I’ve written before on what features are shared by fascist movements, and a ten-point warning checklist for how 2017 America may becoming like 1934 Germany. After
7 8 10 13 28 days of the new Administration, how are things going?
I score them doing or attempting
three four five (six?) out of ten so far: #1, #3, #4, (#5?), #7, and #8. Note that some of these are not yes/no issues, especially while a story is unfolding.
- Taking sides with a foreign power against domestic opposition.
- Detention of journalists.
- Loss of press access to the White House.
- Made-up charges against those who disagree with the government.
- Use of governmental power to target individual citizens for retribution.
- Use of a terrorist incident or an international incident to take away civil liberties.
- Persecution of an ethnic or religious minority, either by the Administration or its supporters.
- Removal of civil service employees for insufficient loyalty or membership in a suspect group (e.g. LGBT, Muslim, and other groups). (2/16: also the intelligence community)
- Use of the Presidency to incite popular violence against individuals or organizations.
- Defying the orders of courts, including the Supreme Court.
#2: On the day of the inauguration, journalists were arrested. Does that count? It might be an isolated instance. I’m not counting it.
#3: Trump’s only calling on right-wing outlets at press conferences. A borderline situation, but it seems like a major disconnect with the press. (Update 2/17: he called on some regular reporters, such as CNN’s Jim Acosta…though he did abuse them a fair bit.)
#4: Trump makes false claims of massive voter fraud. These claims have no basis in reality.
#5: Feb. 17: In his meandering, uncomfortable press conference yesterday, Trump said he was directing the Justice Department to investigate criminal leaks. Usually, Presidents do not direct criminal investigations because of the concern of politicizing law enforcement. Does this meet criteria? I’m not counting it yet…but it’s developing.
#8: This is in flux. Acting Attorney General Yates was a career civil servant, but also an appointee of the previous Administration. However, in light of the multiple lower-court orders regarding the executive order, her firing raises questions about whether the rule of law is being eroded. Also, Press Secretary Sean Spicer has made threats against career diplomats in the State Department that if they don’t agree with the President’s executive order, they should leave. After feedback from pechmerle (see comments), I am downgrading this for now.
#10 is looking a lot like it’s happening. As of February 2nd, Customs and Border Patrol appears to be purposely finding ways to misinterpret court orders that are clearly worded. Update: maybe they’re backing down for now.
Overall, what is probably needed is a graded scale: (a) none, (b) one or two isolated instances; (c) a pattern of conduct or purposeful effort; and (d) establishment of a standing policy. As conditions deteriorate, I can formalize this approach.
Also, unfortunately I left out things like making obvious false statements, for instance the recent falsehoods about voting fraud, or invocation of an event that never happened like the “Bowling Green Massacre”; and curtailment of free speech of government employees. Maybe that can be a separate list. I am interested in what other indicators have been left out.