Editorial :: So you think your country might be fascist: A quiz

Close-up of Josef Stalin mustache and collar.

Have you ever found yourself in this dilemma?

You’re a citizen of ______________.

  1. America, the UK, Turkey, or Greece
  2. Hungary, the Philippines, or Venezuela
  3. Poland, Germany, or France
  4. Slovakia, Romania, or Russia.

A group of people who call themselves ______________ have come to power in your country.

  1. nationalists
  2. true patriots
  3. concerned citizens


If you read the national news, headlines have mostly nice things to say about your new ______________.

  1. prime minister
  2. president
  3. premier
  4. ruling party

When you read international news elsewhere, you find yourself confused because the information is different, even opposite, of what your own newspapers seem to be saying.


Your neighbors appear to have completely conflicting ideas about how your country should be run.

Some of them believe this is the best thing that has ever happened in the history of your nation. They may also believe these politicians might return your country to its days of glory. They do not specify which days were the glorious ones.

Other neighbors tell you they are terrified that this new ruling power might remove their rights, maybe even ______________ them because of their ______________.

  1. jail
  2. disappear
  3. deport
  4. kill
  1. culture
  2. skin color
  3. religion
  4. gender
  5. sexual preference
  6. political beliefs
  7. class
  8. profession


Sometimes these neighbors mention a thing that has happened to them or people that they know, but when you try to look up the incident in the paper, you find nothing there.

If it is in the news at all, it’s because the journalists say ______________ or ______________.

  1. the crime never existed
  2. it was a hoax
  3. fabricated by their enemies
  4. highly exaggerated
  5. a prank
  1. it’s not possible
  2. they don’t have enough information
  3. an investigation is pending

You are not sure what to believe because these two groups don’t even seem to be talking about the same country or the same events, much less the same politicians.


The ______________ has/have gone out of their way to assure you that they will not harm anyone and that they are here to rule everyone fairly.

Yet, every person appointed to office by that ruling party has a history of behaving in ways that your country has formerly found unacceptable.

  1. prime minister
  2. president
  3. premier
  4. ruling party

At least, you think they found it unacceptable.


The newspapers suggest you give these new political officeholders a chance before you cast judgment. They don’t seem to talk much about the other things these politicians did anymore.

When they do, newspapers use language that sounds much softer and friendlier than you remember. The facts don’t seem so harsh. The once-condemned quotes by these people are bracketed with new explanations.


Even the photos are different. Everyone is smiling and friendly. The sun is out. Well-dressed citizens are in the picture, not the paramilitary groups you remember, the ones who dragged people out in the middle of the night and made them disappear.

There are other pictures: the pretty children of the ruling party, the arenas full of supporters with their hands raised and cheering, the ruling party politicians at events with ordinary people—because they are ordinary people, like you.

But you’re not sure what ordinary is right now.


Another strange thing: During the election campaign, the ruling party claimed their opponents were fundamentally dishonest. That they ______________.

  1. lied
  2. cheated
  3. said terrible things
  4. should be in jail
  5. may be prosecuted
  6. could be exiled
  7. will be reprimanded

You keep looking in the paper to see whether the ruling party has brought charges against their opponents, especially given how grievous their crimes are supposed to be. Yet you find nothing.

It’s like they disappeared or ______________.

  1. the ruling party forgave them
  2. it never happened in the first place.


There is new legislation. The ruling party says this will help them keep your homeland safe from attacks ______________. They say the legislation will never be used against ______________.

  1. at the border
  2. outside of your country
  3. within your country
  1. honest citizens
  2. their allies

You seem to remember that the ruling party had offered up this legislation before they had power, but it was never made a law. Or that it was ruled unfair and punitive. Or maybe it was made a law when they were in power before and then not made a law when their opponents were in power last year.

Still, you can’t remember and you can’t seem to find any explanation about it on the news.


After this legislation is put in place, half of your neighbors stand in their yards with their arms crossed looking at the neighbors who ______________.  They have ______________ to call them.

  1. did not support the opposition
  2. will have to carry special papers
  3. are called “dissidents.”
  1. new names
  2. old names
  3. special terms

You feel a little uneasy about this, but you can’t quite find the words to explain how you feel.


The other neighbors never come outside of their house anymore. Their drapes are drawn tight. You’re not even sure their children are in school. One day their child came home with a black eye, crying. You have not seen them outside since.

Some of your neighbors have even disappeared. Their things are still there, but they have been gone for months and months.


Neighbors from the ruling party have put ______________ proclaiming their love for their ______________ and you see many posters and pictures of your nation’s leader everywhere. He looks ______________.

  1. flags on their houses
  2. placards in their window
  3. bumper stickers on their car
  1. premier
  2. president
  3. general secretary
  4. leader
  5. ruler
  1. fatherly
  2. stern
  3. friendly
  4. wise
  5. kind

These images are posted in government buildings and shops and on the street. You are not used to so many painted eyes looking at you all the time. You tell no one this because you’re concerned they will misunderstand you.


Your neighbors who love him say that he’s the best thing that ever happened to your country. They say there will be new jobs and better homes and everyone will feel more secure and safe. It’s just a few new laws, they say. They’re for our protection.

You cannot read their faces. The sun is out. The flags are flying. Their children are playing on their green lawns with new toys.

“Nothing can go wrong now, “ your next-door-neighbor says. “Nothing. It’s going to be sunny days all the time.”

You feel a chill.

You excuse yourself and go inside.

You pull a sweater from a drawer and put it on.

You’re still cold though, and you don’t know why.




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Poem :: Murder-Suicide

B&W photograph of blonde woman with crossed arms and sunglasses, staring directly at camera.
Photo Credit: George Eastman House

There was a man. The paper says ‘troubled.’

His sister says ‘sweet.’ The neighbors say ‘quiet.’

There was a knife. The paper says ‘sharp.’

His mother says ‘hidden.’ The store adds ‘purchased.’

There was a woman. She was his wife,

an object he troubled, an extra appendage.

There were some children. The paper says ‘boys.’

The school says ‘darling.’ An aunt writes ‘mourned.’

Their mother adored them. She kept them close:

for there was a man—a troubling man.

He was her husband; he was their father.

His voice ran hard; his fist swung wide.

But the paper can’t say that: there’s no one talking.

‘Cos there’s no one living. So it’s ‘troubled.’

So it’s ‘quiet.’ They’re ‘deceased.’ No one says murder.

But we have questions: There was a knife.

Did it trouble her flesh? Why was she so quiet?

This was a woman: Did she exist? Or is she a prop

to sadden his story? Did she have a mother?

Where is her history? For she was a woman—

like we are women. For she was a person

like we are persons. The paper says ‘family.’

The village says ‘neighbors.’ The priest says ‘angels.’

But we know better: She was a woman,

in death a mystery, in light a wonder. But still:

a woman. Another woman (of many women)

whose ‘troubled’ man ended her life.




This poem was inspired by writer Linea Dunne’s insightful “Rest in peace, invisible woman,” which is about media coverage of the recent murder-suicide of Clodagh Hawe (née Coll) and her three sons by her husband. Here’s a fair example of the coverage of her murder (as well as many other murders like Clodagh Hawe’s): Heartbreaking first picture of tragic mum and wife Clodagh Hawe killed in murder-suicide in Cavan. Note that this story discusses at length the life of the murderer, but fails to mention much about the people he actually murdered. While the poem is not explicitly about Hawe or any particular woman of recent memory, it is dedicated to her family. Rest in power, Clodagh Hawe.