By Jim Powers
The graphic above this editorial appeared in the 11/9/2023 of the Tyler County Booster. The quote inside the graphic, addressed to a soldier in some forsaken battle in some forsaken war, says “You might not know this now, but we future generations will never forget your sacrifice…” I’m sad to say that we have, in fact, forgotten what they were sacrificing for.
We are celebrating another Veterans Day. Hard to believe that World War II ended almost 80 years ago. And it’s even harder to remember, for those of the generations following it, what the men and women engaged in that war sacrificed for.
Yes, there were many deaths among those fighting the AXIS powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The U.S. alone lost 418,500 people. The U.K. lost 450,700, the Soviet Union 24 million, and South Africa 11,900. But there were millions of others wounded and displaced by the battles. And many of those who survived the horror of those encounters lived with the memories the rest of their lives.
Nazi Germany under Hitler and Italy under Mussolini were clearly fascist. Mussolini’s Italy is considered the birthplace of fascism. The Nazis were extreme nationalists, racist and expansionist, and a key proponent of fascism. While not strictly fascist, the Japanese government shared many traits with fascist regimes, including extreme nationalism, expansionism, and authoritarianism.
Those who died in the fight against the AXIS in WWII were sacrificing to rid the world of fascism. But unfortunately, there is a large and growing number of Americans who are again embracing fascism. The symptoms are very clear.
Increasing political polarization, often accompanied by extreme and sometimes authoritarian rhetoric from political leaders, is a clear warning sign. This includes the demonization of political opponents and the encouragement or tolerance of political violence.
The criticism or undermining of democratic institutions, such as the electoral process, the judiciary, and the free press, is another indication of a drift toward authoritarianism. Claims of election fraud without evidence, for instance, have eroded public trust in democratic processes.
The spread of disinformation and the use of media to propagate a specific political agenda, while discrediting independent media sources, is another tactic associated with fascist regimes.
Moves to suppress civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to privacy, are often associated with authoritarian governance.
We are seeing an increase in nationalist rhetoric, often combined with xenophobia and hostility towards immigrants and minority groups, which is a component of fascist ideology.
Efforts to undermine the balance of power between different branches of government, or between the federal and state governments, are in full swing and indicate a move away from democratic principles.
Fascistic governments are also characterized by the development of a cult of personality around a leader, where the individual's interests appear to supersede the rule of law or democratic norms, are a hallmark of fascism.
Various sources, including the Washington post in a recent story have reported that Donald Trump and his allies appear to be moving toward fascism.
In a story published on November 6 on the Washington Post website, the editorial team of Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett reported that “Donald Trump and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term, with the former president naming individuals he wants to investigate or prosecute and his associates drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations.”
Clearly, if Trump were to take these actions, there would be legal and constitutional challenges to his actions. But there would also be civil unrest, an extreme negative impact on democratic institutions, international condemnation, political instability, as well as moral and ethical dilemmas for law enforcement and military personnel. But even the fact that he and his allies are considering these actions suggests a willingness to lead Trump’s millions of followers down this path.
So, what was the point of over 400,000 Americans sacrificing their lives to crush fascism if only 80 years later we are flirting with it in America? I understand the intended message of the graphic, but the implication of our country abandoning their sacrifice makes me incredibly sad.