Fascism and Morning Coffee by Giuseppe Alvaro
An interesting contribution by Joseph James Alvaro (*): “These days, the words fascist and fascism have gained a new life in the American media, mostly applied to a particular presidential candidate. No one who is interested in world news at any level has been able to escape the media attention paid to the US Republican presidential debates. Over the last few days leading up to the final debate, the sheer volume of anti-Trump articles has been a flashing yellow light – not because certain competitors are trying to make the fascist label stick – but because of the relentless anti-Trump discourse. The guy who says, “you’re fired”; the guy with the “hair” – has become the primary target of elite media portavoce, such as CNN. As critical discourse analyst, I must say, as did Hamlet’s Queen Gertrude, “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” – which raises critical questions, i.e. why the avalanche of bad press? – and why now?
For Trump supporters, mainstream ideologies on political correctness are clichés way past their use-by date. According to scholars like Roger Griffin and Robert Paxton, “fascism” (the label most-commonly given Trump) is not clearly definable, which by default, leaves us with the deservedly negative post WWII definitions. Orwell wrote that the word fascism “is almost entirely meaningless…” and that “bully” would be an acceptable synonym. Umberto Eco described it as totalitarianismo fuzzy. To alert the populace to the dangers of Trump’s upsurge in the polls, media pundits are drawing on the similarities with the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. But with Trump, we get who he is even without tags and labels. Every time Rubio, Cruz or CNN dig up irrefutable evidence that Trump is a fraud, a failure, and a misogynist, his support grows stronger. In the archetypal model of redemption, an advocate for the powerless, a man who sucks up defamation like morning coffee, has arisen.
In his article on the rise of American Fascism, Chris Hedges hits the bullseye on why Trump is seemingly unstoppable: a disenfranchised lower-income white demographic has found a defender.
‘There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites,
rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their
communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal policies and
political correctness imposed on them by college-educated elites from
both political parties: Lower-class whites are embracing an American
Having said that, we are witnessing another brand of rising fascism and intolerance coming from both the Republican and Democratic candidates in a strong form of prejudice and stereotyping – the very thing that has driven the invisible American masses to embrace Trump. Hedges, for example, cannot resist the blatant stereotyping of these lower classes. He writes “These Americans want a kind of freedom – a freedom to hate” – a view that appears to carry a large measure of the same social profiling that Trump’s supporters are accused of. He continues
‘[These Americans] want the freedom to use words like “nigger,” “kike,”
“spic,” “chink,” “raghead” and “fag.” They want the freedom to idealize
violence and the gun culture. They want the freedom to have enemies, to
physically assault Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans,
homosexuals and anyone who dares criticize their cryptofascism.’
These lower-middle classes have been sidelined by an incessant neoliberal commentary on how terrible they are, and, like other disenfranchised groups, they are tired of it; tired of being lumped together as an idiot mass, and tired of being characterized as chauvinistic, guntoting,
rightwing Nazis. For whatever reasons, they have largely been invisible in American politics, but now they have a voice – and they are shouting. Trump is the antidote to the malaise of marginalization put upon them by the PC elite. This is the process of reclaiming some spiritual/mental and even physical territory that they feel is rightfully theirs (think Malheur standoff in Oregon). By supporting Donald Trump, they are rejecting the neo-liberal ideologies that, from Hollywood to Washington to New York, have routinely assaulted and belittled them.
The recruits of so-called fascism have historically come from the invisible, the non-political, and the voiceless. For what it’s worth, Trump the Uncool has galvanized these disenfranchised middle Americans with a jolt of redemptive energy and they are not about to let their moment slip away. What this means, only time can tell.”
(*) Joseph James Alvaro, MSc., PhD
City University of Hong Kong, Department of English, Visiting Fellow
“As an experienced educator, my goal is to help students meet the linguistic challenges posed by education in the medium of English. My current interest is on the pedagogical role of Critical Literacy in English for Academic Purposes (EAP). I have been working in EAP in various educational institutions in the greater China area for 18 years, the last 7 of which have been with the City University of Hong Kong. The title of my thesis is ‘The Language of Ideology in China’s English Press: Representations of Dissent’, which is essentially a critical analysis of mediatized political discourses through a close study of the relationship between language, ideology and power.”