An American philosopher and expert in fascism says the country is “facing an emergency” after what has been branded “one of the single most racist moments in modern American political history” at a Trump rally on Wednesday night.
“The word ’emergency’ is tricky to use because ’emergency’ is a word that anti-democratic people use all the time to justify non-democratic measures,” Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley told Newsweek in an interview on Thursday. “But, what we have is a Republican Party that has just completely become the party of ‘us versus them.’ They have not just accepted this; they have become champions of it.”
“Trump is trying to define America in a very negative way,” he said. And, he said, “we need to call this racism very clearly.”
The night before, Stanley had been left “shocked” after watching video of President Donald Trump’s rally in Greenville, North Carolina, where supporters chanted the words, “send her back,” as the U.S. leader renewed his racist attacks against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia when she was just eight years old.
“I am not easily shocked. But we are facing an emergency,” the Yale professor and author of the book How Fascism Works wrote on Twitter.
“Journalists must not get away with sugar-coating this,” he said. “This is the face of evil.”
In his post, Stanley shared a tweet from writer and activist Shaun King, who described the moment the “send her back” chants broke out at the rally as “one of the single most racist moments in modern American political history.”
“As Trump began attacking my friend, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the crowd began chanting, ‘SEND HER BACK, SEND HER BACK.’ It’s utterly despicable and dangerous,” King said, adding: “We are here. We are in THAT time. UGLY.”
Trump had used much of the campaign rally to launch a fresh series of racist attacks on Omar and three other Democratic representatives: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who have collectively branded themselves “The Squad.”
During his speech, the president branded the four congresswomen, who are all women of color, “hate-filled extremists,” in a renewal of the racist assault the U.S. leader launched on Sunday when he tweeted that Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley should “go back” to the “crime-infested places from which they came.”
Omar became a U.S. citizen in 2000 at the age of 17, while the three other representatives were born in the U.S. and are U.S. citizens.
In his interview with Newsweek, Stanley warned that the president was demonstrating a “deep-seated commitment to fascism,” in addition to clear racism.
“This whole administration has been orienting itself around attacking and vilifying ethnic minorities,” he said. “It’s horrifying to see.”
“Fascist ideology is based upon the vilification of ‘outsiders,’ you know. It’s an ideology that has, at its very center, panic and fear about outsiders. All fascist movements are toxically anti-immigration,” he said. Adolf Hitler, for example, ran by “raising rants about lax immigration laws constantly.”
“Fascist ideology says there’s the nation and the members of the nation and they are ethnically defined and they face this mortal threat from leftism, communism, socialism and foreigners and so you would think the president has a choice: he could run saying well you know the economy’s strength or he could run with one of the most toxic ideologies the world has ever seen… and that’s what he’s doing,” Stanley said.
After branding the Trump rally “the face of evil,” the philosopher explained that “evil is a moral concept and obviously we’re talking about political systems, but trying to get Americans to identify with hatred of others as a defining feature of being American… the president is saying that being American is hating foreigners.”
Stanley also stressed that today’s journalists have a responsibility to be clear in identifying the president’s rhetoric as what it is: racism.
“Journalists have two competing pressures: one is to represent the different sides in political debates and, two, is to tell the truth. These run into conflict with each other when you have a very extreme situation like the one we now face where, with one political side, there is no reasonable way to represent it.”
“[Trump] is utterly clear about his white nationalism and his racism and you just have to call it what it is and not suggest that it’s being misunderstood,” he said.
Since Trump launched his racist attack on Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley, world leaders, including Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, have spoken out to condemn the president’s rhetoric, joining lawmakers in the U.S.
In a 245-187 House vote on Tuesday night, U.S. representatives officially condemned Trump’s racism, with 240 Democrats in favor of and 187 Republicans opposed to the resolution, which is a statement of opinion and not legally binding.
Only four Republicans, Reps. Will Hurd, Susan Brooks, Fred Upton and Brian Fitzpatrick, voted in favor of the measure, along with Independent Justin Amash, who parted ways with the GOP earlier this month.
In a tweet, Omar appeared to respond to the president’s renewed attacks on Wednesday, writing: “I am where I belong, at the people’s house.”
“You’re just gonna have to deal,” she said.
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