Saturday, February 18, 2017

As America lurches towards fascism


From the BBC:
At a different time, in another country, it was effectively a death sentence.

Being branded an "enemy of the people" by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death.

Now the chilling phrase - which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called "hostis publicus", enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 - is making something of a comeback.

In November, the UK Daily Mail used its entire front page to brand three judges "enemies of the people" following a legal ruling on the Brexit process.

Then on Friday, President Donald Trump deployed the epithet against mainstream US media outlets that he sees as hostile.

"The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" he wrote on Twitter. ...

Steve Silberman, an award-winning writer and journalist, wondered whether the remark would prompt Trump supporters to shoot at journalists.

And that might not be a far-fetched concern. Late last year, a Trump supporter opened fire in a pizza restaurant at the centre of a bizarre conspiracy theory about child abuse.

The US president's use of "enemies of the people" raises unavoidable echoes of some of history's most murderous dictators.

Under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, out-of-favour artists and politicians were designated enemies and many were sent to hard labour camps or killed. Others were stigmatised and denied access to education and employment.

And Chairman Mao, the leader of China who presided over the deaths of millions of people in a famine brought about by his Great Leap Forward, was also known to use the phrase against anyone who opposed him, with terrible consequences. ...

Carl Bernstein, a reporter who helped to bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on the Watergate scandal, tweeted: "The most dangerous 'enemy of the people' is presidential lying - always. Attacks on press by Donald Trump more treacherous than Nixon's."

Is Donald Trump really that ignorant, that he doesn't realize the historical significance of "enemy of the people"? That's how dictators talk.

Donald Trump and his supporters in the Republican Party want you to get your 'news' directly from him, without anyone pointing out when Trump lies. That's fascist thinking.

Rep. Lamar Smith, from Texas, actually said, "Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth." Believe it or not, this is the guy Republicans put in charge of the House Science Committee!

Keep in mind that this is the president who readily repeats lies with the justification that he saw or heard them somewhere. And that's where we Americans are supposed to get "the unvarnished truth"? Really?

We're still less than one month into this pathetic, dangerous excuse for a presidency. How crazy can it get?

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