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Is Donald Trump Really Using A Fascist Salute At His Rallies?

Sometimes A Cigar Is Just A Cigar

FILE - In this March 5, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the crowd asking them to take a pledge to promise to vote for him during a campaign rally, in Orlando, Fla. Trump on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, defended a gesture he made at a recent rally at the request of supporters in which he raised his right hand in a way that some compared to the Nazi salute. Trump called the accusations “ridiculous” and said his supporters wanted him to pretend that he was taking the oath of office. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

With all the real crap going on with the Trump campaign, you’d think the media would have actual work to do, you know, investigating incompetence and corruption. But you would be wrong. You’d find that the media are engrossed in making themselves look silly.

One of the most bizarre memes floating around is that linking Donald Trump’s campaign to Adolf Hilter’s campaign for Chancellor and his subsequent rise to power. I’m sorry, I think you have to be either historically illiterate or deliberately disingenuous to try to make that case. As far as I can tell the links are a) I don’t like Donald Trump and b) I don’t like Hitler, therefore c) Trump is Hitler or Satan or something like that. Thus far he has proposed nothing at all like the abrogation of the rule of law that has taken place under Obama and comparing him to Hitler is sort of insulting both to Trump and to Hitler.

Apparently, Trump has started having the attendees at his rallies take an “oath” to support him. When they do so, they raise their right hand:

FILE - In this March 5, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the crowd asking them to take a pledge to promise to vote for him during a campaign rally, in Orlando, Fla. Trump on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, defended a gesture he made at a recent rally at the request of supporters in which he raised his right hand in a way that some compared to the Nazi salute. Trump called the accusations “ridiculous” and said his supporters wanted him to pretend that he was taking the oath of office. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
So you get the left wing Anti-Defamation League (which never seems to surface when Democrats are canoodling with Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or Louis Farrakhan) leading the charge

Donald Trump knew he was evoking fascist symbolism when he asked supporters at a campaign rally in Florida to raise their right arms and pledge to vote for him, former Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman said.

The salute at a rally Saturday for the front-running Republican presidential candidate prompted a backlash on social media, where comparisons to Hitler were rife.

“It is a fascist gesture,” Foxman told the Times of Israel news website on Sunday. “He is smart enough — he always tells us how smart he is — to know the images that this evokes. Instead of asking his audience to pledge allegiance to the United States of America, which in itself would be a little bizarre, he’s asking them to swear allegiance to him.”

“As a Jew who survived the Holocaust, to see an audience of thousands of people raising their hands in what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States of America,” he told The Times of Israel.

“We’ve seen this sort of thing at rallies of neo-Nazis. We’ve seen it at rallies of white supremacists. But to see it at a rally for a legitimate candidate for the presidency of the United States is outrageous.”

F*** me. I just don’t know what to say to that. Asking his audience to say the Pledge of Allegiance would be bizarre but because they aren’t saying the Pledge of Allegiance it must be a Nazi salute? How, exactly, does that work? I’m happy Foxman survived the Holocaust and all but, criminy, doesn’t he have a family or something useful to do? It is unfortunate that he is traumatized by this but he needs to put on his big girl panties, go to therapy, and then find something real to worry about.

On the Today Show, Trump was asked about the issue:

The former head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman, called the pledge a “fascist gesture” and compared it to a Nazi salute. During an interview on NBC’s “Today,” co-host Savannah Guthrie told Trump about Foxman’s comments and asked whether Trump would continue with the pledge.

“Well, I think it’s ridiculous. We’re having such a great time. Yesterday, I had 20,000 people in Mississippi. I had tremendous crowds in Michigan. And sometimes we’ll do it for fun, and they’ll start screaming at me, ‘Do the swear-in! Do the swear-in!’ They’re having such a great time,” Trump said in response. “Honestly, until this phone call, I didn’t know it was a problem.”

Guthrie asked Trump if he will reflect on it now that he knows some find the pledge offensive.

“Almost everybody in the room raises their hand. We’re having a good time. I never knew it was a problem,” Trump replied.

Co-host Matt Lauer jumped in and said that the pledge combined with some of Trump’s rhetoric may be why images of rally attendees with their arms raised “evokes images of Nazi Germany.”

“Well, I think that’s a big, big stretch,” Trump responded before again noting how large his campaign rallies have been.

It pains me to say it, but Trump is exactly right here. Let’s look at some more of the rampant fascism in America. How about this:

070704-N-9818V-283  CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (July 4, 2007) - U.S. service members gather at the Al-Faw Palace for a Multi-National Force-Iraq Reenlistment, Naturalization and Independence Day Ceremony. During the ceremony 571 service members reenlisted and 161 became U.S. citizens. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham were among the special guests in attendance. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer A. Villalovos (RELEASED)

070704-N-9818V-283
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (July 4, 2007) – U.S. service members gather at the Al-Faw Palace for a Multi-National Force-Iraq Reenlistment, Naturalization and Independence Day Ceremony. During the ceremony 571 service members reenlisted and 161 became U.S. citizens. Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham were among the special guests in attendance. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer A. Villalovos (RELEASED)

Fascists?

Or if you are Catholic you will recognize this egregious fascism:

catholic

Whenever the congregation extends a blessing, such as at Rite of Sending for Rite of Christian Initiation as an Adult (RCIA) or blessing new members of a ministry or when the priest blesses the congregation at the end of Mass, the sign used is the extended right arm and hand. It is even used in baptisms in some parishes.

I think the idea of a candidate asking supporters for a public affirmation of loyalty is outside the American political tradition. So, yes, it strikes one as a little weird, but fascist? Give me a break. This type of creepy, personal idolatry was introduced into American political life by Barack Obama’s supporters:

I’m not for Donald Trump. But I am against egregious douchebaggery. I am particularly against egregious douchebaggery that will be used to label whoever the GOP nominee is as a neo-fascist because of this “Nazi salute” by Trump and his followers.

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