Painting Himself & His Followers As Poor Put-Upon Victims, Trump Wields Old Trick From Fascist Playbook


By Timothy Snyder
The Guardian (10/30/18)

he governing principle of the Trump administration is total irresponsibility, a claim of innocence from a position of power, something which happens to be an old fascist trick. As we see in the president’s reactions to American rightwing terrorism, he will always claim victimhood for himself and shift blame to the actual victims. As we see in the motivations of the terrorists themselves, and in the long history of fascism, this maneuver can lead to murder.

The Nazis claimed a monopoly on victimhood. Mein Kampf includes a lengthy pout about how Jews and other non-Germans made Hitler’s life as a young man in the Habsburg monarchy difficult. After stormtroopers attacked others in Germany in the early 1930s, they made a great fuss if one of their own was injured. The Horst Wessel Song, recalling a single Nazi who was killed, was on the lips of Germans who killed millions of people. The second world war was for the Nazis’ self-defense against “global Jewry”.

The Nazi message that the powerful are victims who must be coddled arose in a setting that recalls the United States of today.

The idea that the powerful must be coddled arose in a setting that recalls the United States of today. The Habsburg monarchy of Hitler’s youth was a multinational country with democratic institutions and a free press. Some Germans, members of the dominant nationality, felt threatened because others could vote and publish. Hitler was an extreme example of this kind of sentiment. Today, some white Americans are similarly threatened by the presence of others in institutions they think of as their own. Among the targets of the accused pipe bomber were four women, five black people and two Jews. Just as (some) Germans were the only serious national problem within the Habsburg monarchy, so today are (some) white Americans the only serious threat to their own republic.

It must be someone else

Hitler formulated his version of total irresponsibility after the disaster of the first world war, which destroyed the Habsburg monarchy and fragmented its German ally. He found an explanation for the disaster that spared the ego of the German nationalists who had supported it. The world was a struggle, Hitler maintained, among superior and inferior races. If superior Germans were somehow defeated in a war, this only proved that an invisible power stood behind the visible facts: global Jewry.

According to Hitler, Jews inculcated ideas, such as that of individual rights, that drew people away from their natural bloodlust. …

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