Republican party front-runner, Donald Trump, has hit the headlines again, for allegedly mocking a disabled reporter. His latest controversy follows a string of offensive gaffes that point to one obvious fact: Trump is a fascist, in many senses of the word.
The accusation of ‘fascist’ is often thrown around, perhaps carelessly, at individuals with an inclination to authoritarianism. Historically, it has been used to describe figures like Hitler and Mussolini. However, the ‘f-word’ has also been more thoroughly unpacked and explained by scholars, as an article in Slate magazine identifies. The piece points out the various common features of fascist ideology, as outlined by Italian philosopher and writer Umberto Eco in his essay Ur-Fascism, and asserts that Trump has a fair few of them.
Such features in fascist regimes are often contradictory, and don’t always occur together, Eco explains. But here are, as Slate explores, five clear ways that Trump fits the fascist bill described by Eco:
1. Exploiting the fear of difference
In the wake of the Paris attacks, Trump suggested a few strategies he thought could reduce the possibility of an attack on US soil. These included refusing Syrian refugees, closing down mosques, and creating databases to track Muslims. Remind you of anything? It certainly did for Ibrahim Hooper, the national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who said to NBC news,
What else can you compare this to except to prewar Nazi Germany? There’s no other comparison, and [Trump] seems to think that’s perfectly OK.
And just in case Trump was murky about the detail, people took to Twitter to make it clear:
— KHARY PENEBAKER (@kharyp) November 26, 2015
2. Obsession with a plot, from inside and out
Trump qualified the measures above by noting the threats without, but also the threat within. According to Trump, there were thousands of people in New Jersey, where he notes there is a large Arab population, who celebrated 9/11. This was a rumour that was supposedly spread at the time of the attacks, but denied by police. The accusation was also rebuked by the mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, who tweeted,
Either @realDonaldTrump has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) November 22, 2015
And Muslims are not the only enemy within. In Trump’s view, Mexicans are also a grave danger. Speaking at his campaign launch in June, he alienated the Latino community by stating,
[Mexico] are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists
Trump’s answer to his Mexican problem is to send them all packing and “build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall”. Sound reasonable?
3. Applauding Mr Machismo
For any disobedient folks who would remain in the United States of Trump, he also has a solution – violence. At a recent rally for his presidential campaign, a Black Lives Matter protester was assaulted. Trump’s reaction was to condone the attack, rather than condemn it. Responding to a request for comment on the incident, in an interview with Fox news, Trump replied,
I had 10,000 people in the room yesterday, 10,000 people, and this guy started screaming by himself and they – I don’t know, rough up, he should have been — maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.
So, in the world according to Trump, violence is a justified response to non-violent expression. Comforting.
4. Elitism, and contempt for the weak
Those who do not subscribe to this racist, fear-mongering, and violent ideology are, by fascist definition, weak. Any opportunity to seize upon particular attributes to highlight this supposed weakness must be taken, and Trump does this without thinking. As mentioned above, Trump has been criticised for seemingly doing an impression of a disabled reporter, who had raised questions about the Republican’s claims regarding US citizens celebrating 9/11. Trump has denied the accusation, claiming the reporter is “grandstanding about his disability”. You can watch the appalling video here, and decide for yourself:
Trump is also well known for insulting women who take issue with his ideas. He has publicly denounced various women, calling one a “fat pig” and an “animal”, and describing another as having the “face of a dog”.
In both cases, Trump is attempting to belittle either the reporter or the women, by focusing on a particular physical attribute. Of course, anyone with even the slightest awareness knows that the particulars Trump seizes upon are not weaknesses. However, as mentioned, that would require awareness, which leads to the final point.
5. Thinking is a form of emasculation
One thing Donald Trump can certainly not be accused of is over-thinking. An example of this is highlighted in The Slate magazine article mentioned above. Drawing attention to the crux of Trump’s campaign, the piece acknowledges:
His campaign revolves around one theme: That the United States is weak, that it loses, and that it needs leadership to become “great again.” “We don’t have victories anymore,” he said in his announcement speech.
One of the US’ weaknesses Trump derides is its military. In an address on national security, in September, he proclaimed that, under his watch
We’re going to make our military so big, so strong and so great, so powerful that we’re never going to have to use it.
He seems oblivious to the fact that the US already has the largest military capacity in the world, with some 800 military bases in foreign countries. It is illogical to consider the US’ military capabilities insufficient, but without critical thinking, it’s possible. In Trump’s defence, his Republican opponents seem equally averse to analytical reasoning. At a recent presidential debate, many of the candidates warned of the dangers of allowing philosophy to influence decisions.
However, despite the candidates’ apparent consensus on the evils of thinking, many people associated with Trump’s rivals have now come out against him in the face of his fascism. And rightly so, because fascism is a despicable tendency in our world, and it shouldn’t be given the keys to the White House.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons