What’s in a name

Many commenters have associated Donald Trump with fascism. Dylan Matthews, writing for Vox, asked five experts on fascism if the label fits. They said no, that Trump is rather a right-wing populist. Small comfort.

Indeed, the article suggests that far-right populism is more dangerous.

To be very, very clear: Donald Trump is a bigot. He is a racist. He is an Islamophobe and a xenophobe. He profits off the hatred and stigmatization of traditionally oppressed groups in American society. That makes him, and his European peers, and racists in other eras in American history, a threat to crucial values of equality and fair treatment, and a threat to the actual human beings he’s targeting and demonizing. And he’s in particular mainstreaming Islamophobia, which is on the rise in recent months, as seen in a recent incident in which a Muslim engineer was harassed at a Fredericksburg, Virginia, civic meeting. “I’m really not sure those views in Fredricksburg would be aired were it not for Trump’s ‘mainstreaming’ of these prejudices,” [Matthew] Feldman says [Feldman is “a fascism expert at Teesside University in the UK”].

Crosscut’s Knute Berger writes that such extreme right-wing political views have a history in Washington state and even Seattle.

There was a time when many people here embraced fascism. These people met in Seattle’s halls, they marched down Seattle’s streets. They were the people next door, white, middle-class folks who opposed immigration. They touted their Christian values, their Americanism, and compared themselves to patriots like the Minutemen and Paul Revere. They believed in the racial superiority of whites and questioned the legitimacy of the U.S. government. They were told to arm themselves for a coming war between good an evil — one ordained by God that would ring in a new Millennium. As one of their local leaders, a man who ran a University District diner said, they wanted “to save America the same way Hitler saved Germany.”

What Trump does, though short of proclaiming fascism, is to disseminate racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia in the mainstream. He is, after all, a presidential candidate.