The Era of ‘Good’ Fascism?

Consider the recent statements and acts of iconic progressive celebrities.

Jane Fonda is chronically furious. This time she directed her wrath at those who disagree about the urgency of ending the entire fossil fuel industry and ruining the current economy. Her idea is to put climate “deniers” on trial for incorrect speech. So much for the First Amendment. “Now, because of the fossil fuel industry, it’s too late for moderation,” Fonda says. “And given the emergency, it’s those who believe in moderation, in pre-Trump business as usual, who are truly delusional. And those who lie and continue to lie about what they’re doing to the environment should be put on trial.”

Green teenage heartthrob Greta Thunberg has a different solution for those who disagree with her orthodox view on “climate change”: “World leaders are still trying to run away from their responsibilities, but we have to make sure they cannot do that. We will make sure that we put them against the wall, and they will have to do their job to protect our futures.”

If Thunberg is truly worried about past government decisions that have threatened the world, she might study Swedish history and ask why her forefathers sold iron ore to the Nazi war machine—without which it could not have waged the war it did—and often threw in Swedish transport in the bargain.

For those who think the American Civil Liberties Union and other liberal watchdogs ceaselessly monitor our government to ensure our Bill of Rights and laws are not abused to the detriment of citizens, they should be sorely disappointed. The Left has redefined “civil liberties” to mean “correct thinking.” Thus, incorrect thinking is not protected speech or behavior.

It is now clear that the top hierarchy of the FBI under James Comey and Andrew McCabe used the powers of their agency to deceive a federal court with fraudulent evidence in order to surveil a U.S. citizen as part of a larger plan to subvert a political campaign and eventually a presidential transition. It is also likely that both James Clapper and John Brennan trafficked in a fake dossier, a product of opposition research designed to smear a political candidate in a presidential race. Both were also likely involved in the use of overseas informants to surveil Trump campaign aides.

Few on the Left feel that it was either morally or legally wrong for Hillary Clinton to hire a foreign national to spy on her opponent’s campaign, much less for a foreign national Christopher Steele to interfere in a U.S. election. Laws are fluid, to be enforced when they champion the “good,” to be ignored or subverted when they empower the “bad.” That is why both Clapper and Brennan—who in the past alike have admitted to lying to Congress while under oath—were rewarded with paid analyst positions, respectively with CNN and MSNBC.

Brennan, Clapper, Comey, and McCabe are iconic figures to the Left, who were willing to use any means necessary to stop the fiendish Trump. Comey’s idea of “a higher loyalty” proves to be a euphemism for taking the law into one’s own hands to destroy an elected president deemed a threat to status-quo agendas.

J. Edgar Hoover surely would have approved of Comey’s gambit, of privately misleading the president as to the status of an ongoing FBI investigation directed at him, recording in notes a one-sided version of such a confidential conversation, and then leaking such memos to the press to encourage a special counsel appointment to investigate a president.

Few libertarians care that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was data mining the phone records of the president’s attorney and, by reverse targeting, his colleague Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Fewer were concerned that he publicized such records, with the clear intent of smearing his enemies. Again, not a civil libertarian said a word—any more than any did during the Obama Administration when Eric Holder monitored the phone and email records of Associated Press journalists, or any more than when Schiff blatantly lied that he and his staff had no contact with the so-called whistleblower.

Civil Liberty Abuse by Liberals? No Problem!

A cynical reductionist with no faith in human nature might conclude that conservatives are less likely to abuse civil liberties because a mainstream press watches their every move, ready to pounce at even the suggestion of any abuse of free speech or expression or due process.

In contrast, liberals seem to have little problems with abusing FISA courts, inserting informants into political campaigns, snooping on congressional colleagues, and hiring opposition research to use foreign sources to defame a political opponent—because they correctly assume that the media either will ignore such abuse or that they will contextualize it in a way to help the “good” people ensure social justice.

Schiff, along with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), remember, helped redefine the Constitution on impeachment by citing no treason, bribes, or high crimes and misdemeanors, but rather sought as an opposition majority in the Congress to smear with an indictment a first-term president before a scheduled reelection campaign.

We were told for weeks that impeachment must be accelerated to a vote. But when the polls supporting that effort tanked, we were told that such an impeachment vote must not really speedily be sent over to the Senate for trial. The Constitution’s guidance on impeachment is apparently what polls better on any given day—in a larger landscape in which the progressive agenda always would prefer to change the Constitution when it proves inconvenient, whether it be the Electoral College or the Second Amendment.

If and when fascism comes to America, it will not arrive with jackboots, stiff arms, and military uniforms. The attempt to suppress political opposition in anti-constitutional fashion, to regiment the economy by denying constitutionally protected freedoms, and the efforts to change the Constitution to reflect political utility, will come under the auspices of “equality,” “fairness,” “saving the planet,” and “social justice”—as a way to combat “climate change,” “racism,” “homophobia,” and “sexism.”

The old Confederate idea of state nullification of federal law—the great bane of a century of civil rights movements—is now a progressive trademark.

Over 550 sanctuary jurisdictions have announced that federal immigration law simply does not apply in full within their confines. Because there were no federal consequences when states simply ignored federal immigration legislation, why would not local jurisdictions—such as an increasing number of counties in Virginia—simply renounce state laws in matters of gun control?

The university is usually the canary in the mine of bad ideas and worse customs, and their fascistic view of the future has already arrived. Incoming students on many campuses are asked to select the proper racial background of their future roommates; if students can practice such racial segregation, will they soon be free to state which particular ethnic or racial background they do not prefer to associate with? Is there really a difference between preferring a particularly correct racial roommate and not preferring a particularly incorrect racial roommate?

“Safe space” is now the politically correct word for racial segregation. The First Amendment is already curtailed on campus by “hate speech” codes. If a student is accused of sexual harassment or assault, he will quickly learn that the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments do not really apply to the accused at most colleges.

Try giving a lecture in opposition to radical climate change theory, late-term abortion, or affirmative action on a college campus, or wearing a MAGA hat in the campus “free-speech zone.” The point is not that vigilante students would disrupt the lecture or attack the wearer, but that the college administration would contextualize the violence as understandable if not justified given the stress, discomfort, and hurt feelings that such free expression is believed to cause the “good” students.

The modern university, the radical climate change movement, most of the media, and the new progressive party all share the same notion that the U.S. Constitution is an impediment to their agendas. If it can’t easily be changed, then at least it can be ignored when more power is needed to do more of the right things.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

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