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Mon 24 June 2019
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London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s comment on Donald Trump’s nativism, isolationism and bigotry has hit a sore spot.

Preceding today’s arrival for his state visit, Donald Trump has again lashed out at one of his critics, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling him a ‘stone cold loser’. Khan had likened Trump’s language to that of a ’20th century fascist’. Personally, I don’t see why Trump is so aggrieved – there’s little more American than fascism.

Really.


Manifest Destiny

Any serious discussion of fascism must necessarily touch on Nazi Germany – the instigator of the most devastating conflict the world has ever known. It is interesting, then, that two of Hitler’s key messages come repackaged from the shores of the New World.

Two of Hitler’s key messages come repackaged from the shores of the New World.

In Hitler’s quest for lebensraum – living space – he was drawing considerably from the idea of ‘Manifest Destiny’, as expert on fascism, Professor Timothy Snyder has pointed out.

This quasi-religious call to tame the lands – and the peoples – to the west of the early American colonies provided Hitler with his model for the subjugation and, at their murderous zenith, extermination, in favour of a new wave of German colonists. The cry of ‘Go west, young man!’ was overhauled as the notion of ‘Blut und Erde‘, ‘Blood and Soil’.

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Similarly, the idea of inherent racial superiority, and that supposed ‘undesirable’ traits could be ‘bred out’ – eugenics, that is – is a rather American idea.

While the first texts discussing the principles of eugenics emerged in Britain following the publication of Darwin’s’ ‘On the Origin of Species‘, it was the Americans who were responsible for the sudden explosion of interest in the idea  


Racial Eugenics

Throughout the 1890s, right into the 1920s, a bewildering array of books, magazines research institutes and societies emerged, dedicated to the practice of eugenics – Teddy Roosevelt, W. E. Dubois and Herbert Hoover were some of the big names supporting it.

So linked was the United States with eugenics, that Hitler actually remarked if it in ‘Mein Kampf‘, “There is today one state in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States.”.

Of course, come the rise of fascism as an ideology, the United States was fertile ground. Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, a number of fascist organisations emerged, with perhaps the most recognizable being the Friends of New Germany, later to become the  German-American Bund (or ‘Union’).

There is today one state in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States.

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

The German-American Bund would reach their height in 1939, when 20,000 filled New York’s Madison Square Garden for a garish rally, at which speakers such as leader Fritz Kuhn railed against Jews and Bolsheviks. To their credit, over 100,000 New Yorkers protested inside, intent on stopping proceedings.

Even after the defeat of Nazi Germany, fascist groups have thrived in American society, from George Lincoln’s American Nazi Party in the 1960s, to today’s Vanguard America and Identity Evropa, who clashed with protesters at Charlottesville.

In describing Trump as using the language of ‘a 20th century fascist’, Sadiq Khan is merely acknowledging the roots of Trump’s brand of nativism, isolationism and bigotry. It’s a uniquely American product. For someone so intent on representing the ‘true’, ‘authentic’ America, shouldn’t that be a badge of honour?

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