Is it time for social workers to use the F word?

June 5, 2021

The “F word” is “fascism.” And yes, it’s time. The indicators are too many to ignore.

The Republican party is no longer the party of conservative values and virtues; it is, completely and unabashedly, the party of Donald Trump, a virtual cult. Insufficient loyalty to Trump, the Faultless and Unchallengeable Leader, is punished with opprobrium and exile; ask Lynn Cheney, whose far-right credentials can hardly be questioned, but who dared chastise Trump for inciting the January 6 botched coup attempt.

While the elevation of Trump to Fuhrer status is not new – recall that the Republicans offered no policy platform in 2020 beyond “whatever the president says” – now that Trump is out of office, the party seems to have plunged both feet into paranoid quicksand. The nation is in an unparalleled crisis, they insist, under siege by immigrants, Black Lives Matter and Antifa terrorists, criminals and socialists – “enemies within” – and only an extremist movement like Trumpism can save it from collapse.

“Patriotic” riots like the January 6 effort to reverse the Electoral College vote are necessary and justified (and certainly not to be investigated by an independent commission, insist Congressional Republicans).

Unrelenting efforts to prove that the presidential election was stolen through extensive voter fraud are necessary and justified.

An avalanche of new voter suppression laws (more than 360 measures in 47 states, as of April), rather transparently aimed at quashing the non-white vote, is necessary and justified, just as replacing state officials who certified Biden’s election with Trump loyalists is necessary and justified.

Agitation by avowedly ultranationalist, neo-Nazi armed groups like the Proud Boys – stoked by an endless stream of quack “conspiracy” notions – is necessary and justified.

Laws criminalizing mass demonstrations like the George Floyd anti-racism protests that rocked the nation in 2020 are necessary and justified.

Ever more intensive gerrymandered redistricting to ensure that the most extreme elements of the Republican party dominate party direction is necessary and justified.

Actions like these, along with the toxic stew of “alternative facts” that rationalize them, do not suggest an innocuous-sounding “excessive populism,” or even a more concerning “authoritarian drift,” among Trumpublicans. They emphatically indicate something far worse, and far more chilling – a fascist assault on already feeble democratic norms.

Social workers – It’s time to call it out for what it is. And to resist it at every opportunity.

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