[T]he debate about whether to turn inward or to engage with the world has been resurrected by Donald Trump. He insists that he is not an isolationist but he describes US foreign policy in unilateral, transactional terms and has championed “America First” — a phrase originally associated with opposition to Roosevelt’s desire to fight Hitler.
The most prominent spokesman for the 1940s America First Committee, the celebrated aviator Charles Lindbergh, accused Jewish groups of “agitating for war” and was himself accused of being pro-Nazi.
Embracing the phrase “America First” does not in itself indicate fascism, but there is more to the picture than that.
For Lindbergh and Roosevelt, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed everything. In 1944 American troops waded through the surf of Normandy’s beaches and into the path of Nazi bullets.
Half a lifetime later, at Pointe du Hoc on the English Channel, Ronald Reagan commemorated their sacrifice with the words: “Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.”
Of course, the United States has not always lived up to its own ideals.
This week marks the 153rd anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, when US troops murdered and mutilated women and children of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes in Colorado, just one atrocity among many as white Europeans vanquished the native peoples of the New World.
Then a country founded on genocide and slavery covered its ears for shameful ages before it heard Martin Luther King’s insistence that it “make real the promises of democracy” for African Americans. Woodrow Wilson, for one, used fine words but he introduced racist policies too. Even now, that promise of democracy remains only partially fulfilled.
The US has been guilty of bombing civilians, of torture and imprisonment without trial and of subverting the very democracy it professes to hold sacred when it does not like what democracy delivers.
A question comes to mind: did American soldiers fight and die on the beaches of Normandy so their president could promote fascism?
It is an astonishing question, absurd even. To many it may seem offensive even to ask.
But it falls to reporters to describe in plain language what we see, and promotion of fascism and racism is all too easy to observe in the United States of 2017.
On Dec. 4 last year, less than a month after Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton, Austria held a revote in its presidential election, which pitted Alexander Van der Bellen, a liberal who had the backing of the Green Party, against Norbert Hofer of the right-wing Freedom Party. In May 2016, Van der Bellen had defeated Hofer by just more than 30,000 votes — receiving 50.3 percent of the vote to Hofer’s 49.7 percent — but the results had been annulled and a new election had been declared. Hofer had to like his chances: Polls showed a close race, but with him ever so slightly ahead in the polling average. Hofer cited Trump as an inspiration and said that he, like Trump, could overcome headwinds from the political establishment.
So what happened? Van der Bellen won by nearly 8 percentage points. Not only did Hofer receive a smaller share of the vote than in May, but he also had fewer votes despite a higher turnout. Something had caused Austrians to change their minds and decide that Hofer’s brand of populism wasn’t such a good idea after all.
The result didn’t get that much attention in the news outlets I follow, perhaps because it went against the emerging narrative that right-wing populism was on the upswing. But the May and December elections in Austria made for an interesting controlled experiment. The same two candidates were on the ballot, but in the intervening period Trump had won the American election and the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. If the populist tide were rising, Hofer should have been able to overcome his tiny deficit with Van der Bellen and win. Instead, he backslid. It struck me as a potential sign that Trump’s election could represent the crest of the populist movement, rather than the beginning of a nationalist wave.
It was also just one data point, and so it had to be interpreted with caution. But the pattern has been repeated so far in every major European election since Trump’s victory. In the Netherlands, France and the U.K., right-wing parties faded down the stretch run of their campaigns and then further underperformed their polls on election day. (The latest example came on Sunday in the French legislative elections, when Marine Le Pen’s National Front received only 13 percent of the vote and one to five seats1 in the French National Assembly.) The right-wing Alternative for Germany has also faded in polls of the German federal election, which will be contested in September.
The beneficiaries of the right-wing decline have variously been politicians on the left (such as Austria’s Van der Bellen), the center-left (such as France’s Emmanuel Macron) and the center-right (such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, whose Christian Democratic Union has rebounded in polls). But there’s been another pattern in who gains or loses support: The warmer a candidate’s relationship with Trump, the worse he or she has tended to do.
–Nate Silver, Donald Trump Is Making Europe Liberal Again
Horribly, [Donovan and O’Meara] are not the only gay men to respond to an olive branch lately offered by white nationalism. The opening of this movement to cisgender gay men is a radical change, “one of the biggest changes I’ve seen on the right in 40 years,” says Chip Berlet, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America. In the United States, unlike in Europe, out gay men have never been welcome in white supremacist groups. The Klan and neo-Nazi groups, the main previous incarnations of white hate in this country, were and still are violently anti-queer. And while a subset of openly gay men has always been conservative (or, as in all populations, casually racist), they never sought to join the racist right.
That was before groups like NPI, Counter-Currents Publishing, and American Renaissance started putting out the welcome mat. Since around 2010, some (though by no means all) groups in the leadership of the white nationalist movement have been inviting out cis gay men to speak at their conferences, write for their magazines, and be interviewed in their journals. Donovan and O’Meara, far to the right of disgraced provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, are the white nationalist movement’s actual queer stars. But there are others in the ranks, like Douglas Pearce of the popular neofolk band Death in June. And there are many more gay men (and some trans women) who have been profoundly influenced by two white nationalist ideas: the “threat” posed by Islam and the “danger” posed by immigrants.
But when Donovan says violence, he means violence. This is not BDSM. “The ability to use violence effectively is the highest value of masters,” Donovan said in a 2017 speech at a fascist think tank in Germany. “It is the primary value of those who create order, who create worlds. Violence is a golden value. Violence rules. Violence is not evil–it is elemental.” Though Donovan tries to mine the latent sexiness in violence for all it’s worth, he is, in fact, against consensual BDSM, condemning it in a 2010 essay as part of a long list of evils that he feels has been perpetuated by gay culture: the “extreme promiscuity, sadomasochism, transvestism, transsexuality, and flamboyant effeminacy” promoted by “the pink-haired, punk rock stepchildren of feminism,” gay activists. No, it’s straight-up people hurting and killing other people he’s endorsing.
And what is all this violence for? Creating small, decentralized “homelands” in this country separated by—surprise!—race. He enthusiastically embraces an idea the alt-right calls “pan-secessionism,” under which, as Donovan says in his book A Sky Without Eagles, “gangs” of white men would form “autonomous zones” for themselves and white women, where women “would not be permitted to rule or take part in … political life.” The gangs would enforce racial boundary lines, because, as Donovan puts it, whites have “radically different values [and] cultures” than other people, and “loyalty requires preference. It requires discrimination.”
–Donna Minkowitz, How the Alt-Right Is Using Sex and Camp to Attract Gay Men to Fascism
KIEV, Ukraine — A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the U.S. Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.
News had just broken the day before in The Washington Post that Russian government hackers had penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, prompting McCarthy to shift the conversation from Russian meddling in Europe to events closer to home.
Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”
Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks…This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
The remarks remained secret for nearly a year.
Authorities seized cellphones, computers and a black “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist” flag from Petrohilos’s front lawn, according to the court documents.
Petrohilos has not been charged with any crimes. He says he did nothing illegal as he helped plan the protests and participated in them.
The search was part of an effort by authorities to build a legal case against hundreds of activists accused of conspiring to riot and incite violence on the day President Trump was sworn in. But it also has reignited concerns from activists and others who question whether police went too far in making mass arrests Jan. 20 or in investigating demonstrators exercising their right to free speech.
“We believe this is an aggressive assault on the right to organize, to protest,” said David Thurston, an organizer of Disrupt J20, a group that planned protests at the inauguration.
The D.C. Superior Court document — an affidavit providing justification for searching Petrohilos’s home — shows that law enforcement infiltrated several meetings where Disrupt J20 organizers discussed logistics. One was a multiday “action camp,” according to the affidavit. At another, the undercover police officer and other attendees were asked to place their cellphones in a microwave for fear that law enforcement or people opposed to the group were seeking access to their plans, the document states.
–Perry Stein and Keith L. Alexander, D.C. police infiltrated inauguration protest group, court papers show