Rachel Stewart is winner of the 'Opinion Writer of the Year' award at the 2016 Canon Media Awards.

Rachel Stewart: We may all face a fight to defend values

Not even a week into Trump's presidency, it's crystal clear that US citizens are now dealing with a fascist regime.

From the alt-right to alt-facts, hatred of the media, control of women's bodies, the instant post-inaugural taking down of the White House website's climate change page, fake news, fake hair - the list of evidence is long, and will keep growing like Pinocchio's nose.

Unless, mass resistance. Civil war even. Or worse.

The anonymous coward's punch on white supremacist Richard Spencer during the inauguration festivities, while he was bragging about the success of his ilk in getting Donald Trump elected, portends much worse to come.

Reaction to the sudden violence was mixed. Many peace-loving liberals appeared to support it, while others were less aghast; more tut-tutting. Laughter was the predominant reaction.

Spencer says he's not a Nazi, but he's involved in a movement that is anti-immigration, anti-feminism, actively employs white supremacist rhetoric, and he's also been filmed doing a Nazi salute.

You decide.

Is it, in the end, incumbent upon decent, liberal Americans to deal to Nazism whenever they encounter it?

I mean, just because I don't like nuclear weapons doesn't mean they don't exist. Not liking Chihuahuas doesn't mean there won't be one trotting past me and my large dog on our daily walk - and vigorously attempting to start a fight.

Where the new US President is concerned, denial as to his motives is no longer a viable option.

Why? Because widespread fascism and social sadism go together like alcohol and escapism. Er, anyone remember World War 2? Therein, of course, may lie the problem.

History does tend to repeat itself if we allow ourselves to forget it.

Marching en masse in the streets is heart-warming, invigorating. Venting on social media feels good too, but only briefly. High-powered litigation against the new regime will be helpful, but also takes tons of time the US hasn't got.

The carnage may come when the resistance to Trump tips into all-out militarisation against citizens, and those citizens - mainly white of course - start being killed. When that happens, the American people will mobilise in a way that'll be so much more than marching peacefully through cities holding banners.

Given the number of guns floating around the US - estimated to be well over 300 million - the crisis will be overwhelming. Not just criminals and rednecks' own guns. The gun culture permeates everything. Even card-carrying democrats carry guns, and given the current climate, this is tipped to increase.

Maybe it's time to comprehend the distinct possibility that we'll all be called on to figuratively, if not literally, punch a Nazi soon.

A basic tenet of fascism is a belief in the survival of the fittest. Trump's new and enormous power means that the populace will witness overt displays of muscle from a far more authoritarian police, military and intelligence community. It's going to be one heck of a rough ride.

Amid all of this, I hate to mention New Zealand's own little cabal of alt-truthers. I'm not suggesting that something similar could or would happen here. However, you'd be a fool to rule it out.

What I am saying is remember Dirty Politics, and the various bit players who helped our current Government's re-election with fake news, defamatory blogs and alternative facts? (If you didn't read it, then I can only assume you simply didn't want to know).

Nicky Hager's 2014 book exposed a side of New Zealand politics that is best not forgotten. The sheer quantity of lies and misinformation was staggering, and the part that some in the media and Government performed in keeping the fib machine well-oiled was quite the eye-opener.

Is it still happening? I'm sure it is, albeit in a more toned-down, secretive fashion. No doubt the players - old and new - will reveal themselves soon enough, with an election looming this year.

Are we facing the same American alt-right dilemna? Not quite yet. But where Lady Liberty goes, we tend to follow. It will just be a matter of time before we find ourselves endorsing survivalism and a firearms cache with deadpan earnestness.

The stage is set.

Just because we might not "believe" in violence, it exists, it breathes, it's everywhere. Indeed, the more you don't "believe", the easier you'll be to eliminate on the day it arrives on your doorstep.

Am I being over-dramatic? I hope so. I'd still rather be, at the very least, emotionally prepared for the possibility than not.

Maybe it's time to comprehend the distinct possibility that we'll all be called on to figuratively, if not literally, punch a Nazi soon. Sadly, to defend our way of life, and our hard-won liberal belief systems and soy lattes, we might have no choice.

There is no doubt that our fair land has been lucky over the last few generations, but our luck cannot hold.

The wheels of change are turning ever faster.

Ask America.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Rachel Stewart is winner of the 'Opinion Writer of the Year' award at the 2016 Canon Media Awards.

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 01 May 2017 05:25:08 Processing Time: 581ms