The rise, and then the improbable election, of Donald Trump have reawakened progressive fears of a mounting authoritarian tide. With his hyperbole and jutting chin, he strikes some progressives as a new Benito Mussolini who will threaten free speech and other basic human rights.
Some aspects of Trumpism do exhibit some classic fascist modalities — emphasis on personal charisma, attacks on vulnerable minorities, rage against comfortable and self-satisfied elites. Yet, at the same time, some of the most histrionic attacks on Trump come from people who, rather than rejecting authoritarianism, really fear only his politically incorrect version of it.
During the election, Trump supporters did not generally disrupt Clinton rallies, but disturbances by progressives were somewhat common. After the election, the most hysterical forebodings about free speech came from the very college campuses — along with the left-leaning social media — that have not exactly been friendly to free speech.
At the same time, the powerful green lobby has made a point of trying to marginalize even distinguished scientists who differ in any degree from its climate change orthodoxy. In some cases, these scientists are not only demonized by fellow academics, but have been targeted for prosecution by “right-thinking” politicians. Sounds pretty fascist to me.
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com. He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, was published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class Conflict, The City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.