Using Icons Of American Patriotism To Sell Anti-Semtism & Hate— Happy 80th Anniversary, Ron DeSantis
Thom Hartman has been ringing the alarm bell— furiously— on the new face of American fascism, Ron DeSantis… although, anyone who followed DeSantis’ congressional career, was ringing that bell since he was elected on 2012 and quickly distinguished himself as a founder of the fascist-oriented Freedom Caucus. On Thursday, Hartmann asked, rhetorically, if cruelty is DeSantis’ trademark, noting that “With Ron DeSantis, we may finally be facing an all-American politician who has Mussolini’s guile, ruthlessness, and willingness to see people die to advance his political career.”
Hartmann made it clear that with pandemic federal funds ending this year, Florida— which because of DeSantis has refused to expand Medicaid with ObamaCare federal subsidies— “is set to throw another 2 million or so residents off their only possible source of health insurance… [DeSantis is] one of 11 red state governors who believes that working poor people simply shouldn’t get health coverage. After all, they didn’t have the good sense to be born into a wealthy family!”
Violence, hate, bigotry, and cruelty are the four cardinal points of fascism. Compassion and concern for the greater good, for the poor and weak, for the victims of fate and accident have no place in the fascist world.
Historians and political observers have been predicting that America would get our very own Mussolini ever since the days of Barry Goldwater. And there’s been no shortage of candidates: bribe-taking Nixon; Central American fascist-loving Reagan; Gitmo torturing and war-lying Bush; and, of course, Trump.
But with Ron DeSantis, we may finally be facing an all-American politician who has Mussolini’s guile, ruthlessness, and willingness to see people die to advance his political career, all while being smart and educated enough to avoid the easily satirized buffoonishness of Trump.
Mussolini was a famously short man who strutted with his muscular chest pushed out and his chin jutted forward, just like DeSantis, who Trump says is musclebound, likes to do.
Both men were socially awkward, craved power, lacked empathy, displayed casual cruelty, sucked up to the wealthiest men in the nation, and demonized opposition politicians— literally calling or implying their fellow citizens are “the enemy” (a favorite trick of Hitler and Orbán, as well)— to encourage their followers to support them or entertain the rhetoric of violence and threats of violence to achieve political ends.
…Arresting Black men for voting, terrifying them and ruining their lives while making sure they all get paraded in chains before the cameras.
Threatening public school teachers with prison for simply teaching history.
Lying about medical science regarding vaccines to suck up to the Trump base, resulting in fewer Floridians being protected from a disease that is killing literally hundreds of Americans every day.
Using rhetoric that feeds bigotry and hate against gay, lesbian, and trans people.
Intimidating the college board so they strip the Black Lives Matter movement out of their advanced placement African-American Studies curriculum.
Lying to asylum-seekers to get them on a plane to Martha’s Vineyard as a stunt to elevate his own political fortunes.
Ron DeSantis is just fine with all of this. Cruelty is his trademark.
Yesterday, Hartmann was back on the fascism case: Growing Fascism in America is in an “Arms Race” for Those Who Aspire to Lead. The first 2 words were Ron and DeSantis. “Ron DeSantis,” he wrote, “appears to have succeeded in his attempt to bully the College Board into stripping Black Lives Matter, discussion of gay Black thought leaders (perhaps like James Baldwin, whose mother was born enslaved?), and multiple well-known Black authors from their African American Studies Advance Placement course… In addition to threatening teachers with prison if they don’t remove books from classrooms, arresting Black men who were told they could vote and did so, and now demanding menstrual histories from high school girls (presumably to look for pregnancies?), DeSantis has laid a reign of terror against minorities of all sort across his state. Bullying like this is at the core of authoritarian behavior, as I noted in my Daily Take yesterday about DeSantis, and we need to start calling things what they are. And that must start with fascism. Right now Ron DeSantis and multiple other Republican politicians are trying to out-fascist each other. While the media reports on the various efforts to criminalize women, ban books, end history lessons, and fill our communities with weapons of war, only rarely do they mention the political philosophy behind it all.”
The strong fascist movement in the U.S. in the 1930s pretty much ended with World War II. I probably never told you that my dad was an FBI agent and one of his jobs was rounding up fascists who were working with the Germans. In any case, fascism came back into vogue with the rise of Señor Trumpanzee. Hartmann noted that “As President Lyndon Johnson pointed out back in the day: ‘If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.’ Divide and conquer is the key to spreading fascism. Separate people from each other by skin color, ancestry, gender, and religion and then convince each group that the other is out to get them… Fascists are, essentially, bullies. They attack those with less power than themselves and use those attacks to hold power or gain more power for themselves. Straight white men control the vast majority of America’s wealth and political power, disproportionate to their population, which is exactly why the cis-Christian-white-male-supremacist fascist movement within today’s Republican Party focuses their attacks on immigrants, women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. From Trump tearing families apart at the border and trafficking the youngest Hispanic children into “Christian” adoption systems, to DeSantis flying asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, to attacks on drag queens and librarians as “groomers,” denying the essential humanity of others is foundational to fascist performance and recruiting art.”
People wanting to proclaim their embrace of white supremacy and their willingness to use violence to maintain it in America have even taken to proudly wearing tiny AR15 lapel pins.
Fascists showing up at state capitols fully armed, wearing battle armor, and waving Confederate flags are simply trying to replicate the successes Mussolini’s and Hitler’s volunteer militias (the Blackshirts and the Brownshirts, respectively) had at cowing the Italian and German populations during fascism’s last golden age.
Every new mass shooting, every assassination of Black people (Emanuel AME Church, Buffalo supermarket), Hispanics (El Paso Walmart), queer people (Pulse nightclub), Asian Americans (Atlanta massage parlor), Jews (Tree of Life Congregation), children (the list of school shootings is too lengthy for this article), and white allies (Kyle Rittenhouse’s targets) amps up the terror people in these groups feel when they see armed white men.
Which, of course, is the goal of most of these fascist terrorists. The early fascist movements in Italy and Germany were similarly pockmarked by stochastic terrorist outbursts against random members of minority groups.
The United States is the only advanced democracy in the world that suffers from such regular acts of domestic terrorism.
This is because we are the only country in the developed world with national media organizations and a major political party that have embraced fascist rhetoric and tolerate— congratulate, in fact— fascist speech and behavior.
Fascism requires authoritarianism to succeed. When Ron DeSantis threatens librarians, teachers, professors, high school girls, and college health clinics, for example, he’s asserting his power as an authoritarian leader.
…Republicans have decried Social Security and similar programs as “socialist big government” that threatens Americans’ freedoms since the 1930s, but these same politicians today are busily erecting fascist big government systems to spy on their citizens, threaten girls and women with imprisonment, deny representation to racial minorities, and prevent access for their citizens to basic rights like healthcare— all while cutting taxes for their morbidly rich sponsors.
Fascist politicians competing for the title of “toughest” or most authoritarian destroy the lives of the people they target as part of their strutting performances. Witness the life-changing experiences of poll workers in Georgia, women and girls in Red states, or police in the US Capitol.
When a nation reaches the peak state a full fascism, that system is so intense and fragile that it rarely lasts more than a decade or two, although the Spanish fascist movement survived World War II and lasted all the way into the 1970s.
But by the time nations realize they’re dealing with an internal fascist movement it’s often too late. Once entrenched, fascist movements usually only collapse when the fascist leader at the top dies or is overthrown or the nation itself is defeated in war.
If just five or six Republican state officials had gone along with Donald Trump’s effort to overthrow democracy in the United States and install himself as America’s first fascist dictator we’d be in that position right now.
Yet even after that close encounter with a fascist in the White House, our media and politicians— with a few exceptions— are reluctant to use the F-word.
But, to paraphrase FDR, our allegiance to the institutions of America— to American republican democracy— requires the identification and repudiation of fascist behavior and fascist politicians.
Our media and politicians need to figure out that it’s not a slur to call a fascist a fascist. It’s merely descriptive.
We must start explicitly calling out fascist behavior before it’s too late.