American Fascism

American Fascism

Josiah Mayberry, Staff Writer

America is no stranger to fascist sentiments. Wholesale fascist movements have occurred in recent history, but lately, there has been a noticeable fascist presence in some of our media and politicians’ rhetorical and policy decisions.

To have discourse about fascism, we need a definition.

Per World 101, an affiliate of the Council on Foreign Relations:

Many experts agree that fascism is a mass political movement that emphasizes extreme nationalism, militarism, and the supremacy of both the nation and the single, powerful leader over the individual citizen. This model of government stands in contrast to liberal democracies, which support individual rights, competitive elections, and political dissent.

Nations susceptible to fascist movements often are so because of a resistance to change, or the idea that a country’s issues lay in societal decay from non-majority populations. The best example, historically, would be Nazi Germany. While their name was the National Socialist German Workers Party, leading many now to claim that Hitler was a socialist, the Nazi’s were far right.

Germany, post-World War II, was a mess. Economically hopeless, their people were embarrassed by the Treaty of Versailles, and Hitler played to this sentiment through extreme patriotism.

In the 1920’s, many political movements started to materialize due to the nation’s hardships; one of these was the Nazis. They started as a small group, but by the 1930s, Hitler would find himself elected Chancellor.

Hitler and the Nazi Party, through fiery demagogic rhetoric and widespread propaganda, along with appeals to tradition and emotion, mobilized Germans, placing the interests of Aryan Germans above any other racial or ethnic group.


The Nazi Party’s platform had 25 points, combining extreme nationalism, antisemitism and socialist policies. Germany’s socialist policies were only allowed for German citizens, which, through the platform, were Aryans. Jews, LGBT people, unionists, the disabled, black people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, actual socialists and communists, as well as many POWs, were exterminated or targeted by the government. 

Hitler and other Nazis believed that their society was decaying morally. Jews were the main target, but any group that prevented an Aryan ethnostate of white, Christian, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Germans was targeted. Hitler wanted a population completely devoted to the country and himself, with emphasis on homogeneity.

Through their platform, the Nazis denounced the Treaty of Versailles and demanded colonies to gain land. They discouraged immigration, and abolished private ownership in favor of nationalization. All power was given to Hitler. Germany became an absolute dictatorship, and Hitler was viewed as absolute truth. Regardless of any study or article published, they were all fake news.

Fascist movements have occurred all over the world, from South America to Asia, but many don’t realize that the idea of a strong fascist presence in America is not a new one.

One of the most important eras for fascists in America, similar to Europe, was the lead up to World War II. The United States had multiple pro-Nazi organizations, one of the most notable being the German-American Bund. In 1939, Madison Square Garden hosted a rally of theirs, during which over 20,000 right wing sympathizers gathered in order to promote “true Americanism.”

The group was founded by Fritz Kuhn, a German World War I veteran, and operated multiple youth camps at their peak. At the camps, kids were drilled and trained while being indoctrinated with the Nazi ideology. The Bund was pro-Hitler. 

Hitler himself was also inspired by America’s history of discrimination against African-Americans and our genocide of Native Americans. Jim Crow policies were, in-part, his muse.

Currently, America is caught in a rising tide of fascist thought, rhetoric and organization.

We can see this through multiple aspects of our current state, first, the politicization of Christianity. There is nothing wrong with being Christian, but the prominence of televangelism throughout the 1970’s and 80’s culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan intertwined faith and politics in a disingenuous manner.

Televangelists Billy Graham, Oral Roberts and Jerry Falwell garnered mass amounts of attention nationwide. They noticed how large of a voting population evangelicals had become. In order to combat the perceived decay of American society, the term “moral majority” became popularized, spawning organizations still operating in the present day.

Televangelists began preaching that Protestants along with Catholics and all Christians together had enough power to swing elections. Their sermons rested heavily on spiritual warfare and the belief that American society was devolving. Christians, with this in mind, realized that they had the power to dictate Republican policies. Voting became a sort of divine obligation rather than a civic one.

Reagan came and capitalized, completely aligning with the church on most major issues. This mobilization of the church by the Republican Party has continued and is the reason for the right’s staunch opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration. Now it seems that you can’t be Christian without voting a certain way, at least in some circles. 

The mobilization of evangelicals in bad faith politically has been problematic historically, creating an inaccurate, often shallow and hypocritical faith that has to cater to politicians while also opening the door for more extremism. A non-religious citizen invested in politics might think the other party or group is the adversary. 

Evangelicals may view the other party as the enemy as well, but they simultaneously have the added catalyst of spiritual warfare. This allows for more extreme views for some as political targets become labeled satanic or anti-Christian on top of the normalized polarization we already have. 

If we look at the Crusades, chattel slavery, the Nazis, the KKK, the Inquisition, colonization,  forced conversions and many conflicts historically, Christianity and the Bible have demonstrated the capacity to be twisted in order to justify violence and extreme views.

Immigration, more specifically discouragement around immigration and the mistreatment of immigrants, is central to fascism. We saw this with the Nazi’s the desire to create a society in which the dominant group has complete power, which means preventing the makeup of a nation from changing. 

Today in America, we are constantly told of the dangers posed by the southern border. Past presidents believe we have the ability to force Mexico to pay for a wall that our politicians want, but we rarely hear mention of our northern border with Canada. 

Cable news stations continually reinforce the idea that immigrants are crossing our borders in massive groups and are out of control. We are told that, if it hasn’t already, it will soon be in your own community, along with mass amounts of fentanyl and crime

The practice of demonizing immigration, whether it be the Chinese, Irish, Italians or Japanese, has been a staple of American politics for over a century. The fear and stereotyping that accompany the demonization of other groups lays the groundwork for oppressive legislation or violence

The dissolution of ingenuous elections is central to fascism. Whether by disenfranchisement or propaganda, altering the outcome of elections is critical for a group to gain power.

After our 2020 presidential election, politicians and news stations alike theorized that it was stolen. This sentiment became so popular that on Jan. 6, 2021, there was an attempted insurrection at the capital to prevent the certification of election results. Some people were convinced that Trump was still president in secret; many said that Joe Biden was not their president. 

Fox News’ coverage of the election and the aftermath was so egregious that they now find themselves the target of a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.

Political figures target mail in voting, reduce polling locations and gerrymander districts, all three of which result in a lack of legitimate representation. Our elections are under constant attack, whether internally or from bot accounts started by other countries, and this seems to be increasing.

Due in part to the media and politicians parroting these past few narratives, along with other polarizing talking points, we are seeing an increase in right wing militias as well. 

As of 2020, the amount of right wing militias in America has doubled since 2008. In 2018, every extremist murderer had ties to at least one extremist group. These militias perpetrate violence on BLM protests, LGBTQ+ protests, abortion rights advocates and minority groups.

We experienced a record in hate crimes in 2020 looking back two decades. More well-known groups like the Proud Boys have been told to stand back and stand by, and lesser-known groups like Atomwaffen plan attacks on infrastructure and are preparing to wage war against American civilization.

These groups idolize people like Timothy McVeigh. Their ranks include some veterans and those with military ties as they are targeted for recruitment. This is not every service member, or even a statistically significant amount, but the ones who are involved espouse their training and knowledge in warfare to inexperienced members, creating more coherent groups tactically.

Both of our political parties discourage dissent. To Republicans, not supporting their causes is downright unpatriotic or un-American. To Democrats, not supporting their causes means you’re a racist, a misogynist or that you disavow science. 

We are increasingly divided amongst political lines, with both parties claiming to be the bastion of democracy and progress we need for the future. Yet, both parties are increasingly enamored with culture wars and their own financial gain. Policies with bipartisan support remain ignored, and politicians target drag shows and guns.

Lastly, we have politicians and commentators using old fascist talking points verbatim on a regular basis.

One of the biggest examples is the Great Replacement Theory, which provoked the 2022 mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, along with multiple other hate crimes over the past few years. Central to the theory is the idea that, through the manipulation of immigration, birth rates and legislation by the “elites” and “globalists,” white Americans will be in the minority at some point in the future. 

This idea has been endorsed by Tucker Carlson, citing his belief that it will imbalance the voting populations against Republicans.

“America First” is an old term in our politics, with roots in 1915 rhetoric from Woodrow Wilson. Charles Lindebergh advocated for American neutrality in World War II, doing so because the Third Reich had pandered to him and given him medals. He defended his position by saying that our involvement would “reduce the strength and destroy the treasures of the White race.” During his advocacy, he used the term “America First.”

Lindebergh held America First rallies, spewing racist views founded in American and Western exceptionalism. The KKK and many extremist groups of early 20th century America used this term as well. Former President Donald Trump revived this slogan throughout his campaign for and time as President.

Additionally, QAnon and their ideas have been endorsed by some politicians and media personalities, including Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and more.

QAnon originated from 4chan and PizzaGate. They believe that Trump and a select group of military advisors were/are waging a war against a secret group of devil-worshiping pedophiles who control politicians, entertainment and the media.

They are waiting for an “Awakening” among Americans that they are correct, which would lead to a new age for the country. Terms like “deep-state” are dog whistles for QAnon-type ideologies.

The media as a whole has beat the dead horse that is Donald Trump to a pulp, but when talking about the current state of American fascism he has to be mentioned. Fascism requires a leader that capitalizes on a country’s extreme patriotism and perceived exceptionalism, intertwining those ideals with the leader until they are seen as one, and of the utmost importance. 

Trump, to some, and in his own words, is the only one who can save America. There are videos of citizens praying to him unironically, along with a whole host of questionable and occasionally concerning beliefs around him. 

The influence Trump has over his constituents, his unquestioned authority, his ability to say anything is fake news, his demonization of minorities and targeting of immigrants, his co-opting of Christianity despite being very un-Christ like and his questioning, lies and antagonization surrounding the 2020 election show that some on the American right are not averse to more authoritarian leaders.

Trump showed that we already have the base needed for further right politicians to get elected. That segment of our population just needs a leader who says the right things to them, and they’ll  flock instantaneously.

I do not think that we will become the next Nazi Germany. I do not think Trump is the next Hitler, but there is still a worrisome and increasing far right presence that portions of our media, and politicians on both sides of the aisle, not only endorse, but enable. 

The course that some in America are going down is worrisome, but we have to realize that it is our own system that creates the environment for this manner of beliefs to fester. Rather than attributing harmful beliefs to the evil we perceive in others, we should take a look at our vast government and bureaucracy that wholesale emphasizes profits not people.

It is not hard to believe that some have been so alienated and ignored in our dystopian reality that they are able to be driven so far or manipulated by cunning politicians in sheep’s clothing.