Day: December 31, 2020

Background Briefing: December 31, 2020

A Look Back on the Threat of Homegrown Fascism in 2020


Trump is Using Guns As An Instrument of Political Intimidation

On this New Year’s Eve, we look back at stories that emerged from the dark corners of our history as home-grown American fascists strutted their stuff on the streets of America empowered and urged on by none other than the leader of our country, himself a wannabe dictator and a weak strongman. We begin with an interview on May 3rd about the insurrectionist protests the President of the United States is encouraging calling the heavily-armed group who stormed the Michigan state house brandishing assault rifles, confederate flags and in some cases nooses and swastikas, “very good people”. We explored the double standard of Trump’s attacks on unarmed Antifa protesters compared to his ardent support for neo-Nazis and anti-lockdown goons and the extent to which guns have become an instrument of political intimidation with lawmakers assailed in their chamber by armed storm-troopers screaming abuse up close without face masks in a misdirected protest against a virus they are likely spreading.  Patrick Blanchfield, a journalist and faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research whose new book Gunpower: The System of American Violence, will be out soon, joined us. We discussed how without guns, the original territorial seizure by white settlers and the ethnic cleansing of native Americans would not have been possible. Nor would the institution of slavery protected by the Fugitive Slave Act been sustainable but for the only object named in the country’s founding document, the U.S. Constitution. With Americans owning 40% of all guns on the planet, Trump is encouraging armed protesters to LIBERATE a number of states with Democratic governors with a direct appeal to Virginia’s gun-toting activists who are now only able to but one gun a month, claiming they are victims of an assault on the 2nd Amendment


The Deep Roots of Fascism in America

Then we go to an interview from July 26 when we began with the observation falsely attributed to Sinclair Lewis that “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross”, something we recently witnessed when AG Barr used government thugs to clear Lafayette Square so that our “Orange Duce” could stride from the White House to the Church of St. John to condemn the violence he had inflamed while holding up a Bible. Joining us was Sarah Churchwell, a Professor of American Literature and Humanities at the School of Advanced Study of the University of London and author of Behold America: The Entangled History of “America First who has an essay at The New York Review of Books, American Fascism: It Has Happened Here”. We discussed how fascism has deep roots in American history with the Ku Klux Klan, our version of murderous stormtroopers, and in 1940 Hitler’s German-American Bund claimed 100,000 followers with summer camps indoctrinating recruits into an “America First” version of the Hilter Youth. Nazi propaganda also spewed forth from the popular Christian nationalist anti-Semite Father Coughlin’s radio broadcasts which reached 30 million Americans. With the vulgar public liar Buzz Windrip, Sinclair Lewis’s populist president-dictator from It Can’t Happen Here having disturbing similarities to Donald Trump, Sarah argued that today we are watching an American fascist order pulling itself together.


The Mainstreaming of White Nationalism

Then finally we go to an interview from September 6 when we spoke with Cynthia Miller-Idriss who runs the Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab in the Center for University Excellence at American University who is also Director of Strategy and Partnership at the U.K.-based Center for Analysis of the Radical Right and serves on the advisory board of the Center for Research on Extremism in Oslo, Norway. She joined us to discuss her latest book Hate in the Homeland: The New Global Far Right and how the days of the Aryan brotherhood in prisons and backwoods white power militias are long gone since white nationalism has now been mainstreamed, aided and abetted by the movement’s chief apologist, Donald Trump.