How Trump used fascist propaganda to radicalize his Qanon death cult
Americans underestimate just how dangerous Trump really is.
MAGA is a death cult. They hate liberals with the same intensity, and for the same absurd reasons, as the Nazis hated the Jews. Nazis thought they were righteous and good, and that they were eradicating evil. MAGA believes the same thing about themselves and liberals. They don’t want to co-exist.
Growing up in Germany, I thought I knew everything there is to know about America, until I moved to New York in my early 20s. Actually living in America was surprisingly different from just watching it in my favorite movies.
The first thing I noticed, when I immigrated to the US 30 years ago, was the casual racism. I had no idea there was this much racial tension and xenophobia in America. The movies I watched as a teenager had made it seem like America is a big melting pot, where everyone is welcome. I thought the inscription on the Statue of Liberty was America’s national motto. Now I know better.
I’ve lived my entire adult life in this country, and became a US citizen. America is my home. I lived in New York for 16 years. Then I lived in Pennsylvania and Florida for a couple of years. And for the past six years, I’ve been living in Los Angeles. But I still go back to Germany at least once a year, to visit friends and family.
In 2012, a German novelist wrote a bestselling book, called Look Who’s Back. In 2015 it was turned into a blockbuster movie. It’s a comedy that imagines what it would be like if Hitler suddenly showed up in present day Germany:
Present day Hitler 2.0 quickly gains a right-wing nationalist following and becomes a celebrity with his own TV show, because “he says what everyone is thinking” about foreigners and immigrants.
In the movie, present day Hitler 2.0 says the very same hateful things about minorities as the original Hitler did in the 1930s. Some present day Germans recognize him for the hateful monster he is, but many Germans are oblivious and become his brainwashed cult followers.
Sound familiar? It should. Basically the movie predicted Trump’s rise to power.
Here’s the real mindfuck: The movie is just like Borat 2. In some scenes Hitler 2.0 interacts with real Germans, who are not actors. And they don’t know that he is an actor who is just pretending to hate all the same people Hitler used to hate. They think he’s for real. They agree with him. They cheer for Borat Hitler 2.0.
In a recent interview with a major German news outlet, Obama’s policy adviser Ben Rhodes said that Trump’s re-election will lead to war, and that Obama is having sleepless nights, because he feels that many Americans don’t realize how close to the abyss we really are.
Like Obama, most Germans feel that Americans underestimate just how dangerous Trump really is. When Germans look at Trump, we see Hitler 2.0. And that’s not hyperbole. German Neo-Nazis, nowadays also known as Reichsbürger, love Trump just as much as American Nazis and KKK members do.
In 2017, Stern, a major German news magazine, compared Trump’s policies to Hitler’s policies. They even put an image of Trump on their cover, draped in the American flag and raising his hand for a Nazi salute.
Spiegel, another major German news magazine, called Trump a dangerous president and the United States a danger to the world. They warned that Europe must defend itself against Trump. The article echoed warnings from the 1930s about Hitler. Surveys show that the rest of the world sees Trump’s America as the number one threat to world peace.
In America, people like to say: “The first one to accuse the other one of being like Hitler, loses the argument.” In Germany, Hitler comparisons are even more taboo. These news magazines weren’t crying wolf. It wasn’t clickbait. They weren’t trying to sell papers. Their warnings about Trump were absolutely sincere and analytical.
ARD, Germany’s version of the BBC, just released a new documentary about the 2020 US election, called Madness — Trump and the American Catastrophe. It documents the end of American democracy, and the rise of American fascism. One of the many foreign policy experts interviewed in the documentary is current German Secretary of State, Heiko Maas.
Hitler replaced all the judges with his loyalists. After that, everything Hitler did was legal. Opposing him was illegal. And that was the end of German democracy and the birth of Hitler’s dictatorship. A leader who is above the law is the definition of a dictator.
Trump and his henchmen just bulldozed Amy Coney Barrett into the Supreme Court. What happens if Trump refuses to accept defeat? It sure looks like he stacked the Supreme Court to ensure that they will hand him a win.
The similarities between Trump and Hitler are crystal clear to every German. But many Americans don’t see the similarities, because they don’t even know that they don’t know anything about Hitler.
They think Hitler was an evil genius. He wasn’t. His contemporaries thought he was ridiculous. Hitler was an almost comical figure. Just like Trump. Even Mussolini called Hitler a mad little clown. People made fun of the way he looked and talked. Nobody took Hitler and his cult followers seriously. Until it was too late.
Hitler was a con man with a gift: He knew how to bullshit dumb people. He figured out how to use lies as a weapon. He convinced the German people that there was a global anti-German conspiracy, controlled by Jews, who’re trying to destroy Germany, exterminate the white German race, and replace them with subhuman mongrels.
Yes, you read that right. Thanks to Hitler’s daily lies, his Nazi followers seriously believed they were the victims of the Jews, not the other way around. And that is the key to understanding Nazi bloodlust and the Holocaust. They thought they were fighting a righteous war against evil. Their uniform belt buckles were engraved with the words “Gott mit uns” — God is with us.
And when smarter people tried to tell Hitler’s brainwashed Nazi minions that he was a bad guy who was lying to them, Hitler called it fake news. The German word for fake news is Lügenpresse.
Sound familiar? It should. Trump uses the very same lies to brainwash his followers. Like Hitler’s Nazi minions, Trump’s MAGA minions are convinced that they’re the good guys and liberals are evil demons. They think of themselves as the victims of a sinister liberal conspiracy to exterminate white Americans and replace them with brown people. That’s why they were chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville.
Trump’s MAGA minions hate liberals with the same intensity, and for the same absurd reasons, as the Nazis hated the Jews.
But the similarities don’t end there. Trump isn’t the first wannabe dictator to use social media to brainwash his followers with a daily diet of lies. Hitler did it first. The Nazis mass-produced a cheap radio, called Volksempfänger. Think of it as the Twitter of the 1930s. It enabled Hitler to speak directly to his cult followers, and fill their heads with an alternate reality, where up is down and down is up.
No dictator has ever destroyed a democracy alone. Every dictator has millions of brainwashed groupies.
There really were millions of Iraqis who loved Saddam. And there really are Russians who love Putin, and Turks who love Erdogan, Indians who love Modi, Brazilians who love Bolsonaro, and North Koreans who love Kim Jong Un. Without these enablers, dictatorships wouldn’t exist. But those enablers don’t realize that they’re living in a dictatorship.
Nazi Germans didn’t think of Hitler as a dictator. Hitler convinced them that he was the Messiah, and God had sent him to make Germany great again. His followers worshipped him the same way MAGA minions worship Trump. And for exactly the same reasons.
When Trump came down that escalator and said Mexicans are an invading horde of rapists and murderers, it was a lie right out of Hitler’s playbook. Trump’s wall is a monument to racism. It protects “good white people” from “evil brown invaders.”
That kind of institutionalized racism is pure Nazi ideology. That’s why Twitter’s AI content filters couldn’t tell the difference between Republicans and Nazis.
Nazi Germans believed that their own survival depended on Hitler’s success. They were convinced that everything Hitler did, he did to protect them. MAGA minions believe the same thing about Trump. That’s why they don’t care if he lies and cheats. They believe he’s doing it all for them. The more cruel he is to minorities, the more they love him for “making the liberals cry.”
While convincing the German people that they’re under attack by Jews, Hitler used his public office to loot the country and fill his own pockets. By the end of his reign, Hitler was a billionaire. Oh, and he was a tax cheat.
Trump is also good at bullshitting dumb people. Fascist propaganda works best on the uneducated, because they don’t know when they’re being lied to. Dumb people are putty in the hands of a good liar.
“Democrats want to destroy you and destroy our country as we know it.”
-Donald Trump (video)
Trump shares video of cowboy activist saying ‘the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat’
Replace the word Democrat with the word Jew, and what do you get? Typical Nazi propaganda.
Trump Jr. called for total war after it became clear that his father is losing the election. It’s a Nazi dog whistle. “Do you want total war?” is one of the most iconic sentences of the Nazi era. Every German knows that sentence. It’s as famous as “Sieg heil.”
“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”
“All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”
“The frailest woman will become a heroine when the life of her own child is at stake. And only the will to save the race and native land or the State, which offers protection to the race, has in all ages been the urge which has forced men to face the weapons of their enemies.”
Fascist propaganda switches the roles of victim and attacker. Just like the Nazis thought they were under attack by Jews, Trump’s MAGA cult thinks they’re under attack by liberals and immigrants, not the other way around.
Most of Trump’s MAGA cult followers actually believe that liberals like Bernie Sanders and AOC are literal Nazis. They don’t even know that the Nazis are world famous for murdering people like Bernie.
In Germany, absolutely everyone knows that the Nazis were right-wing conservative nationalists, who hated left-wing democratic socialists like Albert Einstein. In German, “right-wing extremist” is an official synonym for Nazi.
Right-wing propaganda outlets like Fox News convince low info voters that the Nazis were socialists, and Bernie is a socialist, so Bernie is a Nazi. I have encountered hundreds of Trump fans online who are convinced that the Nazis were left-wing, not right-wing.
This fascist lie, that switches victim and attacker, is the foundation upon which all other right-wing lies are built. Fascist lies turn reality on its head, to create an alternate reality where the fascists are the good guys who’re just defending themselves from evil immigrant hordes and liberal demons. That’s how they demonize socialism and Obamacare.
Thanks to fascist propaganda, MAGA minions think the Nazis were left-wing socialists. And if the Nazis were socialists, then socialism is bad. The entire house of cards of right wing ideology is built on this lie that is used to demonize liberals, social democrats, universal healthcare, progressives, UBI, and covid aid for the working class.
This fascist lie is the reason why many red state Americans hate liberals so much, they’re willing to kill blue state Americans, if Trump tells them to. They already told us that Kyle is a hero for killing liberals. And that’s why some of them tried to kidnap and kill a liberal governor. Their bloodlust is caused by fear. They think they’re fighting for their survival against evil liberals. They don’t know that it’s all just a big lie Republicans use to manipulate them.
Exposing this “big lie” is the key to deprogramming Trump’s brainwashed cult, before his lies and their bloodlust cause a second civil war.
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Oliver Markus Malloy is the author of American Fascism: a German writer’s urgent warning to America. Join the conversation on Reddit at r/AmericanFascism2020.