by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Confronted by a clear and present fascist threat, the staff of the New York Times rose up last week to humiliate and punish quislings in its ranks.
In a now famous op-ed, Arkansas senator Tom Cotton called for federal troops to quell riots and looting, an idea that the Times staff considered worthy of Oswald Mosley or Benito Mussolini.
As the Times was disavowing the Cotton piece and preparing to push out or demote its top opinion staffers for publishing it, columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote a response called “Tom Cotton’s Fascist Op-Ed.”
She acknowledged that the Times published Russian president Vladimir Putin and Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, and “a similar case could be made for hearing from Cotton, an enemy of liberal democracy.” But the difference is that Cotton “is calling for what would almost certainly amount to massive violence against his fellow citizens.”
The sophomoric and ahistorical charge that President Donald Trump and his supporters are fascists is now a staple of elite left-of-center opinion. That it has gained such traction is a sign of the ever-increasing ideological radicalism of Trump’s opposition and of the ever-diminishing ambit for free and open debate — fascists are to be shut down, as the Times staff insisted, not tolerated.
There is no doubt that Trump’s periodic blustery assertions of having total authority are gross, would freak out Republicans if a Democrat made them, and deserve to be condemned. The president loves strength and is drawn to theatrical demonstrations of his own power.
But his critics are unable to distinguish between wild statements at press briefings or in cruel tweets on the one hand and establishing a one-party state or invading France on the other.
Law and order, a favorite Trump theme, is not fascism.