This is a post about rising fascist ideology and a warning of a coming genocide against the LGBTQIA+ community if things do not change course. It also contains personal reflections.
trigger warnings apply
LINKS DO NOT EQUAL ENDORSEMENT
The other week I posted on Facebook that the actions taken by certain states against transgender people and other members of the LGBTQIA+ community were the same actions that began the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. I was accused of lumping those who refuse to call out the politicians supporting that legislation with those who refused to call out Nazis when they began their rise to power in the 1930s.
I think the poster thought to shame me, but this is the exact correlation I was making. We are seeing a rise in fascist ideology – largely from the conservative right in American politics – and we have seen time and time again where that rhetoric will take us.
As I write this, so many bills have already passed that merely calling it out may not be enough to stop the tidal wave of hate. Nevertheless, let’s take things one at a time and build the case.
First, I would back up my claim that certain conservative politicians are veering toward fascism. Many books and articles have been written both on the roots and indicators of fascism; I will look quite briefly at those identified by Umberto Ecco and Laurence Britt, with whose works I am most familiar. This is the most cursory of glances, and I encourage you to read further, using my examples as a starting point rather than a definitive end.
1. The cult of tradition [Ecco] – Adherents believe that all truth has already been revealed by tradition. Therefore, there is nothing new to learn, and that which has been learned can only be further interpreted and refined. I believe this can be combined with powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism [Britt].
Consider conservative reactions to removing Confederate monuments, the 1619 project, kneeling during the National Anthem, and the racist roots of the slogans “America First” and “Make America Great Again”
2. The rejection of modernism [Ecco] – Adherents believe Western culture has descended into depravity since the Enlightenment. I would combine this with rampant sexism [Britt].
Consider how many conservative pundits claim we need to “save Western Civilization” by returning to some imagined idyllic point in the past – often a point at which those who were not straight white (Christian) men had few, if any, rights and privileges in society. In particular, remember that many conservatives imply and infer that women’s voting rights should be removed, that women should not be in the workplace, and that rights applying to same-sex, transgender, and other gender-nonconforming peoples should be removed – with the end result of “eradicating” those groups from society altogether. [More on that later.]
3. The cult of action for action’s sake [Ecco ] – Adherents value action without intellectual reflection and is often tied to anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, resulting in attacks on modern culture and science. This dovetails with disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts [Britt].
Consider the over 300 pieces of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation that has been introduced since January 2023 – legislation years in the making based hate, fear, and lying: as evidenced by about 2,600 pages of leaked emails between a veritable Who’s Who of anti-trans legislation.
When pressed, bill sponsors cannot answer simple questions regarding their own legislation. They refuse to listen to the medical community and instead listen to “doctors” who are not medical professionals, but are often theologians and political scientists. Consider, too, the irresponsible response to COVID-19 health measures, and Ron DeSantis’ takeover of Florida’s education system (likely to be successful at the time of writing).
4. Disagreement is treason [Ecco] – Intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as viewed as barriers to action to be removed, and is often accompanied by a fear that critical analysis will expose contradictions.
Consider how the bills purporting to “protect the children” actually do no such thing. When pressed, adherents must willfully continue in cognitive dissonance in order to make sense of their ideas. Adherents then go on to say their opponents want to harm children or bring about the destruction of the family/democracy/America.
5. Fear of difference [Ecco] – Nearly identical to identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause [Britt], which often targets racial minorities, foreigners, and immigrants. To this we can also add those in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Consider the cries of an “open border” and “invasion” coming from conservatives, or how their actions betray their belief that no immigrant can ever be truly considered American – sometimes for generations. Consider as well their belief that they are at war with “wokeism” and paint those in the LGBTQIA+ community as groomers and pedophiles.
6. Appeal to a frustrated middle class [Ecco] – Adherents fear growing economic power lower social groups.
Consider Trump’s vow to end so-called “American Carnage” and his promise to be “Justice and Retribution” for his followers.
7. Obsession with a plot [Ecco] – This is the hyping up of enemy threats, often based in xenophobia.
One word: QAnon
let’s keep going . . .
8. Enemies simultaneously too strong and too weak [Ecco].
Consider again the flood of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation. Proponents use derogatory descriptions of their opponents (often indicating weakness) while advocating for strict control over their opponents’ personal, private, and public actions (indicating they are perceived as a threat).
9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy because life is permanent warfare [Ecco] – Adherents believe there must always be an enemy to fight. I would combine these with the supremacy of the military/avid militarism and obsession with national security [Britt].
Consider the incongruous far-right reactions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the near-worship of the military (despite a track record of voting against veterans), and the idea that somehow the police in America are under threat, despite the fact police are one of the most legally protected groups in the country and don’t even make the top ten “most dangerous jobs”. I’ve included police here due to their objective militarization.
Let it be said that individual officers may be good, moral people – but a macroscopic view of the entire police system shows that it is both working correctly and broken beyond repair, and for the same reason: taken as a whole, the police system has no legal duty to protect and serve, often protected by qualified immunity and the controversial “thin blue line.”
All this is distilled in Atlanta’s “Cop City”.
10. Contempt for the weak [Ecco] – Leaders despise their underlings, while the leader himself holds the whole country in contempt. I would say this also ties in to disdain for the importance of human rights and obsession with crime and punishment [Britt]
Remember that Trump loves the poorly educated, and all his other disparaging remarks about almost anyone other than himself?
Consider, too, that while the United States is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, it has also passed the “American Service-Members’ Protection Act”, which “authorizes the President of the United States to use ‘all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court’” – in other words, refusing to enforce any violation of international treaties enacted by the United Nations, up to and including invading the Hague if an American official or servicemember is held by the International Criminal Court.
And all of that’s before we get to conservative’s near-constant calls for more punitive measures: execution for those convicted of drug crimes (for instance) and calls for bringing back lynching.
11. Everybody is educated to become a hero– Ecco says this results in a cult of death.
To this I give as examples the conservatives who say “I would rather die than have my children be [x].” The most recent specific that comes to mind is Matt Walsh saying that he would rather die than have his children be transgender individuals. Of course, what this really means is that they would rather kill others than have them think, believe, and act differently – as history bears witness.
12. Machismo [Ecco] could also be related to rampant sexism [Britt], as both praise “disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality”.
Trump’s idea of big, strong men coming to him in tears (as if that ever actually happened) springs to mind.
13. Selective populism [Ecco] – Here, the will of the people is expressed by the interpretation of the leader. I would combine this with several other ideas: a controlled mass media, religion and ruling elite tied together, power of corporations protected, power of labor suppressed or eliminated, and rampant cronyism and corruption [Britt]
All of these work together: despite appealing to the working class, the power of labor is diminished while the power of corporations is enhanced – often through cronyism/corruption – to benefit the ruling class. This is usually accomplished through controlling the narrative by controlling the mass media.
Citizens United, anyone? Fox “News”, anyone?
I have also placed religion and ruling elite tied together as we see a rise in Christian Nationalism/Christofascism– with organizations and politicians actively seeking to make America a theocracy based on their particular branch/brand of Christianity.
14. Newspeak [Ecco]– A purposefully impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning. Think about how “pundits” like Chris Rufo purposefully set out to do this, and even said out loud their intentions. Conservatives have hijacked “critical race theory” and are now moving on to “groomer” and even “pedophile”. Consider Trump’s constant false claims of a “witch hunt” and “rigged election”.
Ironically, fraudulent elections [Britt] is an indicator of fascism as well, but one that the United States does not currently meet – although some might argue that gerrymandering is a form of election fraud.
Second, my statement that the LGBTQIA+ community is facing a genocide was challenged. Let’s take a look at the commonly accepted factors of a genocide. Just like with fascism, these steps do not need to take place in order, and many may occur concurrently. The list is common knowledge; the specific examples were compiled by Alyssa MacKenzie and linked by me.
1. Classification – Groups in a position of power will categorize people according to ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality, or some other criteria employing an us versus them mentality.
Example: “Trans women are threatening women’s sports. They should have their own division.”
2. Symbolization – People are identified and made to stand out from others, often (but not always) with certain colors or symbolic articles of clothing.
Examples: conservative emphasis on “biological women” rather “women”, the idea that “transgenderism is a mental disorder”, and “there are only two sexes/genders”
3. Discrimination – A dominant group uses laws, customs, and political power to deny the rights of other groups. The powerless group may not be granted full civil rights or even citizenship.
Examples: Bathroom bills, healthcare bills, Medicaid bills, marriage bills, Kentucky’s “frankenbill”, and Florida’s bill that would allow state-sponsored kidnapping.
4. Dehumanization – The diminished value of the discriminated group is communicated through propaganda. Parallels are drawn with animals, insects or diseases.
Examples: Conservatives argue that LGBTQIA+ people are “perverted, mentally ill, pedophiles, groomers, child molesters, sexual predators . . .” the list goes on . . .
5. Organization – A state, its army or militia design genocidal killing plans.
Examples: Michael Knowles has called for eradicating transgender people, and may conservatives have vocally supported him or refused to denounces his rhetoric, giving their tacit support.
6. Polarization – Propaganda is employed to amplify the differences between groups. Interactions between groups are prohibited, and the moderate members of the group in power are killed.
“Gender Critical” and “TERF” movements
Groups exist such as “Gays Against Groomers” which believe that there is no such thing as a transgender person, and that transgender people are really just gay people. They say things like “no child is born in the wrong body” and “stop transing gay youth”.
There are also groups like the LGB Alliance, which believes that the “TQIA+” has overtaken their own movement and call for a “divorce” between them. These groups have learned nothing of the history of appeasement.
7. Preparation – The victims are identified, separated and forced to wear symbols. Deportations, isolation and forcible starvation. Death lists are drawn up.
Headline – Ron DeSantis Ordered Florida Universities to Submit Data on Trans People
Headline – Texas attorney general’s office sought state date on transgender Texans
Headline – Human Rights Campaign: Reports of Texas AG’s Attempts to Collect Data on Trans Adults Are a Terrifying Overstep into the Lives and Privacy of LGBTQ+ People
8. Persecution – Victims are identified and isolated based on their identity. Death lists are drawn up. In state sponsored genocides, members of victim groups may be forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is often expropriated.
Examples: same headlines as above, as well as the previously-mentioned Tennessee refusing to recognize marriages and Florida sponsoring kidnapping. It’s horrifying when an event can serve as more than one data point.
Consider too Matt Walsh’s treatment Fae Johnstone, a model in a Hershey’s ad campaign, emboldening his followers in encouraging her to kill themself, calling her slurs, and sharing their private information. When called out he had this to say:
9. Extermination – The massacres begin. The perpetrators see their actions as “extermination” since they do not consider their victims to be entirely human.
There is not a state-sanctioned extermination of LGBTQIA+ people YET, but “gay/trans panic” laws still exist. In addition, many of the proposed laws I’ve listed will result in deaths among the LGBTQIA+ community.
10. Denial – The perpetrators of the genocide deny having committed their crimes. Victims are often blamed. Evidence is hidden and witnesses are intimidated.
Examples: Michael Knowles (again) has already begun the denial, saying that genocide against transgender people is impossible since transgender people aren’t people. I would argue that those refusing to acknowledge the current state of American politics are also contributing to the denial.
Third, I was told that these laws didn’t apply to me, so why should I care? I must admit this question gave me a huge pause, both about the character of the person I was interacting with and the way I identify myself.
I am sure many of you are familiar with the words of Martin Niemöller– “first they came for the Socialists . . .” In actuality, Niemöller was wrong; first they came for transgender and gender-nonconforming people. And now they’re starting again.
Even so, why would I not care about my neighbors?
Ultimately, though, those opposed to the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming people have already decided that I am the enemy. Here (in no particular order) are some of the things I’ve had directed at me for having “pronouns in bio”:
- naval [sic] gazer
- turbo wokeist
- a problem waiting to happen
- HR nightmare
- obsessive headache
- attention whore
- a corporate liability
- deluded/mentally unstable
- red flag troublemaker
- high maintenance
- drama queen
- worthless/utterly without redeeming value
- poisonous creature
- narcissistic (both overt and covert)
- gender identity cultist
- mental disorder
- disruptive asshole
- spoiled brat
- a guaranteed downgrade in the working environment
- perpetually offended insane person
- nut job
- fire bomb thrower
- LGBTQ terrorist
Again, this is not related to any actual statement I made. These were in response to having (they/them) in my social media bios like this:
And that’s not to mention the death threats I received from people I used to attend church with for calling out Christian nationalism, as well as lies related to American history and politics.
Those brief moments when I had the courage to address questions of theology did not go over well, and for years I simply said nothing.
Let the personal reflections continue:
I came across this poem on Twitter a while back:
DEATH BEFORE DETRANSITION
you will have to pry
my gender from my cold
and even then
all you will hold
is an idea I carved
into the side of the world
For three years my mental health has been the best it has been since I can remember. For three years I’ve been able to look in the mirror and not hate myself. For three years “me being me” has helped keep me alive. For three years the support of my friends and coworkers and some of my family has been nothing short of spectacular.
I don’t see how going back will ever be an option.
It cannot be an option.
To quote Our Lady of Sorrows:
Stand up fucking tall, don’t let them see your back
And take my fucking hand and never be afraid again
We’ve only got one chance to put things at an end
- Our Lady of Sorrows; MCR
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