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Echoes of Fascism: Rhetoric We've Heard Before

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"My administration has focused the nation's resources on our highest priority - protecting our citizens and our homeland," Bush said in his budget message. "Working with Congress, we have given our men and women on the front lines in the war on terror the funding they need to defeat the enemy and detect, disrupt and dismantle terrorist plots and operations."

"An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland." -Adolph Hitler


According to Dr. Lawrence Britt 's "14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism, " we are in big trouble here in the Disunited States of America. While the American right continues to laugh at our comparisons of Bush 's ongoing rhetoric and the rhetoric of fascist dictator Adolf Hitler, it is no laughing matter.

We do not make these comparisons lightly, nor do they give us joy.

Dr. Britt named these as the fourteen defining characteristics of fascism:

  • Powerful and continuing nationalism
  • Disdain for the recognition of human rights
  • Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
  • Supremacy of the military
  • Rampant sexism
  • Controlled mass media
  • Obsession with national security
  • Religion and government intertwined
  • Corporate power protected
  • Labor power suppressed
  • Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
  • Obsession with crime and punishment
  • Rampant cronyism and corruption
  • Fraudulent elections

The talking heads of the radical right like to point out that Hitler belonged to his country 's socialist party, but I ask them to consider this: If you run far enough to the left, you will eventually cross over into the right. The political spectrum is really more of a circle, not a straight line. In addition, using a socialist platform to win the hearts and minds of the people does not make one a socialist. Kind of like how using a platform of "compassionate conservatism " doesn 't automatically make one compassionate or conservative.

Our current government promotes unquestioning patriotism, policies of torture and indefinite detainment without access to counsel, identification of Islamic terrorists as something all US citizens must live in fear of every day, the importance of strengthening our military while cutting funding for other government programs, the abolition of the legal right for a woman to make her own health decisions, and discrimination against homosexuals. Our mainstream mass media is controlled by the right. Our President is obsessed with national security, maintaining the power of corporations to drive policy, pollute the environment, and ship American jobs overseas and south of the border. The American right shows a clear disdain for labor unions and their objectives. Intellectuals are not respected for their knowledge, but mocked. The very word "intellectual " is used as an insult by the right. The conservative-heavy US government is constantly touting its "tough on crime " image while simultaneously languishing in more corruption than the majority of Americans are even aware of. And our elections have become a worldwide joke.
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It 's more than a little bit scary.

And what is scarier is the fanaticism with which right-wing commentators support our descent into fascism. In her August 17, 2005 column, conservative radical Ann Coulter (best known of late for her suggestion that someone assassinate Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens) had this to say, "America has been under relentless attack from Islamic terrorists for 20 years, culminating in a devastating attack on U.S. soil on 9/11 . It's not going to stop unless we fight back, annihilate Muslim fanatics, destroy their bases, eliminate their sponsors and end all their hope. " She is also well-known for saying, a few years ago, that we should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity. Coulter, of course, is widely considered a hack and a radical, so let 's not stop there.

The American right shudders in disgust when a liberal accuses the government or the right-wing media of propagating fascist policies. However, they aren 't so disgusted that they can 't use the same words to describe us:

"In Newton County, Georgia, the ACLU threatened a school board with litigation if it didn't remove the words 'Christmas holiday' from the school calendar. The county caved and removed the words because it couldn't afford to defend the lawsuit. This, ladies and gentlemen, is fascism, that is, using the threat of terror, which a lawsuit is, to promote policy" (Bill O 'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/2/03).


Of course, it is more than appropriate for the President of the United States to use the constant threat of terrorism to justify the illegal torture of detainees, the illegal denial of counsel to detainees, the illegal wiretapping of American citizens, the illegal ... No, forget it, I don 't have enough time to write this list.

The truth is, the right wing has taken over all branches of the United States government consistently using the threat of terrorism and the memory of September 11th. This reeks of fascism.

And our government will continue to travel toward becoming a fascist regime if we do not fight for change.
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Katherine Brengle is a freelance writer and activist.

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