Fascism did not die in 1945.
I sit here writing this less than a day after three people were brutally murdered. The slain, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, her husband of one month Deah Barakat, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were all under the age of 26. Barakat was studying at UNC to be a dentist, but he was also busy raising money to provide much-needed dental care for Syrian refugees. His wife Yusor was finishing her studies at NC State before joining him at UNC to become a dentist herself, and her sister Rezan was also studying at NCSU in the School of Design. If you are listening to the media, they were murdered in cold blood over a parking dispute. Nothing to see here, move along, this is just one of those things that happen. This is bullshit, a comforting lie draped over the shoulders of people who have perpetuated hatred against the Muslim community.
The murderer is a man by the name of Craig Stephens Hicks. A ‘militant’ atheist and libertarian, Hicks had a history of harassing his neighbors for their religion. According to the slain sisters’ father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, Yusor said, “He hates us for what we are and how we look,” and that he had a history of picking on the newlyweds. He came to their door at least once clutching his rifle. Some might say that this isn’t enough to prove that he had an animus against these three people for their religion. This is an attempt to deflect guilt by those who have profited off of churning up hatred and contempt against Muslims since September 2001. The fact is that Hicks was able to murder these three people because he did not see them as human beings because of their faith.
Fascism did not die in 1945.
The ugly fact is this: fascist organizations in the West have opted to de-emphasize their past anti-Semitism, exchanging it for a blatant hatred of Muslims that the West has lapped up. You can see it in Front National’s Marine Le Pen getting space to spread a somewhat sanitized version of her party’s hatred while Lassana Bathily, a Muslim who saved dozens of lives in the Porte de Vincennes hostage crisis, was disappeared beneath a fog of #JeSuisCharlie. You can see it in the rise of Pegida in Germany, though the former leader of this group did the world a favor by making it abundantly clear where his inspiration came from. The Danish People’s Party, the Swedish Democrats, Golden Dawn…seventy years ago all of these groups would be wearing Hugo Boss designed uniforms and goose-stepping. And America is not immune to this cancer.
Here’s two quotes about Muslims. One is a quote from a prominent Nazi where I’ve replaced ‘Jew’ with ‘Muslim’ and updated the vernacular. The other is an unaltered quote about Muslims from a prominent American commentator. Guess which is which without searching for it.
“I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of God today: by defending America against radical Islam, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
“We allow unrestricted Muslim immigration into the United States we are welcoming to our shores, welcoming to our borders, men who are determined to destroy us. They’ve said it themselves, it’s in their own writings, it’s in their own words; they’re out to eliminate and destroy western civilization. It’s just absolute folly to invite that kind of toxic cancer into our culture, but that’s what we’re doing every single day.”
Fascism did not die in 1945. The truth is that fascism is alive and with us. It animates the birthers, who think that there’s no way a black man could ever be a citizen. It infests #tcot on Twitter, which fulminates about Obama’s so-called weakness against Muslims overseas and theorizes that he’s part of a fifth column against America. It hides in the classified briefings and documents of the national security state, drawing on the same intent that Craig Hicks had when he shot three innocent people in the head to bomb Muslims far away with drones. It pools in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which runs a network of informers whose scope and scale the Gestapo could only dream of, which it subsequently use to create terrorist plots it then foils. It crackles around Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, who simultaneously peddle their eliminationist rhetoric against Muslims while decrying the inevitable outcomes of that rhetoric. And it allowed Craig Hicks to dehumanize his neighbors to such an extent that he was able to kill them and calmly turn himself in.
Unless we come to terms with this fact, there will be more murders like the ones that shocked us last night and more lives ruined by those whose hatred is given free reign by the official powers that they have. Malcolm Harris is a person with whom I have sizable political differences, but he recently wrote something that I agree with whole-heartedly. “In the marketplace of ideas, [fascism]’s strawberry-flavored rat poison. Fascism has nothing to offer, and we have zilch to gain from hearing out fascists…[antifascists] know that now, as before, the swastika belongs under a hammer.”
Fascism today is more than just a joke. It’s more than fringe white nationalists who meet in strip malls. Until the left starts doing something about these bastards, it’ll be as before when the fascists were done with racial minorities, they came after socialists, communists, and trade unionists. There’s only one thing the left will be when these modern day blackshirts are done with Muslims.