The low turnout at last weekend’s Women’s March suggest that it’s a busted flush. Not for its founders who, moving from the long march to big merch, are trademarking the name and turning a decentralized popular movement into a political program and commercial opportunity. But for the hundreds of thousands of women who, having taken part for the best of reasons, are now being exploited for the worst of motives.

A movement ostensibly dedicated to equality turns out to have been founded and led by bigots. Some women are willing to excuse racism, especially if they are guilty liberals and the racism is veiled in Linda Sarsour’s kind of anti-Zionism, which advances political profanities in the language of human rights. Other women see no racism when it comes to intersectional class war; like Carmen Perez, who calls Jews the collective ally of white nationalism. And some women are positively enthusiastic about racism, like Tamika Mallory, admirer of Louis Farrakhan. But most Americans, it seems, are neither racists nor socialists. So the Women’s March is in crisis, because many women won’t allow themselves to be marched, and to be ridden from the lunatic fringe to the political center.

It’s the patriarchy’s fault, of course. Especially the patriarch of black American politics, the odious and ludicrous Louis Farrakhan. For the last three years, we’ve heard constantly that Donald Trump is a fascist and a racist, and that the ‘it’ in It Couldn’t Happen Here is about to happen here. Meanwhile, the ‘it’ already has happened here, for decades.

The Nation of Islam is America’s only successful fascist movement. I’m not using term Twitter-style, to denote someone I dislike, but in the check-list sense of political science. The standard text for getting your analytical trains running on time is Robert Paxton’s The Anatomy of Fascism (2004). Fascism, Paxton says, is a 20th-century trend, in which a racial or national group becomes obsessed with ‘community decline, humiliation, or victimhood’, and compensates with vitalist cults of ‘unity, energy, and purity’. Fascists despise liberal democracy and capitalism, hence the appeal of ‘national socialism’. They demonize their racial enemies, and love cosmic conspiracy theories about their superior blood. They fetishize authority and seek redemption through violence; ‘palingenesis’, national rebirth, as the British historian of fascism Roger Griffin calls it.

Remind you of anyone? Of course it does. The Nation of Islam is a 20th-century national-socialist race cult. According to Keith Ellison, it ‘organizes by sowing hatred and division, including anti-Semitism, homophobia, and a chauvinistic model of manhood’. Ellison knows whereof he speaks, because he used to be a member. These days, he’s sunk even lower, and is vice-chair of the DNC.

So why did the Women’s March invite Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam — anti-white, anti-Jewish, anti-gay, anti-liberal — into what was supposed to be an interracial movement opposed to racism and sexism?

The answer is legitimacy. The Women’s March needed to look universal. Unlike white nationalists, the Nation of Islam enjoys massive popular sympathy among its designated master race, and tacit approval from the political party in whose shadow it lurks. When Steve King opens his mouth, his fellow Republicans rush for the exits. When Farrakhan calls Jews ‘termites’ and praises Hitler, Democrats either say nothing or, as Barack Obama did, line up for a photo.

Tamika Mallory was there last October when Farrakhan said, ‘I’m not anti-semite, I’m anti-termite,’ and accused Jews of fomenting homosexuality among black men. Afterwards, Mallory tweeted out that Farrakhan is ‘The G.O.A.T.’ — not a bleating dimwit, but ‘The Greatest of All Time’. Mallory repeated this on The View last week: Farrakhan is ‘the greatest of all time because of what he’s done in black communities’.

Rahm Emanuel has also said this, so it must be true. In 2012, Emanuel said that Nation of Islam patrols were an ‘important ingredient’ in ‘protecting a neighborhood’. That meets the second of Robert Paxton’s ‘five stages of fascism’, the one where a fascist group goes from ‘intellectual exploration’ — the Jews are lizard men from outer space who control the FBI — to ‘rooting’, in which the group exploits political deadlock and enters the mainstream.

Mallory’s defense is the standard defense: the Nation of Islam makes the trains run on time in black communities that have gone off the tracks. And the defense is indefensible — or only defensible it if twists the truth. This is what Adam Serwer did in an intellectual nullity of a piece in The Atlantic last year. Serwer wrote that Mallory shouldn’t associate with Farrakhan, but he also wrote that the Nation of Islam teaches ‘a kind of pride, self-sufficiency, and entrepreneurship that, with a few adjustments, wouldn’t sound out of place coming from a conservative Republican’. But it would sound out of place, and it does sound out of place when someone like Steve King forgets to make a ‘few adjustments’ to his opinions.

So full credit to Meghan McCain, for stating the obvious that most media, and most politicians of all colors, are too embarrassed to admit. And full credit to the thousands of people who made a few adjustments and withdrew from the Women’s March. As for those who did attend, congratulations. By putting anatomy ahead of morality, you are hastening the third stage of Paxton’s anatomy of fascism, the ‘arrival to power’ in a parliamentary coalition. Keith Ellison is waiting for you.

Dominic Green is Life & Arts Editor of Spectator USA.