Monday, May 6, 2024

Donald Trump's obsession with Nazis is getting worse, not better, and a weekend gala in Florida suggests the GOP is ready to march with their Hitleresque leader


Donald Trump long has held an obsession with Nazis (see here, here, and here.) Trump's words in a speech over the weekend during an event at Mar-a-Lago indicate his fascination with Adolph Hitler is getting worse, not better. For one thing, Trump's fellow Republicans seem happy to join him in exulting the glories of Nazism. This is a man and a party that some Americans think are fit to run our country? If MAGA types don't wake up and pay attention to what Trump and other Republicans actually say and do, we are going to wake up one day with brown shirts marching down Pennsylvania Avenue.

How alarming is Trump's infatuation with Nazis? CNN's Dean Obeidallah, an attorney and multimedia journalist, examines that question under the headline  "The latest example of Trump’s seeming obsession with Nazism." Obeidallah writes:

At the Republican National Committee’s annual retreat this weekend, former President Donald Trump took the stage to a recording of the national anthem sung by the “J6 Prison Choir,” whose members were incarcerated for taking part in a violent effort to keep Trump in power following his loss in the 2020 election.

It’s not the first time Trump has kicked off an event by playing this song that celebrates the January 6, 2021, attackers. Every time he does, it should disgust patriotic Americans. But that wasn’t even the most offensive thing Trump did at Saturday’s private luncheon for donors, which was held at his Mar-a-Lago club.

Remember when presidential candidates were able to keep foul language out of their speeches while managing to minimize admiring glances toward the specter of Hitler? Trump is helping to ensure those days, when candidates showed at least a smidgen of dignity and class, are long gone. Obeidallah writes, noting that Trump's celebration of Jan.6 thugs was not the only repulsive part of his  act:

Trump launched into a profanity-laced tirade in which he declared — despicably — that President Joe Biden was running a “Gestapo administration,” invoking the name of the notorious Nazi political police, infamous (as the Holocaust Encyclopedia explains) for “organized deportations of Jews from across Europe to ghettos, concentration camps, killing sites, and killing centers.”

Trump’s reprehensible remark, made to a room packed with individuals who had donated $40,000 or more to the Republican National Committee, was part of a 90-minute harangue in which he groused indignantly over having been charged with 88 felonies across four different jurisdictions — something he often does publicly and loudly. Prosecutors at his current trial underway in New York City allege that the former president was at the center of what they have called an elaborate “election fraud” that involved covering up the payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump denies the allegations.

Just how gross, and warped, were Trump's words and actions? Obeidallah tries to sort it out:

It’s hard to catalog all the ways in which likening the current administration to the brutal Gestapo is so deeply offensive and so off the mark, including the casual use of language that invokes Nazis – something Trump does all too often.

For one thing, it trivializes the history of the Holocaust and the perpetrators of the unspeakable crimes carried out by Adolf Hitler and his followers. For another, there is not a scintilla of evidence that the current administration harbors authoritarian tendencies. But, as is so often the case with Trump, he tarnishes the object of his scorn with the failings that he himself could reasonably be accused of. (Psychologists, I believe, call that "projection.")

It was Trump, after all, who has said that he would be a dictator on “day one” of his administration. It is Trump whose actions and statements increasingly seem to invoke authoritarianism as the presidential campaign marches on. And the fact is, there is one major-party presidential candidate who repeatedly has invoked Nazi language — and it’s not Biden.

In December, Trump caused a firestorm when he parroted language used by Hitler by describing migrants as “poisoning the blood” of the United States. The previous month, Trump described his political opponents as “vermin,” which concerned many given that dehumanizing term has antisemitic connotations and was employed in Nazi rhetoric. Scholars of the Holocaust have pointed to Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf and his speeches in which he called for racial purity and said German blood was being “poisoned” by Jews.

Trump hasn’t apologized for using such language. Instead, in December, he told supporters at a rally in Iowa, “I never read Mein Kampf. Trump then added that Hitler used the term “poisoning the blood” of the country “in a much different way.” He then repeated the same dangerous rhetoric about migrants, saying, “They’re destroying the blood of the country. They’re destroying the fabric of our country, and we’re going to have to get them out.”

Perhaps the worst part was that other Republicans at the gala event did not seem to have a problem with Trump echoing "the good old days" of Hitler. In fact, they seemed eager to join in and march right behind him. That one of our two major political parties has become enthralled with a Nazi fantasizer and his compliant acolytes suggests we might be in for some dark days if the electorate does not wake up and take the 2024 presidential election seriously? The reality? We only have one functioning party that is capable of leading, and that is the Democrats. That means, whether you lean left or right, Joe Biden is the only realistic choice for president. A vote for anyone else, is a vote for Trump and the chaos and worldwide instability he seems anxious to bring, according to his own words and actions. In short, Trump already has proven he cannot run the White House, so why would anyone think he deserves a second chance? Given what we now know about Trump's personal issues with drug abuse, it should raise even more concerns about his fitness for office.

The GOP gala over the weekend provided more evidence that the postmodern Republican Party has become little more than a glorified dumpster fire. Obeidallah spells out the disturbing reality:

Was there an uproar among the big GOP donors at Saturday’s event over Trump deploying the word “Gestapo” or over his Nazi-like language at a time when we are seeing an alarming spike in antisemitism across the United States? Have Republican leaders denounced this rhetoric? Not that I’ve seen, and I don’t expect to hear them publicly criticize their presumptive presidential nominee and undisputed leader of their party. Not if past is prologue.

Interestingly, Trump’s celebration of those who waged the January 6 attack conjures up Hitler’s tactics after his own attempted coup in 1923 known as the Beer Hall Putsch — a thwarted attempt by the would-be dictator and his followers to violently overthrow the government of the German state of Bavaria.

Hitler would publicly honor those killed in that failed attempt to seize power by making them martyrs for the cause and celebrating them publicly as heroes. Hitler became chancellor of Germany 10 years later in 1933, where one of the first orders of business was the formation of the Gestapo, the German secret police, under the leadership of his loyal aide Hermann Göring.

At the GOP event Saturday, Trump offered anyone who would donate $1 million a chance to speak at the podium. Reportedly, three people took Trump up on his offer. One of those donors claimed that God chose Trump to lead the country.

And while the former president was speaking Saturday, the RNC co-chair, his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, presented Trump with a plaque commemorating the success on the Billboard music charts of the song by the January 6 attackers. Last week, TIME magazine published an interview in which Trump once again praised the January 6 attackers, some of whom brutally beat up police officers, as “patriots” and vowed that if re-elected he would consider pardoning those still in jail for that attack.

All this leaves me asking myself once again which is the presidential candidate who loves democracy and our Constitution, and which is seeking to pull us backward into dark and dangerous times.

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