgot to mention the extent of the law of equality and of freedom in the relations of women with men and men with women.” Family hierarchies are inverted: “A father habituates himself to be like his child and fear his sons, and a son habituates himself to be like his father and to have no shame before or fear of his parents.” In classrooms, “as the teacher ... is frightened of the pupils and fawns on them, so the students make light of their teachers.” Animals are regarded as equal to humans; the rich mingle freely with the poor in the streets and try to blend in. The foreigner is equal to the citizen.
And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.
To ignore these warning signs when it comes to Trump is not just intellectually indefensible, but tantamount to being complicit with his agenda. Gregor should be deeply ashamed of his piece.
It is telling that Breitbart published this garbage on the eve before the midterms. It is a desperate attempt to justify what they and everyone else who have enabled this president instinctively understand -- that America is in the middle of a fascist coup. The midterms present the country's last chance to stop it, and if responsible citizens do not come out in droves to elect Democrats, we are going to see Trump's true vision for the country materialize.
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