Timothy Snyder’s brief book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, serves as a good starting point for conversations about the United State’s march toward fascism and how individual citizens can recognize this fact and possibly stop it.
Snyder has shot-down the notion of American exceptionalism in recent interviews, arguing that Americans are no wiser than Germans in the early 1930s and that what happened there (election of Hitler, mass genocide, and world war) could easily happen here.
If that gives you pause, look at the evidence Snyder lays out: Trump has no respect for democracy or the institutions that uphold it, he lies and argues that these untruths are, in fact, truths, he makes accusations but provides no evidence to support them, again acting as if everything he says is fact. Snyder calls this “a world of alternative factuality” and argues that this is what could allow the U.S. to shift from a democracy to a fascist regime before many people are even aware the change is happening.
But it’s not too late to recognize what is occurring and stop it. Snyder offers twenty suggestions for the average citizen to engage in that can stop the slide. His advice ranges from getting to know strangers (it’s difficult to persecute people you know) to defending American institutions and civil society groups by joining them. He warns us to avoid loyalty symbols—like those dreaded red “make America great again” hats—that are used to exclude and to mark those who are “accepted.” He also recommends that you and your family have a passport. It’s important to travel abroad and experience others’ cultures.
Also recognize when a leader (Trump) exploits situations to shut down civil liberties and know that these situations could be generated for just this purpose. Be wary of paramilitary forces that will arise that will enable a governmental shift (local law officials are being drawn into ICE deportation raids in many states.)
Do not tolerate or normalize the abuse of language. Both Hitler and Trump use language that serve only their own interests and reject any kind of opposition.
On Tyranny is a brief (128 page) book that provides a short overview on what you can do to resist Trump’s agenda and America’s move toward fascism. Read and discuss it now with your friends and neighbors.