Mary Jane Rein, executive director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, and Thomas Kühne, Strassler Professor of Holocaust History and director of the Strassler Center, explored the question of whether Republican presidential candidate Donald is a “fascist or demagogue” as part of an “As I See It” column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette recently.
Here, an excerpt:
“[Trump] certainly draws upon fascist themes, but those ideologies glorify violence as a tool to upend the political order. Despite hinting at expanded presidential powers, Trump is unlikely to overthrow the Constitution. And while certainly a racist and a demagogue who favors elements of fascist rhetoric, Trump is also a classic American individualist.
“In his case, the ‘I’ comes well before the ‘we.’ Such robust individuality is directly contrary to fascism, which invests power in the national collective.
“Thus, Trump fails the fascist test on several counts, yet the analogy remains powerful and seductive. What can such historical equations teach us? Do they serve as anything more than propaganda designed to demonize the candidate and generate publicity?
“Journalists favor simple truths, but from the historian’s perspective, Trump is no Hitler. And inflammatory language equating them obfuscates the underlying reasons behind Trump’s popularity.”