This Week in Fascism (June 14-21)



This has been an intense period. The Trump/Pence fascist regime has been badly rocked by the powerful and beautiful uprising of many hundreds of thousands against police murder and the whole racist foundation of this country. The coronavirus pandemic is increasingly out of control and the regime is actively working to worsen things by pushing for the abandonment of social distancing and demonizing wearing of masks. And there has been some limited “pushback” against the regime even from some of its allies and collaborators within the ruling class, including retired military leaders and the U.S. Supreme Court.

These developments have led many to buy into the narrative that this monstrous regime is on its last legs, that its defeat and removal in the November elections is all but certain, that it is losing its own base, and even that we are entering an era of profound reforms and transformations that will “finally” allow America to “live up to her promise.”

These are dangerous delusions. Yes, the regime has run into some problems, but fascists still hold power in the White House and throughout much of U.S. society, they still command massive institutions of violence (the armed forces, police and sheriffs, ICE and Border Patrol, prison guards, FBI, CIA, etc., etc.), they (particularly through VP Mike Pence) lead an extensive apparatus of fanatical Christian fascist churches, radio, TV, as well as other right-wing media, all backed by Christian fascists and heavily armed white supremacist groups, militias, and other fascist forces.

This week, Trump, Pence, and other fascists have been working to shore up, rev up, unleash, and wield the forces they lead and command to continue on the path of fascist consolidation, and crush their opponents.

Here are some examples:

The whole week was dominated by the planned June 20 “campaign launch” rally in Tulsa, site of one of the worst massacres of Black people in America’s 400-year history of murdering Black people, and on Juneteenth weekend, which commemorates and celebrates the final end of slavery. This rally was a conscious slap in the face to Black people and a call to arms for racists.

On June 19, on the eve of the Tulsa rally, Trump threatened protesters with implicit violence, tweeting that “Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!”

On the same day, on a radio show in Philadelphia, VP Mike Pence twice refused to say that “Black lives matter,” because, he claimed, there is no “segment of American society that disagrees, in the preciousness and importance of every human life.” In other words, since there’s no racism in America, there’s no need to state one’s opposition to racism. Saying aloud Pence’s unspoken point, a Trump supporter at the Tulsa rally the next day told a journalist, “Get rid of [Black civil rights leaders] Jesse Jackson and Sharpton and you’ll get rid of racism.” [Emphasis added.]

At the June 20 rally, where he gave a thoroughly fascist speech, Trump escalated his racism, threats and attacks. In his speech to the crowd (many wearing “Cops for Trump” T-shirts), Trump (among other standard fascist themes):

  • Referred to protesters outside as “bad people,” “thugs,” and “maniacs,” and falsely claimed that they were responsible for the poor turnout because they had prevented supporters from getting into the arena.
  • Railed against the movement to take down statues of slaveowners and slave traders, Confederate generals, and other symbols of the 400-year-long oppression of Black people in America and warned his followers that the protests were a threat to their way of life and even their freedom of thought: “The unhinged left wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control, we’re not conforming.” And “That’s why we’re here, actually. This cruel campaign of censorship and exclusion violates everything we hold dear as Americans. They want to demolish our heritage so they can impose their new oppressive regime in its place.”
  • While not mentioning George Floyd even once, Trump implied that his followers should join in the violent suppression of such protests against police brutality and white supremacy: “We will defend privacy, free thought, free speech, religious liberty, and the right to keep and bear arms. And when you see those lunatics all over the streets, it’s damn nice to have arms.”
  • Repeated his racist “nicknames” for the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus” and the “Kung flu.” (The next day, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said on CNN that the virus (which in reality spread from animals to humans) was a “product of the Chinese Communist Party” and that “They sent over hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens here to spread that around and around the world. ... They are guilty until proven innocent.”

And this occurred against a broader backdrop of fascist threats and already intense repression of protests.

Since June 3, the Trump campaign has been saturating Facebook with ads saying that “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem,” and added an inverted red triangle to some of them. The red triangle was the symbol that the German Nazi regime used to identify political prisoners—communists and others—in concentration camps. (On June 18 Facebook finally agreed to take the ads down.) Using this as pretext, Trump has riled up his fascist thugs against righteous protests. This week we will have a round-up of the threats and violence against protests, especially in small towns, by white supremacist and fascist thugs—follow

On June 19, NBC News reported that the FBI has been scanning social media of protesters, and using people’s words to arrest them. One person was arrested for jokingly tweeting that he was the local head of antifa (a loose antifascist movement that Trump claims is inciting violence). Another man warned others online of “a ‘red action’ he was organizing for the next night, a term commonly used in activist circles to indicate that protesters may be violently confronted by police or arrested.” He was charged under the 1968 federal Anti-Riot Act and held without bail. (The 1968 Anti-Riot Act was an extremely repressive bill passed in order to put down the popular uprisings of the late 1960s. It did not even require that an actual danger of violence existed in order to charge people with “inciting a riot.” In fact, it was also known as “The H. Rap Brown Act” after a prominent Black revolutionary leader of the time who the FBI had targeted for “neutralization”—i.e., imprisonment or murder.) The Act is so outrageous it was only used four times between 1970 and 2018—now the Trump/Pence regime is “reviving” it to use against anti-racism protesters on the basis of tweets and Facebook posts.

Trump has also been lashing out at ruling class forces that deviate from his agenda in any way. Over the course of the week, the right-wing majority Supreme Court delivered several rulings unfavorable to the regime. On June 18, Trump responded with ominous language: “These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives.” When his former national security advisor, John Bolton, attempted to publish a memoir critical of Trump, he responded by not only suing to block publication, but threatened “criminal” charges—in other words, he implied Bolton could go to jail for what he wrote in a book.

And, on June 19, Trump and Attorney General Barr fired Geoffrey Berman, who headed the powerful U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. While the actual motivations for targeting Berman—a Trump appointee—are not yet known, it is clear that Trump did not deem Berman sufficiently loyal to him personally, and for that reason he had to go. This is part of a process that continues to unfold of staffing the entire federal apparatus with people whose main qualification is unquestioning loyalty to the führer; this is a necessary part of fascist consolidation.

Again, this is just a sampling of some of the ways in which fascism has been moving to consolidate its power, unleash its base, and crush its opponents. The emergency is still in effect, and people need to act like it.

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