My Turn: Calling out fascism: D-Day veterans deserve it

For the Monitor
Published: 6/6/2020 6:00:38 AM

Empty gestures are easy to come by in these grave times. Maybe too easy. It certainly wouldn’t be hard to call my legislation, House Bill 1313, establishing June 6 as “D-Day Remembrance Day” exactly that – an empty gesture, though it’s meant to honor those we owe so much. But let’s be honest: How much significance does lowering our flags to half mast have? It’s surely the least we can do for the veterans who fought and died on the beaches of France in the first step toward completing the destruction of the Nazi regime. But what more can we do?

Those who were there in 1944 and are still alive today are well into their 90s; no one is quite sure how many are left. I sponsored the bill specifically to honor those who fought fascism in their lifetimes. It’s not an empty gesture, but it does seem inadequate.

So in addition to lowering our flags, perhaps instead of a moment of silence, how about we call out the relentless creep of fascism when we see it?

Currently, fascism, as it did in Nazi Germany, is thriving among a set of fallacies. Then, people who were gay, disabled, Jewish or held opposing political views were singled out as scapegoats. Like then, today’s scapegoats are many, including the media, whose job it is to shine a light on corruption, and the political opposition, who are threatened with chants of “Lock her up!” Certainly immigrants and China are on the list – supposedly the cause of society’s ills and the pandemic. But let’s call scapegoating what it is – a distraction offered up by failed leaders.

Fascism is enabled by a militarized police force. In Nazi Germany, both the SS and the Gestapo played this role with ruthless efficiency. Today, far too many police departments are outfitted more like paramilitary forces than law enforcement. Undeniably, the tactics and equipment used in the last two decades of war have trickled down to our communities and neighborhoods. When was the last time you saw a cop with a revolver and a pair of dress shoes? Probably in a 1980s sitcom. In today’s America, the police wear body armor, combat boots, tactical pants and carry assault weapons. These are not the trappings of peace officers.

Pseudoscience is at the heart of fascism. In the case of Nazi Germany, and yes, many places in the United States, including New Hampshire, the pseudoscience of eugenics led to years of state sponsored, forced sterilizations.

Today it’s this same quackery that leads people to ignore basic public health measures like wearing a mask in public during a pandemic and rejecting vaccinations. It’s this mind-set that leads people to deny the impact of carbon pollution on our environment, despite decades of evidence. It’s this inclination that leads to the sidelining of legitimate experts over bootlickers and toadies.

Today’s fascists have learned to hide their heritage with slick social media posts and Orwellian double talk. They’ve figured out how to get the responses they want without overtly connecting themselves to their predecessors. But still, like their predecessors, they seek to undermine the legitimate democratic process for their own gain, most obviously by trying to limit access to the ballot box. Actually, this effort they don’t even try to hide.

So in honor of all those who fought and died on the beaches of France, let’s call these things out. That’s a good first step beyond just lowering our flags. Because those who gave the last full measure of devotion on D-Day did so to stop fascism. Said one American soldier who was among the first to land at Omaha Beach and among the first wounded, “I would do it all over again to stop someone like Hitler.”

We should all be so determined.

Rep. Craig Thompson is a farmer from Harrisville and a candidate for Executive Council District 2.)


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