Editorial Roundup: Democracy: Beware hate, fascism are on the rise
Published 8:50 pm Friday, June 9, 2023
As we remember the sacrifices of D-Day, we should remember how hate and injustice can spread from very small places and impose horrific costs on the rest of the world to defend freedom.
Nobody expected Nazi Germany and its leader Adolph Hitler to get very far, but the cost of World War II showed that ignorance and apathy were risks that could have destroyed the free world. The same threats are alive today.
Hitler’s success to taking control of a small country and turning it into a world threat should be instructive, but it seems like ancient history and we may be ambivalent if not complacent to similar threats in front of us.
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And there are many threats.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has turned a democracy into what’s called an “illiberal” or “Christian” democracy without much resistance. One of his techniques, paired with smothering free expression, is ginning up hate for those in the LGBQT community. He uses religion to appeal to people’s emotions, saying LGBQT who have rights are a threat to the good Christians who should rule. It’s the essence of fascism.
The hate spreads like wildfire to those who experience poverty and look to place the blame. And without independent sources of information, the story is bought, believed and delivered with success.
In Poland, the nationalist Law and Justice Party is calling for rights of women and LGBQT be restricted, saying it is trying to protect Christian values, according to a report by journalist and historian Heather Cox Richardson.
What binds these movements, she says, is a rejection of equality and democracy and promotion of a hierarchical world where some have more rights than others.
America is not immune.
The U.S.-based Conservative Political Action Conference has gathered twice recently in Orban’s Hungary.
In March 2022, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes and hate groups, had this to say:
“The storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 exposed an alarming reality: that extremist leaders can mobilize large groups of Americans to use force and intimidation to impose their political will. The reactionary and racist beliefs that propelled a mob into the Capitol that day have not dissipated. Instead, they’ve coalesced into a political movement that is now one of the most powerful forces shaping politics in the United States.”
The signs of hate are all around. From Confederate flags that fly in Mankato and racist social media that garners millions of followers. Hate exists here and appears to be growing.
The U.S. government issued pamphlets to soldiers during World War II to explain fascism so they could understand what they were fighting against.
Fascism, the pamphlet said “is government by the few. The objective is seizure and control of the economic, political, social and cultural life of the state… The people run democratic governments, but fascist governments run the people.” Fascist governments “permit no civil liberties, no equality before the law.”
As we remember the 2,500 American soldiers who gave their lives on D-Day, we would do well to revisit the lesson of fascism.
— Mankato Free Press, June 7