German Politicians think Trump is dangerously close to Neo-Nazis, and they Should know

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The nation of Germany gazed with helpless horror at Trump’s disastrous Tuesday press conference, in which he tried to make a false equivalency between the neo-Nazis and the counter-protesters.

Even before Trump’s wretched performance this week, only 11 percent of Germans said they trusted him to do the right thing. About 25 percent of Germans said that they trust Russian president Vladimir Putin to do the right thing!

That is worth repeating. Germany is one of America’s closest allies, but Germans are twice as likely to trust Putin as to trust Trump. Germans don’t have much confidence either leader, but they have a special distrust of Trump.

German Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said that comparing the two sides at the protests instead of clearly distancing himself from the potential for Nazism that had clearly been shown there “was a giant mistake and is also wrong.”

Minister Gabriel added that the violence in Charlottesville demonstrated what happens when you let extremist elements “run free,” and said it should be a wake up call for Europe, as well.

Gabriel concluded that it “just shows how intertwined some of Trump’s base is with the right-radical scene in the United States. His chief ideologist (Steve) Bannon is close to them.”

Gabriel is a leader of the Social Democratic Party, which is in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. He has however been critical of her, saying she is overly deferential to Donald Trump.

The German minister of justice, Jeff Sessions’ counterpart, Heiko Maas, said it was “unbearable” for Trump to gloss over the violence that occurred during the march of a “right wing horde” on Charlottesville.

Columnist Sascha Lobo of Der Spiegel online said of that Trump made it clear where he stood and showed himself a master at downplaying or trivializing the horror of Nazism.

Germany is still profoundly traumatized by the crimes of the National Socialists during WW II and has laws forbidding the exaltation of Nazism. My guess is that if Trump were in Germany and saying the things he said this week, he might well be arrested.

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Related video:

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13 Responses

  1. Fascism seldom appears on the scene with all the guns blazing and revealing its full ugliness. It starts slowly and grows gradually. First, fascists blame one group, then another, then another, until it comes closer to home and we realize that we have nowhere to turn, as those in power regard the rest of us as the enemy. We should wake up before it is too late. The following quote is attributed to Niemöller:
    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    This short clip can also throw some light on the present situation:
    link to youtube.com

  2. The social historian Morris Berman wrote a trilogy about the failure of the American empire. The second book “Dark Ages America: The final phase of Empire” was published in 2006 and became a best seller.

    For some strange reason looked it up and found this 2006 review by the dean of book reviewers who just retired.

    This is the sort of book that gives the Left a bad name.

    In “Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire,” the cultural historian Morris Berman delivers a vituperative, Spenglerian screed that makes Michael Moore seem like a rah-rah American cheerleader: a screed that describes this country as “a cultural and emotional wasteland,” suffering from “spiritual death” and intent on exporting its false values around the world at the point of a gun; a republic-turned-empire that has entered a new Dark Age and that is on the verge of collapsing like Rome.

    Dark Ages of America: The Final Phase of EmpireGrim View of a Nation at the End of Days

    The third volume of the trilogy “Why America Failed” did not sell well. He makes the case that we are a culture of hustlers right from the start.

    The introduction to Dark Ages America is on line. 4 themes fit Trumpism

    link to bullnotbull.com

  3. Oh, poor Orange Donnie!

    So misunderstood, he’s just channeling Cole Porter:
    Birds do it.
    Bees do it.
    Even white skinhead Nat-sees do it.

  4. Trump would probably not be vulnerable under German laws. Enforcement focuses more on certain explicit acts: displaying the swastika, making the salute (which is why the neo-nazis there use a slightly modified salute), or denying the historical facts of the holocaust. Sascha Lobo’s article in the Spiegel, in contrast, describes in great detail how Trump reproduces the arguments and techniques of those who dance around the legal limits, while pursuing the same aims. The coherence and skill of Trump’s use of these techniques may actually argue against an interpretation of his actions as being caused by mental illness.

  5. I watched an interesting Hitler documentary and was surprised how much Hitler and Trump have in common.

    For instance Hitler only valued his opinion and decision making skills. He belittled others by rehashing his rise to power against all odds. Hitler promised to make Germany great again. He enjoyed watching his subordinates fight among themselves. He avoided contact with intellectuals preferring the company of those who gave him blind devotion.

    With all they have in common I would not be surprised to see Trump ending up in history’s trash bin of failed demagogues.

  6. I’ve noticed that some progressive groups have moved from calling Trump’s supporters Alt-Right, or white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis to just plain Nazis. That’s the correct term, in my opinion.

    And Trump has let his true colors show, for sure. He is a Nazi. And we know what Nazis do, don’t we? It’s only going to get worse before it gets better. There will be a Trump version of the Reichstag fire, Kristallnacht and of course bands of Nazi militia groups beating and killing African Americans, Jews, Muslims and “liberals”.

    Count on it.

    • I think the actual Nazis are playing the long game right now; they’re seizing this moment to begin a long process of normalization, but they know Trump won’t be around for much of it. The problem is, once he’s gone, his success in conning a wide range of right-wing voters guarantees he will be imitated on the state level, which is already dominated by extreme Republicans. The media has done a bad job of informing us about the state-level takeover of America and its coordination by national groups like ALEC with its cookie-cutter state legislature spamming. How will it handle fifty little Hitlers?

      Of course, there’s plenty of time for Trump to impose dictatorship that’s only Mussolini-bad, as opposed to Hitler-bad. The key to real fascism is mass participation; the followers must be enlisted to become paramilitary enforcers of the leader’s will, bypassing the state organs preferred by more conventional authoritarians. With Trump, the call for his followers to go Kristallnacht could happen on any given day if he wakes up in a bad enough mood.

  7. There is a distinct possibility that for a whole variety of reasons Germany will loosen ties with the US. The punitive application of Russian economic sanctions, which hurt German more than US business, was bad enough, but the new tranche is seen as a bald effort to benefit US business, particularly in the energy field, at European expense; it is viewed as unadorned ‘US first’ Trumpism and makes for a deeper reason to distrust him than his inability to identify Charlottesville for what it was. There are even voices calling for Germany to leave NATO on the grounds that it is out of date and redundant. They too are doubtless trade stirred. I am not denying the validity, significance, or seriousness of the German response to Trump but everyone is aware how ‘close allies’ can continue to do really evil things without attracting overt opprobrium, so the significant thing may be less the response itself, valid though it is, but the uninhibited expression of it from so important a politician. He is, however, quite right about these militant attacks being widespread. As I am writing this a van has just ploughed into crowds in Barcelona.

  8. He’s giving Aid and Comfort to those who wish to overthrow the US government. He is committing Sedition. He CAN be removed by impeachment.

    I do understand the ‘slippery slope’ around setting precedents that curtail citizens’ Freedom of Speech, and there are clear precedents against Sedition.

    The House of Representatives need a hundred-million phone calls and text messages, but that’s how we get rid of Trump.

    The, we boycott anyone and everyone even thinking of doing business with him.

    • Impeachment is off the menu unless his support amongst registered Republicans reaches very low poll numbers…such as under 35%. Then Republican legislators will feel threatened enough to impeach him. Phone calls are meaningless and useless. Disgustingly, his support among Republicans remains very high. So Trump can survive overall poll numbers as low as 20-25% as long as his support with Republican voters remains above 45-50%. When his numbers get that low, however, it will be time for a nice little terrorist attack that requires a response of martial law, suspension of civil liberties and the cancellation of the next election.

  9. Although profoundly ignorant of nearly everything outside his own immediate self-interest, trump apparently did read that book on Hitler that he kept on his nightstand.

  10. The real problem with Trump is many very wealthy and dangerous people will stand behind him if the imperative actions are taken.

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