I want to explore the overuse of the words: Facism/ Fascist.
A little backgrounder: I once misused the word “fascist” in front my very-conservative father who immediately told me I was misusing the word and had better do my homework if I am going throw big words like that around. This was often the case in our home since my mom is quite liberal, and as a result of the polarized political views in our home, all conversations (about almost) everything had to be cited as to its source and why we felt how we did. Not sure whether it was to diversify our thinking or if it was to see which parent we agreed with more, regardless, we had to know our shit.
Similar story, my brother once sat down at a rare dinner at our dining room table where we were all at there together and proudly said, “Nixon was a crook!” as though he were suddenly adulting. I think he was roughly in the 3rd grade. Not generally something an eight-year-old comes up with independently. Same thing as my own misused word. Both parents immediately sat up straight and wanted to know where this information came from. He said his teacher had said it and he learned it from her. Well, that didn’t fly in our house, at least not during those years. We could not come home spouting off regurgitated rhetoric we heard from friends or teachers… no! We were handed the dictionary or told to go look it all up. This, of course, predates the internet and to “look it up” meant very, real leg work. My brother was assigned to learn about Nixon and to be prepared to understand exactly what that statement meant.
Ugh. Homework at home?! Who does this?! What fascists do this to their own kids?
Humorous, eh? Pulled that one full circle.
Definition of FASCISM (from Merriam)
1often capitalized: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
Seems a fitting world view from childhood. The regime of the dictatorial parenting… Homework at home. Oppression of my playtime, says I.
Now Mr. Orwell speaks and a portion of this writing has been quoted a lot of late:
“Meaningless words. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning. Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader. When one critic writes, “The outstanding feature of Mr. X’s work is its living quality,” while another writes, “The immediately striking thing about Mr. X’s work is its peculiar deadness,” the reader accepts this as a simple difference opinion. If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable.” The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like “Marshal Petain was a true patriot,” “The Soviet press is the freest in the world,” “The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution,” are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.”
― George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946
There are obvious places I could take this blog post. Is Donald Trump indeed a fascist? (no) Are we about to become Nazi Germany: Part Zwei? (no) Can I dig down into the psychology of where we are going as a nation? I am not that much of a masochist. For one, I am not going to do all that research and even then I’d get destroyed in the blogosphere for not knowing enough to pretend to carry on the discussion that might follow. For two, ugh, do I really want to? No, not really.
I want to poke at the dead body of this word and how it has come to be the ‘go to’ word for those who feel oppressed by damn near anything. Much like my childhood analogy. Perspective, baby.
Fascist/ism is now, or better put, has once again become the “Word of the Day” on everyone’s desk top calendar but we’re in the Twilight Zone and it is the same word every, single day. It has its appropriate use in our crazy world right now but there are some real folks out there that make me wonder if there is a Protester Starter Kit I am unaware of that comes with a short list of buzzwords.
I jest, but do I?
Whomever did this one gets a prize!!!
While it tends to be the left that overuses that word please note that I am neither Democrat nor Republican. I voted neither in this past Presidential run. If I had to align I’d probably be closest to a Libertarian, but I’m not that either. Importantly, I always feel compelled to note I do not party align and in fact am against party-politics, especially the two-party system within which we currently suffer. I try to become informed on each candidate and I cast my votes according to my beliefs and who I think might do the best job. Generally, my votes run the spectrum of all parties depending on the issue.
Anyway, I went and did a search on Google for protesters with placards that included the word ‘fascist’ or ‘fascism’ and I am
not surprised to say that there are photos from all over the globe of people angry with their government from all sides and all sides cry “FASCISM!” Everyone comparing their leaders to the worst they can think of; and that’d be Hitler. I’ll agree with that, he was as bad as it gets.
Really?! Dear Dumb Photo Shopper: You forgot the ‘stache
The reality from this chair is that half of these people pull out the dirtiest word they can to put their voice against what is disagreeable or offending them. I am not saying these folks are not entitled to their offense, nor am I am saying they are wrong to be offended. What offends one, does not offend another. The go-for-the-throat in protest world seems to be the new “F” word. Call em a fascist. That’ll show them. Protest after protest. Year after year. At least 71-ish of them, per Mr. Orwell, I’d say.
Do these people truly understand what a fascist is? All these college kids? All these moms and dads? They’ll tell you a resounding YES! But examining the protest photos of the recent years gone by the protesters have called both Obama AND Trump a fascist. Huh? You can find similar examples on global stage. Both sides calling each other a proud flag waving fascist. It cannot work like that and again I say, we, as humans are lacking in dialogue. If you ask both sides they will tell you why they are correct and the other side is bent on trampling their rights, exploiting others and, Beware! if you are not careful, the new world fascism is coming!
Really, Really?! SMH! Some of you have WAY too much time on your hands!
Could it be that one side is right and other is wrong? Depends on which side you are on because we all believe passionately and feel we are right. How dare you say my side is wrong, you fascist! It just rolls right off the tongue so naturally, so smooth, it’s like buttah.
Could it be that neither side is fascist? That doesn’t stand with party rhetoric and the mob mentality they prey upon to keep us focused on the shiny toy they want us to break.
But, but,…. my teacher said only the religious right can be Fascists.
The sad thing is there are many abusers of power out there but they aren’t all fascists. Quite literally, abuse of power does not equate to fascism. Representing something that someone else does not like also does not equate to fascism. Making me look up the word and do homework at home (sadly) does not oppress me under a fascist parental regime. We as a people need to drop this not-so new “F” word.
It is ok to protest. It is ok/not ok to be offended by XY or Z. It is ok to want more or better from your government but, please remember, what is more and what is better is completely subjective. What people need to realize is that in the balance of life comes our individuality as humans. We all have a view of the world, even if it is actually oppressed from free speech, your thoughts and how you got to them are uniquely your own. That is quite a spectrum. Not everyone can be happy with any form of rule and anarchy is not the solution. (dammit) I also realize that there are true Fascist movements out there and I posit that overuse of the “F” word discredits any actual fight against real Fascism.
Welcome to the party, Chicken Little.
You don’t have to agree on everything our government is doing. In fact, I’d find it scary if anyone responded to this espousing the virtues of our elected officials and their primo decision-making skills. What you should do is ensure you’re well-informed from all sides, choose your own words, use them correctly, don’t burn down Starbucks or a neighborhood small business, they all count, clean up after your peaceful gathering of protest, and stand for what you believe in.
Save the “F” word for when it really matters.