Fascism In Phoenix

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:

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6 Comments

  1. I watched Trump’s speech on MSNBC last night, all of it. By the end, I was feeling sick and questioning why Rachael’s network aired the thing because it had a strange power to it. It wasn’t his words, nor the logic (if you can call it that), but the power of delivery and the tumultuous response of the small but vocal crowd of dedicated partisans that impressed.

    Like Hitler, Trump stages his events so that no protests are evident, only vocal unanimity. He was shouting and gesturing tirelessly for over an hour, adding asides and exhortations to the teleprompter script. This was basic demagoguery, red meat for xenophobes and bigots. The similarity of Trump’s style with Adolph Hitler’s is eerie, and so is his message, “Make America Great Again.” With Hitler, it was “Make Germany Great Again.”

    I came upon a remarkable article from Business Insider on Why Hitler was such a successful orator and the comparison there is even more chilling. At the end of the article is a clip with subtitles of excerpts from his speeches. Check it out. The substance of the words is as important as the delivery.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/why-hitler-was-such-a-successful-orator-2015-5

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    • Jim,

      I, too, was pissed at Rachel and MSNBC at first. When it became clear that Trump was not really giving a “policy speech,” I thought the network should have cut it off. Oddly, though, it was the effect the speech had on me (similar to yours) as it went on that made me think it was a good thing that people hear the entire presentation. It exposed his fascist qualities, at least I hope, in a way that a short excerpt here and there (like we are seeing today on cable news) would not do.

      To that excellent article on Hitler, I am struck at first thought about how, still today, it is something of a serious study (and endlessly fascinating) as to why Hitler appealed to so many people in the way he did, given what he ended up advocating. And I found the statement from the historian Robert Waite breathtaking, given what we are witnessing at present:

      Hitler was Nazidom. Seldom in the history of western civilization has so much depended on one man’s personality. He created his own political theory and a government that could not exist without him.

      “I alone can fix it,” said Trump.

      That Hitler earnestly practiced his speeches and use of histrionics and facial expressions, and allowed a photographer to take photos he could study, is not all that surprising for someone obsessed with “the cultivation of his public image.” But all of it is, as you say, “chilling” as we compare it to what is going on right before our eyes. 

      Thanks for the link.

      Duane

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    • Robert J Roberts

       /  September 1, 2016

      Jim, thanks for the link. I watched some of it and was impressed by Hitler’s speaking ability. Trump certainly isn’t as accomplished as Hitler, but he is able to evoke passion from his followers.

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      Reply
  2. Robert J Roberts

     /  September 1, 2016

    As I watched the entire Trump speech last night, I kept having the eerie feeling that I should jump to my, feet, make the raised-arm Nazi salute, and scream, “Sieg Heil! Trump all but called for absolute domination by the Aryan race and the elimination of other races or nationalities and religions who oppose him. His call for a (military?) force to remove the Mexicans reminded me of Hitler’s “jack-booted thugs,” as history has named them. I lived through World War II as a child, and have read enough history to know what happened as Hitler rose to power. As we near election time he frightens me even more.

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  3. Like the Nazi leaders, Trump is a borderline psychotic narcissist. According to the American Psychiatric Association, these extreme narcissists have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. They may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle another person to make themselves appear superior.

    They have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it. They exaggerate their talents and require constant admiration. They expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations. They take advantage of others to get what they want and have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others. The lack empathy and are short on civility.

    Probably not very good traits for anyone wanting to be the leader of the free world.

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  September 1, 2016

    To all,

    Herb hit the nail on the head in writing “They may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle another person to make themselves appear superior.”

    The “they” encompasses many, many Americans today from both the Left and Right in American politics. It is simply the nature of today’s political divide in America and the ability of everyone to broadcast “their” views worldwide with the click of a button.

    One writer above asked how Hitler was able to hold such sway over Germans. To me that is easy to see. Germany was ignominiously defeated in WWI, suffered under horrendous financial and geopolitical sanctions and it cost “10,000 marks (think dollars) for a loaf of bread”. I wonder how Americans would react to such circumstances today. Recall the options in 1930 in the face of extraordinary concerns seemed at the time to be Hitler or Stalin for many people, particularly the German people caught in the middle so to speak.

    One would think America is faced with such choices today, particularly with all the hyperbole cast around from both Left and Right today; “My greatest enemies are Republicans” being a phrase recently used by a presidential candidate. I believe Hillary honestly believes exactly that in terms of HER greatest enemies. Why else would she go to such extremes to “protect her privacy”?

    I am certainly in agreement that the Republican Party has failed this country miserably forcing ME (us) to have to choose Trump or …….. But the simple fact, for me at least, is none of the GOP candidates that gave it a shot would receive my political support today. Had Cruz won the GOP primaries I am sure the rancor against him in this blog would be similar in tone to that against Trump now. I would have a hard time disagreeing with same as well.

    The really unusual political dilemma today is that some Democrats will have to hold their noses to vote for Hillary as well. You won’t see such concerns in this blog for sure, but …… I wonder if it is political reality today that the majority of Americans want “neither one of them” today? Never seen such, if true, in my lifetime of voting in presidential elections.

    Anson

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