When Fascism Comes to America, it Will be Wrapped in the Flag and Carrying a Badge (Op-Ed)

Life imitates art: A John Frankenheimer film of the sixties chillingly predicts the 2016 election

Fascism

Back in the early sixties, there was a book published called Seven Days in May. It was adapted to film in 1964 starring Fredric March, Kirk Douglas, Eva Gardner and Burt Lancaster (directed by John Frankenheimer, the screenplay written by Rod Serling, by the way). It was about an attempted coup against the U.S. Government by a cabal of right-wing military officers. Though dated, it’s a very good film, and I highly recommend it. Below is a synopsis I copied from Wikipedia:

The book was written in late 1961 and into early 1962, during the first year of the Kennedy Administration, reflecting some of the events of that era. In November 1961, President John F. Kennedy accepted the resignation of vociferously anti-Communist General Edwin Walker who was indoctrinating the troops under his command with personal political opinions and had described former President Harry S. Truman, former United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and other recent still-active public figures as Communist sympathizers. Although no longer in uniform, Walker continued to be in the news as he attempted to run for Governor of Texas and made speeches promoting strongly right-wing views.

In the film version of Seven Days in May, Fredric March, portraying the narrative’s fictional President Jordan Lyman, mentions General Walker as one of the “false prophets” who were offering themselves to the public as leaders. Accused John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald purportedly fired rifle shots into the home of General Walker in April 1963.

President Kennedy had read Seven Days in May shortly after its publication and believed the scenario as described could actually occur in the United States. According to Frankenheimer in his director’s commentary, production of the film received encouragement and assistance from Kennedy through White House Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger, who conveyed to Frankenheimer Kennedy’s wish that the film be produced and that, although the Pentagon did not want the film made, the President would conveniently arrange to visit Hyannis Port for a weekend when the film needed to shoot outside the White House.

Flash forward to November 4th, 2016: Life imitates art. Only it isn’t a cabal of men in uniform meddling with the U.S. Government, its a cabal of right-wing FBI men, apparently working on behalf of—or possibly alongside—forces loyal to the Trump campaign. As of this writing, the story is still murky, but it seems there’s a knot of personnel with the Bureau who are all in for Donald Trump. And they’ve been doing everything within their power to tip the upcoming election, now just four days away, in his direction. Thus far, they’ve been at least partially successful in that endeavor.

It was this cabal of FBI men working in cahoots with Trump’s senior campaign staff, that triggered the leak of last Friday. In his defense (and this is the only defense I’m willing to give him), one version of the story that I’ve read says Director Comey became aware of this nest of vipers within his bureau and decided to neutralize the impact of their efforts by personally informing Congress of the additional emails on Huma Abedin’s laptop. Unfortunately, that also confirms that the Director is no Director at all. If his control over his own agency is so weak that men sworn to defend and protect We the People are instead manipulating our elections on behalf of right-wing powers they’re more loyal to than they are to their oaths, then they, and he need to go. Once the election is over, the FBI must be scrubbed and restructured from top to bottom.

As I said, the story is still fluid, and we don’t have all the details yet. But NEWSWEEK reporter Kurt Eichenwald has been running a series of articles on the behind-the-scenes dealings of the Trump campaign, and another installment is due to be published online today.

What I do know, is this. This is some very serious shit. And it has a name: Fascism. Fortunately for us, our Democracy worked this time. The Fourth Estate, in the person of Kurt Eichenwald this time, was able to expose this attempt to steal our election from us by right-wing forces. Who knows if we’ll be as lucky the next time?

There are more similarities with this story to Seven Days in May than there are differences. The similarities are chilling: a plot to sabotage the will of the electorate by a right-wing cabal of disgruntled government employees. The differences are almost insignificant by contrast: instead of men in uniform with ribbons on their chests, this attempted coup has men in suits with FBI badges. But the goal was identical—to use the power entrusted to them to install their preferred man in the White House.

We may have dodged a bullet this time, or it might have struck its target. It’s still too soon to ascertain how much of an impact this attempted coup d’état has had. But this much is certain: If Donald Trump is elected the 45th President of the United States next Tuesday, then we ain’t seen nothing yet. Fascism has a way of getting its way. This “false prophet” in waiting cannot be trusted with the power of the presidency. And he must not.

 

Featured image via 123rf.com (stock photo)

 

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