Donald Trump’s meeting and subsequent public appearance with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday afternoon made more than a few Democrats nervous. Even though Peña Nieto had previously criticized Trump rather harshly, it appeared that he and Trump had cozied up enough to allow Trump to temporarily appear like a conventional politician, rather than the nasty, cartoonish, and darkly divisive figure we have all come to know. But that changed in Phoenix hours later. Or, rather, things went back to normal.
Before we get to the disturbing speech Trump gave last night, it is important to remember exactly what Peña Nieto had said about the GOP nominee. Here’s how Business Insider reported it back in March:
Peña Nieto attacked the “populism” of the Trump campaign, which he said sought to put forward “very easy, simple solutions to problems that are obviously not that easy to solve.”
“And there have been episodes in human history, unfortunately, where these expressions of this strident rhetoric have only led to very ominous situations in the history of humanity,” the Mexican president added.
“That’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in — they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time, after an economic crisis.
“And I think what (they) put forward ended up at what we know today from history, in global conflagration. We don’t want that happening anywhere in the world,” Peña Nieto said.
Now, the head of a neighboring state wouldn’t compare a U.S. presidential candidate’s “strident rhetoric” to that of the two most notoriously nasty fascists in history without giving it careful thought. Clearly, as a Mexican, Peña Nieto felt the sting of Trump’s rhetoric in a way that caused him to evaluate the Republican leader differently from, say, the way Paul Ryan evaluates him. Likewise, the last two presidents of Mexico, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon, have made similar comments about Trump. Again, Business Insider reported:
Calderon, in comments made in February, made a point similar to Peña Nieto’s.
“He is acting and speaking out against immigrants that have a different skin color than he does, it is frankly racist and [he is] exploiting feelings like Hitler did in his time,” Calderon told reporters in Mexico City. Calderon called Trump a “false prophet.”
Fox has been especially strident in his condemnations of Trump.
In February, Fox said Trump “reminds me of Hitler” and said he would not pay for Trump’s “f—— wall” in another interview that month. In May, he apologized for that comment but doubled down on it just days later, saying, “I’m not going to pay for the f—— wall. … And please don’t take out the f—— full word.”
Clearly, these Mexican leaders saw, and still see, something that, as I said, people like Paul Ryan and other Republicans in power don’t see, or claim they don’t see.
And that leads us to the speech in Phoenix.
If you were anyone but a lily white American with a cultic attachment to Trump, or a Republican lusting for a takeover of the White’s House, you may have felt the same sting from Trump’s disturbing speech last night that Peña Nieto had previously felt about other things Trump has said. Clearly, to anyone outside the creepy Trump cult—from which the egoistic candidate gets his narcissistic nourishment—what we saw last night comes very close to “exploiting feelings like Hitler did in his time,” as Felipe Calderon said back in February. And to some people, especially people of color and people not far removed from their immigrant past, Trump’s speech last night in Phoenix, and the eerie enthusiasm with which it was received by his mostly-white audience, was certainly fascistic in tone, if not completely in substance.
There are plenty of places you can go to get a summary of Trump’s immigration speech, but if you want to experience its sting, if you want to appreciate why some people link Trump and his “movement” to fascism, you really should watch the entire thing—an hour and fifteen minutes long—and try to understand, outside of pure cultic devotion, why more than four in ten American voters right now—some of whom are your friends, family, and neighbors—say they will definitely vote to give power to a very dangerous and disturbed man. Here it is: