IT’S been four days since the president retweeted three racist videos. Twelve months ago, I was deeply concerned with what a Trump presidency would look like. How his prickly rhetoric would manifest in action. But the following sentence isn’t one I pictured sitting down to write: Trump has endorsed Britain First.

Those two words, edited and used to carry him to power, are freighted by tragedy this side of the Atlantic. A country name loaded by the word that comes after. It means that to be afforded the metonymy “America” or “Britain” you have to be white. We all know what those two words mean here. It’s been just 18 months since Thomas Mair murdered MP Jo Cox while shouting them repeatedly. We witnessed the human cost of intolerance and hate.

The videos were posted by Jayda Fransen, Britain First’s deputy leader. A woman whose “activism” consists of patrolling high streets brandishing a white cross and intimidating women in hijabs. She’s been convicted of religiously aggravated harassment and was recently arrested again, twice. Once for distributing hateful leaflets in Kent and again for hate speech at a Belfast rally. Could Trump seriously be endorsing such unabashed bigotry?

Despite becoming generally inured to surprise by the first Trumpian year, I’ll confess my own lingering naivety as the news broke. I expected the usual hot potato treatment, as the White House press secretary found some flimsy means of distancing the president from the action. What I didn’t expect was that not only would he own it, he would use it to pick a fight with the Prime Minister. But as morbidly novel as the sparking of an international diplomatic incident on Twitter is, looking beyond the situation itself reveals a grave picture. We need to look our reality square in the eye and observe the full horror of now: the President of the United States is waving in the fascists.

Though he’d never admit it, the biggest threat to America looks rather more like Trump. During his 11 months in office, more people have been killed by white American men than anyone with a connection to Islam. From 2008 to 2016, there were nearly double the number of terrorist incidents committed by right-wing extremists pursuing some variation of white supremacist agenda. Foregrounding that sort of statistic wouldn’t give him much justification for his open problem with Muslims.

In these retweets, for the first time in his short tenure, we see Trump’s racist sentiments become racist action. He has tested the water, and the water looks fine. He got a mild slap on the wrist from us. The obsequious fanfare of state visit still awaits him. The question is not if but when he will decide to wade further out into the waters of open discrimination.

The warning signs were there long before he took office – he was a birther, after all. Instrumental in disseminating the racially loaded lie that President Obama was not born in the US. Then, once Trump’s candidacy was announced, he was openly endorsed by the KKK, who saw him as their ticket to their coveted white Christian republic. On the campaign trail, he called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, and once elected made good on his promise. He implemented the travel ban – an executive order prohibiting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries – within days of taking office.

AFTER white supremacists marched on Charlottesville and an anti-racist protester was mown down and killed by a Hitler fanatic, his egregious omission in denouncing the “violence on all sides” was noted. He didn’t call out the Nazis. It earned him further cachet with alt-right and white nationalist leaders. An equivocacy that tells us what we need to know – the president knows the particulars of his audience, the problematic votes, and stands by them. On Twitter, his open endorsement of a hate group serves their interests. His behaviour offers them a shield.

It can’t be ignored any more: the Trump administration is displaying the hallmarks of burgeoning fascism. It’s playing bingo with Dr Lawrence Britt’s 14 markers of fascism. With each crank of the news cycle, we can play along as it ticks off the characteristics common to the authoritarian regimes of Hitler, Franco and Suharto.

Unconvinced about where America is headed? Work your way through this list: Powerful nationalism. Identification of a common enemy. Military supremacy and the glamorising of soldiers. Rampant sexism. Controlled mass media. Obsession with national security. Religion and government holding hands. Protected corporate power. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Fraudulent elections marked by smear campaigns.

That puts the US at a strong twelve. It leaves only disdain for human rights and suppression of labour power. I shan’t hold my breath.

This is how it begins – quietly, couched in the language of people’s fears, making promises of prosperity, security, that freedom lies beyond the quashing of a single threat.

There can be no more denial about Trump’s leanings, no more excuses for his behaviour. A cancer is moving through America right now. A cancer that was excised less than half a century ago. A malignant white nationalism that threatens to obliterate the hard-won progress of the last century if we don’t call it out and take action.

What’s more, the damage has already been done. The seeds of hate are well-watered and laying down roots and thriving in the cracks of the used-up American dream. It’s time for a firm grip and determination. It will take time to root out the Nazis. Are you in?