How do you fight fear? How to you de-fuse the hatred and viciousness that frightened people embrace and cling to with such terrifying intensity? I want to know, need to know, because the fear-mongers have taken over our government and, left unchecked, they will gleefully take us over the edge of reason and into a fiery abyss.
Over and over I see the fear-mongers whipping their zealots into a frenzy, using tactics developed by the Nazis to strip the disenfranchised of their reason and their wills, turning people into a mob, all for the sake of power. I see their manipulations, but I don’t know what to do to stop it.
Is this how educated intellectuals felt in Germany as Hitler rose to power? Did they have this same sense of incredulous disbelief and shock? Were they dumbfounded about the way Hitler encouraged and praised violence, cruelty and inhumane acts on innocent people who were upstanding German citizens? Would they see the cruelty and inhumanity in Trump’s followers as a dangerous and volatile resurrection of an old evil that led to genocide not quite 100 years ago?
As I write this it is the night of the solstice, the longest night of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. It seems eerily fitting that this new stain on American history is beginning now, when the light is weakest and the dark holds sway over the continent. For Trump is a stain, a pestilence that has infected the minds and hearts of my country. His rise to power is the culmination of years of plotting, planning, and manipulating by rich, old, white men whose greed knows no bounds.
Koch. Gingrich. Boehner. McConnell. Ryan. These men are just a few of the guilty, the traitors who have deliberately and willfully brought our government down. They and their ilk have actively promoted fascism, wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross, just like it says on the bumper sticker.
While the Internet loves to promote Laurence Britt’s fourteen traits of fascism1, the truth of fascism is not so cut-and-dry. Most scholars agree that fascists oppose communism, liberal democracy, science and rational thought. Fascism also promotes a mythology of returning to an idealized golden age, a time dimly remembered2 (hence, easier to distort!) when men were real men, women were real women, and little furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real little furry creatures from Alpha Centauri…!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist… But you get my point. Fascists adhere to a delusion, a fantasy of a lost golden age that can somehow be reclaimed by oppressing and repressing whatever it is that they don’t like. Anything that doesn’t support the fantasy must be snuffed out, and the means by which that snuffing occurs are frequently ruthless and immoral by any sane standard. Genocide is an easy step if there are no limits placed on the means to your desired ends. Given how technology has advanced since the 1930s, they have the ability to make Auschwitz-Birkenau look like a summer resort.
As a scientist, as a person who adheres to rational thought, who practices scientific method in my daily affairs, this trend terrifies me, all the more so because I see it as a growing cultural insanity. There has to be a way to counter it.
- Arauj, A. “Time to Pull out Again: The 14 Points of Fascism.” Daily Kos. Kos Media, LLC., 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 20 Dec. 2016. <http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/11/20/1452457/-Time-to-pull-out-again-The-14-Points-of-Fascism>.
- “Fascism.” Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. Gale. 2005.