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Stop shouting ‘fascist!’ at Trump

Jack Eckert, junior screenwriting major

Please stop calling President Donald Trump a “fascist” or a “Nazi,” and stop comparing 2017 America to 1930s Germany.


Now, Trump is my elected commander in chief, but there are many policy decisions that he and his administration have pushed for — such as the travel ban and the transgender military ban — that I vehemently disagree with, not to mention his botched and highly inappropriate response to what happened in Charlottesville.


Comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler is not only factually inaccurate, but is offensive to the millions of people who fought and died so that such men and their morally repugnant ideologies would be toppled.


Hitler was invited to hold power at the time when Weimar Germany was a failed state. Street fights between communists and fascists were becoming more common occurrences. Due to the Great Depression, the German economy was in shambles, , leading to even more street violence


This chaos and the Treaty of Versailles’ restrictions on the government, which prevented them from properly controlling the violence, made the Germans desperate for anyone who could offer them a sense of stability and security. In this, they made a deal with the devil, which brought Hitler to power.


Now, is 2017 America a utopia? Hardly. The horror of Charlottesville speaks volumes. However, to compare it to Weimar Germany, or the early years of Hitler’s time as chancellor, is absurd. If we were truly living in a fledgling fascist or totalitarian society, it wouldn’t look anything remotely like America does today.


To give a local example, if America was becoming fascist, members of on-campus groups like The Chapman Democrats would disappear. If Trump was anything like Hitler, he would label the massive amount of civil unrest in present day America as anarchy, using it to grant himself emergency powers that nullify the Constitution. This is what Hitler did with the Enabling Act in 1933, which, according to Deutsche Welle, allowed him to enact laws without parliamentary approval. He mainly used massive unemployment and the recent “terrorist attack” on the German parliament as his justification.


I understand why the comparison of Trump to fascism exists. The populist ideology his campaign rode into elected office does have similar traits to far-right rhetoric, such as his stance on immigration. However, charged rhetoric is quite different from the brutal purging of political rivals or the disbanding of personal liberties.


If you say a word or a phrase enough, it loses its power and meaning. Blatantly throwing around the word “fascist” and equating it with Trump negates its original evil and intent. Fascism, as seen in states like North Korea, is very much alive and well today. It is something that we must fight head on.
But causally shouting the word at anything one finds to be an offensive or harmful policy without understanding the historical implications, achieves nothing. If anything, in the minds of those who support the president, it proves their notions of the opposition correct. In their eyes, it is confirmation that the opposition is no more than a naive and angry faction of the populace that cares more about feelings than facts.


To the Trump resistance movement: By all means, please keep exercising civil disobedience. It is your constitutional right that many have died for, and it’s the very thing that distinguishes us as a nation.


What I am suggesting is that instead of using dangerous exaggerations that only serve to trivialize the horror of the political and ethnic philosophies that underpinned Nazism, if you really want to resist, fight the battle where it counts: in the courts and the halls where legislation that affects us all is manufactured.

 

 

2 Comments

  • I mostly agree with the argument of this article. However, I am confused: you say you agree with the ‘right to civil disobedience’ but then you imply that the only way to bring about significant political change is to go through ‘the courts and legislative halls.’ And I counter by saying that some of the best political changes in this country have come about through civil disobedience (i.e. Nonviolent direct action). Examples abound: the ADA started with groups employing creative protest methods, the Voting Rights Act happened only because of years of hard work by dedicated activists who took issues to the streets, women got the right to vote in part because they went against cultural norms and protested in ways that fundamentally upset the political establishment.
    My point is that your idea of civil disobedience is not only an ‘option’ but absolutely necessary. It’s where good policy change starts.

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