A Cautious Man
April 02, 2009
Running With A Dime In His Hand
If you thought the far right-wing couldn't go any further in "dumbing down the discourse", you "misunderestimated" the potential for someone like Glenn Beck on Fox News. He's apparently decided that we're not on the road to socialism after all. Instead, we're on the road to Fascism, and we've been headed there since Teddy Roosevelt (that's right, Teddy, not Franklin Delano).

It makes one's jaw drop to consider that a major cable news network spotlights the rants of somebody who doesn't give any consideration to history or facts. He just noticed the use of the Roman fasces on the old dime? Does that mean that he's never noticed the two big ones that flank the rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives Chamber? They've been there for any State of the Union or other Presidential address that you've ever watched, after all.

As explained on the website of the Clerk of the House of Representatives -

The bronze fasces, representing a classical Roman symbol of civic authority, are located on both sides of the U.S. flag. The original Roman fasces consisted of an axe within a bundle of rods, bound together by a red strap. The fasces were carried before the consul and were used to restore order and carry out punishment of the courts. The U.S. adopted the fasces as a symbol of the authority of Congress in part due to their symbolic relationship with Republican Rome, which the founding fathers consciously referenced in the formation of the United States. The form of the fasces also symbolically refers to the philosophy of American democracy. Like the thin rods bound together in the fasces, the small individual states achieve their strength and stability through their union under the federal government.

This is what Mr. Beck referred to as a "Roman symbol of Fascism". In fact, there is a long history of using the fasces as a symbol of American Democracy. This list is from Wikipedia, but it seems well-sourced (and the link has more pictures!) -

In the Oval Office, above the door leading to the exterior walkway, and above the corresponding door on the opposite wall, which leads to the President's private office. (Note: the fasces depicted have no axes, possibly because in the Roman Republic, the blade was always removed from the bundle whenever the fasces were carried inside the city, in order to symbolize the rights of citizens against arbitrary state power.

The National Guard uses the fasces on the seal of the National Guard Bureau, and it appears in the insignia of Regular Army officers assigned to National Guard liaison and in the insignia and unit symbols of National Guard units themselves. For instance, the regimental crest of the U.S. 71st Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard consisted of a gold fasces set on a blue background.

The reverse of the United States "Mercury" dime (minted from 1916 to 1945) bears the design of a fasces and an olive branch.

The Mace of the United States House of Representatives, designed to resemble fasces, consists of thirteen ebony rods bound together in the same fashion as the fasces, topped by a silver eagle on a globe.

The official seal of the United States Senate has as one component a pair of crossed fasces.

Fasces ring the base of the Statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol building.

A frieze on the facade of the United States Supreme Court building depicts the figure of a Roman centurion holding a fasces, to represent "order".

At the Lincoln Memorial, Lincoln's seat of state bears the fasces—without axes—on the fronts of its arms. (Fasces also appear on the pylons flanking the main staircase leading into the memorial.)

The official seal of the United States Tax Court bears the fasces at its center.

Four fasces flank the two bronze plaques on either side of the bust of Lincoln memorializing his Gettysburg Address at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The fasces appears on the state seal of Colorado, USA, beneath the "All-seeing eye" (or Eye of Providence) and above the mountains and mines.

On the seal of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, a figure carries a fasces; the seal appears on the borough flag. Fasces can also be seen in the stone columns at Grand Army Plaza.

Many local police departments use the fasces as part of their badges and other symbols. For instance, the top border of the Los Angeles Police Department badge features a fasces. (1940)

A fasces appears on the statue of George Washington, made by Jean-Antoine Houdon which is now in the Virginia State Capital

The seal of the United States Courts Administrative Office.)

I saved my favorite one for last: "Used as part of the Knights of Columbus emblem (designed in 1883)." Oh, if only William Donohue of the Catholic "League" would come to the defense of this Catholic fraternal order, against charges by Mr. Beck that they use a "Fascist" symbol.



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