On Saturday March 12, I witnessed a deeply disturbing event that took place at a Trump rally in an airplane hangar in Ohio.
In addition to showing Trump on the podium, MSNBC had a camera trained on an elderly woman who was at the back of the hangar, standing just in front of the busy Porta-Potties.
With one hand, she steadied herself on her wheeled walker, and with her other hand, she held up a piece of paper that read “Trump = Hate.”
She wasn’t saying anything, and simply stood there with that sign, in a crowd where thousands of others were holding signs supporting Trump.
I watched as this elderly woman, with her walker, was escorted out of the rally.
I’ve heard about this kind of thing happening at Trump rallies and, this time, I actually saw if for myself.
What kind of people are afraid of a little old lady who can’t even walk without assistance?
I already know the answer.
As a World War II historian, I have been feeling the echoes of past events.
I’m not one of those who will compare Trump to Hitler; Trump doesn’t even come close.
But, the unwillingness of Trump supporters to brook any dissent, even from an old woman, reminds me of a time when millions of people embraced Fascism.
Fascism is a political system that declares “strength through unity.”
One symbol employed by Fascists is a bundle of twigs aligned and bound together to make them unbreakable.
All of the twigs must have the same orientation, and so it is with Fascists: they will not allow dissenting opinions.
When I see silent dissenters ejected from a Trump rally, I now understand that I am seeing, in my lifetime, the rise of Fascism in my own country.
I’m disappointed that the Trump supporters who stood around her did not come to her defense, but I now understand them for what they are, and the danger they and their candidate represent to American values and the principles of free speech.
Americans made huge sacrifices to defeat the Fascists in World War II. Ironically, Fascism is now alive and well and living in America.
Daniel Donovan Farrow