Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that the “Fake News” is not his enemy, it is the enemy of the American people.
This tweet comes after his disaster of a press conference on Thursday. Trump did what he usually does when asked reasonable and intelligent questions, he talked about himself. His electoral college win (though he was knocked down a peg when a journalist pointed out that he was lying about how great a victory it was). How he’s a good guy. How Russia is “fake news.” (I have yet to figure out what “fake news” is.) How the leaks are real but the news is fake. (A journalist did say, point blank, that that makes no sense. Trump ignored it.) We also got a pretty clear display of casual racism.
And of course, what would a Trump presser be if we didn’t get to hear how horrible the media is? He talked about the tone of hatred that extends from the media to him.
Then, when he’s got a chance to get his tiny fingers back on his phone, he tweets about how the “failing” news media is the enemy of the American people.
I would like to say, for the record, that the media isn’t the enemy of the American people. Freedom of the press and the need for it is as old as our country. When independent journalists do their jobs, the American people get unbiased facts they need to make critical decisions when they enter a ballot booth. Without the press, we wouldn’t have learned the extent of Richard Nixon’s treacherous behavior. In fact, Nixon also declared the press an enemy.
Eliminating freedom of the press is one of the main features of fascism. The goal is to turn it into a tool of the state and use it for propaganda. We can disagree about many things on how the US is governed, but I think we can all agree that we are not interested in a fascist state. Fascism is the antithesis of American values.
There are those who say that Trump is doing what the people want. His executive orders have come in a flurry. The reality is that those may have little to no meaning in the long run. But it looks great to his core supporters. Outside of his core supporters, there are many across the political spectrum who are willing to give him a chance. They give him tacit support or are opposed, but still willing to take a “wait and see” approach.
I am NOT one of those people.
We don’t have the time and luxury for that. We are already progressing quickly on the path to fascism.
People have outlined the traits of fascist regimes differently, but regardless of how it’s viewed, we’re in trouble.
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – “America First” says it all
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Wanting to employ torture, denying religious freedom, eliminating federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities,” travel ban
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – ISIS, Muslims, Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals
4. Supremacy of the Military – He’s repeatedly said we’re going to have the best military, talks about nuclear holocaust, blowing up the Russian spy ship, emphasis on new military spending
5. Rampant Sexism – “You can grab ’em by the pussy,” women needing to dress “like women,” refusal to take on equal pay issues
6. Controlled Mass Media – Calling all news outlets that don’t blindly support him “fake news,” guiding us to Breitbart and Fox News, only calling on conservative outlets for questions
7. Obsession with National Security – This is Trump’s #1 priority right now
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Fortunately we haven’t gone too far down this path, but his preference for Christian refugees all over any others is troubling and telling
9. Corporate Power is Protected – Trump is using his presidency for his own personal gain, deregulation was one of his first executive orders, and he’s looking for breaks so his friends can get loans
10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Trump is unlikely to back any laws that support any kind of minimum wage increase, that is just the beginning of undermining the labor force
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Trump has attacked Meryl Streep after her unflattering awards speech, he references the “elites” as though he isn’t one
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Trump has repeated stated that he doesn’t believe we have enough laws regarding drugs, to protect police and has called for law enforcement departments nationwide to re-evaluate, and for legislatures to revise their laws to protect police. Law enforcements agencies have said there is no need for this.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Most of Trump’s political appointments have been donors, he wants to revamp regulations on lending institutions so his friends can get loans, and well, RUSSIA and Rex Tillerson
14. Fraudulent Elections – Despite winning the election, Trump has repeatedly called into question the legitimacy of the election – alleging that there was rampant voter fraud with “illegals” voting (against him, naturally). He wants an investigation into voter fraud issues. This lays the groundwork for him to ignore the 2020 results, should he even last that long.
By Umberto Eco
1. The cult of tradition – “Make America Great Again” was the rally cry for Trump. He wants to throw us back into the 1950s and his supporters are delighted to travel back in time when they didn’t feel so oppressed.
2. The rejection of modernism – Rational discourse will not be tolerated under Trump. He seeks “peace through strength”
3. The cult of action for action’s sake – This concisely summarizes Trump’s executive orders, most notably the travel ban. Without consulting relevant agencies, he issued the executive order, which they are now abandoning because of a “bad court”
4. Disagreement is treason – While he hasn’t actually stated this, he’s had staff fired for having written things in the past that were not favorable to him, fired Sally Yates for not simply doing what he told her, and generally refuses to call on medial outlets that are likely to challenge him
5. Fear of difference – Trump surrounds himself with people who look and act like him. He wants to let in Christian refugees primarily and block others from entering, wants to keep Mexicans out of the country, and can barely interact with other racial minorities
6. Appeal to social frustration – This is probably what won Trump the election. He spoke to groups who felt marginalized and rural areas turned out in record numbers to support him.
7. The obsession with a plot – Perhaps more times than he’s done anything else, he’s attacked supporters of Hillary Clinton and the media for sabotaging his election (which is why he lost the popular vote). Even now he still speaks of Hillary though the election has obviously ended. Everything is a liberal conspiracy against him.
8. The enemy is both strong and weak – ISIS is powerful, but HE can defeat them. Russia is powerful, but he is the key to our salvation.
9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy – “Peace through strength” (i.e. military force)
10. Contempt for the weak – This is probably best seen through Trump’s continuous struggle to identify himself as being powerful and strong, and identifying the United States as the strongest nation.
11. Everybody is educated to become a hero – It seems we have yet to see this play out, but it is still early in his presidency
12. Machismo and weaponry – I laugh at the idea of Trump as macho, but I am fairly certain that is how he sees himself, as best defined by his sexual prowess. We already know he wants to cultivate the strongest army, building it up beyond where it is even now.
13. Selective populism – Every time he is on air or tweeting, he’s talking to his core supporters – those who truly understand his message. His supporters believe he should focus only on them, not on those who disagree with them. This is counter to the Constitution and American values (at least recently)
14. Newspeak (impoverished vocabulary and elementary syntax) – Trump’s tweets certainly exemplify this point and his speeches are not far off. His speech has been compared to that of an 8th grader’s.
It is clear that we are much farther down this path than we should be. The Resistance is strong, but in order to win against fascism, we must STAY fighting. It will be long. It will be exhausting. But it IS necessary.