Trump is not a fascist, the comparisons must stop
So, time for an unpopular opinion. President Trump, despite what people will have you believe on Twitter, is not some twenty-first century Mussolini tribute act. Is the man right wing? Yes. Is the man a populist i.e. someone who uses policies that play on the concerns of ordinary people to win votes, as was the case in the Presidential Election? Yes. Is the man some sort of fascist dictator who is taking over the US and ultimately the world with his style of politics and trade policies? No.
This point has been highlighted by Vox and one of their writers, Dylan Matthews. In an article written for Vox, Matthews spoke to a number of experts on fascism and came to the conclusion that Trump is indeed a right-wing populist who plays on the fears and concerns of ordinary working people, but he is not a fascist.
Jeet Heer noted at the time of the election that Fascism was not a label that could be applied to Trump's belief as it is not something that has a fixed set of beliefs in which one can be picked out and then used to label that individual as a fascist, instead Fascism as an ideology is more of an intertwined set of beliefs and tendencies. Matthews argues that the Donald falls on the side of the populist wing of the spectrum but does not fall within what one would consider fascist, and the distinctions between the populists and the fascists are of utmost importance when dealing with issues such as this.
There is a study by Dr. Lawrence Britt into the 'early signs of Fascism' should there be the threat of it rising in modern times. Within the study, key characteristics that one can attribute to fascist states are highlighted and have then been used by some people on Twitter as being prevalent within the Trump administration and how he is currently running the country, the study is linked below.
The characteristics that Dr. Britt identified are indeed applicable to fascist dictatorships, especially the points of continuing nationalism and a focus on the Armed Forces of the country in question. This is applicable to Trump, but it is also applicable to almost every other American President, whether, in times of war or peace, that has presided over the nation since her inception following the American War of Independence, and also many other nations on Earth. America has always had a sense of rampant nationalism, more so in recent history, and a great sense of national pride.
Furthermore, it also places a tremendous focus on the issue of defence and the Armed Forces. To give some perspective America's defence budget is equivalent to the next 14 biggest spenders combined. This gargantuan size started in the second World War and, despite remaining large throughout the Cold War, had a renaissance under President Reagan in the 80s with his policy to massively increase defence spending. A policy being copied by the incumbent POTUS.
Another defining feature of Fascism according to Britt is that religion and the nation are intertwined. Now, although this is applicable to America, 'one nation under God', this is also the case with many countries on earth, look at the Middle East for example, Iran and Saudi Arabia have political systems that are shaped by senior scholars in the country and are then implemented by the Head of State, so to make this comparison that Trump is ultimately a fascist is rather false, and can also be applied to many states around the world today.
Other features that are identified by Britt are: an obsession with National Security, something that can be applied to literally every nation on Earth, Corporate power is protected which again can be applied to most, if not all, nations on Earth, especially in large trade blocs. Another characteristic identified in the study is using minorities as a scapegoat which can be attributed to the current no tolerance policy at the Mexican border, but at the same time could even be applied to European countries at the forefront of the migrant crisis in Southern Europe at the moment, but this can be attributed to fears of public services being overwhelmed more than fascism. The list goes on and I could try and think of other nations that this criterion is applicable to, and one could certainly make the argument that some of these characteristics can in one way or another be applied to most, if not all Western Democracies.
The influence of this piece was the rather alarming increase in the number of seeming rational twitter users using the current issues at the Mexico-US border as justification for making comparisons with detention centres for illegal immigrants and their children and the housing units that were used by the Nazis to house Jews in Concentration Camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. This is clearly where those rational people seem to take leave of their senses and turn to the most disturbing allegations possible; comparing an immigration policy that has been in place since long before Trump took office, to the systematic and brutal murder of six million Jews in Europe under the Nazis.
There is no comparison to be made. The policy that is used by Trump is used to try and curb the illegal immigration that America suffers through her southern border with Mexico and to try and stem the flow of people over the border. The other is one of, if not the worst abuse of humans by other humans in the history of mankind where the Nazis showed no mercy to their own countrymen who happened to be Jewish or any other minority you could think of and proceeded to exterminate six million Jews and countless other minority group members across the European continent
Trump's policy can be seen as harsh, which it undoubtedly is, but it is in no way comparable to the mass genocide committed by the Nazis in the Second World War. There was another comparison between a White House staffer and a prominent Nazi figure named Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich was one of the masterminds of the Final Solution which led to the brutal murder of millions. Now it is at best absurd to create such a sinister comparison between a Trump staffer and such a sinisiter a horrific induvidal, but even worse the staffer in question is of Jewish faith. That is surely a redline which should not be crossed by anyone in their right mind, to accuse a Jew of being of the same character as Reinhard Heydrich is truly shocking
It should, therefore, be clear that not only the notion of labeling Trump a fascist is questionable to put it politely but also the comparisons that have been made by seemingly rational and well-informed people needs to stop. The terms 'Fascist' and 'Fascism' are ironically used too liberally in society as we know it, and before long we run the risk of the word falling into a state of being meaningless as it is used so many times that no one will truly know when a Fascist government may seize power through democratic means, as they will be seen as something different to what they are.