I know, it’s bad enough when a native says anything negative about the good ole U.S. of A., but when an immigrant criticizes America … oh boy, that’s a big no-no! I’m a Dutch immigrant, and on this blog I’ll be talking about fascism in America! So I’m sure I’ll get lots of comments telling me to go back to where I came from if I don’t like it here. Like every other immigrant, I’ve heard and read it a thousand times. I’ve paid taxes here for twenty-four years now — I’m invested.

In writing on my blog Resident Alien: Being Dutch in America for more than seven years about life in America from my Dutch perspective, I find that I keep coming back to fascism in America. I don’t mean that Americans are fascists or that America is a fascist country. Let me explain below and in my posts.

It strikes me that so many Americans don’t recognize fascism as such. Sure, it’s obvious to most of you when torch-wielding thugs with swastikas on their sleeves yell “One people, one nation, end immigration!” but what about the police officer who stops you for a broken taillight and then asks you where you’re headed? Apart from America, in what kind of countries do you think it’s okay for the police to randomly ask you where you’re going?

Many fascist elements are deeply rooted in American history, a history which your kids aren’t adequately taught. As a result you have–for instance–white Americans asking in all seriousness, “What did we ever do, after slavery was abolished, to hold black folks back?”

I deliberated between using ‘fascism’ or ‘authoritarianism’ in the subtitle of this page. Fascism might come across as too strong for some folks, and much of what I’ll discuss here does also fall under authoritarianism… But the time for walking on eggshells has passed, both in politics and in my personal life.

So fuck the eggshells.

If the term “fascism” is too strong for you, you’re probably already logging out anyway. See you later, maybe. To the rest: let’s go.

Definitions of fascism are numerous, but these are twelve tenets and other elements of fascism most historians can agree on:

1. Protectionism and isolation — very little, if any, participation in international groups;
2. Consolidation of government — Only a central, strong leader and a single party can provide unity and order;
3. Central control of industry and commerce;
4. Extreme nationalism — the country is superior to other countries;
5. Romanticism of national history, historical figures and national symbols;
6. Totalitarianism — the country is more important than the individual — ultimately the individual has no rights;
7. The end justifies the means — ethical and legal restraints are used only when convenient;
8. Economic hardship or humiliation are played up — vulnerable minorities are scapegoats;
9. Toxic masculinity — aggressive, forceful men who act first and maybe ask questions later are seen as the ideal;
10. Violence can be useful — war and chaos can lead to rebirth, to a new beginning;
11. An armed citizenry — that can be mobilized and encouraged to intimidate the population;
12. Oppression of dissentcensorship and no freedom of the press, spies in the workplace, etc.

Donald Trump alone, both in his actions and in his intentions and desires as revealed in his many rallies and tweets, ticks off all of the above. He ticked them all off during his election campaign, and his crowds roared their approval. Yet when he was elected president of the United States on November 11, 2016, the left was gobsmacked! Shocked! Never saw it coming! To me as a Dutch person, as I consider America’s history and as I have seen America in action for myself over the last twenty-four years, it came as no surprise — it was just a matter of time.

Seeing that so many Americans don’t even know how to recognize fascism, and that Trump’s election therefore came out of the blue, I spent ever more space on my Resident Alien blog on posts about U.S. fascism, until I realized I needed a separate platform. So I am now introducing this new blog, The Big No-No: An Outsider On U.S. Fascism, at the very cool and easy to remember https://thebignono.com. The Big No-No Facebook page will have the posts from the Big No-No blog, as well as anything else I come across that’s relevant.

I plan to bring it all together in a book eventually, but since the topic is so vast, this might take a while. I look forward to some interesting discussions and insights!

Barbara Backer-Gray

(Image: mine)