Everyone’s aware of Godwins Law, right? That it’s never appropriate to compare your adversary to a fascist? That’s not exactly what Michael Godwin said. The quote was; “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches” … but close enough.
Regardless of how you parse it, I say it’s bunk. At least as far as the comparisons to fascism itself are concerned. Compare the Republican policies of today to those of fascist Europe of 70 years ago.
The markers of classic fascism are: A hyper-nationalistic movement combined with racism, xenophobia, corporate/government cooperation, a misogynistic, anti-homosexual, anti-abortion, anti-labor, anti-liberal, jingoistic movement bound together by propaganda fed by a source aligned with the party.
Let’s break that down into components.
In fascist Germany, the Nazis demonized Romas (Gypsies), Jews, Slavs, Blacks, and virtually all other non-Aryan races as inferior. They were suspicious or outright hostile towards all “outsiders.”
The Republican Party of today demonizes Mexicans, Muslims, gays & lesbians, Union workers, African/Americans, women’s interest groups (behind a thin veil of denial), and openly mocks the traditions and cultures of immigrants, be they legal or otherwise.
Under Hitler’s Germany, the Nazis and major industrialists were all too happy to combine forces. Industry benefitted from deregulation, cheap labor and the abolition of organized unions. The Nazis benefitted from the backing from major industrialists, many of whom went on to repay them by supplying the Third Reich with everything from tanks and airplanes to the mass production Zyclon B.
Under the current Republican Party, deep alliances have also been forged with industrialists and corporate kingpins. The Koch brothers for instance, two men who were raised by one of the founders of the John Birch Society — a radical organization that promotes “Christian values” as the blueprint for American society and is openly hostile to government regulations of almost every stripe — have poured millions into undermining our national elections, blocking judges nominated by democratically elected officials and funding ultra right-wing nationalist groups. Including the (slightly less extreme) Tea Party movement.
The party leadership accepts their support in exchange for promoting the corporatist agenda. “Big business is good for America,” they tell is. Sure it is. Just as long as you don’t take into account what it’s done for everybody else.
And then there’s the use of party propaganda. From the early ‘30s, up until 1945, the Nazis mastered it. They did after all, write the book on it. Josef Goebbels used the media of his day; radio and film, to lead the people in the direction that the Führer dictated. They suppressed foreign broadcasts, lied openly to the masses and demonized whomever they regarded as hostile to the party’s interests. In the case of Hitler’s Germany, these “enemies” were often rounded up and killed or sent off to concentration camps; something we don’t have to worry about today… (unless you believe Glenn Beck’s claims of secret FEMA concentration camps.)
Their tactics are the same. Identify the “enemy,” try to drown out their voices, smear them, portray them as weak, unpatriotic or treasonous, then pass it off as “For the sake of our freedom.”
Fox deploys this strategy on a regular basis. Whether it’s coming from Roger Ailes or Rupert Murdoch is anybody’s guess, but someone at the upper echelons of News Corp has learned that using fascist propaganda techniques as their model can be extremely effective on an uneducated citizenry. It’s been working very well for them, as it did 75 years ago in Europe. And it has harmed the nation as a whole since 1996, when Fox News began their broadcasts in America.
Now examine the candidates the Republican Party produced to challenge President Obama last year. You had:
• Ron Paul; a so-called “libertarian,” who it was later revealed, coddled actual neo-nazis to join his campaign.
• Newt Gingrich, a cynical, hypocritical tub of pus who blew every racist dog whistle he could get his hands on to appeal to the conservative white voter.
• Governor Rick Perry, who keeps the population growth of Texas down to a reasonable rate with the aid of Old Sparky, and was revealed to be a member of a hunting club of shall we say; questionable repute.
• Rick Santorum, a man for whom the outlawing of women’s rights only begins with the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. If Rick had his way, America would be both abortion free and birth control free. Just as der Führer liked things in Der Vaterland. The purpose of women: “Kinder, Kuche, Kirche” indeed… Children, the kitchen and the church.
• And of course, the Republican nominee himself, Mitt Romney; Mr. “Corporations are People too.” A man who so scorned the working class, that he was (thankfully) caught on tape berating half the nation in an attempt to impress his wealthy benefactors.
So whenever Godwin’s Law is thrown out there, I get the meme, and I’m never one to compare anyone with Hitler. Nor do I ever equate others with the Nazis, per se.
But with fascism itself? You bet I do. Because the fact is, there’s very little daylight left between the fascists of todays 21st Century Republican party and the fascism of 20th Century Germany. We’re not there yet, and hopefully we never will be. But that’s only because the GOP has thus far been unsuccessful in completing their task — the task of merging the government of the People, by the People, and for the People, with the interests of Industry, by Industry, and for Industry.
And don’t tell me it can’t happen here. It’s been happening right before our eyes.