Conservatives are calling Trump a fascist . . . and they aren’t going far enough

It’s a mark of the way that the term “fascist” has been abused as a contentless perjorative that Walter Hudson felt compelled to title his essay on PJ Media “No, Seriously, Trump Is a Fascist”:

Right now, we have an actual fascist running for president of the United States, and he seems poised to secure the Republican nomination.  Donald Trump is a fascist, not in a vague rhetorical sense, but according to the father of fascism’s own definition.  Benito Mussolini coined the term and defined it as complete subjugation of the individual to the state. He wrote:

The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim.  Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State . . .

The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone. . . .

Conservative author Matt Walsh, known for his provocative commentary in defense of principle, notes that Trump is perhaps the first serious contender for president of the United States who campaigns openly as a tyrant. Other presidents may have exhibited tyranny to one degree or another, but none have been as unbridled as Trump promises to be. . . .

Donald Trump is not Adolf Hilter, but both are fascists.  Each believes that the individual should be subordinated entirely to the state under the whim of an unbridled leader.  That’s the relevant comparison, and one which should inform a voter’s decision.

He’s right, but there’s actually more to be said.  To understand this, we need to recognize that fascism and Nazism are different beasts.  They are obviously compatible rather than contradictory, but they are fundamentally different concepts.  Fascism is a totalitarian political/economic philosophy which is a product of the modern age.  Thomas Sowell’s succinct summary of the differing economic approaches of socialism and fascism (which I’ve noted before) is useful here:

Socialists believe in government ownership of the means of production.  Fascists believed in government control of privately owned businesses.

Sowell goes on to point out that economically, the Obama Administration has clearly operated in a fascist key–but fascism does not automatically mean Nazism, and Obama is not a Nazi in any respect.  In fact, he’s the exact opposite.

This is because Nazism isn’t a political philosophy, it’s a pagan atavism.  It’s a rebirth of the ancient worship of deities like Ba’al, Ishtar, and Molech, which was made possible by modern totalitarianism. Read more

Poem of the Week


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

—Seamus Heaney, 1966, from Death of a Naturalist (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux)


Photo:  “Digging Homegrown Potatoes,” © 2011 Peter Mooney.  License:  Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Song of the Week

The Dark Before The Dawn

I’ve been waiting for the sun
To come blazing up out of the night like a bullet from a gun
‘Til every shadow is scattered, every dragon’s on the run.
Oh, I believe, I believe that the light is gonna come,
And this is the dark, this is the dark before the dawn.

I’ve been waiting for some peace
To come raining down out of the heavens on these war-torn fields.
All creation is aching for the sons of God to be revealed.
Oh, I believe, I believe that the victory is sealed:
The serpent struck but it was crushed beneath His heel.

Oh, I know the wind can bring the lightning;
Oh, I know the lightning brings the rain.
Oh, I know the storm can be so frightening,
But that same wind is gonna blow that storm away,
Blow that storm away.

Lord, I’m waiting for a change;
I’m waiting for the change . . .

So I’m waiting for the King
To come galloping out of the clouds while the angel armies sing.
He’s gonna gather His people in the shadow of His wings,
And I’m gonna raise my voice with the song of the redeemed,
‘Cause all this darkness is a small and passing thing.

This is the storm, this is the storm,
The storm before the calm;
This is the pain, the pain before the balm.
This is the cold, the cold,
It’s the cold before the warm;
These are the tears, the tears before the song.
This is the dark—
Sometimes all I see is this darkness.
Well, can’t you feel the darkness?
This is the dark before the dawn

I’m just waiting for a change;
Lord, I’m waiting for the change.

I had a dream that I was waking
At the burning edge of dawn
And I could see the fields of glory,
I could hear the sower’s song.

I had a dream that I was waking
At the burning edge of dawn
And all that rain had washed me clean,
All the sorrow was gone.

I had a dream that I was waking
At the burning edge of dawn
And I could finally believe
The King had loved me all along.

I had a dream that I was waking
At the burning edge of dawn—
I saw the sower in the silver mist
And He was calling me home.

Words and music: Andrew Peterson
© 2015 Centricity Music
From the album
The Burning Edge of Dawn


Photo:  Dan Fador.  Public domain.

This land is whose land? A further reflection on Nikabrik’s candidate

I think Stephan Pastis, in this strip from this past Valentine’s Day, has gotten a lead on what this election is really about.  Bill Curry made a similar point in Salon (with less clarity in far more words, as my father-in-law pointed out) with an article titled “‘It’s the corruption, stupid’:  Hillary’s too compromised to see what Donald Trump understands.”  Curry’s subhead argues, “The key 2016 issue is outrage over a rigged system by special interests.”  I think the article is weakened by his predetermined partisan animosity to the Citizens United decision, which causes him to misread it in some important ways, but his essential point (and Pastis’) is correct as far as it goes.  As he says,

Voters [in 2008] knew the problem wasn’t “partisan gridlock” but a hammerlock of special interests. . . .

Clinton bristles at any implication she’d ever stoop to a policy quid pro quo.  I don’t think she would.  But that’s not how soft corruption works.  Politicians spend more time talking to their donors than to their children.  As in all intimate relations, each learns to see the world through the other’s eyes.  It affects everyone:  pollsters, policy advisers, reporters, pundits.

The limitation in Curry’s analysis is that he sees this almost entirely in economic terms, through the materialistic and technocratic lens held in common by classical Marxism and contemporary capitalism.  What he’s unable (or unwilling) to see is that the developing crisis—which was described much more insightfully in Salon a few months ago in an interview with the Rev. Dr. Chris Hedges, as I noted at the time—is far broader and deeper than mere concern for material well-being.  Read more

Antonin Scalia, RIP

I’m late noting this, I realize, but I’m just getting over a nasty bug that laid me out for more than a week.  Even late, though, I couldn’t just let this go, because I believe Antonin Scalia’s death is a great loss to the Republic.  Justice Scalia was indeed “one of the most brilliant and combative justices ever to sit on the Court, and one of the most prominent legal thinkers of his generation,” as Lesley Stahl described him in the introduction to his 60 Minutes profile.

He was also, by the testimony of his fellow justices, a good colleague and a good friend.  Though a passionate conservative in matters of law and society, his closest friend on the Court was its leading liberal mind, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with whom he had a close relationship going back to their days on the D.C. Circuit Court.  (Hence Justice Ginsburg in the thumbnail for the first video above.)  That didn’t mean that he pulled his punches; he always treated her with respect, which meant in part that he knew she was tough enough and smart enough to argue hard.  Ginsburg once commented, “I love him, but sometimes I’d like to strangle him.”  On the whole, though, she appreciated it:

We disagreed now and then [!?], but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation.

Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots — the “applesauce” and “argle bargle”—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.

Read more

Seeing the darkness

Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom, Spurgeon’s insight is the beginning of the fear of the Lord.  This is in part because it’s the beginning of self-realism, and thus clears the decks for true knowledge of ourselves, and thus for true knowledge of God.  Read more

In praise of humility [REPOST]

NOTE:  I ran across this post from November 2009 while I was looking for something else, and was struck by it, so I decided to repost it.


There’s a fascinating piece up on Time‘s front page entitled, “The Case for Modesty, in an Age of Arrogance,” by one Nancy Gibbs. Gibbs begins,

Virtues, like viruses, have their seasons of contagion. When catastrophe strikes, generosity spikes like a fever. Courage spreads in the face of tyranny. But some virtues go dormant for generations, as we’ve seen with thrift, making its comeback after 40 years in cold storage. I’m hoping for a sudden outbreak of modesty, a virtue whose time has surely come.

In truth, what she really wants to talk about is not modesty but humility (which, as she notes, can be practiced in many ways: “Try taking up golf. Or making your own bagels. Or raising a teenager”); but I don’t have a problem with that, especially as she has good things to say about humility and its importance.

Modesty in private life is attractive, but in public life it is essential, especially now, when those who immodestly claimed to Know It All have Wiped Us Out. The problems we face are too fierce to accommodate arrogance. Humility leaves room for complexity, honors honest dissent, welcomes the outlandish idea that sweeps past ideology and feeds invention. We want to reimagine the health-care system, confront climate change, save our kids from a financial avalanche? The odds are much better if we come to the table assuming we don’t already have all the answers. . . .

Humility and modesty need not be weakness or servility; they can be marks of strength, the courage to confront a challenge knowing that the outcome is in doubt. Ronald Reagan, for all his cold-warrior confidence, projected a personal modesty that served his political agenda well. I still don’t know what President Obama’s core principles are, but the fact that he even pays lip service to humility as one of them could give him the upper hand in the war for the souls of independents—a group that’s larger now than at any time in the past 70 years. . . .

But I heed Jane Austen’s warning that “nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.” If Obama appears proud of how humble and open-minded he is, if he demonizes opponents instead of debating them, if his actual choices are quietly ideological while his rhetoric flamboyantly inclusive, he will be missing a great opportunity—and have much to be modest about.

Interesting closing comment, that.


Looking back from the last year of Barack Obama’s second term, Austen’s warning was aptly noted.  The President missed a great opportunity.  Here’s hoping somebody learns a lesson from his example; another term or two of that sort of attitude—from either party—could be disastrous.  The alarm Gibbs was sounding was urgent six years ago; it’s only the more so now.


Image:  Black hole Cygnus X-1.  Image credit:  NASA/CXC/M.Weiss.  Public domain.

Poem of the Week

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877


Photo © 2011 by Wikimedia user Joefrei.  License:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Song of the Week

This is one of my favorites from Van Morrison.  The video below, though, is of Phil Keaggy performing this song at Creation in 1992; yes, it’s a cover rather than the original, but I love Keaggy’s guitar work on this one.


When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God?

The sun was setting over Avalon
The last time we stood in the west.
Suffering long time angels enraptured by Blake
Burn out the dross, innocence captured again.

Standing on the beach at sunset,
All the boats keep moving slow
In the glory of the flashing light,
In the evening’s glow.

When will I ever learn to live in God?
When will I ever learn?
He gives me everything I need and more
When will I ever learn?

You brought it to my attention that everything was made in God.
Down through centuries of great writings and paintings,
Everything lives in God,
Seen through architecture of great cathedrals
Down through the history of time,
Is and was in the beginning and evermore shall be.


Whatever it takes to fulfill his mission,
That is the way we must go;
But you’ve got to do it in your own way:
Tear down the old, bring up the new.

And up on the hillside it’s quiet,
Where the shepherd is tending his sheep.
And over the mountains and the valleys,
The countryside is so green.
Standing on the highest hill with a sense of wonder,
You can see everything is made in God.
Head back down the roadside and give thanks for it all.

Chorus out

Words and music:  Van Morrison
© 1989 Barrule UK Ltd.
From the album
Avalon Sunset


Photo:  “Lofoten Sunset,” © 2013 Sø Jord.  License:  Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.

Getting outreach backwards

A great frustration for many pastors is the common expectation of church members, including lay leaders, that it’s the pastor’s job to grow the church.  The truth is, most pastors have less ability to grow the church directly than any committed member of the congregation.  That might seem strange to say, given that so much of the American church has convinced itself that programs and style are the keys to growth, but it’s true.  Programs and style may help one congregation steal members from others, but they will not grow the churchDean Inserra makes the point well:

“We need an outreach event to bring in some young people.”  I hear that from Christians often about their church, assuming it must be the key for City Church in getting the “young folks.”  Other times I eavesdrop on conversations at Chick Fil A, where a table of staff members from another church in town are hoping their pastor will take off the tie and “go contemporary,” since they want to be “relevant,” and “reach the young people.”

– Do an outreach.
– Change the music.
– Dress in jeans.
– Use more technology in the service.
– Increase social media presence by getting on Twitter.
– We need to be more creative.

I hear it all.  It once made me sad for these nice folks who I do believe sincerely are trying to reach more people, but now I just roll my eyes.  An unbeliever doesn’t care about any of those things because, wait for it . . . he’s not a Christian.  Why would someone who isn’t a believer and doesn’t attend a Sunday church worship service, care about the music at the local Baptist church?  Have you ever met a new believer who in his or her testimony mentions that he or she heard the pastor didn’t wear a suit, so this new believer decided to try it out, heard the gospel, and was baptized?  Maybe that story exists somewhere, but I haven’t heard it.  Why would an unbeliever follow your church on Twitter?  I’ve never heard someone who came to church because the pastor sits on a stool rather than standing in a pulpit.

Very few see it, but there’s idolatry underlying the folly Inserra critiques.  “Relevance” has been a major idol in the American church for decades, and on the whole it has gone largely unchallenged.  Read more