Schwab: To discern fascism, ask the generation that fought it

A World War II-era pamphlet for U.S. troops described what they were fighting against; and why.

By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist

Memorial Day. Compare and contrast:

President Biden: “On this day, we come together again to reflect, to remember, but above all, to recommit to the future our fallen heroes fought for … a future grounded in freedom, democracy, equality, tolerance, opportunity, and … justice. … [T]he truest memorial to their lives is to act every day to ensure that our democracy endures, our Constitution endures, and the soul of our nation and our decency endures.”

Trump: “Happy Memorial Day to all, but especially to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the country they love, and to those in line of a very different, but equally dangerous fire, stopping the threats of the terrorists, misfits and lunatic thugs who are working feverishly from within to overturn and destroy our once great country, which has never been in greater peril than it is right now. We must stop the communists, Marxists and fascist ‘pigs’ at every turn and, Make America Great Again!” (“Happy Memorial Day” to soldiers who died?)

DeSantis: “I will destroy leftism and leave woke ideology in the dustbin of history.” (Really? How?)

Thanks to Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor to whose daily “Letters From An American” ( everyone should subscribe, I learned of pamphlets issued by the War Department to U.S. soldiers during World War II, aimed at helping them understand what they were fighting for. As my personal creativity is a dying ember, I’ll quote extensively:

“You are away from home, separated from your families … because of a thing called fascism. … It is important for our future … that as many of us as possible understand the causes and practices of fascism, in order to combat it.

“Fascism is government by the few and for the few. The objective is seizure and control of the economic, political, social, and cultural life of the state. The people run democratic governments, but fascist governments run the people.

“The basic principles of democracy stand in the way … Anyone who is not a member of their inner gang has to do what he’s told. They permit no civil liberties, no equality before the law. … Fascism treats women as mere breeders. ‘Children, kitchen, and the church,’ was the Nazi slogan for women. …

“They maintain themselves in power by use of force combined with propaganda based on primitive ideas of ‘blood’ and ‘race,’ by skillful manipulation of fear and hate, and by false promise of security. … faith in the common sense of the common people — was the direct opposite of the fascist principle of rule by the elite few, so they fought democracy. … They played political, religious, social, and economic groups against each other and seized power while these groups struggled, [using a] well-planned ‘hate campaign’ against minority races, religions, and other groups. …

“In place of international cooperation, the fascists seek to substitute a perverted sort of ultra-nationalism which tells their people that they are the only people in the world who count. …

“[It is] vitally important to learn to spot native fascists, even though they adopt names and slogans with popular appeal, drape themselves with the American flag, and attempt to carry out their program in the name of the democracy they are trying to destroy. …

“Freedom requires being alert and on guard against the infringement not only of our own freedom but the freedom of every American. If we permit discrimination, prejudice, or hate to rob anyone of his democratic rights, our own freedom and all democracy is threatened. And if we want to make certain that fascism does not come to America, we must make certain that it does not thrive anywhere in the world.”

Wow. Was that a “woke” military, or what? WWMTGD?

It’s doubtful the War Department foresaw the fascistic devolution of today’s Republican Party, which was, after all, grooming Dwight Eisenhower. But their warnings have become the playbook for Trump and DeSantis, plus every current hat-thrown R candidate, following in goosestep. Nikki Haley and Tim Scott smile more, but they’re in line. Aided by media which, as recent events prove, lie for lucre, they’re creating a horde of Americans who ignore the obvious threat to themselves. Who target Target rather than race-baiting, antisemitic, anti-democracy, sexually nervous white supremacists. (God invented the rainbow.)

Providing proof are House Republicans in their debt ceiling extortion attempts. What they wanted, and were willing to ruin the lives of Americans to get — they still might (Reuters: — was cutting benefits for the (lazy, undeserving) underprivileged while making sure the IRS hadn’t the ability to audit wealthy (they and their donors) tax cheats. Empowering the few, demonizing the different, it’s fascism defined. Induced to self-harm via calculated other-hate, most of their voters, victimized by their policies, elect them anyway.

It’s a scam bigger than all of Trump’s added together.

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