Trump as America’s Le Pen

Donald Trump Is Now America’s Marine Le Pen” declares John Cassidy in The New Yorker:

… France has supplied a disturbing example of how terror attacks can generate support for an authoritarian backlash against immigrants and Muslims. On Sunday, the ultra-right-wing National Front made big gains in the country’s regional elections. Exit polls suggested that the Party, which is led by Marine Le Pen, had won about thirty per cent of the vote, well ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right Republican Party and President François Hollande’s center-left Socialist Party. Depending on what happens in the run-off elections, next month, the National Front could end up controlling local governments in vast swaths of France.

While rising support for the National Front predates the two major terrorist strikes that took place this year in Paris, concerns about Islamic radicalism and rising antagonism toward immigrants undoubtedly helped Le Pen and her colleagues. In the wake of last month’s coördinated attacks on the Bataclan theatre and other sites, Le Pen restated her earlier call for an end to all immigration into France, legal and illegal. She said that the mainstream parties had failed to protect the French people and demanded an immediate police crackdown. “Islamist fundamentalism must be annihilated,” she said. “France must ban Islamist organizations, close radical mosques, and expel foreigners who preach hatred in our country as well as illegal migrants who have nothing to do here.”

In some ways, Trump hasn’t gone as far as Le Pen. He still favors legal immigration, for example. But, in other ways, his message is uncannily similar to Le Pen’s; on one issue, he’s even outdone her.

Then we get additional hand-wringing from employees of GOP, Inc:

With the American public increasingly alarmed about the possibility of future terrorist attacks, and with conservative commentators baying for blood, it is far from clear that reason and restraint will be rewarded. “As much as anyone may disagree with his policies (and I do), Trump is not hurting himself with GOP voters with his negativity toward Muslims,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a Republican strategist who advised Mitt Romney in 2012, said on Twitter Monday evening. He followed up by writing, “Sad but true: GOP attitudes toward Muslims are very low, especially among white Evangelical Protestants (i.e. Iowa)”

Then we get more of the building ‘fascist’ meme:

trump_wiggleMockery of the political establishment. an “us versus them” attitude, the myth of national regeneration: all of these things have long been associated with political movements of the far right, course, and among the commentariat there is now a lively debate about whether or not Trump can be regarded as fascist or proto-fascist. Since there is no generally agreed-upon definition of fascism, this discussion is unlikely to be resolved. What can be said without fear of contradiction is that Trump represents a long-standing and deep-rooted strain of American nativism and parochialism, which, in earlier eras, was exploited by such figures as Father Coughlin, Joseph McCarthy, and George Wallace.

This theme is picked up by Dan Balz in a WaPo piece (a ‘news’ story, not opinion):

Nothing in modern politics equates with the kind of rhetoric now coming from Candidate Trump. There are no perfect analogies. One must scroll back decades for echoes, however imperfect, of what he is saying, from the populist and racially based appeals of then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1968 and 1972 to the anti-Semitic diatribes of the radio preacher Charles Coughlin during the 1930s…

And does one get a whiff of possible WH panic here in this sentence from Balz’s piece?

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said what Trump advocated on Monday should disqualify him from ever serving as president, and he added that Republican candidates who refuse to say they would not support Trump as the party’s nominee also are disqualifying themselves.

Balz then points to a poignant historical precedent, one which horrifies libs and GOP, Inc, but doesn’t horrify the Silent Majority:

After World War I, a wave of immigration from Europe to the United States, coupled with fears of the spread of worldwide communism after the Bolshevik revolution, led to strikes, riots, violence, anarchism and ultimately a powerful backlash against immigrants. Then-Attorney General Mitchell Palmer led a series of infamous raids, rounding up suspected radicals and trying to deport them.

A rising nationalist and nativist strain fueled by the war and its aftermath eventually led Congress twice in three years in the early 1920s to enact strict new quotas on immigration, sharply limiting the influx of those fleeing a continent devastated by the war for opportunities in America.

Read about the Palmer Raids here.

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