Alisdare Hickson
Alisdare Hickson

It is ironic that I who escaped fascism in the form of Nazism in 1939 would now live in a country where the far right is rapidly gaining support and could become an American Fascism force to reckon with in these days leading up to a Presidential election. In the words of Nobel Prize recipient and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, “Democracy, once lost, may never come back. And we’re much closer to losing our democracy than many people realize.”

Listening to Donald Trump reminds me of my parents gathering around the radio in Prague to hear the Fuehrer while shaking with fear that his words would become reality – as they did. Hitler’s message was amplified by Joseph Goebbels and today similar Republican sycophants echo Trump’s words,

Who are these followers who not only spew venom but back it up with guns and murder? How are they recruited? The number of hate groups to which these mostly young men belong has climbed from 457 in 1999 to 1,020 in 2018. The incidents in 2018-19 were almost all carried out by men in their 20s according to the latest report from the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2019.

April 27, Poway, California 19 years old, target Jews
July 28, Gilroy, California 19 years old, 20 victims, target non-whites
August 3, El Paso, Texas 21 years old, 48 victims, target Latinos
August 8, Las Vegas, California, plot foiled, 23 year-old-man, a Neo-Nazi
August 17, Youngstown, Ohio, plot foiled, 20-year-old, target Jews

The permissive atmosphere of hate promoted by Trump in his tweets, speeches and rallies must be recognized as the prime stimulant for this violence while the easy availability of weaponry, often rapid-fire guns, also promoted by Trump through the NRA, are frightful contributing factors. Hate crimes, bias incidents, and hate speech all have risen significantly in the Trump era and big money is flowing to them in greater amounts according to the Non-Profit Times. The comparison with the Fuehrer’s Brown Shirts jumps out at me.

I now face the prospect of ending my days in a country in danger of becoming a nation that resembles the one from which I escaped. If that happens, my father, mother and soldier brother will surely turn over in their graves!

 Ivan Backer lives in Hartford.

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