Listening to Donald Trump at his rally in Kansas City, Mo. on Saturday reminds one of the phrase, the ugly American. That was the title of a book published in 1958. A national best seller, the book came to epitomize the insensitive American ignorant of foreign country customs, histories, languages, geography and more and an attitude that everything American is better and that anything foreign was fodder for derision, mocking and suspicion.
The ugly American was apt to think and talk in terms of ‘those people’ and as ‘we’ versus ‘them.’ Of course the ‘we’ often didn’t include all Americans. It often excluded those who ‘do not look like us or who had customs somehow different from us,’ Black Americans, Asian Americans, Italian Americans, Irish Americans, Portuguese Americans, Mexican Americans. And those who ‘do not agree with us.’
Here are some of what Trump had to say at his Saturday rally.
About a protester in the audience, “Get her out, get her out. Where are these people coming from, unbelievable, unbelievable.” And referring to Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic party nominee, “Bernie, our communist friend is running.” Then continuing his reaction to protestors, “Getem out, getem out, getem outa here.”
Trump said “You know we are trying to make this country great again. And it’s really hard with people like this, I’ll tell ya.”
“You know what people? We’re gonna take this country back from these people, we’re gonna take it back. These are bad, bad people.”
“And I say it in front of these lying and thieving reporters that are worse.”
“I hope you arrest these people. Because they deserve to be arrested.”
Trump rallies are uncannily coming to resemble those in the news reels we used to see of Hitler rallies in early 1940’s Germany. At rallies Trump supporters have raised their hands in allegiance and support to him in scenes eerily reminiscent of the Nazi salute to Adolph Hitler.
Hitler’s rise to chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, marked a crucial turning point for Germany and, ultimately, for the world. Hitler’s plan was to make Germany a powerful, unified one-party state . On his way there, he talked of those people, the ones who were not like us, and who stood in the way of Germany’s greatness.
Donald Trump is no Adolph Hitler and American democratic institutions with its checks and balances are much stronger than was Germany’s in 1933. But there are troubling similarities. Germany’s economy was in difficult times, and there was feeling of powerlessness among Germans in a changing world. Hitler was promising Germany a return to its former glory and blaming the country’s troubles on scapegoats. Hitler was every bit the egotist that Donald Trump appears to be. And Hitler was the ultimate militarist. God forbid, could it happen here?