Trey Gowdy, the former top Republican U.S. Congressman from South Carolina, head of the powerful Oversight Committee who chaired the House Select Committee investigating Hillary Clinton and the attack in Benghazi, is under fire this week for what some see as normalizing fascism.
Gowdy appeared on a Fox News' "hard news" program Monday, hosted by anchor Bret Baier, and decried how some media outlets described Italy's election of Giorgia Meloni, a neo-fascist, who will be their new prime minister.
Meloni is also a Christian nationalist who has praised the founder of Italian fascism, dictator Benito Mussolini. She holds far right views, including opposition to abortion, any legal rights for LGBTQ people including marriage and adoption, and is seen as xenophobic and opposed to the European Union.
During the campaign Meloni at a rally “thundered,” as the AP reported, “Yes to the natural family. No to the LGBT lobby. Yes to sexual identity. No to gender ideology."
The Fox News panel denounced the U.S. media labeling Meloni as "far right."
"I guess what I'm wondering is," Gowdy, an attorney and former federal prosecutor said, "if you're winning elections, if you are what the people want, at what point does that become the center? Who gets to say what is far right, or what is hard right?"
What Gowdy neglected to note is Italy does not have a two-party system like the U.S., so Meloni won with just a quarter of the vote. And regardless of popularity, political positions are categorized by positions on a scale, including far and center.
On social media Gowdy was highly criticized.
"How could the Nazis do the things they did? How could rational decent Germans just stand by and watch as fascism rose to power to began to murder millions? How? This is how," retired U.S. military intelligence officer Jim Wright, who runs a popular Twitter account, wrote in response to the clip.
Quoting Gowdy questioning "who gets to say?" Wright added, "Who gets to say what's wrong? Who gets to condemn the rise of fascism?"
"Who gets to condemn hate and intolerance and the violence of these goddamn goons? I DO. YOU DO. WE ALL DO. That's who," he continued.
Yale University professor of philosophy Jason Stanley slammed the media's lackluster response to the election of a neo-fascist while the American right applauded the news.
"The burst of incredible enthusiasm for an Italian fascist leader on the American right is being ignored by the liberal media, which as usual is missing the forest and reporting on some trees," he tweeted, in response to the clip of Gowdy's remarks.
(NCRM did report on the right's response to the election of the neo-fascist prime minister on Monday, highlighting criticism of the praise of the neo-fascist by the head of The Heritage Foundation, which is ranked the third most influential think tank in America.)
Media Matters for America's Kat Abu, who posted the video, commented, "Think of any far-right or fascist regime. Now think of how many of its citizens justified these beliefs during the regime's rise to power. This tweet is a bright-red, ear-splitting alarm bell and I am begging everyone to listen to it."
Willamette University Professor of History Seth Cotlar observed: "This might be an appropriate time to recall that the 2nd KKK in the 1920s had around 4 million members nationwide. In some localities the majority of white men joined the organization. They described themselves as 'patriotic Christian Americans' who supported law and order."
Esquire' Jack Holmes, pointing to the clip said, "these are the same people who blast Joe Biden, who won 7 million more citizens' votes than his opponent, as an out-of-touch far-left extremist."
Reuters Global News Desk editor Gerry Doyle mocked Gowdy, asking, "truly, whomst among us can say whether fascism is bad or good."
Novelist Jason Miller, appearing to mock Gowdy's famous hairstyles, tweeted, "Fascist Supercuts here is really giving away the game."
Journalist Tim Mullaney corrected Gowdy: "Call me crazy, former Congressman. Six million Jews later, we can confidently say the German People got it wrong."
Lincoln Project senior advisor Jeff Timmer, paraphrasing Gowdy, tweeted: "'If the people want Nazis, we should give them Nazis. And be happy about it.' - Trey Gowdy, sort of."
Monique Camarra, a researcher/analyst on Russian capture, influence and information warfare in Italy and Europe, and co-host of the Kremlin File warned the clip is "Normalisation."
Scholar of fascism, authoritarians, and propaganda, NYU professor of history Ruth Ben-Ghiat, possibly stunned, responded with merely one word: "what."
Watch Trey Gowdy below or at this link.