A few years ago, calling Donald Trump a fascist was considered gauche. His supporters and even some “reasonable” centrist media types would laugh, casting the characterization as absurd and diagnosing whoever said it with “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” But as Trump has used his federal power to gut the United States Postal Service and send federal agents into cities to violently bust-up peaceful demonstrations and snatch protestors off the street, those defenses have sounded dumber and dumber.
Trump on a purported antifa sympathizer who allegedly killed someone in Portland being killed by federal forces: "This guy was a violent criminal, and the US Marshals killed him. And I'll tell you something — that's the way it has to be. There has to be retribution." pic.twitter.com/WfIP9b37sA
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 13, 2020
Above is the clip of the president referring to federal forces murdering Michael Reinoehl, a “purported Antifa sympathizer” accused of killing Aaron Danielson, as “retribution.” Danielson was killed at the “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally,” when dozens of trucks drove through Portland, Ore. and shot protestors with paintballs and other projectiles. His death made headlines in part because he was a right winger. Reinoehl’s death, meanwhile, made headlines for looking, sounding, and smelling like an extrajudicial federal murder.
Trump is the same person who constantly says he’s treated more unfairly than any president in history, referred to his impeachment as a lynching, and famously asked if America had due process anymore. But since Reinoehl was supposedly on the left, Trump’s all in favor of taking him out.
For the second consecutive day Trump seems to endorse extrajudicial killings by federal forces pic.twitter.com/j1DQDGuJEw
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 14, 2020
At his rally in Henderson, Nev. on Sunday, Trump bragged about how U.S. marshals “took care” of Reinoehl in “15 minutes.” Rally attendees predictably cheered on, happy that law enforcement were empowered to “do their job,” which in this case was extrajudicially killing someone. The president didn’t just approve of this murder—by his own account, it sounds like he might’ve ordered it.
Trump spoke of Danielson with reverence in the brief rally clip, calling him a “very fine young man.” It’s not far from the language he used to describe Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who killed two Kenosha, Wis. protestors with an illegal firearm. The disparity in how Trump talks about Rittenhouse and Reinoehl isn’t a mistake. It’s a concerted effort to make the (alleged) left wing shooter seem like an evil maniac and the right wing shooter seem like a docile, confused, patriotic teen.
Trump’s fascistic garbage hardly stopped there. He played the same tune about Joe Biden’s evil radicalism, Democrats corrupt election rigging, and even said he’s “probably entitled” to serve two more terms because of the way “we were treated.” At this point, it’s all unhinged all the time. Coming from any other president or politician it might actually be treated like the existential crisis it truly is. With Trump, however, it hardly makes a blip. He’s psychologically prepared us for the reality that he won’t accept an election loss and will wreak havoc if he wins. And those who typically defend his fascist tendencies either grow more quiet or more complicit by the day.