The reporter side of me understands that Donald Trump’s Ukrainian phone call and its impeachment ramifications were bigger news than the president’s UN speech. The impeachment pot keeps boiling, too.
But my historian side is still struck by the ominousness in his UN remarks. “The future does not belong to globalists; it belongs to patriots,” Trump said.
Few, if any, presidents have been more ignorant of history than Trump. Maybe he doesn’t know that “globalist” has been common currency in anti-Semitic circles for years. Or maybe he does.
While Trump brags on his bromance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, he's called American Jews ignorant and traitors.
While Trump brags on his bromance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, he's called American Jews ignorant and traitors. "I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat--I think it shows a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty," Trump said last August. Bess Levin quoted him and called his hand in Vanity Fair.
Wrote Levin: "Oh yeah! Nothing like a good anti-Semitic trope about 'dual loyalty' to reel in that Jew vote! It’s a bit like when Trump nabbed 8% of the black vote in 2016 by calling African Americans poor, uneducated, and unemployed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!"
"Globalist" is an old Trump favorite. In October, 2018, the president told a Houston rally that "radical Democrats want to turn back the clock… for the rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists. You know what a globalist is? You know what a globalist is? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much."
In August, 2018, Nicole Goodkind wrote in Newsweek that “the term ‘globalist’ has often served as a dog-whistle to mean Jewish people. (Trump has swapped the dog-whistle for a bullhorn, pandering non-stop to racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry.)
"Otherizing" is the essence of Trumpism: He called Mexicans "rapists," Haiti and Africa "shithole countries," and Baltimore (60 percent African American) a "rodent infested mess" where "no human being would want to live."
Goodkind also pointed out that today's white nationalists and neo-Nazis -- some of whom praise Trump, who has been reluctant to condemn violent white supremacists--use "globalists" online to smear Jews. She quoted the Anti-Defamation League, which says that "Globalist elite" is code for "mostly Jews."
Hitler was big on "otherizing," too. Goodkind quoted Hitler, who smeared Jews as "international elements that 'conduct their business everywhere.'" He said "global Jews" harmed Germans who were "bounded to their soil, to the Fatherland." Hitler didn't consider Jews Germans, though Jews had lived in Germany for centuries; many served in the Kaiser's Army in World War I.
The Nazis otherized others. While Jews topped their hate list, communists and socialists were on it, too. So were labor unions, liberal journalists, intellectuals and clergy, creators of modern art, Freudians, feminists, gays and lesbians, and Gypsies.
Trump and the Trumpians get apoplectic at any comparison between them and the Nazis. Trumpism isn't Nazism, though some of the more ardent fans at Trump rallies invite comparison to Nazi rally-goers.
But like the Nazis, Trump is weaponizing the notion of national belonging, Masha Gessen wrote in The New Yorker in July.
"By turning unspoken assumptions into hateful rally chants, Trump is not merely destroying the norms of political speech but weaponizing them," she cautioned. (“It’s a sad time for this nation when Trump gets up before an audience like Leni Riefenstahl used to film and says what he says," declared veteran Kentucky journalist Bill Straub. Riefenstahl, whose cameras rolled at big Nazi rallies, was Adolf Hitler’s favorite propaganda moviemaker.)
Trump, according to Gessen, "is cashing in on the easy trick of saying out loud what others barely dare to think. But his supporters are also enforcing the prohibition on his opponents’ taking part in the conversation—as when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reprimanded for calling Trump’s speech 'racist' on the House floor. Trump has initiated a radical renegotiation of belonging in this country and then monopolized it. This is what happens first: a political force seizes the power to define its members as insiders and certain others as intruders. This is done in the name of protection of the motherland, which the newly marginalized are said to hate. Everything else follows."
[dc]"F[/dc]irst they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist," anti-Nazi Protestant pastor Martin Niemoller famously warned. "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."