By Coco Das |
“…a large Social Democratic demonstration against dictatorship did take place on 3 February in Frankfurt and, four days later, another one was held in Berlin. Republicans in small towns in Hessen such as Auerbach and Bensheim marched under the watchful eye of the police on 12 February. But these events were the last manifestations of anti-Nazism in Germany.”
Peter Fritzche, Germans into Nazis
“They would stay off the streets for the moment and hold back from mass demonstrations that could be exposed to an armed mob goaded on by President Donald J. Trump.
…In a year of surging political energy across the left and of record-breaking voter turnout, one side has stifled itself to an extraordinary degree during the precarious postelection period.
Since the violence of Jan. 6, progressive leaders have not deployed large-scale public protests at all.”
Alexander Burns, “How Democrats Planned for Doomsday,” New York Times, 1/24/2021
Alexander Burns’s New York Times article, quoted above, recounts the efforts of a large coalition of activist groups and Democratic Party campaign strategists to respond to Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Burns writes, “By the time rioters ransacked the Capitol, the machinery of the left was ready: prepared by months spent sketching out doomsday scenarios and mapping out responses, by countless hours of training exercises and reams of opinion research.”
But the article begs the question, what exactly was this “left” coalition ready for on January 6? For months they’d conspired to keep people in a “wait and see” mode instead of mobilizing their followers, numbering collectively in the millions, into non-violent demonstrations that could have shown the world the strength of our side – a non-violent but determined force in the streets willing to stand up against a rolling fascist coup. If this coalition had really been ready, thousands of Trump supporters would not have thought they had a shot at disrupting Congress by returning to DC for the THIRD TIME since Election Day. If they’d really been ready, Trump and his backers in and out of government could not have kept spreading the lie of a stolen election without massive opposition. In reality, there was only one thing this coalition was ready for – stopping the millions who hate Trump from taking to the streets to express their outrage.
But let’s back up a little.
The 2020 election was a showdown over the form of rule in this country. For months before the election – and for years when it comes down to it – Trump claimed that any election he lost would be illegitimate; spread lies about immigrants voting illegally; and in plain sight attempted to sabotage the election, from blackmailing the president of the Ukraine to disrupting the U.S. postal service.
After Trump lost the election, he refused to concede even as lawsuit after lawsuit challenging the results were thrown out. His backers attempted to cancel millions of ballots from the largely Black, urban voters of swing states. His rabid followers vowed to keep coming back to DC to “fight for Trump,” culminating in the storming of the Capitol on January 6. That they did not succeed in overturning the election does not change what it was – a violent coup attempt by fascists, in and out of government, fighting to stay in power so they could rule over everyone they hate with their white supremacist, misogynist, xenophobic terror.
So emboldened is this fascist movement that even AFTER this violent siege, 8 GOP senators and 139 representatives (that’s 2/3 of the Republifascists in the House of Representatives) still voted to overturn the election. And for now, with Trump out of the White House and de-platformed on social media, fascists in government like Josh Hawley, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene have taken the helm of spewing their toxic sludge into the airwaves.
This is fascism. And this coalition of activists and strategists took the fact that fascists always tell you what they’re going to do and did next to nothing with the advanced warning. This was not the coalition of the decent that was needed to sound the alarm and wage a resistance commensurate with the danger, but a coalition of the timid, scared to even use the word coup and stifling resistance “to an extraordinary degree.” The non-resistance they generated didn’t stop anything – except the potential for a powerful movement of opposition to fascism. It has contributed to a situation in which we have a huge Nazi problem in this country and fascists around the world were impressed and inspired by what happened on January 6, hardly viewing it as a failure.
With this election, 81 million people did something extremely rare. They voted a fascist out of power, narrowly stopping a second Trump term that would have allowed the Trump/Pence fascist regime – and the virulent movement they coalesced – to consolidate their power with truly grave stakes for humanity. But the unique convergence of circumstances leading to Trump’s electoral defeat, marked by a disastrous response to a global pandemic, may never come around again. Trump, and Trumpism, still maintains a stranglehold over the Republican Party, and the current likelihood of the Senate voting to convict Trump in the upcoming impeachment trial is low, especially in the absence of a mass movement demanding it.
According to Burns’s article, the coalition canceled planned protests because of a fear of violent armed mobs and Trump’s paramilitary or military reprisals. In other words, because of fascism. This is no different from how the German people conceded to Nazi violence, except that the Nazis were far more organized in their violence than Trump and his goons. There are major challenges to the decent people being in the streets, including armed fascist thugs and COVID, but creating and seizing challenges to keep their opposition off the streets is what fascists do. We ask why the German people accepted Nazism for a reason, because acceptance became complicity and collaboration. Unless we break out of the confines set by what has passed for “the resistance” in this country, we are on the same road as the Germans who failed to stop Hitler.
We voted a fascist out of power. But we did not, and cannot, just vote away fascism. The people of this country will have to fully confront this danger and find the means to publicly repudiate and stop a still-powerful American fascist movement – even if the so-called progressive coalition doesn’t want us to.
Join Refuse Fascism to demand:
Out with the Whole Fascist Cabal!
CONVICT Trump in the Impeachment Trial!
In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America!
Tune in, Monday, February 8 to the Refuse Fascism Forum: The Senate Impeachment Trial and the Need to Refuse Fascism with Sam Goldman, Attorney Eric Seitz, and writers Paul Street and Jared Yates Sexton. 8pm ET. RSVP here.