The word fascism is undoubtedly overused in today’s political lexicon. It is used by figures from across the political spectrum as a shorthand for anything that one’s opponent does that is deemed sinister or disagreeable. This phenomenon has obscured the real meaning of the word, creating confusion and misunderstanding within the general public. One of the unfortunate corollaries of this has been a tendency to dismiss comparisons between today’s right-wing populists and early 20th Century fascism as facile and overblown. But this should not stand in the way of drawing parallels that ought to be drawn – those that do not fall into the category of this kind of lazy thinking. Historical comparisons should be evaluated on their own merits and not on whether the terminology surrounding them has been debased through overuse.
In the case of Donald Trump in the United States and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, the appropriateness of the word is now becoming self-evident through the emergence of one of fascism’s major distinguishing characteristics: the trampling over the judicial branch of the state.
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) has long been dismissed by the US and Israel as a fringe “hate movement”, but now, a similar set of tactics has been endorsed by a United Nations’ (UN) expert on human rights.
Al Jazeera reported on Thursday that Michael Lynk, who serves as the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, said that the European Union (EU) and other world powers should consider isolating Israel on the world stage until it stops building new settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
On June 26, the Trump administration’s so-called “Special Representative for Venezuela,” Elliott Abrams gave a five-minute update to reporters about the development of the coup attempt against the government of Nicolas Maduro, followed by a brief Q&A session. The event, held at the US State Department in Washington, was textbook Abrams: full of lies, loaded language, double standards and breathtaking hypocrisy. Below, I deconstruct each of his points by providing rebuttals, context and regional comparison.
Visit from Michelle Bachelet
The first thing that Abrams mentioned was the visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. From his remarks, one would think that the visit was entirely focused on condemning what Abrams repeatedly referred to as the Maduro “regime” – a classic of Washington’s Goebbelian dictionary used to delegitimize unfriendly governments. “We hope that her report, which is due out July 5th, will reveal the brutal truths that victims of the regime suffer every day,” he said. By using this kind of language, Abrams is sending a number of implicit messages to his audience. First is that the Maduro government is an authoritarian egregious human rights violator while so-called ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido and his hardline opposition faction are whiter than white and, indeed, the sole hope of saving the country from this tyranny. The reality, however, is that Bachelet was there to hear allegations of human rights abuses from both pro- and anti-government actors, including the numerous credible reports of opposition violence such as setting perceived government supporters on fire.
A bust of the boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun sold at Christie’s auction house in London for $6 million, angering the Egyptian authorities, who say the statue is cultural treasure looted by tomb raiders.
Egyptian officials claim that the bust was stolen several decades ago, and had called on the auction to be called off. Christie’s responded that there was nothing improper about the sale and that it had been on display for years before without complaint.
It’s no secret that Rupert Murdoch‘s Fox News is the propaganda wing of the modern Republican Party. After all, that’s been the aim of the television station since its founding. But Fox commentators may have left some viewers in shock this week when they let their ‘fair and balanced’ mask slip, openly admitting their bias.
On 4 July, several hosts on the infamous right-wing station essentially admitted that it reflexively supports whatever a Republican president does, while automatically opposing whatever a Democratic president does.
Rep. Justin Amash left Republican Party and became a hero for Donald Trump’s opponents and possible presidential candidate. But his urge for re-examination of the two-party system may seem too much for US politics to stomach.
Amash argues that heightened levels of partisanship have distorted the country’s founding fathers’ vision of liberty and limited government. As a result, Congress has turned into little more than a rubber stamp for the executive branch of government, he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday.