Nel's New Day

June 2, 2020

(Pro)Fascism, Not ‘Fools’

After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) delivered his speech in the Rose Garden yesterday about sending the military against protesters throughout the United States without permission from the states, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) tweeted:

“The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens.”

Wyden is known for careful speech, and he didn’t use the F word carelessly. Before DDT’s election in 2016, John McNeill, professor of history, described characteristics of fascism: hyper-nationalism, militarism, glorification of violence, fetishization of masculinity, leader cult, lost-golden-age syndrome, purges of the disloyal, and theatricality. In this article, McNeill tried to prove that DDT was not a fascist, but the past three years have proved differently. In his book The Anatomy of Fascism,  Robert Paxton, an expert in the subject, has more characteristics such as scapegoating, demonizing, playing the victim, and males as leaders. Major parts of fascism are also controlling the media, manipulation through the most common religion, and suppressing labor rights to protect corporate power.

Wyden is right: DDT fulfilled fascist expectations—many yesterday afternoon between his Rose Garden speech threatening to send the military against U.S. people and then clearing peaceful protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets for a photo-op at a church. An official said he wanted to look strong by gassing people after being called “Bunker Boy” for hiding out two days earlier. At least one Episcopal priest, Rev. Gini Gerbasi (right), and a seminarian were expelled from the church’s patio, and both were affected by tear gas. Gerbasi was wearing clerical garb. [visual pastor]

The blame game for DDT’s poorly-orchestrated photo-op, where he held the Bible upside down, has flown fast and furious but keeps coming back to DDT. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley supposedly thought that they were in Lafayette Square “to review efforts to quell the protests,” but Milley followed the photo-op by stalking the streets of Washington in combat fatigues as if it was he were planning a military assault in a war zone. DDT seems to be at fault, and the White House ordered military helicopters to fly low over peaceful protesters in Washington to incite fear and physically hurt them. 

About DDT’s photo-op, the outraged bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Mariann Budde, said:

“The president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for.”

This morning, DDT, down in the polls by 12 points with white Catholics, had a photo-op at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. Like Budde, Catholic Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory was angry. He made this statement:  

“I find it baffling that and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree.”

DDT also held up a bible so that everyone could identify it. Evan Osnos called DDT’s show “an unholy production” and described the scene in Layfayette Park before police attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets, one of the victims a pastor from the church for the photo-op:

“Men and women, along the sunny edge of Lafayette Park, chanted and knelt. A young boy and girl, flanking their father, held protest signs. A vender touted coronavirus masks bearing the grim slogan of our time: ‘I Can’t Breathe…’’

“The scene was quieter than it had been for hours. Holding aloft a yellow sign reading ‘Trump Coward,’ Anita, a Virginia woman with long blond hair, told me, ‘I am a registered Republican. This man has disgraced my political party. I will be changing political parties after this.’ She wore black capri pants and a white T-shirt with the American flag on it. For a while, she explained, she had credited Trump with a strong economy. For more than three years, she stayed loyal; she liked to imagine that he was best for business. She said, ‘I gave him that much time. And, as the days have gone by, the insult from this President is just too much to take….’

“’Yesterday was it,” she said. She had watched the video of Floyd’s death, and it left her shaken. ‘Any one of us with even a little bit of humanity, it absolutely broke our hearts.’ Her voice cracked. “Every police department in this country needs to change. They should never be allowed to touch a person’s head or neck. Why would they even need to do that?’

“She went on, ‘It makes you question—what have they done in the past that we don’t know about, that’s not on video? All of the complaints from the black community now become just real complaints that have been happening. The reality of what they’ve been living in for years just becomes that much more real…’”

Osnos continued with a description of DDT’s speech and the aftermath:

“At 6:40, twenty minutes before a curfew was to go into effect, police with riot shields on their arms pressed toward the crowd, driving it back, as some people held their hands in the air. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets as men and women scattered. Officers swung batons at reporters holding cameras and microphones.

“In the Rose Garden, reporters could hear flash grenades detonating on the streets outside. Trump, looking tense and reading from a teleprompter… Declaring himself a ‘President of law and order,’ he called the looting and violent demonstrations ‘acts of domestic terror.’ He vowed to ‘dominate the streets’ and promised an ‘overwhelming law-enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.’ He added, ‘If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them…’

“CNN carried the President’s remarks on a split screen with images of police advancing through the crowds. A moment later, a chyron noted, ‘Trump says he’s an “ally of peaceful protesters” as police fire tear gas, rubber bullets on peaceful protesters near WH…’

“Trump stalked across the park, weaving past the monuments, with his security detail skittering around him. When he reached the sanctuary, he did not go inside. Instead, he turned toward the camera, and members of his entourage assembled into a tableau so bizarre that it took a moment to understand what was unfolding. He held up a Bible and posed with it for the cameras, clasping it to his chest, bouncing it in his hand, turning it to and fro, like a product on QVC. He did not offer a prayer or read from scripture. On either side of him, his aides fidgeted awkwardly; there was the droopy, basset-hound visage of his enabling Attorney General, William Barr; his unrelenting cheerleader Mark Meadows, the chief of staff; his spokesperson, Kayleigh McEnany, who grinned madly. Apart from Ivanka Trump, none wore masks…

“For now, as his people pleaded for leadership, a President with no personal understanding of strength or spirit offered a crude simulation of them. He assembled a pageant of symbols that he knows have power over others—the Bible, the gun, and the shield. And he tossed them together in a cruel jumble of nonsense.”

The protesting lessened because one of George Floyd’s killers was arrested, but DDT took personal credit in his tweet:

“D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination. Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!).”

DDT’s repeated use of “terrorists” about the far-left people he blames for violent protest, most likely a lie, can be a part of his determination to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act. Since the act was last invoked in 1992 for Los Angeles riots, Congress expanded the law in 2006 to include “a natural disaster or terrorist attack.” California’s GOP governor, Pete Wilson, had asked for military help after four white police officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King, a black man. To invoke the act, a president “must first issue a proclamation ordering the insurgents to disperse within a limited time, 10 U.S.C. § 334.4. If the situation does not resolve itself, the President may issue an executive order to send in troops.” DDT, however, is not known for following the law.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Will Bunch wrote:

“[Trump’s speech in the Rose Garden represented] the moment we’ve been dreading since that escalator ride down Trump Tower five years ago this month—that’s been slowly building brick by brick as Donald Trump tore down the rule of law, abused the presidency to enrich himself, and grabbed the bully pulpit of the White House to divide America with racism, sexism and xenophobia.”

DDT told governors yesterday that they looked like “fools.” He looks like a Fascist.

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