Expert on Nazism explains the shocking similarities between Trump and Hitler’s propaganda tactics
Nicholas O’Shaughnessy is Professor of Communication at Queen Mary, University of London and currently Visiting Professor at King’s College London. His book Selling Hitler: Propaganda and the Nazi Brand has just been published by Hurst in the UK and distributed by Oxford University Press in the USA.
Much has been made recently of alleged parallels between the authoritarian taint of current political events in the USA and the rise of European fascism in the inter-war period. One Oxford researcher, Dr Kevin Dutton, has even declared that Donald Trump exhibits ‘more psychopathic’ traits than Hitler. Is fascism arising from its mausoleum? Does the polarization in US society, and the recourse to demagoguery in the service of the retrieval of a better past, equate even superficially with the disintegration of the civic state in Europe in the twenties and thirties?
There definitely are similarities in communications method between the US today and the fascist era in Europe, and all draw from the same polemical- evangelical script. This does not make the American right fascist, or Trump a Nazi. It does however point to the recrudescence of persuasion techniques associated with these things and long thought extinct.
One of the clear and present danger of a political party that thrives on perpetuating an ignorant and uneducated populace is that they can repeat historically disastrous policies the people should know are dangerous and stop before they can start; if they paid the slightest attention when they were in school. The Founding Fathers knew a stupid population was a disaster waiting to happen, and since about 56 million incredibly stupid Americans voted for an authoritarian fascist to lead the nation, the disaster that wreaked death and devastation on 1930s Nazi Germany is now unfolding in one nation many thought it would never happen: in the United States of America.
The rise of the Third Reich and the now emboldened alt left are leading towards the new version of American Fascism. When Hitler rose to power, Germany was still one of the wealthiest, best-educated nations on earth, and the success of his campaign came from directly targeting the millions of out-of-work Germans who had been devastated by the stock market crash in America (the Great Depression affected the entire world, you see) by promising them jobs and a better economy. Sound familiar?
Neither Hitler nor Trump campaign on specific policies, beyond a few slogans. Instead, both promise a new vision of leadership. They portray the existing political systems as fundamentally corrupt, incompetent, and, most importantly, unable to generate decisive action in the face of pressing problems.
Both use their personal biographies—or rather, the highly edited accounts of their personal biographies they present to the media—to conjure up a new style of politics, which is based neither on expertise nor on detailed policy proposals. Instead—they suggest—their own personal ‘struggle’ shaped them into—supposedly—authentic leaders, capable of overcoming adversity through sheer force of character. In this scenario, democracy has less to do with representative institutions than with a leader who is intuitively ‘in tune’ with the sentiments of the people.
Hitler’s famous autobiography was called My Struggle (Mein Kampf) for a reason. And it is a book we’d do well to remember—12.5 million copies were distributed in the Third Reich, and this supposedly difficult-to-read book continues to enjoy surprising popularity in many countries throughout the world. In India, it has been on bestseller lists for many years, and is widely used as a textbook on leadership in business schools.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump may have failed to disavow the Ku Klux Klan in late February, but he’ll have you know he is not racist. In fact, he claims to be “the least racist person that you have ever met,” and last summer he pulled out the old standby about not having a racist bone in his body.
But he hasn’t given us a lot of reason to believe that. In fact, despite Trump’s protests to the contrary, he has a long history of saying and doing racist things. It’s not really surprising that he’s won the support and praise of the country’s white supremacists.
Trump’s retaliation against the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army officer who died while serving in the Iraq War was a clear low point in a campaign full of hateful rhetoric. In May, Trump implied that Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over a class action against the for-profit Trump University, could not fairly hear the case because of his Mexican heritage.
When Trump was serving as the president of his family’s real estate company, the Trump Management Corporation, in 1973, the Justice Department sued the company for alleged racial discrimination against black people looking to rent apartments in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.Workers at Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, have accused him of racism over the years. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino $200,000 in 1992 because managers would remove African-American card dealers at the request of a certain big-spending gambler. A state appeals court upheld the fine.
Three times in a row on Feb. 28, Trump sidestepped opportunities to renounce white nationalist and former KKK leader David Duke, who told his radio audience last week that voting for any candidate other than Trump is “really treason to your heritage.” Long before calling Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists,” Trump was a leading proponent of “birtherism,” the racist conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and is thus an illegitimate president.
Trump claimed in 2011 to have sent people to Hawaii to investigate whether Obama was really born there. He insisted at the time that the researchers “cannot believe what they are finding.” Like many racial instigators, Trump often answers accusations of bigotry by loudly protesting that he actually loves the group in question. But that’s just as uncomfortable to hear, because he’s still treating all the members of the group — all the individual human beings — as essentially the same and interchangeable. Language is telling, here: Virtually every time Trump mentions a minority group, he uses the definite article the, as in “the Hispanics,” “the Muslims” and “the blacks.”
At a November campaign rally in Alabama, Trump supporters physically attacked an African-American protester after the man began chanting “Black lives matter.” Video of the incident shows the assailants kicking the man after he has already fallen to the ground. Trump’s racial incitement has already inspired hate crimes. Two brothers arrested in Boston last summer for beating up a homeless Latino man cited Trump’s anti-immigrant message when explaining why they did it. When Trump addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition in December, he tried to relate to the crowd by invoking the stereotype of Jews as talented and cunning business people.
Donald Trump’s rise to power has been fueled by nationalism and racial division
Trump sought the Reform Party’s presidential nomination in 2000, but withdrew before voting began. He considered running as a Republican for the 2012 election, but ultimately decided against it. In June 2015, he announced his candidacy for the 2016 election, and quickly emerged as the front-runner among 17 contenders in the Republican primaries. His final opponents suspended their campaigns in May 2016, and in July he was formally nominated at the Republican Convention. Trump’s campaign received unprecedented media coverage and international attention. Many of his statements in interviews, on social media, and at campaign rallies were controversial or false. Numerous anti-Trump protests occurred during his campaign and after the election.
Trump won the November 8, 2016, election by gaining a majority of the U.S. Electoral College. Donald Trump will become the wealthiest person to assume the presidency. He is also the only individual in U.S. history to be elected president without ever having held public office or served in the military.
Trump’s platform emphasizes renegotiating U.S.–China relations and free trade agreements such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, strongly enforcing immigration laws, and building a wall along the Mexico–U.S. border. His other positions include pursuing energy independence while opposing climate change regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement, reforming veterans’ affairs, replacing the Affordable Care Act, abolishing Common Core education standards, investing in infrastructure, simplifying the tax code while reducing taxes across the board, and imposing tariffs on imports by companies offshoring jobs.
Trump advocates a non-interventionist approach to foreign policy while increasing military spending, “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants to counteract Islamic terrorism, and aggressive military action against ISIL. Trump’s ideology has been described by scholars and commentators as populist, protectionist, and nationalist.
Hitler’s rise to power was largely fueled by strong nationalism and racial division
1933, the Nazi Party was the largest elected party in the German Reichstag, which led to Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Following fresh elections won by his coalition, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which began the process of transforming the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany, a one-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as the injustice of the post-World War I international order dominated by Britain and France. His first six years in power resulted in rapid economic recovery from the Great Depression, the effective abandonment of restrictions imposed on Germany after World War I, and the annexation of territories that were home to millions of ethnic Germans—actions which gave him significant popular support.
Hitler sought Lebensraum (“living space”) for the German people in Eastern Europe. His aggressive foreign policy is considered to be the primary cause of the outbreak of World War II in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and on 1 September 1939 invaded Poland, resulting in British and French declarations of war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union.
By the end of 1941 German forces and the European Axis powers occupied most of Europe and North Africa. Failure to defeat the Soviets and the entry of the United States into the war forced Germany onto the defensive and it suffered a series of escalating defeats. In the final days of the war, during the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Hitler married his long-time lover, Eva Braun. On 30 April 1945, less than two days later, the two killed themselves to avoid capture by the Red Army, and their corpses were burned.
Under Hitler’s leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews and millions of other victims whom he and his followers deemed Untermenschen (“sub-humans”) and socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. In addition, 29 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European Theatre of World War II. The number of civilians killed during the Second World War was unprecedented in warfare, and constitutes the deadliest conflict in human history.
Expert on Nazism explains the shocking similarities between Trump and Hitler’s propaganda tactics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 18, 2016, from http://www.rawstory.com/2016/10/expert-on-nazism-explains-the-shocking-similarities-between-trump-and-hitlers-propaganda-tactics/http://www.newsweek.com/just-how-similar-donald-trump-adolf-hitler-501252
Smallwood, K., Coville, C., Wong, D., Dockery, D., & Serwacki, A. (n.d.). 4 Signs President Trump Is Headed For A Hitler-Like Reign. Retrieved December 18, 2016, from http://www.cracked.com/blog/think-trump-cant-become-hitler-watch-these-4-signs/
(2016). Godwin’s Law Is Wrong: Trump Nazi Comparisons Are Legit. Retrieved December 18, 2016, from http://www.politicususa.com/2016/11/17/shut-godwin-trump-nazi-comparisons-legit.html
Lydia O’Connor.(2016) Huffington Post. Here Are 13 Examples Of Donald Trump Being Racist. Retrieved December 18, 2016 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83