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Portland & Trump’s Federal Presence: A Short Fascist History of Violent Attacks on Political Foes

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We are seeing Hourly Newsflashes as Trump tests his ability to send a “private” militia into American cities under the fabricated necessity of countering of “threats” to federal buildings.

The recent and unfolding events in Portland and the real threats of using similar force and tactics across the US represent a new level of crisis for this election year. A false narrative with exaggerated so-called “threats” to buildings by groups of, in reality, peaceful protesters who are being labeled criminals, terrorists and are at times suffering beatings, tear gas and even kidnapping, all at the hands of unidentified federal agents.

There has been an extreme and seemingly panicked barrage of fabricated emergencies all centered around the continued, mostly peaceful, protests originally ignited by the murder of George Floyd and the BLM focused demonstrations that followed.

Trump has blamed “violent anarchists” who he claims are part of the “radical left” and are allied with Democrats, and that these vaguely designated groups have created “a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.”

With the false bravado of a man enamored with his own fantasy of power he intoned: “This bloodshed must end,” and “This bloodshed will end.”

Many who believe in American Democracy are left searching for these crimes and this emergency, and where exactly the connections are that, somehow show, the “radical left” is behind any violent crimes. Further, crimes that are more obviously, to the degree that crimes are being committed at all, being committed by a scattered and relatively small group of unaffiliated individuals.

Read more: Resisting and Overthrowing Fascism is the Most Patriotic and All American Activity Ever

Instead, it is the trumped-up response which appears to rational observers to be an attempt to provoke the very “crimes” that he has vowed to stop (and which he has imagined or exaggerated for the purpose of political theater). And further, from all appearances, there is a coordinated effort by the federal government, led by Bill Barr and various unconfirmed “interim” or “acting” department heads, to create a coterie of paramilitary forces that can be used by Trump to act with physical force and violence in any way he sees fit.

As this bizarre and unprecedented attack on democracy is unfolding, even republican, right wing, former members of the conservative establishment are shocked. Here are some recent quotes and headlines:

MSNBC: ‘Speechless’: Madeleine Albright reacts to deployment of federal agents in U.S. cities

“For a President and an administration that calls itself ‘law and order,’ they have broken the law, and are creating disorder.”

Fmr. Sec. of State Madeleine Albright

“What is really at stake is the delegitimizing of Democrats altogether before the 2020 election. Today Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign and one of Trump’s personal lawyers tweeted: “No Democrat should EVER AGAIN be elected in the United States in any capacity.”

THE PRESIDENT’S PERSONAL MILITIA ; IN SEARCH OF VIOLENT ANARCHISTS BY HEATHER COX RICHARDSON as seen in MOYERS ON DEMOCRACY

So Tom Ridge, another homeland security secretary under Bush, has also opened fire, noting that DHS’s mission is to protect against “global terrorism” and was “not established to be the president’s personal militia.” “It would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention into one of my cities,” Ridge told Michael Smerconish.

Trump’s authoritarian crackdown is so bad that even some in the GOP are blasting it – Greg Sergent, Washington Post

Even Republicans are warning Trump’s DHS is turning into ‘the president’s personal militia’ – AlterNet

“That kind of activity is the activity of a police state, and this president and this attorney general seem to be doing everything they possibly can to impose Gestapo activities in local communities, and that is what I have been warning about for a long time. I do believe that this election is all about the preservation of the greatest democracy that this country has ever known,” Clyburn said Monday during an interview on CNN.

South Carolina Rep. John Clyburn

“I think it’s unconstitutional and dangerous and heading towards fascism,” he said.

Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro

And not not-senate-confirmed “acting” Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security had this general response:

“DHS is answering the President’s call to use our law enforcement personnel across the country to protect our historic landmarks. We won’t stand idly by while violent anarchists and rioters seek not only to vandalize and destroy the symbols of our nation, but to disrupt law and order and sow chaos in our communities.”

Acting DHS Secretary Chad F. Wolf

Hitler, Mussolini and Trump: a short glance at historical similarities

Hitler

In the early 1920s, long before Hitler was in power in Germany, he was a politician with a need for bodyguards. In addition, his newly formed Nazi party encouraged followers to commit violent attacks against leftists and outsiders (jews). The SA a.k.a. the brown shirts were a personal militia comprised of violent thugs attacking whoever Hitler designated as the enemy of his vision for Germany. By 1933, there were over 3 million members.

Violent attacks occurred often against any individuals or group that dared to disagree with Hitler’s politics or were just among the declared enemies, with Jews and leftists at the top of the list. Through the physical intimidation of individuals and opposing political groups, his rise to power, in steps, was made possible.

The idea that a political movement “needs” a violent para-military component is a common thread in the history of various fascist dictators and their rise to power. Designating political enemies as “terrorists” (such as Trump is trying to do to antifa). Encouraging violence against them, using a justification of “safety and protection” of the general public that supposedly sides with the “vision of law and order” put forth by the would be dictator is a common theme from Hitler’s rise that we are also seeing today.

Mussolini

Similar to Hitler’s “BrownShirts”, Mussolini had his “Blackshirts”. The similarities between Hitler’s rise and that of Mussolini are well documented. Mussolini’s blueprint for Fascist power was later repeated in Germany, if the similarities being coincidental or by design is unimportant.

Racism, hatred of foreigners (in Italy’s case the prime scapegoats being Africans and Asians to the south and east) and violent intimidation of anyone who questions his and his parties authority were the familiar script.

The similarities to the present day are the grave and serious issue, and the differences are what will decide our fate.

Trump

Unlike in the fascism stories above, Trump is already the elected President and the “leader of the free world”. It is important to note that “free” in that phrase means, among other things, free from fascist dictatorships. On the other hand, the recent events in portland and elsewhere show a serious and dangerous precedent where Trump is using the DHS and it’s “acting” director as if they are his version of the SA or even SS.

Perhaps the Gestapo is a more apt analogy, but there’s an element of this being a cobbled together band of thugs like the brown or blackshirts mentioned above as this was, apparently, a hastily crafted group of federal agencies that appear to have been gathered by Attorney General Bill Barr, rather than an organized long standing secret police force.

The consensus among those who would rather not see Trump find a way to take control of the US as a modern day Mussolini is that many, if not all, of the steps and actions taken thus far are dead wrong, even if they represent a convoluted way to break the intended spirit of US law and Constitution while maintaining a kind of shadow legality.

The now clichéd quote, famously from a John F Kennedy in a speech in 1961: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” nevertheless applies here to all men, women and children of this country.

An astounding thing about the historical tragedies surrounding the fascists rising to power in the first half of the 20th century is that, early on, when they could still have been stopped by a sufficiently outraged majority, the dangers were underestimated until it was too late.

“Never again” should be our response to that statement and we must be prepared to back it up, no matter what.


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