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“You’ve Got A Friend”: Italy’s Most Racist Politician Comes To Philly To Help Donald Trump

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s most openly racist politician and leader of the far-right Northern League party, loves Donald Trump. And The Donald apparently loves him back.

Salvini, who has called German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy to accept Syrian refugees a disaster, and who has been pictured with a bulldozer on the edge of Roma camps, tweeted a selection of pictures of himself at a Trump rally in Philadelphia. In one, he poses with the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in what appears to be a somewhat awkward “thumbs up” moment with the caption, “Go, Donald, Go!”

Salvini, who is in the United States to promote Italian culture (as opposed to any other culture), then met with Trump for around 20 minutes after the rally, which was held on April 25—the day Italy celebrates its liberation from fascism and a holiday Salvini does not celebrate. “Matteo, I hope you will soon become the prime minister of Italy,” Trump said, according to ANSA news service. Salvini then returned the sentiment, saying he hoped the Republican hopeful would be elected to the White House on Nov. 8.

The Italian politician is widely known in Italy and throughout Europe for his radical right-wing rallies, during which it is common for him to slip on a black shirt to pay homage to the Fascist era. His rallies have often included people waving photos of Benito Mussolini, who he has praised for his “efficiency” and “dedication” to the country.

It must be noted that Salvini and Trump also share a common anti-immigration attitude, and after the meeting said they were in “total agreement” on closed borders. Salvini, who also idolizes Vladimir Putin and has often railed against Europe as a whole, has previously argued that migrant and refugee boats should not be allowed to disembark in Italy, and called upon local governments to refuse to open refugee centers.

He counts among his friends some of the most xenophobic politicians in Europe. He has repeatedly invited French right-wing politician Marine Le Pen to speak at Northern League rallies and she has had him speak at at least one National Front rally in which she said, “He sends me into ecstasy” when she introduced him.

The openly racist politician is also critical of Pope Francis for accepting refugees. “With all due respect, the pope is wrong,” Salvini wrote on his Facebook page last week. “The pope wants to invite thousands of immigrants in Italy? It is one thing is to accommodate the few who escaped from the war, it is another to encourage and fund an unprecedented invasion. Dear Holy Father, the catastrophe is around the corner from the Vatican, is in Italy.”

He has also criticized Italian President Sergio Mattarella as a “sellout” and “accomplice” to illegal immigration.

It seems unlikely that Salvini’s extremist policies will ever win him the top seat in Italian government, but many have said that about his new best friend Donald Trump, too.

 

By: Barbie Latza Nadeau, Rome Bureau Chief for The Daily Beast, April 26, 2016

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Matteo Salvini, Racism | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The American Fascist”: Why Donald Trump Presents Such A Profound Danger To The Future Of America And The World

I’ve been reluctant to use the  “f” word to describe Donald Trump because it’s especially harsh, and it’s too often used carelessly.

But Trump has finally reached a point where parallels between his presidential campaign and the fascists of the first half of the 20th century – lurid figures such as Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Oswald Mosley, and Francisco Franco – are too evident to overlook.

It’s not just that Trump recently quoted Mussolini (he now calls that tweet inadvertent) or that he’s begun inviting followers at his rallies to raise their right hands in a manner chillingly similar to the Nazi “Heil” solute (he dismisses such comparison as “ridiculous.”)

The parallels go deeper.

As did the early twentieth-century fascists, Trump is focusing his campaign on the angers of white working people who have been losing economic ground for years, and who are easy prey for demagogues seeking to build their own power by scapegoating others.

Trump’s electoral gains have been largest in counties with lower than average incomes, and among those who report their personal finances have worsened. As the Washington Post’s Jeff Guo has pointed out, Trump performs best in places where middle-aged whites are dying the fastest.

The economic stresses almost a century ago that culminated in the Great Depression were far worse than most of Trump’s followers have experienced, but they’ve suffered something that in some respects is more painful – failed expectations.

Many grew up during the 1950s and 1960s, during a postwar prosperity that lifted all boats. That prosperity gave their parents a better life. Trump’s followers naturally expected that they and their children would also experience economic gains. They have not.

Add fears and uncertainties about terrorists who may be living among us, or may want to sneak through our borders, and this vulnerability and powerlessness is magnified.

Trump’s incendiary verbal attacks on Mexican immigrants and Muslims – even his reluctance to distance himself from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan – follow the older fascist script.

That older generation of fascists didn’t bother with policy prescriptions or logical argument, either. They presented themselves as strongmen whose personal power would remedy all ills.

They created around themselves cults of personality in which they took on the trappings of strength, confidence, and invulnerability – all of which served as substitutes for rational argument or thought.

Trump’s entire campaign similarly revolves around his assumed strength and confidence. He tells his followers not to worry; he’ll take care of them. “If you get laid off …, I still want your vote,” he told workers in Michigan last week. “I’ll get you a new job; don’t worry about it.”

The old fascists intimidated and threatened opponents. Trump is not above a similar strategy. To take one example, he recently tweeted that Chicago’s Ricketts family, now spending money to defeat him, “better be careful, they have a lot to hide.”

The old fascists incited violence. Trump has not done so explicitly but Trump supporters have attacked Muslims, the homeless, and African-Americans – and Trump has all but excused their behavior.

Weeks after Trump began his campaign by falsely alleging that Mexican immigrants are “bringing crime. They’re rapists,” two brothers in Boston beat with a metal poll and urinated on a 58-year-old homeless Mexican national. They subsequently told the police “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

Instead of condemning that brutality, Trump excused it by saying “people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”

After a handful of white supporters punched and attempted to choke a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his campaign rallies, Trump said “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

There are further parallels. Fascists glorified national power and greatness, fanning xenophobia and war. Trump’s entire foreign policy consists of asserting American power against other nations. Mexico “will” finance a wall. China “will” stop manipulating its currency.

In pursuit of their nationalistic aims, the fascists disregarded international law. Trump is the same. He recently proposed using torture against terrorists, and punishing their families, both in clear violation of international law.

Finally, the fascists created their mass followings directly, without political parties or other intermediaries standing between them and their legions of supporters.

Trump’s tweets and rallies similarly circumvent all filters. The Republican Party is irrelevant to his campaign, and he considers the media an enemy. (Reporters covering his rallies are kept behind a steel barrier.)

Viewing Donald Trump in light of the fascists of the first half of the twentieth century – who used economic stresses to scapegoat others, created cults of personality, intimidated opponents, incited violence, glorified their nations and disregarded international law, and connected directly with the masses – helps explain what Trump is doing and how he is succeeding.

It also suggests why Donald Trump presents such a profound danger to the future of America and the world.

 

By: Robert Reich, The Robert Reich Blog, March 8, 2016

March 14, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fascism, White Working Class | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Is Donald Trump Leading A Proto-Fascist Movement?”: Trump’s Political Message Is Uncut Xenophobia If Not Outright Racism

With the increasingly unsettling success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, I am beginning to wonder: Does America have a fascism problem?

That may sound like an inflammatory question, but the point isn’t to say Trump is the next coming of Hitler. So what do I mean by fascism? Robert Paxton, in an excellent book about the subject, summed it up this way:

A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. [The Anatomy of Fascism]

The first half of the definition fits the Trump movement pretty well. His slogan “Make America Great Again” isn’t too far from the average political bromide, but its intention is much different than, say, Reagan’s “Morning in America.” Reagan did deal in his fair share of veiled race-baiting, but Trump straight-up rants about how non-white foreigners are ruining the country. From claiming unauthorized Mexican immigrants are drug dealers and “rapists,” to saying he wants to deport 11 million people, to arguing that China is “killing us” on trade, Trump’s political message is uncut xenophobia if not outright racism — all of which is coupled with how he, as a very masculine tough guy who will never back down, is going to fix everything. Just watch him give the bum’s rush to the most famous Hispanic journalist in the country!

This has been an enormous political success, with hundreds of thousands of people enthusiastically flocking to the Trump banner (just look at the people in this picture). With the exception of Bernie Sanders, Trump is now drawing bigger crowds than any other candidate. That mass basis is a key foundation of fascism — without the delirious crowds, the fascist demagogue is little more than a deranged street preacher. Many of those supporters are out-and-proud white nationalists, as documented in a fascinating New Yorker investigation.

So we’ve got the victim complex, the incipient personality cult, the mass nationalist support, and the obsession with purifying the polity (like this Trump fan arguing that the government should pay a $50 bounty to murder people crossing the border).

However, on the second half of the definition, Trump is clearly not there. Paxton demonstrates that nowhere did fascists come to power by themselves; instead they relied on support from elite conservatives who feared left-wing populist movements. But today, there is not much sign that the Republican establishment is ready to team up with Trump, and neither is there a socialist party on the verge of electoral victory. On the contrary, the GOP brass has clearly been trying to get rid of Trump, and the most left-wing challenger in the presidential race is a moderate social democrat who is far behind the centrist front-runner.

Trump has also not proposed any wars of aggression, or the abolition of democratic principles. Cleansing wars of conquest and a scorn for democracy were both signature fascist ideas.

But I also think it’s fair to call Trumpism a proto-fascist movement, not in line with Hitler, but with the likes of Benito Mussolini, who was at the forefront of European fascism. Before the Nazis, he was regarded as a somewhat clownish dictator with an unusual degree of mass support. He was a racist, authoritarian warmonger, but nowhere close to the genocidal maniac that Hitler was.

Who’s to say where we’d be under different conditions? If the American economy were as bad as it is in the eurozone, and if Bernie Sanders was cruising to easy victory in the Democratic primary, loudly promising confiscatory tax rates, Trump might well be a genuinely terrifying figure.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, August 28, 2015

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fascism, Racism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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