As Donald Trump addressed the media over this years midterm elections results, an argument broke out between the president and CNN’s Jim Acosta. When questioned about his racial scaremongering over the migrant caravan, Trump responded with his usual ‘fake news’ spiel then labelled Acosta as a‘rude, terrible person’. Acosta refused to give the microphone back to a female white house staffer which has since been used as an excuse to revoke his White House pass.
In an attempt to justify themselves, the White House have circulated an Infowars doctored video of the incident claiming, he laid his hands on the young woman. Infowars, for those who aren’t aware is a far right conspiracy theory site known primarily for its maverick host Alex Jones. Jones is a Sandy Hook truther who infamously went viral after ranting that the Pentagon has a “gay bomb”, chemicals from which it has allowed to leak into the water supply turning “the friggin’ frogs gay!”. The fact that the White House have showcased this video this shows a clear threat of fascist influence in the White House.
Trumps treatment of the press has long since been compared to that of other fascist regimes. Like Hitler and Mussolini, he clearly shows nothing but contempt for the free press. This is not however, his most overt flirtation with fascism. Trump once retweeted the Islamophobic posts of Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of fascist group Britain First, who has been convicted of hate speech in Northern Ireland. Likewise, after events in Charlottesville led to the murder of socialist organiser Heather Heyer in a cowardly neo-Nazi attack, Trump stated that not all the far right protesters were neo-Nazis and white supremacists and laid the blame for the violence equally on what he called the “alt-left”.
The Trump presidency’s fling with fascism exposes a clear American hypocrisy. Whilst it has long been propagated that the United States is a bastion of liberty and democracy, its historical ties with fascism prove it to be anything but. In response to the threat of communism during the cold war, the US abandoned its ‘principles’ in order to fight the ‘red menace’. In blatant disregard for the constitution, Eisenhower signed into law the Communist Control Act of 1954 which outlawed the communist party and criminalised membership. During the first red scare, the US deported a number of “foreign aliens” they suspected of sedition and additionally during the era of McCarthyism, the US imprisoned numerous communist leaders under the Smith Act.
It is however, in foreign affairs where America’s relationship with Fascism is most flagrant. In Chile, the United Sates supported Pinochet’s coup against democratically elected Marxist – Salvador Allende, leading to the rise of the notorious Caravan of Death. Similarly, in Indonesia American embassy officials gave a list of suspected communists to Fascist death squads who embarked on a genocide of up to 3 million people. In perhaps the most disgusting example, United States intelligence recruited the “Butcher of Lyon” Klaus Barbie, a Gestapo functionary who American forces used to track down and execute Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.
Donald Trump’s actions are another chapter in a deep seated tradition of fascism within the American establishment. The lack of a communist scapegoat has meant that he has not seen the support previously seen by J Edgar Hoover and Ronald Reagan who went on similar crusades. However, the threat Trump and his cabal pose to democracy cannot be discounted. If his overt courting of fascism is not successfully challenged then the underlying fascism of the American establishment will no longer remain in the shadows.