If Trump can’t even do fascism right, then what the hell good is he?

Damn, I would have expected a full-blown national crisis to have taken at least a year or two, but here we are at the end of Week One of the Trump era, in which we appear to have passed the critical threshold whereby the Resistance has become the Uprising.

Trump issued an executive order that immediately banned citizens of seven (mostly-Muslim) countries from entering the US, for a period of 90 days. This isn’t just a matter of tourists visiting the US and so on, but rather a blanket ban on all non-US citizens from those countries (with exceptions for diplomats and certain other cases), regardless of whether they were already legal US residents with a green card.

The order went into effect immediately, meaning that even those who had grown up nearly their entire life in the United States, had legal permanent residence, and were already in the air at the time the order was issued were met immediately upon arrival with handcuffs and detainment cells. In some cases, they were met with deportation.

Travelers who had gone home for the holidays, attended a funeral, visited family, or were sent on a business trip are now discovering that they might never be able to return. Some of them have jobs, mortgages, university placement, and other obligations which they’ll likely be forced to abandon altogether.

Some of them have children.

“It’s only 90 days,” defenders say, as if landlords are lenient enough to put up with that kind of delinquency like it’s no big deal. Not only is that guaranteed to cause financial ruin to quite a few innocent people, but there’s also the rapidly-approaching possibility that it won’t be just 90 days, as Rudy Giuliani has openly said Trump asked for a Muslim banin general, rather than a country-specific, short-term hiccup. It was also an overt statement during the campaign. The problem is not just what is happening now. The problem is what will happen down the road, if and when the proposed Muslim registry goes into effect, and they’re rounded up and banned outright.

Reports indicate that Steve Bannon, Trump’s Rasputin-like string-puller who now holds a seat on the National Security council despite having no national security experience, personally overruled the Department of Homeland Security’s recommendation that the immigration ban shouldn’t apply to anyone already a legal resident of the United States. Though it still would have caused collateral damage to innocent people (it bans most refugees, for example), at least it wouldn’t have caused pointless collateral damage to legal US residents, who were caught up in a storm they couldn’t possibly plan to avoid, as they were literally in the air at the time.

Jack D Ripper from Dr Strangelove
“Trust me.”

To be fair, I don’t exactly have a problem with immigration protocols, including strict ones, or even measures targeting specific countries, all of which is fairly standard. But any discussion of whether or not this will keep anyone safe is immediately dismissible by reviewing the simple fact that forging a passport from a non-banned country will immediately circumvent the ban. Furthermore, since the ban allows Christian refugees into the US with no problem, all they’d have to do is say they’re Christian, prove it with a few recently-memorized Bible verses and church attendance photos, and thus it becomes clear how this whole ordeal is far more likely to cause unnecessary collateral damage to innocent people than it is to protect anyone, especially as it includes life-long, law-abiding, agnostic, fully legal US residents who have never visited those countries at any point in their lives. Cue the World War II Japanese internment camp comparison.

As a little side note, it will also mean that anyone currently thinking about moving to the US right now, whether Muslim or not, will quite likely have second thoughts, pick Canada instead, and thus several of the next billion-dollar tech companies will emerge up north. This has probably already caused several billion dollars worth of damage merely by shrinking the talent pool from which the US can draw from 7 billion to, like, 2.

Speculation is now swirling about whether this was merely a display of sheer stupidity, or a deliberate stunt to create a public fiasco, so that it could later be spun into a PR victory for the current anti-immigrant administration. Personally, I have a hard time believing that this is the sort of thing that can be successfully spun. Trump himself said during the campaign that if immigrants come here legally, then they’d have nothing to worry about. Anyone watching at this point knows this is nonsense. Stories of mothers who took their children to visit family back home and who are now separated from their husbands by an entire planet are being dismissed as an “inconvenience.” It’s hard to imagine the blowback from all this being desirable.

See, if you want to push for a fascist regime (which I don’t think was originally Trump’s goal, but I certainly can’t imagine he’d be upset if he were to just kinda slide into it at this point), you have to move gradually, especially if you’re being so heavily watched. You can’t just immediately cause a personal catastrophe for thousands of people and hope the fallout just works itself out somehow. You take baby steps. Issue a ban on new visas, for example. Limit the number of people who can apply for them. Ramp up surveillance measures. Start with orders that are mostly agreeable, or that are even good. Not too many people would object to enhanced vetting procedures, especially during an international refugee crisis. I probably wouldn’t, either.

It’s the next step where you move past the point of tolerable. Make people go along with each step, little by little, so that by the time you’re at Step 9, it’s just a baby step away from Step 8, and doesn’t really seem like such a big deal.

For the record: It is not my intention here to provide recommendations for implementing a fascist regime. If that’s what you want, just read 1984. It is rather to provide a critique of how Trump is simply doing it wrong. At this point in his presidency, with protests popping up all over the place, this is a gross miscalculation. He had to know that he’d suffer a massive backlash from all this, even among his own party, unless he just wasn’t bothering to pay attention. He was either too stupid to care, or wanted to pick a fight…and although massive protests are the sort of thing that can be used as an excuse to implement a police-state crackdown, it’s a lot easier to handle if they’re relatively small, don’t have a whole lot of public support, and don’t have social media documenting every moment.

So, is it better to have a smart fascist than a stupid one? Or just an impulsive, irrational buffoon, which is more likely the case? Meh, hard to say. But if Trump can’t even get this right, there’s no reason to have any faith in his ability to handle, let’s say, a nuclear standoff.

Now would be a good time to watch Dr. Strangelove, too.

Slim Pickens riding the bomb from Dr Strangelove
It was fun while it lasted, I guess.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

About SnarkyNomad

Eytan is a pretentious English major whose rant-laden sarcastic tirades occasionally include budget travel tips and other international nonsense. You can follow his every narcissistic word on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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74 Comments on “If Trump can’t even do fascism right, then what the hell good is he?”

    1. I agree. But it’s like getting a flu shot. It’s going to hurt for a while, but then hopefully it’ll a little better.

      1. Keep the politics, please. I don’t always agree with every point but i enjoy reading such posts. Besides, it’s your dang blog and if visitors aren’t pleased then, well, there’s a whole internet of blogs to explore.

        1. Yup, that’s how I feel. They can get their own blog. And if I’m supposed to stay away from politics, they would do the same and not comment about it. Right?

    1. And people are defending it, like “he’s just doing what he said he’d do.” But that’s just even worse. Even some of his own supporters said he wasn’t being literal during his campaign.

  1. Trump works in a very predictable manner:

    He’ll start strong with a whirlwind of huge demands (in this case changes to policy) and this will force the opposition to decide which is the “least bad” concession they’re willing to make. He’ll then dial down the opening “offer” to reach a place where the opposition feels like they’ve made him go back on his word (and hence won) all the while he’s actually achieved what he wanted.

    At the same time, he’ll still be able to say to the far-right; “See, I tried to make huge changes, but I had to back down”. Win win…

    By the way, don’t read into this that I think he’s some kind of Machiavellian genius! I’m from the UK, so I didn’t support either candidate, I’ve just been watching it all unfold…

    1. See, that’s what normal people do, but he’s not doing the backing-down part. He has no remorse, nor any significant opposition in Congress. So he’ll just do the first step and that’s all.

  2. The whole immigrant thing hits a bit close to home for me. I married an American (I’m English), and for many years simply had a green card. But for an accident of place of birth I could be someone banned – and there would be nothing more heartrending and stomach churning. The immigration process was horrific enough as a white Christian woman – I can’t imagine what muslims are going through, simply because of the colour of their skin and what they believe about God.

    Maybe I’m simplifying it. I don’t know. I’m not exactly knowledgeable on politics. But I do know how it feels to immigrate. And it’s appalling. And then to have something like this happen – oh my gosh those poor people.

    Am I right in understanding that even those with permanent residence are being denied entry? Please tell me that’s not happening.

    1. Those with permanent residence WERE being denied entry, but they later said they’d be fine, but with enhanced questioning. I’m vaguely fine with that, but it’s still a pointless hassle, especially as those people were already vetted, and some of whom who have lived in the US for decades. Do they really need to be screened if they’ve been peaceful that whole time? And yes, there was a story about an Iranian woman visiting Iran with her daughter, who now can’t get back to her husband in the US.

      And for those without permanent residence, such as students, employees, business visitors, and so on, they’re just gone, maybe for three whole months. If they have a job, mortgage, car payments, pets, and children, their whole lives could be destroyed.

      All because of that one little part at the end where they deliberately made this apply to legal visitors who were already approved.

    2. You immigrated through marriage, which is a joke. You have no idea what it’s like to do it the hard way.
      Your simpathy is appreciated but please don’t say you get it, cause you don’t.

        1. She does not get the 15 year process and uncertainty of doing it through merit only to be backstabbed by the government.
          I have zero sympathy for people who immigrated through marriage, let alone from Europe.

          1. I think if you married someone in another country and were then kicked out of the country and could never see your spouse again, you’d probably be kind of upset too. Not everyone who “immigrated through marriage” got married just to immigrate.

  3. Snarkynomad, feel free to speak you mind, that’s the beauty of being an American… don’t pay attention to those telling what (not) to post about.

    1. I agree. I have mixed feelings seeing politics injected into non-political sites, but this is my personal blog. It’s not like I’m writing for ESPN and shoving non-sports stuff in there. This is me.

  4. Keep out of politics, Snarky, it doesn’t fit you well. And please please please read the immigration rule…you are spreading a whole lot of misinformation, whether intended or not. Just educate yourself unless you’re misleading on purpose, as many are.

      1. The acting AG Trump fired is a traitor. And re-reading what you said initially I guess you got about everything wrong. But I know there are many who easy entrance for Islamic Terrorists to enter America. But to get their way, they’re going to have to fight against Donald Trump and all Patriots. This was no “ban” as you called it…and is more complex than should be discussed here, so go read this and get some clarification…. (But if you were a Hillary supporter I think there is no more reason for us to discuss this at all.)

        http://www.factcheck.org/2017/02/facts-on-trumps-immigration-order/

        If you don’t like that one then read this one, which educates us on an equally important issue…migration and its destruction of the host nation (why we don’t want Islam to stomp out our Christian nation (USA/NorthAmerica)….

        http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444279/viktor-orban-europe-hungary-crisis-european-union-unelected-elites-nationalism-populism?

        1. See, I actually have no problem having careful security measures for immigration, especially from areas disproportionately affected by terrorism. Vetting measures are great. But the people who were already vetted got caught up in this too, even if they had been living in the US for 20 years. Hard to imagine they’re a huge security threat if they’ve just been sitting around this whole time, not causing any trouble.

          1. I think you may be believing some fake news if you think already vetted people got ‘caught up’ in this oh-so-inconvenient attempt to stop Islamic Terrorists from murdering us again. I do think many have no clue just what we’re up against. Just think 911…and you may remember just how unbelievably horrifying that was. There is no person on the face of the earth that has a ‘right’ to come to America and it’s about time we have a Leader that cares more about the lives of Americans than they do about the mass migration of absolute Islam evil into our country.

          2. Already vetted = were issued a green card.

            So yes, they did get caught up in this.

            I’m not a fan of any form of religious extremism, and I wouldn’t have had much of a problem with strengthening or lengthening the vetting process, along with other reforms, but many of the people who had been approved before the ban had clearly been living in the US for a long time without causing any trouble. Targeting them was silly.

            And the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, which was not included as part of the ban. How convenient.

  5. Bad managers bully to hide their weakness and inadequacy, and to divert attention away from their incompetence which is what I see happening. I hope things get better ASAP but expecting it to get worse before it gets better.

    1. I think it’s going to get ugly. It’s not just the order itself; it’s the followup of knowing that it caused huge upheaval, people hate it, it tore families apart, and then…instead of tweaking the order to make it more sensible…he fired everyone standing in his way, and said they were betraying the country. The White House even issued an advisory, that if you didn’t want to fall in line, you might as well quit. There’s nothing rational about it. It’s pure authoritarian.

  6. I didn’t vote for Trump, but fascism? Oh, please. I’m an historian (Ph.D. In European history) and in my educated opinion, people who compare anything Trump has done to actual fascism, 1) don’t know anything about fascism, and 2) profane the experience of those who suffered under real fascists. No Syrian refugee, stuck in an airport, has suffered anything like what Poles endured under the Germans (not to mention, of course, what European Jews experienced.). This is not a defense of Trump. It is to recognize what George Orwell said sixty years ago: the word, fascism, has ceased to have any meaning except to denote the writer’s disapproval.

    Let’s dial back the rhetorical overkill, shall we?

    1. So my problem with this is not just the order itself; it’s the followup. It became immediately obvious that the order was badly targeted, badly implemented, and caused a lot of confusion, along with breaking families apart, turning lives upside down, and causing a great deal of collateral damage of innocent people. Instead of tweaking the order to make it work better, or, at the very least, clarifying with a corrective followup order whether or not it applied to dual citizens and green card holders (as there was some confusion on the issue), he FIRED EVERYONE WHO STOOD IN HIS WAY.

      This is not the instinct of someone working to make policies ideal. It’s the instinct of an authoritarian ruler who thinks he can do no wrong, and anyone who critiques any part of his policy is “betraying” the country. The White House even said that if you don’t want to carry out the Trump agenda, you should quit right now. And they backed up that claim with multiple firings.

      It’s not just the order itself. It’s the campaign promise of going even further, of doing a Muslim registry, for example, and, again, firing anyone who stands in the way. Would THAT be fascism? Because that’s where I think this is going.

      1. I have people that are friends and co-workers that are Muslim that I like…but let me be frank. Islam has no benefit to American culture. If you are on the American “left” Islam is antithetical to your thought process. If you worry about “evil Baptists” but not Muslims you are a fool. Baptists may complain that homosexuality is wrong or abortion is wrong but you won’t get your body parts chopped off or killed for thinking or acting that way. The left are a bunch of self-righteous children who whine but are unrealistic about their real enemies. Sorry kid but you are among them. Look at any Muslim ruled country…things you value would get you killed there. America has borders and has a right to say who comes into this country and who doesn’t – like any other country does. We should also only allow in those that have similar values. Islam does not share those values. If you are worried about “Nazism” you really should worry about Islam because the things you value are not tolerated in Islamic society. Get educated and grow up.

        1. I don’t agree with any religion, and I don’t think any one of them should be free of criticism. I never said otherwise.

  7. Speaking of protocols, henceforth all referenced to the Cheeto-dusted demagogue should be properly spelled tRUMP or t-Rump

  8. I’m waiting on this one. If this continues then it pretty much guarantees the Democrats will gain more seats in mid term elections.
    I can tell you as the daughter of a Canadian immigrant that my Mom was locked out of this country on several occasions. This happened even though she was a green card holder. These incidents occurred in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. On one occasion it was a corrupt border official looking for bribes. On others it was administrative. These risks are “normal”, I’m afraid to say. Most of the time this was quickly remedied when my Dad phoned his senator. They know which strings to pull. One thing that is different this time is the extent of what is happening. At the very best, it is ham fisted.
    BTW – I want to commend you on your other piece about liberals misunderstanding Trump supporters at their peril. I reread it after the election. You nailed it.

    1. Yes, this is getting crazy. I was also on the side of thinking Trump had been misrepresented–not that I thought he would be effective, but that the media was definitely taking some of his quotes out of context–but now we can see pretty clearly how he plans to govern, which wasn’t much of a surprise. Enact poorly-thought out policy without the advice of experienced officials, then refuse to change and fire anyone standing in his way. This ruined the lives of a few people, but what happens when he does something equally stupid with health care, or defense? He can’t even get this right, at all. It’s going to get worse.

  9. Last May (5/16–less than 9 months ago) I stood waiting in a seemingly interminable line for US Customs and Immigration at the Dublin airport (yes, US Customs at the Dublin, Ireland, airport) trying to get back home. At the time I joked (ha ha) that if Trump were to be elected, the lines might be shorter because no one would want to come to the US! Well, less than a year later, it’s no laughing matter. “SAD!”
    Please note–I am NOT John the PhD in European history (above). I’m sorry, but I think we should expect more nuance from his “educated opinion.” It is wrong to compare the present situation to Germany of 1938-45, but if you compare the situation to the rise of Hitler in 1921-33, you will find analogies aplenty.

    1. Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about. It’s not like he’s Hitler, but he’s doing dumb things that cause enormous collateral damage for the sake of “safety,” and then firing everyone who stands in his way and saying they’re betraying the country. There’s no way around it. It’s authoritarian. If he had an actual argument for breaking up families in the middle of their flight to the US, I’d listen, but he doesn’t.

    1. We don’t have terrorists just “pouring in,” as people say. There’s a vetting process. That’s not the same as just letting anyone in, and I support the careful consideration of people who want to live here, rather than either extreme of letting everyone in, or letting no one in of certain backgrounds.

      1. Not to be disrespectful, but you have no clue who is entering the USA. There is no more patient people than the Muslim Terrorists and they can take years making their plans/dreams come true as you saw on 9/11 in 2001. If they ‘knew’ who was coming in…this whole immigration thing would not be a problem. Be patient, there’s a new order in the works, one that will pass muster with SCOTUS 8-0.

        1. Your confidence in Trump to design a flawless legal document should require a second thought given his inability to do so in the first place.

          1. I’m sure it’s my own attorney (Jay Sekulow) of the American Center for Law and Justice who is designing the order. No one would expect any president to design this order, since most are not lawyers. Trump knows his authority to issue the order and that’s all he needs to know. Jay will take care of the rest. Let’s just see how this goes now.

  10. Dear Mr Snarky,

    Thanks for your pieces on guns, and Mr Trump. It’s your blog. Other people who demand you stick to hiking are rude. If you visit someone’s house, you don’t start telling them what they can and can’t put in it, how to decorate it or what they can or can’t say.

    As for Mr Trump, I think the ultimate thing to worry about is if he tries to remove the 4 year Presidential term, or he tries to give permanent positions to those of his team (re: Bannon). Once he does, that’s it, it’s dictatorship time. At least if he only has 4 years, his decisions can be reversed, much like he’s trying to do to Obama’s policies.

    It will be interesting to see if he can do what he says. For example, Trump wants a 355 ship navy. Very recently, the USN (US Navy) said that nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly – grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn the aviation depot backlog.

    Can’t expand if the stuff you already got isn’t working.

    1. Yup, I agree with all that. What’s funny is when people tell me to stop talking about politics, and I just tell them to stop talking about theirs. That doesn’t seem to convince them, though.

  11. Thanks snarky
    America is a dumpster fire right now, a cauldron of hatred and racism and billionaires running everything. We’ll get it back one day, hopefully in one piece.
    And let’s not let the idea of “politics” get in the way. Everything is political. Good on you for speaking truth to power.

    1. I would generally agree, although I also have some disagreements with the “it’s all just racism” argument, and the social justice movement in general, which seems to be creating more conflict than it is allegedly trying to solve. They talk about how prejudice is terrible, then speak with sweeping generalizations about white people, men, cisgender people, and so on. It’s only a matter of time before the people they’re badmouthing react, and that’s what I think was a major factor for people in this election. I am of the generation that was brought up on the values of never treating anyone differently because of their race, and I just don’t see them doing that. So when they say Trump supporters are just a bunch of racists, well…maybe some of them are. But others among them are people who think discrimination is always bad, no matter what, and it’s sad that the left has pushed some of them away by speaking ill of giant swathes of the population, along racial lines.

      1. Over and above all of nonsense this administration is created there is a glaring problem that cannot be fixed for decades. That is who they will put in the Supreme court. That, by far, is the biggest problem. And our generation and many following will pay the price for this huge
        miss-carriage of justice… It will not be repaired in my lifetime….

        1. The only ‘problem’ with the Supreme Court is in losing the right of hit-men to legally kill the unborn for money. Or maybe ‘gay’ mirage. But if we lose those two ‘rights’…what has been lost?

  12. Your founding fathers produced one of the most important documents in human history. They planned for situations where stateists from the right or left gained power. Trust in their checks and balances. In a few years there’ll be a trend to less populist politics on both sides and everything will look sane again. Have a look at Strauss and Howe’s Generational theory. It’s a bit out there at times but shows how these things tend to become trends every 80 years or so. It’s fascinating.

    1. I would hope so, but I don’t have a problem with populism specifically; anything “popular” is populist, kind of like how Justin Bieber and the Beatles are both “pop” music, but one is…highly preferable. There are tens of millions of people in the US who are deeply concerned with outsourcing and job insecurity, and they voted for the only guy who bothered promising them anything on the issue. I don’t think he’s the man for the job, but someone…ahem, BERNIE SANDERS…was talking about exactly the same issues, and I would have liked to see him work to solve them.

      1. WOE…… Yes, Bernie Sanders would be happy to take all my money and give it to you if you prefer not to work. Scary! And the reason he didn’t win, thank God. But we’ve got much deeper problems in America than economics.

          1. Let me let this great man with whom I agree reply…. “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” — Winston Churchill

            As for the 100%…well, it might as well be…but I think he actually said something like an 85% tax.

  13. I really appreciate your article and thoughtfulness. I love your travel info but like you said, it’s your blog you can write about what you want.

    1. I agree. I actually find it a bit annoying when celebrities hijack award ceremonies or other non-political issues to make them political, but I think that’s because they’re bringing personal issues into a larger event, whereas here I’m just bringing my own thoughts onto my own blog, which was always mine to begin with. And a big part of the reason I travel is to see what’s going on in the world, and hopefully learn from it, and politics is relevant in that regard.

  14. The most worrying thing I find is the lack of civil engagement from the extremes of both sides. This is your blog, say what you wish. Many readers will have different views, lifestyles etc. The push for globalisation & to homogenise our lifestyles and opinions is surely the exact opposite of the purpose of travel: ie to experience other cultures and learn from our differences.

  15. Are you a Jew? You read exactly like the same crazy, commie nonsense as all the other Jews.

    1. There aren’t enough Jewish people in the world to account for all the people who disagree with Trump, dummy.

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