Friday, June 03, 2016
The Trump equals fascism charge is wrong, reckless and dangerous
Some of the points below are also ones I have made, but Robert Romano has more -- JR
“This is how fascism comes to America.” So reads the alarmist, provocative headline from the Brookings Institution’s Robert Kagan writing for the Washington Post that the Republican nomination of Donald Trump is essentially the modern equivalent of Hitler and Mussolini’s rise to power.
It’s the 1930s all over again, wouldn’t you know. Besides being fallacious, Kagan’s charge — and that of many, many other commentators — is reckless and irresponsible. Even dangerous.
Let’s leave aside the facts that Trump’s son-in-law is Jewish, and that his daughter converted to Judaism, both of whom Trump fully embraces. Or that he opened up the Palm Beach mansion and golf course Mar-a-Lago to Jews and blacks at a time when segregation at all-white country clubs in the south was still a thing, long before he ever set foot in the political arena. So, gee, what the heck does Trump running for president have to do with the racist, anti-Semitic ideology of the Nazis? Those examples are too easy.
Getting to the heart of Kagan’s case, he writes, “Fascist movements, too, [like Trump] had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society.”
In reality, fascism is the textbook example of an abominable, antidemocratic ideology run amuck, that believed one ruler could embody the entire will of the nation. But there was more to it than that. Combined with its national destiny mythos, racist doctrines and corporatist economic programs — war is profitable! — its coherence and rigid execution was directly responsible for the deaths of 60 million people, many through mass genocide, in the war the fascists and militarists started in the 1930s and 1940s.
As Michael Ledeen, a noted, actual expert on fascist movements, notes in Forbes magazine in response to Kagan, “It’s fanciful to call Nazism a bundle of contradictions when, a decade before coming to power, it had a detailed diagnosis of what ailed Germany, and how to fix it. It was called Mein Kampf, and it provided the basis for the Third Reich. Kagan apparently doesn’t consider the Nazis’ racist doctrines to be explicit either, even though they were the basis for very detailed legislation, indoctrination in all the schools and universities, military operations, and eventually the Holocaust. Nazism was a great deal more than one-man rule by a charismatic leader.”
In the meantime, Trump does not believe it is America’s destiny to rule the world — quite the opposite — as he critiques episodes such as the Iraq war in the 2000s. Agree or disagree with his position on the war, opposing the war, even after the fact, is definitely not the ideology of militarism and war under fascism — which mobilized the war industry as an expression of state power, to settle historical scores and to impose rule upon those deemed inferior.
Instead, Trump’s articulated caution on the foreign policy stage, if anything, is actually an expression of realism over idealism in international affairs.
Trump openly rails against corporate cronyism, the real culprit behind the modern destruction of representative government in the U.S., where national legislation and policy is crafted by the highest bidder. Examples abound, whether under the Export-Import Bank, the bank and auto bailouts, the widely backed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, the green energy scam or health care lobbyists writing Obamacare.
Trump did not create the corporate state, and to the extent he speaks out against it positions him as an anti-corporatist, rather than as one of its champions. Agree or disagree with his solutions, he’s calling attention to a real problem of collaboration between certain industries and the federal government to achieve national objectives, the very definition of corporatism once envisioned by the fascists.
Trump also speaks out against threats like radical Islam, which really is a fascist-like ideology bent on the domination of Islam over the entire world, the extermination of non-believers and the oppression of women. Isn’t Trump’s condemnation an expression of anti-fascism? Standing up to barbarians — such as with calls to halt immigration from where radical Islam thrives — is no vice. Agree or disagree with that far-reaching prescription, there is no question radical Islam threatens Western, liberal democracies.
Trump stands opposed to illegal immigration, not because, as Kagan charges, Trump wants “to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion,” but because simply they came illegally. That is not a racist attitude, since it does not distinguish between countries of origin. Come here legally, whether from Mexico City or Beijing, no problem, says Trump. Having enforceable borders or immigration laws generally is not even a tenet of fascism, it is a reality of every single country in the world that checks passports upon entry.
Trump says he wants to work with Congress rather than through the unaccountable executive actions of Barack Obama and George W. Bush that have governed the past 15 years. Wouldn’t that be the opposite of the all-powerful executive envisioned under fascism?
Today, Washington, D.C. is really a marvel of modern statism, where Congress has outsourced much of its Article I law-making powers to an alphabet soup of departments and agencies that regulate almost every aspect of life. Two-thirds of the budget runs on auto-pilot beyond the annual appropriations process, racking up trillions of dollars in debt. Classified surveillance programs such as conducted by the National Security Agency were conceived and run without any basis in law, framers of the original Patriot Act warned after the Edward Snowden revelations like Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Calif.) who authored the bill.
Now, Trump may not stop each of these encroachments by the executive branch and abdications by the legislative branch, but he hardly created them. The administrative state has taken more than a century to reach its current state of maturity, and it will hardly be undone in a single administration — if ever — as the obstacles to untangling it could prove to be insurmountable. But through signaling his intention to work with elected leaders in Congress, rather than via executive dictates, Trump at least articulates a preference for lower-case republicanism and representative government. Which is definitely not fascism.
In short, Robert Kagan should know better, although that doesn’t stop him and others from laying the fascist charge against Trump. But it is not merely wrong in an academic sense and ignores all the real fascism that exists in the world around us — it also a dangerous line of rhetoric.
As Dilbert creator Scott Adams presciently warned on March 13 as the Trump equals fascism meme was becoming commonplace in our discourse, “we see the media priming the public to try to kill Trump, or at least create some photogenic mayhem at a public event. Again, no one is sitting in a room plotting Trump’s death, but — let’s be honest — at least half of the media believes Trump is the next Hitler, and a Hitler assassination would be morally justified.”
Almost on cue, just a week ago, best-selling fiction author Brad Thor on the Glenn Beck Show openly discussed the assassination of Trump on the air with millions of listeners. Said Thor, “He is a danger to America and I got to ask you a question and this is serious and this could ring down incredible heat on me because I’m about to suggest something very bad. It is a hypothetical I am going to ask as a thriller writer. With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as President? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that if, if, he oversteps his mandate as president, his constitutional-granted authority, I should say, as president. If he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? And I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.”
In other words, you’d have to kill him. Thor all but say it aloud. Responded Beck, “I would agree with you on that…” Really? Which part?
Sirius XM has since suspended Beck’s show based on the segment — because according to a company statement it “may be reasonably construed by some to have been advocating harm against an individual currently running for office, which we cannot and will not condone.”
Thor attempted to walk back his statement, suggesting he was actually calling for armed revolution against a dictatorial Trump — saying, “If we had to unseat a president without the backing of the Congress, we would need a patriot along the lines of George Washington to lead the country from tyranny back to liberty.” We’ll leave it to readers to decide whether civil war would be a preferable alternative.
But the damage could already be done.
Just as Adams noted, “Collectively — the media, the public, and the other candidates — are creating a situation that is deeply dangerous for Trump.” Specifically, someone could take a shot at him, and it will likely be directly related to the number of charges of fascism that have been leveled at him. As if the U.S. was on the brink of committing mass extermination of undesirables — which is basically implied by pervasive use of the Nazi charge — and that the only way to stop it is for patriots to take matters into their own hands.
This is becoming an incitement to mass hysteria, and it is wrong, irresponsible and, yes, dangerous. It’s not even remotely true, but here we are.
In effect, Robert Kagan, Brad Thor and others are playing with fire. For cooler heads to prevail will require careful, rational discourse about what fascism actually was — something that is clearly lacking today. Take a deep breath, people. This is getting out of hand
Trump just doesn't bother with the intellectuals. That's why Kagan and Co. find fault with him. But Bill Buckley was similarly disrespectful: "I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand people on the faculty of Harvard University." -- JR
Walter E. Williams
White teenage unemployment is about 14 percent. That for black teenagers is about 30 percent. The labor force participation rate for white teens is 37 percent, and that for black teens is 25 percent. Many years ago, in 1948, the figures were exactly the opposite. The unemployment rate of black 16-year-old and 17-year-old males was 9.4 percent, while that of whites was 10.2 percent. Up until the late 1950s, black teens, as well as black adults, were more active in the labor market than their white counterparts. I will return to these facts after I point out some elitist arrogance and moral bankruptcy.
Supporters of a $15 minimum wage are now admitting that there will be job losses. “Why shouldn’t we in fact accept job loss?” asks New School economics and urban policy professor David Howell, adding, “What’s so bad about getting rid of crappy jobs, forcing employers to upgrade, and having a serious program to compensate anyone who is in the slightest way harmed by that?” Economic Policy Institute economist David Cooper says: “It could be that they spend more time unemployed, but their income is higher overall. If you were to tell me I could work fewer hours and make as much or more than I could have previously, that would be OK.”
What’s a “crappy job”? My guess is that many of my friends and I held the jobs Howell is talking about as teenagers during the late 1940s and ‘50s. During summers, we arose early to board farm trucks to New Jersey to pick blueberries. I washed dishes and mopped floors at Philadelphia’s Horn & Hardart restaurant, helped unload trucks at Campbell Soup, shoveled snow, swept out stores, delivered packages and did similar low-skill, low-wage jobs. If today’s arrogant elite were around to destroy these jobs through wage legislation and regulation, I doubt whether I and many other black youths would have learned the habits of work that laid the foundation for future success. Today’s elite have little taste for my stepfather’s admonition: Any kind of a job is better than begging and stealing.
What’s so tragic about all of this is that black leadership buys into it. What the liberals have in mind when they say there should be “a serious program to compensate anyone who is in the slightest way harmed” is that people who are thrown out of work should be given welfare or some other handout to make them whole. This experimentation with minimum wages on the livelihoods of low-skilled workers is ethically atrocious.
In the first paragraph, I pointed out that black youths had lower unemployment during earlier times. How might that be explained? It would be sheer lunacy to attempt to explain the more favorable employment statistics by suggesting that during earlier periods, blacks faced less racial discrimination. Similarly, it would be lunacy to suggest that black youths had higher skills than white youths. What best explain the loss of teenage employment opportunities, particularly those of black teenagers, are increases in minimum wage laws. There’s little dispute within the economics profession that higher minimum wages discriminate against the employment of the least skilled workers, and that demographic is disproportionately represented by black teenagers.
President Barack Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus, black state and local politicians, and civil rights organizations are neither naive nor stupid. They have been made aware of the unemployment effects of the labor laws they support; however, they are part of a political coalition. In order to get labor unions, environmental groups, business groups and other vested interests to support their handout agenda and make campaign contributions, they must give political support to what these groups want. They must support minimum wage increases even though it condemns generations of black youths to high unemployment rates.
I can’t imagine what black politicians and civil rights groups are getting in return for condemning black youths to a high rate of unemployment and its devastating effects on upward economic mobility that makes doing so worthwhile, but then again, I’m not a politician.
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Posted by JR at 12:31 AM