How Border Fascism Explains the Trump Movement

Brendan O’Connor has covered the far right, militia movements, and inequality since 2013

This article appeared original in The Nation

Since Donald Trump’s election, pundits and reporters have been debating how to describe the movement that propelled him to the White House. Did his supporters’ attacks against immigrants, street brawls with antifa, and cheeky embrace of authoritarianism really constitute 1930s-style fascism? Or was it rather the “Southern strategy” on steroids, strongman populism, or savage capitalism?

When journalist Brendan O’Connor considered the question, he saw echoes of the 1930s, but realized that Trump’s movement deserved an entirely new category: border fascism.

When O’Connor started on his book in summer 2018, Trump had just begun implementation of Stephen Miller’s zero-tolerance border policy; soon, thousands of migrant children would be caged and separated from their parents. As O’Connor finished his book, police across the country were arresting, beating, and launching tear gas at participants of the largest anti-racist movement in US history. In Blood Red Lines: How Nativism Fuels the Right, O’Connor tries to get to the root of this mix of xenophobia and state violence. Border fascism, he explains, is a new strain of a far-right nationalism that fetishizes boundaries. The racism of this movement isn’t always overt, but its underlying ideology is based on a racialized understanding of citizenship that idolizes “law and order” and attacks “the illegals” for violating the supposed sanctity of the country’s border.

—Jared Olson

JARED OLSON: The big idea I got from the book was the idea of border fascism. How did you come to that? And was there any distinct moment in your report or research when that became clear to you?

Continue reading “How Border Fascism Explains the Trump Movement”