It started out slow. So slow in fact that no one took notice. The pace was as the tortoise goes. A right taken away here, a story buried deeply inside the newspaper, so insignificant as to not be of much notice.
Then 9/11 happened and the pace quickened a little. More rights stripped of the populace, but as a nation we were so shaken we were fine because it was a just a few. You know, to keep us safe.
The final piece of the puzzle was candidate, then president, Trump. His rhetoric, statements, and actions took it over the top. The GOP, and the MAGA crowd, swallowed what Trump spewed as if manna from heaven. The worse he got, the more fervent his followers became.
Many hoped when Trump lawfully lost his re-election bid the nightmare would start to end. As we’ve come to see, the march toward fascism has steadily and increasingly become worse. The Big Lie is still alive and going strong. Trump’s hate speech goes unchecked and his followers are upping the ante.
We have people threatening election volunteers and workers, school board members, media, elected officials, and even FBI agents. People have been hurt, and killed. Yet, the rhetoric continues with essentially no GOP members denouncing Trump’s actions and words.
This week the march towards fascism took another leap. Although we have seen the Heil Hitler salute at white supremacist group meetings, the salute had mainly remained within the hate groups. That is, until this week.
This week in Pennsylvania, at least at one rally for Mastriano, a candidate for governor, the crowd performed the Heil Hitler salute. One would assume not all of these people would think of themselves as fascists. One might sadly wonder if they are even aware of what the salute means historically. Regardless, they collectively crossed a line, a line many believed would never be crossed again. Yet, here we are. Here…we…are!
I, as others I know, have pondered over the years how Germany sunk into fascism. Now we know it happened bit-by-bit, inch-by-inch, unchecked behavior-by-unchecked behavior, and with complicity by the rich, the powerful, and the media.
The question I am asking myself is, have we crossed the tipping point? Will the United States, in my lifetime, go from the beacon of democracy to the depths and horrors of fascism and authoritarianism. Hitler came to power by lawful and legal means, his henchmen also came into power by lawful and legal means, then they gave Hitler unbridled power. We all know what happened next. We also know much of the world came together to ultimately stop Hitler.
If, or maybe it is now when, we become the Germany of the 30’s and 40’s, or the China, North Korea, Hungary, Turkey, or Russia of today, will there be anyone to save us from ourselves.
Or, will all the democracies of the world then collapse and freedom will be a thing of the past?
Frighteningly, I think we’ll know the decision sooner rather than later.