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Like Hitler and Mussolini, the popularity of Donald Trump’s Republican Party is based on hysteria and illusion. The Ken Burns documentary The U.S. and the Holocaust vividly illustrates how the “slow creep” of fascism suddenly accelerates and subsumes most life forms. It begins with efforts to delegitimize the electoral process, as Trump has done, and it includes the demonization of minorities to scapegoat all problems. Once power is attained, it is never enough, and the imperial dynamic to expand authority and territory kicks in. 

The American fascist dynamic also depends heavily on Christian Nationalism and nativist appeals to masculine insecurities. It has instigated hysteria over the abortion issue, the teaching of American history and math, and female empowerment, and it has equated Donald Trump with GOd. The treatment of Indians and Black people in America served as a model for Hitler. That pesky fact undermined any high road the may have taken to hold moral sway over Nazi Germany. Also, the US had its own brand of anti-Semitism, which was prominent in the US State Department among other branches.

Much of American History is steeped in myth and illusion. The American ideal applied only to white men; as physical and economic freedom did not apply to women, Blacks, Jews and other minorities. Though a founding principle was freedom of religion, and freedom FROM the Anglican Church, Colonial America quickly evolved from an organic migration-immigration dynamic into a churchy, imperial, colonial dynamic; intent on eviscerating American Indian culture and history. The Nazis did the same to Jews after they invaded Poland in 1939 – murdering innocents, burning villages and synagogues, and even destroying Jewish cemeteries to erase any trace of Jewish existence. The US had a similar dynamic of brutal conquest to re-write Indian history and re-assign land titles.

Trump’s characterization of “shithole countries” evokes memories of the anti-Semitic quota system in early 20th Century America. Rather than say, “We must limit the immigration of Jews,” the bigoted Congressmen said, “We will only admit a few refugees from selected Eastern European countries but allow a more generous number from Northern Europe that has very few Jews.” Trump also expressed favoritism toward Northern European countries, while expressing disdain for places populated by Black and Brown people. The aftermath of the Great Depression and scarcity of jobs contributed to the isolationist mentality.

The Charlottesville rally was an evocation of Hitler’s anti-Semitism by men who are deeply insecure about their masculinity and capabilities. Their slogan, “The Jews Will Not Replace Us,” reflects their paranoia, insecurity and vulnerability. Anti-Semitism and racism never went away in America. The progressive presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama kept those lunatic forces marginalized and in the shadows. Then came Trump, who gave them the all-clear signal to come out and act out. Prior to that Ronald Reagan gave the OK to dispense with the results of the Civil Rights Movement when he kicked off his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, MS. He chose the proximity of the murder site of three Civil Rights Freedom Riders (say their names: James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman) 17 years earlier to dramatize his point. Reagan created the template that Trump shot with steroids and buffed out to frame our current nightmare.

If Herschel Walker defeats Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia, it won’t be because Walker is a better statesman or politician. It will be because Republicans care about nothing other than: 

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  • Denying the legitimacy of the 2020 Election, 
  • Stacking all levels of the Justice system with candidates hostile to abortion and women’s free healthcare choices. 

Today’s Republican orthodoxy also encompasses Trump’s brand of American , wrapped in Christian Nationalism.

The Burns documentary illustrates disturbing parallels between the US and Nazi Germany, and how Hitler modeled his social plan on Jim Crow laws and Indian repression in America. Hitler was a careful student of American History, abetted by Americans such as Henry Ford and Grant Mayfield, who did Hitler’s dirty work stateside. Franklin D. Roosevelt was restrained from taking a more active role in rescuing Jews by white, Southern committee chairs in the House and Senate and other social forces. “Patriotic” organizations such as the American Legion, Daughters of the American Revolution and American Coalition of Patriotic Societies all opposed relaxing the quota system to allow more European Jews into America. FDR worked quietly through Congressional and diplomatic backchannels to allow more European immigrants but did not speak out in public. Doing so would have been counterproductive, with demagogues such as Father Coughlin using their platforms to further demonize Jews and Roosevelt for not being sufficiently cruel. FDR’s greatest political challenge was overturning the Neutrality Act, so the US could become involved in Europe.

For all its brilliance and thoroughness the Burns documentary is tough to endure. The sight of mounds and rows of corpses of all ages once disturbed even fascists such as Charles Lindbergh, who was shaken by images of Kristallnacht. (“Yeah, they have a Jewish problem, but this?” he said in a private letter.) The Warsaw Ghetto was more a holding pen of human waste and dead people walking than our concept of an urban ghetto. It’s where they put 400,000 Jews into two square miles, while they figured out where to ship them and how to murder them.

A part of the America First coalition, there are 299 Republican candidates for federal, state and local offices, who deny the results of the 2020 Election. Their goal is to rig elections, restore Trump to power and stack every level of government with. Spreading Trump’s Big Lie, these candidates whip MAGA crowds into a frenzy, giving them bogus validation for their dystopian fantasies. The parallels to Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here are haunting. Donald Trump could have been cast as Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, had he not assumed that role in real life. MAGA fulfills Lewis’s prophecy, depicted in his novel, of the League of Forgotten Men, while the army Trump commanded to storm the capital is. Trump’s misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism check the remaining boxes for the Buzz Windrip model. His and his follower’s intent is to delegitimize any election results they don’t like and prosecute a takeover at every level of government. It IS happening here, and it must be stopped to prevent Civil War II or the breakup of the United States.