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Activist calling Trump a fascist can’t define fascism

Kshama Sawant walks with demonstrators on Saturday. (KIRO Radio/Matt Pitman)

This past weekend, I attended Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s anti-Amazon rally and met several colorful people, all activists with grave concerns over the future of this city and this country. Some spoke with reason; others lacked it. But one, in particular, was memorable.

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Violet is a volunteer with Refuse Fascism, a group that refuses “…to accept a fascist America.” Only, when I asked her to define fascism, she couldn’t.

“When fascism is actually consolidated, it’s like the naked fist of capitalism, or whatever, on the people …” she told me when I asked her what fascism meant to her. “No soft pedaling it. They’ll be stomping on the people.”

But I asked her to clarify, for the sake of her concerns with what she labels the “Trump/Pence regime,” what fascism actually is. She struggled. She first wanted to read from a pamphlet she gave me, but I asked her to use her own words.

“I’m trying to think … “ she told me. “Fascism is a system … of rule of government, but not an economic system. So this system here, that we now currently has, [is] bourgeois democracy. Fascism would scrap all that, as they’re doing now.“

What is “bourgeois democracy?” I asked.

“It’s what we live under. Democracy is what some people call it.”

So, none of this comes close to accurately describing what fascism is. But Violet is still scared, she says. And those fears should be addressed, even if she can’t define the term she so casually uses to label people she disagrees with politically.

“We’re concerned because they are planning to implement fascism and every day there’s new examples of how they’re doing that. The Iran deal that he broke out of, which brings us much closer to war. What he’s doing is … getting rid of all the things that they don’t like from the previous governments and instituting a lot of power in the executive department. They’ve got their ducks in a row with foreign policies now that they’ve got their people in, like … what am I trying to say? Who’s their people? Like Scott Pruitt. He’s a fascist. He’s a Christian fascist. He’s been a fascist for a long time so he’s very much important to their system. It’s part of the fascist takeover. (You can listen to the whole conversation on the After Show Podcast here.) ”

Wow, where do we begin? Most Democrats were against the Iran deal, and breaking it isn’t “fascistic.” You’re allowed to pull out of agreements, or let them expire. Pruitt heads the EPA and has nothing to do with the Iran move. And President Barack Obama undid a host of Bush-era policies; that was fascistic?

None of what is described here is fascism by even the most dishonest of definitions. She just doesn’t like the president taking positions she disagrees with. That’s fine. I disagreed with a whole bunch of positions Obama took. It’s normal to disagree with politicians.

What’s not normal? Throwing out terms you don’t understand to label someone you don’t like. Go after Trump if you’d like, but do it with a bit more information and honesty.

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