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Michigan GOP’s racist tweet can be seen as a sure sign of fascism

The Michigan Republican Party referred to the Baltimore mayor’s recent comments on “The ReidOut” as “colored communism,” and it’s easy to hear the historical echoes.


The Michigan Republican Party has had a rough go of things lately.

The organization has been rocked by infighting — not to mention financial issues — but none of this is an excuse to engage in unabashed racism.

Which brings me to the tweet below.

That was the Michigan GOP responding to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s appearance on “The ReidOut” last week, in which he denounced the racist attacks made against him and parried right-wing claims that the deadly bridge collapse in Baltimore was rooted in diversity policies. (Apparently they’re still using “colored” to describe Black people up in Lansing.)

“We know what they want to say, but they don’t have the courage to say the N-word,” the mayor told Joy. “And the fact that I don’t believe in their untruthful and wrong ideology — and I am very proud of my heritage and who I am and where I come from — scares them.”

He added: “Because me being at my position means that their way of thinking, their way of life of being comfortable while everyone else suffers, is going to be at risk — and they should be afraid, because that’s my purpose in life.”

It’s obvious Scott was saying that racists have reason to worry. And Michigan Republicans seem pretty worried, if the abject racism is any sign.

It’s obvious Scott was saying that racists have reason to worry. And Michigan Republicans seem pretty worried, if the abject racism is any sign. “A hit dog gon’ holler,” as the saying goes.

But I also think the historical echoes are important to note here. Republicans these days trot out the word “communism” so frequently that the charge can seem meaningless. Donald Trump has made a habit of calling liberals “communists” and others in the GOP have done the same, while many in the party have embraced Trump-branded fascism — perhaps none more than Michigan Republicans.

It’s a dynamic that has unfolded in America over decades. Time magazine writer Lily Rothman discussed it with historian Bradley Hart back in 2018 for an article about the threat of Nazism in America. Rothman wrote:

It was also possible for those who had participated in Nazi-sympathetic groups to later cloak their beliefs in the Cold War’s anti-communist push — a dynamic that had in fact driven some of them to fascism in the first place, as it seemed ‘tougher on communism than democracy is,’ as Hart puts it. (One survey he cites found that in 1938, more Americans thought that communism was worse than fascism than vice versa.) Such people could truthfully insist that they’d always been anti-communist without revealing that they’d been fascists, and their fellow Americans were still so worried about communism that they might not press the matter.

This dynamic also features prominently in Rachel Maddow’s popular podcast “Ultra,” which tells the World War II-era story of Nazi sympathizers in the U.S. — including members of Congress — who were caught plotting or participating in an insurrection against the country. In Episode 3, we learn about American-led groups like the Silver Shirts and the Friends of New Germany, fascist organizations that made attacks on purported communism — and marginalized groups supposedly supporting it, like Jewish people — their calling cards.

I think all this context is necessary to fully understand the “colored communism” tweet.

Was it racist? Absolutely. But the Michigan GOP’s use of “communism” also can be seen as a telltale sign of American fascism. And that’s the biggest takeaway here, as far as I’m concerned.