“Europeans Recognize Trumpism for What It Is.” This was the title of a recent article from The Atlantic’s critically acclaimed writer Anne Applebaum. The article is based on a January 13, 2021 interview with one of Luxembourg’s longest sitting foreign ministers, Jean Asselborn. She identified it for what it is: fascism.
“I heard Trump twice at the U.N. General Assembly, both times speaking about this wrong idea of patriotism. It was–ugh–awful. In the 1930s, in Europe, we learned where this wrong patriotism can go. We never understood it,” Applebaum quotes Asselborn during the interview.
This statement succinctly sums up what so many journalists and extremist researchers have been warning about for months: Trumpism and all the tendril groups that make up its base of supporters is becoming a distinctly extreme, violent, and largely fascist movement.
>Ark Valley Voice was one of the first and one of the very few news media in Colorado that has identified and tracked this extremist movement, bringing its unfortunate and, at times, horrifying realities to readers. This early warning, which began in late spring 2020, alerted local residents not just to community problems in Chaffee, but how they related to potential emerging threats across Colorado and the nation.
Recent events and a lack of unilateral efforts to stop this totalitarian fascist threat are allowing it to continue to grow and coalesce. As a result, AVV decided to monitor and analyze this threat.
AVV is now devoting a special section of our website along with the requisite resources to monitoring this threat to democracy and our local community. This virtual space titled, “Extremism”, will allow us to educate and help keep concerned local citizens and leaders up-to-date on the status of local and state extremist threats, and their connection to national extremism trends.
Specifically, AVV has identified organizational components of American extremism that fall into three main categories: propaganda/disinformation, political, and militant.
Propaganda and Disinformation
Propaganda and disinformation provide the bedrock of the extremist threat. Kernels of truth and fact are constantly manipulated, weaponized, and released into the rapidly expanding far-right extremist ecosystem. More importantly, far-right propaganda now has its own large body of “experts” from all walks of life, from former national security, military, and law enforcement leaders to doctor and lawyer organizations. All of these people evoke trust and respect from their followers while pushing a far-right extreme agenda based on lies and promoting violence at every turn.
This provides apparent “validation” and solidifies the radicalizing echo-chamber in which so many Americans are trapped. Within it, people seeking to do their “research” on apolitical topics such as COVID-19 or the U.S. Constitution will find their own “verifiable” and weaponized facts to support their extremist views. AVV plans to provide detailed information about some of the most prevailing and dangerous propaganda and misinformation trends.
This may seem straightforward, but recent events and the leaders of those events have shown how adept and entrenched extremism already is in our politics and society in general. The best example of this is the Patriot Party movement. Since the disgraced former President’s ignominious departure from office, the Patriot Party has cemented its place in American mainstream politics.
Former President Donald Trump’s threat to start and lead a new third party (Patriot Party) was enough political gamesmanship for the vast majority of the Republican Party leadership to make the political calculus to renege on any previously strong statements against extremist views.
One only had to listen to the speeches at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to understand the lock this extremist movement has on that party.
Seeing this easy capitulation by national GOP leaders, many state and local GOP are now being taken over by violent extremist patriots. This is not just a political calculus, it is a white nationalist and white supremacy survival calculus because they know little actual power resides in a third party.
As a result, state and local parties are seeing the takeover of leadership positions from both the inside and outside. The El Paso County GOP was recently co-opted by the extremist group Faith, Education, and Commerce (FEC) led by the well-known far-right activist Joe Oltmann. In our own Chaffee County, several previous (and two out of the three newly elected) GOP leaders are members of the Chaffee County Patriots.
Violent extremist groups (a.k.a. militias) such as the Three Percenters, Oathkeepers, and Proud Boys are the most visible militant groups within this far-right organizational structure. However, as the movement continues to evolve and coalesce these groups are increasingly becoming its security and enforcement apparatus.
Most far-right activities now have members of these groups providing “security” at events or functioning as bodyguards for politicians and other public figures. In that role, they can incite events just as much as they can provide “protection”.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security recently released a “Joint Intelligence Bulletin” indicating far-right events are likely to increase in 2021 along with the possibility of politically motivated violence. AVV plans to provide analysis of these events and track which appear to have a higher potential for violence.
A combination of these three areas lies behind a conspiracy theory that has been circulating in the groups’ social media for weeks. That is: today, March 4 (Inauguration Day until the passage of the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the 1930s, changing it to Jan 20) would be the day that Former President Donald Trump would be sworn into office as the “19th President”. The social media chatter said a particular militant group was going to storm the U.S. Capitol today to make that happen.
This builds from another conspiracy theory that somehow the U.S. became a corporation in 1871, and therefore we haven’t had a legitimate president since then, so putting Trump back in power would make him the 19th president of the “real” United States.
We know. This sounds like crazy talk. But it is what this radical ecosystem is promoting.