Governor John Kasich talks about Donald Trump having created a "toxic environment." On CNN the journalist Carl Bernstein calls Trump a neo-fascist. The New York Times reports Trump's rivals in both parties denouncing his candidacy as the match that lit the fire. Hillary Clinton accusing Trump of committing "political arson." Someone asks whether it is possible to contain what Trump has unleashed.
The writer Mollie Hemingway rises above this anti-Trump distortion. I am not with Hemingway, a conservative, on various issues, but she is right to criticize those who disrupt Trump rallies and to wonder how the press would treat the disrupters if they were Trump supporters shouting down Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
I'm not with Trump regarding some of his rhetoric, but I don't like distortions from his critics. We need criticism that is sound. Regarding fascism, we are in the year 2016, not in the 1920s when conditions were giving rise to fascism. In Germany then there was outrage over having lost a war and the belief in a stab-in-the-back. In Italy there was outrage over not having been sufficiently rewarded by the Allied "victory," and there was the passion for recognition by some (the Arditi among them) for what they saw as their glorious service as military men. In both it was an intense nationalism and a focus on what were called traitors. There was fear of Communism. And in Germany an there was an intense anti-Semitism associated falsely with Bolshevism. Calling Trump a neo-fascist rather than just a fascist does not help. It's a dodge. It's just calling him a fascist in the context of 2016, and that describes nothing substantial. We can consider Trump off base in favoring torture, and we might want to call Trump a nationalist. In the opinion of many of us these would not be distortions, and they are not enough for the label fascist. Some of us who see ourselves as more internationalist might see "nationalist" as an insult, but not an egregious one. And some of us who think of ourselves as internationalists might be nationalist enough to look with hope to Trump's toughness regarding trade negotiations and returning manufacturing to the United States.
The Trump campaign has been a challenge for his Republican rivals and for journalists. Some journalists are doing well, others not. In my opinion we should not look upon our history of anti-intellectualism with kindness, but neither should we look with kindness upon distortions from those who consider themselves an intellectual elite. It is a pleasure to see the distortions being largely ignored by those attracted to the Trump candidacy.
As for those who area disrupting Trump's speeches, they would do better to spend their energies organizing for the candidate of their choice. Their shouting is not changing opinions to positions they favor.
Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.