This article will examine how the Republican party of today has increasingly assimilated more and more of the most noxious and toxic beliefs and tenets of fundamentalist Christianity and fascism. While most people view religion as a positive good, history and contemporary politics paint a very different picture. The fact the Christianity and fascism are ideologically linked in many ways completely escapes the consciousness of most people, who have been born and bred not to question their faith. Christianity is far from being the only religion that insists its tenets should never be questioned: Demagogues and dictators throughout history have also known the value of unquestioned belief and use it to their advantage; even Joseph Stalin painted himself as an omniscient ruler, never to be questioned. This should be kept in mind when listening to the far-fetched excuses and rationalizations today’s Trump supporters will resort to rather than questioning their hero.The Republican party of today is vastly different than it was in its earlier days. To be sure, there have always been extreme kooks within the party. In the 1930s, as Nazism and fascism were becoming more and more powerful in Europe, in America the Reverends Charles Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith were constantly preaching about their imagined enemy, the Jew. Both these men were avid Republicans and railed against anyone perceived as the enemy; the Jew had been the traditional enemy of Christians since the formation of their church. Coughlin, known as “the radio priest,” was especially rabid and had an immense following. After Kristallnacht, Coughlin repeatedly defended the Nazi violence against the Jews. He supported fascist dictatorships and authoritarian governments, claiming these were the only cures to the supposed evils of democracy and capitalism. Coughlin even received indirect financing from the Nazi regime. Compare this with today’s phenomenon of Donald Trump having received financial benefits from Russia.
Smith was an avowed white supremacist who joined William Dudley Pelley’s pro-Nazi Silver Shirts group, an organization that was patterned after Hitler’s brown shirts. For years after the end of the Second World War, Smith tirelessly lobbied for the release of convicted Nazi war criminals.
Some of Smith’s quotes indicate that he would be right at home with today’s increasingly fascistic Republican party (I include my own comments showing the ideological differences between him and today’s Republicans):
“The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.” True enough. But again, we see the opposite taking place today, as the Republican-led government plays Robin Hood in reverse, taking from the poor and giving it to the rich.
The Catholic hierarchy, from the Vatican down, took no action against either of these men. In Nazi Germany, the state owned the church. In the United States, the church wants to own the state and make its views the laws of the land. The church has unswerving support from the Republican party, and here I am referring to the fundamentalist Christian churches. The Republican party’s views on abortion, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, school vouchers, and just about everything else have their foundations in dark-age religious extremism, perversely portrayed as “Christian morality.”
Clearly, the fascist element in the Republican party has been present for well over eighty years. The techniques used then were the same as they are today: Extreme nationalism, hatred and vocal opposition against perceived enemies, and numerous other characteristics remain part and parcel of far-right Republican politics. The difference between the Republicans of half a century ago and the ones today are that the voices of moderation have all but disappeared from the Republican party today. For example, when Gerald L.K. Smith announced his support for Richard Nixon, the future president said: “There is no place in the Republican party for the race merchandisers of hate like Gerald L.K. Smith.” Today, Smith’s ideological descendants dominate the Republican party; virtually none of their leaders are voicing their opposition to the racism and rants of their colleagues. The moderate Republican is a relic of the past.
Let us examine some of the parallels between Christianity, fascism, and today’s Republicans:
All three of these groups have perceived enemies that they constantly and viciously attack, both verbally and, whenever possible, physically. The church, at least in its pristine state, threatened eternal hellfire for those of differing views. When they took over the state during the Middle Ages, Inquisitions and torture became the order of the day. Today, one of the church’s perceived enemies is secularism; in this they are completely aligned with the Republican party. The Nazi persecution of Jews (and many other groups) is well-known and need not be examined here. Today’s Republicans rail against Muslims, gays and lesbians, liberals, the poor, non-believers, and many other groups. Notice how all this dovetails with the views and actions of the early Christians (and many right-wing churches today) and the fascists of the 1930s and 1940s, all of whom did the same thing. Lashing out at perceived enemies is stock-in-trade for right-wing hate groups, and today’s Republican party follows that pattern to a startling degree. In all three groups, the goal is to either to eradicate or else to render powerless all perceived enemies. Certainly, Mitch McConnell’s actions as Senate Majority leader has gone out of his way to ignore any legislation introduced by Democrats; he has also used the “nuclear option” to appoint the most rabid right-wing justices all over the country. His refusal to even consider President Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, for the Supreme Court. While persecution, incarceration and murder of the opposition are currently not within Republican power, the future holds no such guarantees. With Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the majority of other Republicans, democracy, and the will of the people are not, to say the least, a top priority. It’s all about attaining complete control and insisting on unquestioned obedience. Once this happens, the persecutions will begin. If the historical study of totalitarianism and fascism has taught us anything, it is this.
Racism is also a large component of these groups. Anti-semitism has been around since the time of the New Testament, and even earlier. It still exists today, and many of today’s Republican extremists hold similar views. In fact, the number of right-wing hate crimes increased dramatically after Donald Trump assumed the presidency. Let it not be forgotten that Trump referred to these hate-filled perpetrators as “very fine people.” This starkly illustrates how extreme the Republican party has become since the time of Nixon.
Euphemisms abound in today’s Republican party. Knowing that the majority of Americans do not support school vouchers, Republicans continue to re-introduce them under such names as “education enhancers,” “opportunity embursement” and other harmless sounding names, hoping that the public will not realize what they really are. Their counterparts in the Nazi party can be seen in the way they referred to dealing with the Jews: “Resettlement” was the original term, followed by “special treatment” and finally by the “final solution.” There are other examples of this; a recently introduced bill called Setting Every Community UP for Retirement Enhancement Act (the shorter version is called The Secure Act) has a provision in it that concerns annuities: under this plan, administrators will not be held accountable for ripping off workers.
The traditional church, the fascist movement, and the Republican party all despise intellectuals. The church has always put faith (a nice sounding word which really means nothing more than subjective whim worship) above objective truth. “Mere reason” has for years been a term used by Christian leaders to attack logical inquiry. In Nazi Germany, the intellectuals were among the first to be purged. Here in America, we have a president who said on July 4, 2019 that the American Revolution was won when the Americans took over the airports! Scientists are ignored when they speak of the climate threat. And even though the entire field of biology rests and depends upon evolutionary theory, Republicans are still promoting creationist nonsense and want it taught in our schools to impressionable children. And, when the objective facts don’t give them what they want, Trump and his supporters claim to possess “alternative facts” which they hope lends credibility to a stupid idea. Meanwhile, the president himself doesn’t even seem to be able to read beyond the third-grade level.
Another thing that unites the church with fascism and today’s Republicans is their perceived persecution complex. A cursory examination of the mad medieval monk Thomas A’ Kempis’ work “The Imitation of Christ” will reveal this aspect of Christianity; the book has been called the biggest seller in Christendom after the Bible. After Kristallnacht, Father Coughlin defended the Nazis actions, saying: “Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted.” Donald Trump continues to portray himself as a victim, both from the Mueller “witch hunt” (which has resulted in 39 indictments to date) and the mainstream press, which he calls “the enemy of the people” for having the audacity to report the truth about what he says and does. These three groups are not the persecuted, they are the persecutors.
Book burnings are also the product of far-right intolerance and bigotry. The Ku Klux Klan (Trump’s “very fine people”) is notorious for this activity; their historical predecessors were the Nazis in the 1930s and the early Christian church which utterly destroyed the library at Alexandria because it contained “pagan” works. This allowed the church to re-write history to its own satisfaction. Trump wants to be glorified by sycophants in the press, and when they refuse to fawn over him, he attacks them at every opportunity.
Sympathy for the suffering of others is utterly lacking in these groups. “Let the dead bury their dead” is one example of biblical contempt for others; these were supposed to be the words of Jesus himself! We don’t need to go into the complete lack of sympathy exhibited by the Nazis toward the sufferings of millions of people during the Third Reich, but it is to be noted that today’s Republicans likewise seem utterly indifferent to the sufferings and deaths of children kept in cages in a modern-day, American version of Nazi concentration camps.
Anti-women views are common to all three groups, as illustrated by the Republican party’s complete hostility toward a woman’s control over her own body. Even though the majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose, Republicans again ignore the will of the people and—surprise—justify their views by quoting scripture. Paul of Tarsus, the real founder of Christianity, said that it is sinful for a woman to speak in church. In Nazi Germany, a woman’s sole purpose was to produce more Germans for the fatherland.
Anti-gay sentiment and xenophobia are also present in all three groups and were promulgated in the Bible, which demands the death penalty for homosexual behavior. The so-called “good book” is also supremely xenophobic, as evidenced by the countless tribes slaughtered in the name of God in the Old Testament. Xenophobia is overwhelmingly present in today’s Republican party, as seen in their hostility towards Islam, Mexico, and just about anyone else they decide is “against” them. And let us not forget Trump’s lie during his 2016 when he claimed to be the LGBTQ community’s “best friend” and then showed his “friendship” by barring them from military service.
Civil liberties are the bugaboo of all three groups. When you have a government that does not respect individual rights, by definition you have a dictatorship. One will search in vain for any mention of dissenters’ rights in the Bible. The same is true in any fascist dictatorship. Here in America, the American Civil Liberties Union has always been hated by conservatives; the ACLU’s only duty is to protect the rights of all Americans, yet Republicans oppose them for just that very reason. Under the Trump administration, steps are being taken to curb people’s right to protest and eliminate their rights to redress unfair practices and discrimination. And, the increasingly right-wing courts invariably find in favor of the rich and powerful.
All three groups exhibit a complete disregard for the truth. The church, until recent decades, made every effort to cover up the crimes of their child molesting priests. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, was a master of preaching “the big lie” over and over. And, Donald Trump has long since proven himself to be the most mendacious politician in the history of the Republic. In all three cases, supporters of these people and groups ignore anything that threatens their comfort zone; faith, in every instance, takes precedence over facts. Blaming the victim is standard operating procedure, from the victims of pedophile priests to the Nazi attacks on the Jews to the disgraceful Republican attacks on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of rape. For all three groups, their survival and well-being take precedence over morality.
In February, 2019, President Trump moved us one step closer to fascism when he signed an Executive Order that could soon allow the CIA to become a secret, unaccountable killing squad. Drone strikes have tripled since he took office. Trump has given the CIA the authority to conduct drone wars all over the world; these are killing innocent civilians in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. At present, there is nothing in our laws that requires the CIA to report these casualties; they are free to operate without oversight.
Secrecy is the very essence of a totalitarian state. The cover-up of child molesting priests by the church illustrates this, as does their utter hostility in consenting to an audit. One can only ask: What is the church afraid of? The answer is simple: Losing their tax-exempt status. The Nazis made every effort to keep their mass murders quiet. Donald Trump is merely the latest example of this trait; he refuses to release his tax returns, as every president has done for the last fifty years. What is Trump afraid of? It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if he were to release the returns, it would show massive conflicts of interest and unmistakeable financial ties with Russia. An innocent man would welcome the opportunity to prove his innocence by releasing his tax returns.
It is undeniable, given the objective facts, that the Republican party is moving toward a totalitarian state in which any kind of dissent will be dealt with harshly. They have one advantage over their Nazi predecessors in that the Nazis never had complete control of the courts. With literally hundreds of right-wing zealots being appointed with record speed thanks to Mitch McConnell’s infamous “nuclear option,” the Republican party stands to control all legislation for decades to come.
Today’s Republican party has become an illegitimate party promoting hate, death and destruction. There are no extremist counterparts on the left. Let those who disagree name someone who is preaching the hate fundamentalist Christians preach. Let them provide quotes equal to what today’s successors of Father Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith are saying. Who are the book burners on the left? What leftist groups bomb churches, or other public buildings? Which leftist organizations preach hate and violence? How many leftist concentration camps are there? Where is the racism on the left? Why don’t leftists demand public financing of atheist and freethought groups? Which leftists are attacking the free press? Which leftist leaders are violating the Constitution? Where are the leftist attacks on the straight community? Which leftist leaders and groups have called for the silencing of dissenters?
The facts presented herein are objectively verifiable. Until the American people wake up to the threat posed by today’s increasingly fascist Republican party, we will eventually become just another third-world totalitarian state.
Categories: Political Affairs