Thursday, December 15, 2016

On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda

There's a particularly powerful scene in Geoffrey Sax's film Christopher and His Kind. It depicts the film's protagonist, British writer Christopher Isherwood (played by Matt Smith), suddenly realizing, after years of living (and partying) in 1930s Berlin, the extent to which Adolf Hitler has taken political control over Germany's Weimar Republic.

Isherwood's experiences in Berlin serve as the inspiration for both the 1966 Broadway musical and 1972 film Cabaret, works that have their own powerful scenes depicting the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany.

What makes the scene in Christopher and His Kind particularly jarring is the look on Isherwood's face as he watches banner after banner of Nazi swastikas unfurl in a city square. It's like he's been awakened from a dream. Indeed, up until that moment he has been depicted in the film as consciously choosing to remain uninvolved in the social and political events unraveling around him. And yet now the true horror of what's taking place in Berlin and beyond, and how it is going to negatively impact those he knows and cares for who are Jewish or leftist or, like him, gay, is unavoidable.

I never want to find myself in such a situation; never want to sleepwalk through life only to be suddenly and rudely awakened by events, especially those portentous of tyranny.

I want to always strive to be informed and proactive about the important political and social issues of the day. I want to be able to say, for instance, Hey, I recognized when things started going awry in a particularly disturbing way, and lifted my voice against it.

That's why this past Saturday, December 10, I marked International Human Rights Day by joining with close to 200 other people in Minneapolis to speak out against the increasingly fascist agenda of President-elect Donald Trump – an agenda that is the antithesis of human, environmental, and democratic rights.

Yes, I know that Trump isn't Hitler. Neither is the U.S. of 2016 Germany of 1938. But that being said, there are definite and disturbing parallels. Earlier this year Kira Goldenberg wrote the following in an op-ed for The Guardian:

People aren’t wrong to point out that Trump certainly appears similar to Hitler in some ways. [Trump's] rhetoric . . . smacks of fascism, with healthy doses of isolationism and grandiosity. Trump’s rallies, which pen the media like livestock and brook no dissent, evoke less orderly Third Reich affairs. And his sloganeering, with its nostalgia for an idyllic past that never existed, fabricates a history that excludes the majority of actual people in actual America, with disconcerting echoes of an Aryan ideal. Even the substance of Trump’s speeches is as inscrutable as watching Hitler’s manic lectern screeching – and I actually speak English.

In further parallels, America is buffeted economically in ways that may feel, to some, like the dire straits of post-First World War Germany, although the reality is less catastrophic than wheelbarrows full of worthless bills. America is even effectively ignoring one of the greatest human rights crises of our time, refusing to admit nearly the number of Syrian refugees that our supposed stature as a global leader demands. Refusing refugees is the top of a slippery slope toward discriminating against people within our own borders. Donald Trump – and, less bombastically, Ted Cruz – has certainly advocated as much.

More recently, Michael Kinsley noted in The Washington Post that although it's "ridiculous to compare any living person to Hitler or Mussolini," Trump's "seemingly erratic behavior can be explained – if not justified – by thinking of Trump as a fascist . . . not in the sense of an all-purpose bad guy, but in the sense of somebody who sincerely believes that the toxic combination of strong government and strong corporations should run the nation and the world."

With all this in mind, I braved the cold December air and participated in last Saturday's rally and march in Minneapolis, one that was organized by the Twin Cities-based Anti-War Committee and endorsed by a range of local justice and peace groups, including Natives Lives Matter, Minnesota Neighbors for Justice, Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, UMN Students for a Democratic Society, Veterans for Peace, Welfare Rights Committee, Women Against Military Madness, Women's Prison Book Project, Young Muslim Collective, and Black Lives Matter – Saint Paul. Following are some images of this rally and march.

Related Off-site Links:
Rise of Donald Trump Tracks Growing Debate Over Global Fascism – Peter Baker (The New York Times, May 28, 2016).
Yes, Trump Represents FascismIt's Going Down (December 16, 2016).
Are Hitler-Trump Comparisons Fair? A Holocaust Survivor Tells His Son – Itay Hod (The Wrap, March 20, 2016).
His Rise to Power: Drawing Parallels Between the Rise of Trump and Hitler – Jacob Weisberg (Slate, November 22, 2016).
How Hitler’s Rise to Power Explains Why Republicans Accept Donald Trump – Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine, July 7, 2016).
Trump Is an Eerily Perfect Match With a Famous 14-Point Guide to Identify Fascist Leaders – Kali Holloway (AlterNet, December 6, 2016).
Normalizing Fascists – John Broich (MinnPost, December 13, 2016).
The Weimar Analogy – Daniel Bessner and Udi Greenberg (Jacobin, December 17, 2016).
The Cult of Trump – David Dillard-Wright (AlterNet, December 12, 2016).
War Culture, Militarism and Racist Violence Under Trump – Henry A. Giroux (TruthOut, December 14, 2016).
Faux-Populist Trump Wages All-Out War on American Workers – Lauren McCauley (Common Dreams, December 9, 2016).
If You Voted for Him – John Pavlovitz (, November 17, 2016).
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016 – Bill Fletcher Jr. and Bob Wing (AlterNet, December 5, 2016).
The 4 Syndromes of Passivity in the Face of Pending Tyranny – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, December 15, 2016).
Ten Ways to Build a Broad Progressive Movement to Defeat Trump – Betsy Hartmann (Common Dreams, December 12, 2016).
The Electoral College Was Created to Stop Demagogues Like Trump – Michael Signer (Time, November 17, 2016).

UPDATES: The Hamilton Electors Don’t Have Enough Republicans to Stop Trump – But They’re Getting There – Matthew Rozsa (Salon, December 16, 2016).
Nine Ways to Oppose Donald Trump – John Cassidy (The New Yorker, December 16, 2016).
The Electoral College Meets Monday. Here’s What to Expect – Emmarie Huetteman (The New York Times, December 18, 2016).
How Republics End – Paul Krugman (The New York Times, December 19, 2016).
Donald Trump Secures Electoral College Win, With Few Surprises – Scott Detrow (NPR News, December 19, 2016).
Electoral College's "Faithless Electors" Fail to Stop Trump but Land Democratic Blow – Ed Pilkington (The Guardian, December 19, 2016).
Trump’s Cabinet Is a Coup Waiting to Happen – Audrea Lim (The Nation, December 20, 2016).
 Want to Know How to Build a Progressive Movement Under Trump? Look to Standing Rock – William J. Astore (The Nation, December 20, 2016).
Trump Is Already Ditching His Movement – David French (National Review, December 21, 2016).
Prince Charles Warns of the Return to "Dark Days of 1930's" – Patrick Foster (The Telegraph, December 22, 2016).
How to Face a Trump Presidency: Resist, Reconnect, Renew – Sarah van Gelder (Yes! Magazine via Common Dreams, December 22, 2016).
The Great Resistance 2017 – Marianne Williamson (The Huffington Post, December 24, 2016).
Preparing for the Normalization of a Neofascist White House – Juan Cole (Common Dreams, January 2, 2017).
Anti-GOP Uprising Grows as "Indivisible Guide" to Resisting Trump Goes Viral – Nadia Prupis (Common Dreams, January 5, 2017).
Totalitarianism in the Age of Trump: Lessons from Hannah Arendt – Zoe Williams (The Guardian, February 1, 2017).
How Cabaret Became the “Cautionary Film of the Year” on Its 45th Anniversary – Benjamin Lindsay (Vanity Fair, February 28, 2017).
Dancing With the Devil: Trump's Politics of Fascist Collaboration – Henry A. Giroux (TruthOut, May 16, 2017).
"Shades of 1933 Germany": Trump's Hostile Phoenix Rally Prompts Third Reich Comparisons – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, August 23, 2017).
It’s Time to Take the Nazi-Trump Comparisons Seriously – Adil E. Shamoo and Bonnie Bricker (Common Dreams, August 23, 2017).
There’s No Other Way to Say It: Trump’s Arpaio Pardon Is Fascist – Jay Michaelson (The Daily Beast, August 23, 2017).
“Out of a Dictator's Handbook”: Trump Threatens to Adjourn Congress to Unilaterally Install Judges, Political Nominees – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, April 16, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
Election Eve Thoughts
Art and Resistance
Carrying It On
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Trump's Playbook
Saying "No" to Endless U.S. Wars
In the Wake of the Paris Attacks, Saying "No" to War, Racism and Islamophobia
Vigiling Against Weaponized Drones
Rallying in Solidarity with the Refugees of Syria and the World

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

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