The US is a Fascist Country: Part 2 of 3

Rajath Prabhakar, Director of Design

George Floyd’s brutal death at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department sparked a summer of protests met by right-wing violence, tear gassings, and beatings. The Trump administration and Attorney General William Barr have called for and authorized the use of brutal force to put down these mostly peaceful demonstrations, leading many to sound the alarm that the United States is sliding towards fascism. 

In 2003, political scientist Lawrence Britt wrote an article outlining the 14 characteristics that all fascist regimes have in common. This article aims to apply these characteristics to political conditions in the United States.

Rampant Sexism

On sexism, Britt writes that “the governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.”

The confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and, most recently, Amy Coney Barrett have revealed a deep disdain for women’s rights. On abortion, Kavanaugh ruled in Garza vs. Hargan (2017, the only case on abortion that Kavanaugh has ruled on) that (a) He does not believe that “the Constitution’s protection for abortion is meaningful” and (b) that he does not believe that detained unaccompanied minors have a right to an abortion. 

Likewise, Amy Coney Barrett has a record of ruling against the right to an abortion. In 2019, Barrett was part of a minority opinion in Planned Parenthood vs Box, writing that “Unless a baleful outcome is either highly likely or ruinous even if less likely, a federal court should allow a state law (on the subject of abortion or anything else) to go into force; otherwise the prediction cannot be evaluated properly”. The law in question would have allowed Indiana to notify parents that their daughters were seeking abortions. Barrett also dissented against the state court striking down laws that would have “banned abortions sought solely because of the sex or disability of a fetus and the other required abortion providers to bury or cremate fetal remains”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett has written numerous dissents against Roe v Wade, among other anti-LGBTQ sentiments. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

And anti-abortion legislature is not the only facet of rampant sexism in the United States. As of Oct. 31, 2020, there are several bills in state legislature that attempt to curtail the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, consider House Bill 1060 (GA). Section 31-20-A-3 states as follows: 

no health care professional shall engage in any of the following practices upon a minor, or cause such practices to be performed, for the purpose of attempting to affirm the minor’s perception of such minor’s sex, if that perception is inconsistent with such minor’s sex.

A clear attempt to discriminate against nonbinary/transgender children, this clause means that even if the child knows that they are transgender or otherwise nonbinary, that they cannot consent or request any operations to change their physical characteristics.  

In Kentucky, House Bill 132 is currently in committee. Section 3, among other things, states that

A student who asserts to school officials that his or her gender is different from his or her biological sex and whose parent or legal guardian provides written consent to school officials shall be provided with the best available accommodation, but that accommodation shall not include the use of student restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms designated for use by students of the opposite biological sex while students of the opposite biological sex are present or could be present.

These type of bills, known colloquially as “Bathroom Bills”, disproportionately affect the transgender community, and fly in the face of the reality that they are more likely to be assaulted in a private space than their cis-gender counterparts. 

There are dozens of similar bills in various states of passage, that can be found here

Religion and Government are Intertwined

Britt: “Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.”

This section goes hand in hand with the “rampant sexism” section. The rise of the Religious Right has contributed to the rise of President Donald Trump in 2016, with 81% of Christian fundamentalists supporting the real estate mogul. Christian nationalists, and religious fundamentalists in general, play a very important role in authoritarian regimes. 

As Katherine Stuart says in an interview with Al Jazeera, “Their doctrines make an absolute virtue out of obedience to a literalist or strict interpretation of their religion. This is very handy both for the clerics and the politicians and elites that they serve, as it reinforces their authority, power and privilege.”

The tying of religion to authoritarianism significantly contributes to legitimizing the fascist regime. (Don Simpson, Al Franken)

Obsession with National Security

In a sense, the attacks on September 11, 2001 were the opportunity the Bush administration was waiting for, to profit off another war in the Middle East. Far beyond the approximately 3,000 people killed however, was the prospect of increased surveillance of “suspected terrorists” through the Patriot Act in the name of “national security”. It has repeatedly been renewed, the most recent renewal being in June of 2020, despite it doing little to prevent such attacks and disproportionately affecting Black and Indigenous People of Color. 

Another example of this obsession with national security would be the endless wars abroad. While we are fed the excuse that the war in Iraq was due to the UN “finding weapons of mass destruction”, the reality is that American troops die so that Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and the oil executives can widen their profit margins. When the Central Intelligence Agency conducts coups in Latin America, specifically Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia, this is not “maintaining national security” but allowing capitalists (side note: the term “greedy capitalists” is redundant) to exploit cheap labor and expropriate the natural resources found there, furthering American imperialism. We are told that the war in Afghanistan was fought in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but what we are not told is that this country created the conditions for the attacks to occur, starting with arming the very soldiers that would become al-Qaeda, with the Red Scare hanging over people’s heads. This action in the Middle East, in the 1980s, destabilized the region, causing widespread chaos and paving the way for al-Qaeda and the Taliban to fill the power vacuum caused by the destabilization. 

As William Blum writes,

“This… was the power and the glory of President Reagan’s ‘freedom fighters’, who had become yet more anti-American in recent years, many of them backing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf conflict of 1990-91. Surely even Ronald Reagan and George Bush would have preferred the company of “communist” reformers like President Noor Mohammed Taraki, Mayor Mohammed Hakim or poet Suleiman Layeq.”