Editor, Times-Union:

The words “fascist” and “fascism” have been tossed around ad nauseam by politicians of all persuasions lately. I recently offered (via letter to the editor) a definition of fascism: “a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government.” Perhaps it is time to add some specifics to the term’s definition so that caring citizens can recognize which politicians are conning them with falsehoods and misconceptions.

In the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum hangs a notice declaring the “Early Warning Signs of Fascism” …

1. Powerful and continuing nationalism

2. Disdain for human rights

3. Identification of enemies as a unifying cause

4. Rampant sexism

5. Controlled mass media

6. Obsession with national security

7. Religion and government intertwined

8. Corporate power protected

9. Labor power suppressed

10. Disdain for intellectual and the arts

11. Obsession with crime and punishment

12. Rampant cronyism and corruption

Another list seems justified in conjunction with the above warnings: “Seven Steps to Becoming a Dictator,” by Mark Van Vugt, Ph.D. (Verified by Psychology Today) Parenthetical examples are mine ... JS.

1. Expand your power base through nepotism and corruption (Employ family and crooked cronies?)

2. Instigate a monopoly on the use of force to curb public protest (Eliminate federal law agencies like FBI, CIA IRS, DOJ, etc. and replace with violence-prone militias?)

3. Curry favor by providing public goods efficiently and generously (Red caps, Trump water, cheeseburgers, paper towel rolls?)

4. Get rid of your political enemies (“You’re fired!)

5. Create and defeat a common enemy (Minorities, LGBTQ+, non-Christians?)

6. Accumulate power by manipulating the hearts and minds of your citizens (Use willing and controlled media?)

7. Create an ideology to justify an exalted position (“I am the chosen one. I am a stable genius. I alone can fix it.”)

Terrible decisions and laws are being enacted by the hundreds and not by the federal government (although some people in Congress are doing their best to do just that). Individual states, counties, cities and towns are sneaking their fascist wishes into bills — and those bills are passing.

Women, young adults, senior citizens, pay attention! Be wary! Stand together. Speak up and speak out. If you do not, it would be wise to find out all you can about peoples’ lives in Russia, Hungary, Turkey, North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia. How much are you willing to give up?

Jeanne Schutz

Winona Lake, via email