The use and abuse of the word fascism these past four years has done real damage.
So this is how America’s ‘fascist’ presidency ends — with the peaceful transfer of power.
This is the news that Donald Trump has kind of conceded the US presidential election to Joe Biden. With Trump’s blessing, the official transition process has begun – though he is continuing to claim the election was ‘rigged’.
To take issue with the ‘Trump is Hitler’ meme is not to squabble over semantics or overheated partisan rhetoric. It has been immensely damaging to politics over the past four years, for a few reasons.First, it has made criticising the Trump administration in a clear-eyed way virtually impossible. Rather than attack Trump for the wrongheaded things he was actually doing, pundits constructed fantasies of a new 1930s. Much time was lost arguing the toss over their fever dreams rather than discussing what was actually happening.
Trump’s years spent sowing doubt in the electoral process is a case in point.His refusal to recognise any election result that doesn’t go his way – he also claims he won the popular vote in 2016 – is genuinely shameful and anti-democratic. But as the past few weeks have shown, these are more egotistical rants than serious threats to American democracy.
Second, it has downplayed the ills of the political elites who preceded Trump. Anyone who joined the anti-Trump ‘Resistance’ was hailed as a hero – even warmongering Republicans responsible for inflicting genuine fire, fury and bloodshed on innocent people around the world.Similarly, the Trump administration’s detention of migrants at the southern border was time and again held up as uniquely fascistic. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Trump of running ‘concentration camps’.
But while Trump’s family-separation policy was brutal, the detention centres run during Barack Obama’s tenure were hardly pleasant. Indeed, the ‘it’s only bad when Trump does it’ routine reached its embarrassing nadir when leading Democrats unwittingly tweeted an image of caged migrant children dating from 2014.But more than all that, more than an assault on common sense and rational debate, the Trump-Hitler stuff has been a vile assault on historical memory itself.