I’m struggling to explain why a Fox News host would say to the American people, “they’re trying to take down the white culture!”
But first, let me back up.
Democracies don’t turn into fascist oligarchies by being invaded or losing wars. It always happens from within, and is always driven by an alliance between demagogic, populist politicians and some of the very wealthiest people in society.
Step one for these right wing politicians and the morbidly rich who support them is to pit one group of people within the nation against others: Marginalize and demonize minorities, deny them access to the levers of democratic power while openly attacking them for trying to usurp the privileges and prerequisites of the majority.
It’s played out this way in every democratic country that has fallen to tyranny. It’s how it happened in the 1930s in Italy, Germany, Japan and Spain, and today in Hungary, Poland, Egypt, Russia, The Philippines, and Turkey, among others.
And now Republicans and the oligarchs aligned with them are trying to pull it off here in the United States.
As German industrialist Fritz Thyssen writes in his apologetic book I Paid Hitler, he pressured German President von Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor, and then lobbied the Association of German Industrialists, that country’s and era’s version of the US Chamber of Commerce, to donate 3 million Reichsmarks to the Nazi Party for the 1933 election. It brought Hitler to power.
Hitler’s sales pitch to the German people was that Jews and socialists had “stabbed Germany in the back” by secretly participating in negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I. The Treaty imposed punitive conditions on the country, producing widespread poverty and an economic crisis.
Hitler blamed that crisis on German minorities and Germany’s second largest political party, and the German people believed him. Once the Nazis took power, they changed election laws in such a way that they would never again lose.
Republicans and rightwing billionaires, of course, are trying to do the same thing right now in America.
Standing against them is the Democratic Party, although the Fritz Thyssens of today’s America, billionaire members of the Koch network, are doing everything they can to prevent Democrats from ensuring fair and honest elections in 2022 and 2024 by buying off Joe Manchin and others.
Those Republican voter suppression and voter nullification laws being passed by state after state are essential to their final take-down of the Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, the billionaire Murdoch family’s Fox News is working as hard as it can to make Black people and Democrats 2021’s version of Hitler’s 1933 Jews and Socialists.
Their top-rated morning show, Fox & Friends, wandered into a discussion Wednesday about white people being “marginalized” by the possibility of our public schools teaching the actual racial history of America.
“[T]hey are not only trying to raise up minorities and make sure the playing field is even,” Brian Kilmeade said, “they’re trying to take down the white culture!”
Kilmeade, in full rant mode, went on, “Why are we being marginalized on a daily basis…? And it’s not even subtle! It’s actually out there! It is written in black-and-white!”
This is not America’s first brush with oligarchic fascism, as I lay out in my newest book, The Hidden History of American Oligarchy. President Franklin Roosevelt and Vice President Henry Wallace struggled with it in the 1940s with Charles Lindberg’s America First movement.
In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, “write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?”
Vice President Wallace’s answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.
“The really dangerous American fascists,” Wallace wrote, “are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way.”
As if he had a time machine and could see the “conservative” media landscape today, Wallace continued, “The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”
History is screaming warnings at us. Will America listen?