The Donald Trump Era: Echoes of Nazi Warnings

To suggest that America’s new President-Elect, Donald Trump, is the “New Hitler,” is an exercise in gilding the lily. However, to ignore the warnings of Nazi echoes in Trump’s presidential campaign and his many tweets, is to court danger. As Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Donald Trump, a person routinely pilloried and painted as a buffoon by his detractors, is in fact a savvy media mover who saw that the way to the political throne was to appeal to the disenfranchised, the working class who felt abandoned- the blue collar many, rather than the mega-wealthy few.

It is thought that Trump, a billionaire who in 2016 was said by Forbes to be the 113th wealthiest person in America and the 324th in the world, first got a taste for politics during the 1980s after being impressed by Ronald Reagan’s campaign. It took a couple more decades until Trump would act on his new political ambitions.

In 2000, Trump made a false start with his bid to be leader of the Reform Party, which Trump later withdrew. Then in 2011, Trump used the “Birther Movement” (a group made up of conspiracy theorists who demanded to see Obama’s birth certificate) to elbow his way back into the political landscape.

Just like the British political party Ukip, once lead by Trump’s Friend Nigel Farage, Donald set out to appeal to the “Nationalist,” “Traditionalist” and “Isolationist” mindset. It is here that the echoes of nazi warnings began to emerge. As Stephen Hawking pithily put it in regards to Trump, “He is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” Hawking could, of course, have said the very same thing about Hitler.

The Washington Post, who picked up on the parallels between Trump and Nazi propaganda, reported that “This year’s Holocaust remembrance comes at a time when Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, retweets to his nearly 6 million followers a message from @WhiteGenocideTM based in “Jewmerica,” and a time when his nearest challenger, Ted Cruz, brandishes the endorsement of a minister who says Hitler was a “hunter” sent after the Jews by God. There has never been a more important time for Americans to heed the moral authority of the Holocaust survivors still among us.”

The Washington Post also spoke to Al Munzer, who gave his thoughts on echoes of Nazi warnings, when he said, “It’s really frightening.” Al Munzer was hidden as an infant in the Netherlands with a Dutch family and their Muslim nanny. “When you see these mass rallies that Trump is able to attract, you really wonder: How are they buying into this message of hate?”

The Ghost Of Hope: James Baldwin “I Am Not Your Negro”


2016 will, maybe, go down in history as one of the more macabre years. Pop culture’s gospel of the gone continues to have new names of note added, game changers in their chosen  fields, gone forever.

After David Bowie, surely one of the most important artists of the last hundred  years, one would have hoped the reaper would have taken a break. But Leonard Cohen, Victoria Wood, Prince, Alan Rickman, Natalie Cole, Glenn Fry, John Glenn, Harper Lee and a slew of others were taken.

If that wasn’t enough, trash culture took its revenge and gave the United States Of America its very first reality television President Elect. A man more akin to a Jersey Shore member than leader of the free world. This is a man so narcissistic, he makes Narcissus seem like George Costanza and so thin skinned, rather than spend his time learning about the nuances of world affairs, he would rather take aim at a New York play and a skit on Saturday Night Live. His score-settling 3 a.m. Twitter rants would make even the most melodramatic of teenagers explode with shame.

It’s now often being  mooted that somehow we have found ourselves in Biff’s (Back To The Future) alternate reality and it’s hard to disagree. It would seem, virtually, every tie with America’s 20th Century renaissance is being carelessly cut .Climate change is being called fantasy, while creationism is being touted as fact. Racism is validated by the words and actions of the rich, whom set the narrative for the poor . The Church, going against science (again), claim homosexuality can be cured by therapy . The implication is, of course, every homosexual should seek to be cured, for they are “sick.” The anti-abortionists are often the same people who loudly promote war, thus showing that they aren’t “pro-life” at all. Merely pro-men, controlling women’s bodies.

However, try as they may, those that seek to divide, control and enslave can’t quiet the voices of the past, the spectral grasp on the imagination and the ghosts of hope that continue to inform the present and give power to change the future.

One of last century’s most intelligent and strident American commentators was poet, playwright and author James Baldwin. Born to poverty with several brothers and sisters, his mother, Emma Berdis, left his biological father due to his father’s serious drug addiction. They moved to Harlem, where she met the preacher David Baldwin. Going by the writings of James, it would seem that his adopted father treated him more harshly than he did the rest of the children. Some have suggested that this was because James was homosexual.

Being poor, black and homosexual gave Baldwin the deepest meaning of the word “outsider” and taught him to see beyond the accepted way of things, as well as helping fuel his drive to create. In his twenties, Baldwin would grow weary of America’s seemingly inherent racism, sexism and homophobia (and not wanting to fall into the boring ghetto of being known as a “gay ” or “black” writer), moved to France, where in 1987 he would die of stomach cancer.

James Baldwin knew to know yourself is to know others. To know the “advantage” white America exerts, is to see clearly the “disadvantage” black America suffers and vice versa. In short, to know the established narrative is to have the potential to change the established narrative.

Sadly, Baldwin is needed just as much now as he was when he was alive. In terms of racism, not much has changed between the 1960s and 2016. The fact that in the new millennium there needs to be a movement called “Black Lives Matter” is horrific in and of itself.

Director Raoul Peck, recognising all of this, has made Baldwin the subject of a timely documentary called  I Am Not Your Negro. This film is an extended adaptation of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript (the author’s death arrived before the completion) entitled “Remember This House.” The film seeks to intertwine the lives of Megar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X in the process telling the tale of black America and, therefore of course, the tale of America in general.

Naturally, Peck draws on many of Baldwin’s poetic and astute texts and impressive television appearances of which many can be found on  YouTube. They can dazzle the dead and teach the living. Baldwin’s lessons are many and what is learnt are truths that travel the centuries.

To get to any truth, to any reality, takes honesty and courage, as Baldwin says,
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

“I Am Not Your Nigger” – Trailer