May 8, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
―Andy Zee, Spokesperson for Revolution Books NYC, speaking at Refuse Fascism’s April 27 Emergency National Teach-In “Fascism in America—Could It Happen Here? Is It Happening Here? What is the Danger that the Trump/Pence Government Poses?” Watch Video HERE.
On April 29, Donald Trump marked his 100th day in power by skipping the traditional White House correspondents’ dinner and presiding over what can only be described as a Hitler-style rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There he touted his many—fascist—accomplishments, including appointing fascist-enabler Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, launching multiple attacks on immigrants, increasing backing for “law enforcement” (also known as murdering police), gutting environmental regulations and further building up the U.S. military. Trump wasn’t “reaching out” or “normalizing”—he was doubling down on his fascist agenda, as he ushered in another week of savage assaults on the people and the planet.
Assaulting and Threatening to Tear Up Basic Rights and NormsThe correspondents’ dinner is usually an event where the mainstream press pokes mild fun at the president and vice versa, and the world gets propagandized with the illusion that in the United States, a free press keeps the president in check. Not this time. Trump would have none of that. He has declared the press an “enemy of the people.” In Harrisburg, he railed that he skipped the event because the media is a “disgrace.”
This is not simply or mainly Trump being a thin-skinned bully. This is consistent with an escalating war on the press and political expression more generally. On April 30, Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, ominously told ABC News that changing the libel laws to enable the government to sue its media critics for “slander”— something Priebus acknowledged would require constitutionally amending (really gutting, even abolishing) the First Amendment—was “something that is being looked at.”
In a similar vein, last week Trump demanded the U.S. Senate strip away rules that require 60 votes for some measures to pass, declaring these norms, which aim to produce some element of consensus in the ruling class, “an archaic system.”
And on May 4, Trump signed a new executive order allowing tax-exempt religious organizations to directly endorse candidates. This assault on the separation of church and state empowers the Christian fascist power bloc, and is a step toward forcibly imposing reactionary religion throughout society.
The Trump regime is assaulting some of the basic norms of this society. These norms are bourgeois-democratic—that is, they regulate the normal functioning of a system of exploitation, plunder and oppression. They are democratic rights within a basic framework in which the capitalist-imperialists dictate their will to society. These norms enable the rulers to work out differences among themselves but also afford the masses some limited “space” in which to debate and organize (even as this is constantly under attack, and often violently repressed in these same normal workings of the system). But this regime’s assault on these norms is NOT to change them in favor of the masses—it is to radically reshape and make much more violent and openly repressive—qualitatively more repressive—the edge of dictatorship, both against their rivals and the masses of people. Should they succeed in this reshaping, the consequences will be dire; and what they have already accomplished has caused great suffering and put the world at tremendous risk.
Signaling, and Preparing, for Leaps in Ethnic Cleansing and GenocideIn Harrisburg, Trump saved his most hateful vitriol for immigrants and the foreign born, whom he compared to “snakes” in language right out of Nazi Germany. When some protesters courageously stood up, he threatened, “That’s right, get them out of here. Get them out.” Trump was whipping up and organizing his fascist base in the arena. Meanwhile, outside there’s growing mobilization of violent alt-right, fascist groups of neo-Nazi bikers, skinheads, KKKers, off-duty pigs, militia and other white supremacist scum who are organizing to attack anti-Trump protests. Twice in April, hundreds of such ready-to-brawl fascists descended in Berkeley, California. Armed Nazis marched in Pikeville, Kentucky, where they were confronted by an equal number of anti-fascist protesters.
Two days later, Trump praised President Andrew Jackson, and wondered aloud “why was there the Civil War?” This invocation and exultation of a genocidal slave master is in service of an agenda of terroristic ethnic cleansing and intensified violence against Black and Brown people in the inner cities that is at the core of Trump’s “Make America White Again” agenda.
Allying With and Legitimizing Murderous Authoritarian RegimesMeanwhile, Trump had a “friendly discussion” with Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, praising how hard he was fighting to “rid” his country of drugs. Since taking over, Duterte has directed police and vigilantes to terrorize and slaughter drug suspects. By some estimates, 7,000 people, mostly the bitterly oppressed, have been massacred without any due process. What does this say about Trump’s own plans for supporting other mass murderers around the world and for stepping up the “war on drugs” in the U.S.?
Trump also congratulated Turkey’s fascist president, Recip Tayyip Erdoğan, for expanding his dictatorial powers through a draconian crackdown and purge (most recently the firing of nearly 4,000 civil servants and judges). He, too, has been invited to the White House, on May 16.
Savage Assaults on the Poor, Working People and WomenIn the past week, Trump announced tax cuts that “Shifts Trillions To Wealthiest,” as one headline put it, while rescinding rules promoting healthy school lunches, an action disproportionately harming oppressed people. Then on May 4, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives rammed through a bill that ends the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and drastically cuts back Medicaid, slashes protections for people with preexisting conditions, and swells the ranks of the uninsured by tens of millions, while giving wealthy Americans billions in tax cuts.
These are moves that will kill poor people, with Black, Latino, and Native American people who are already living in desperate conditions affected in the most extreme ways. And the House vote to repeal Obamacare threw raw meat to Trump’s fascist base, for whom the very term “Obamacare” evoked a racist frenzy.
The Trump/Pence “health care” bill also represents a ferocious attack on women’s reproductive rights, and their very lives. Among other things, it further restricts access to abortion. It prevents Planned Parenthood from accepting Medicaid reimbursements for a year, cutting off nearly 400,000 poor women from basic health services like life-saving cervical and breast cancer screenings and access to birth control. The bill also opens the door for states to allow insurance companies, Fortune reports, to return to treating “sexual assault, domestic violence, postpartum depression, pregnancy, and Caesarean sections as preexisting conditions, charging women who have experienced them more or denying coverage entirely.”
More Violent Assertion of U.S. Power Around the World, More Environmental DevastationMore unrestrained, violent assertion of U.S. power around the world is the other side of Trump’s fascist vision and agenda. This is a real threat to all of humanity. After warning, “we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea,” Trump continued to ratchet up U.S. threats and military moves on the Korean Peninsula. On May 2, a U.S. anti-missile defense system—which is actually a threatening offensive weapon—went live in South Korea. While this was taking place, B-1B Lancer bombers took part in U.S.-South Korea exercises simulating an attack on North Korea, further backing that regime into a corner, and ratcheting up the possibility of a horrific war, possibly including with nuclear weapons.
Trump’s first overseas trip was announced: to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican. This signaled, among other things, that the U.S. rulers were giving their full backing to the apartheid, ethnic-cleansing state of Israel and the head-chopping, Islamic fundamentalist Kingdom of Saud, who are committing enormous crimes in Palestine, Syria, Yemen and across the region. Visiting Israel and Saudi Arabia also signals that the U.S. plans to act aggressively against the Islamic Republic of Iran, potentially putting the lives of many across the region at risk. In the Horn of Africa, the U.S. carried out new military attacks in Somalia.
In his first major address, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spelled out how he saw translating Trump’s agenda of “America first” into foreign policy. The U.S. had been “promoting economic activity” and trade in the “emerging” (oppressed) countries, and supporting its allies, he claimed, but “things got a little bit out of balance.” This Trumpian theme—that the world’s most ruthless exploiter and leading warmonger has been too nice—is aimed at forging a fascist people willing to welcome towering crimes. Now it’s Trump Time. There will be more hard-edge ruthlessness, with friend and foe alike, more wielding America’s military might... more bombs, more missiles, more assassination squads, and more risking war, and more playing with nuclear fire.
As if all this weren’t horrendous enough, the Trump/Pence regime also accelerated its assault on the environment. On April 27, it delayed consideration (basically refused to oppose) a coal industry lawsuit aimed at eliminating existing regulations on how much mercury and other toxics coal plants can emit. The next day, the regime announced it would “review” offshore drilling policies and regulations that are opposed by the fossil fuel industry, including the banning of offshore drilling along most of the Atlantic Coast and much of Alaska.
This is not a regime becoming “more normal.” This is not a regime that is not accomplishing anything. No! This was yet another week of a fascist regime moving to rapidly consolidate its power. It must be driven out before it succeeds!