Mirrors of Fascism in Our Age

Victoria Liu, Editor of News and Opinion

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Shocked and amazed, I keep going back to ideas tossed around in the forum: “Flirting with Fascism? Trump and The Challenge to Democracy at Pomona College.” I attended the first session on Understanding Fascism and the second session on The Age of Trump and the Rise of Authoritarianism.

Stephen Rohde, the speaker of the second session, explained the ACLU’s rationale to defend freedom of speech. As the past chair of ACLU Foundation of Southern California, he said that ACLU is committed to freedom of speech, including speeches of hateful and offensive intentions. He mentioned how the civil rights movement was only legitimized when Martin Luther King and his supporters’ voices were protected, because of the ACLU’s precedent to defend freedom of speech.

Clearly, because of the ambiguity to define “offensive” and “hateful”, freedom of speech can be turned and used against righteous causes, including the feminist movements and civil rights movements. Thus, freedom of speech cuts both ways.

One of the central themes I obtained from the forum is the topic of power and powerlessness. According to the Washington Post, in one-third of the United States, caucasians currently have a higher death rate than birth rates. Based on statistics and predictions from the United States Census Bureau, caucasians are predicted to become an ethnic minority in 30 years.

Population is power. The 2016 presidential election can be viewed within a larger scope of racial tension and hatred. There is a huge backlash against the first African-American president. Trump panders to the fear of white people, exacerbating racial tensions.

It is also the fear of powerlessness that led Trump push forward stringent rules against immigration and hesitated to endorse DACA. The legalization of undocumented immigrants would surely make Trump’s re-election in 2020 difficult. This explains Trump’s stringent approach in order to obtain power and sustain his power. But, the sad truth is: Trump’s power coexists immigrants’ powerlessness.

Explaining Trump’s victories in this election, speakers talked about “white genocide,” which shocked me. The notion that white people are victims of federal policies in the past eight years is astonishing. Racial hatred does not go away with post-racial rhetoric after President Obama’s victory, but it simply goes under, becoming a subterranean sentiment and waiting to emerge when populism re-emerges.

Perhaps, regardless of whether we are witnessing fascism, populism, or none, we are at a tipping moment of history. Future generations will look upon us and examine our choices, courage, and determination to face challenges of disruptions in the democratic system. It is important for us to act and to be constantly on offense to protect our institutions.

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