Profiling Right-Wing Extremism in America

The government shutdown over Trump’s proposed southern border wall is a teachable moment, speaking to the danger of rising fascism in America. Contrary to prominent scholarly efforts, I do not believe it is useful to draw a dividing line between Trump’s politics on the one hand, and white supremacy and fascist ideology on the other. [1] Trump may not officially call for an exclusively white ethno-state in his speeches or proposals, but he has long straddled the line between hateful far-right ideology and fascism in his rhetoric and policies. Considering his flirtation with the white supremacist “alt-right” movement and his authoritarian politics more generally, it makes sense to speak of American politics under Trump as falling victim to “creeping” fascism. This classification is not new, as the concept of “fascist creep” is drawn from previous journalistic and historical works. [2]

Trump’s efforts to bully Congress into funding his wall draw on classic elements of totalitarianism and fascism. But in “mainstream” American political discourse, warnings that Trump’s politics speak to a nascent fascism and represent a threat to republican government tend to be marginalized, leaving the impression that these concerns are alarmist and paranoid. For example, in the New York Times– the nation’s “paper of record,” the terms “fascist” and “fascism” are infrequently applied to Trump. An analysis of the Nexis Uninews archive finds that the…

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