Ok, I can no longer remain silent during this election season. It is just too much!
Now that we know Donald Trump is okay with quoting the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, it's probably time to reconsider that old chestnut about those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.
When Trump took Gawker's bait and retweeted a line attributed to Mussolini - that it's better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep - many Americans were stunned that the leading Republican presidential candidate would pass along a quote from a Fascist dictator. Let alone a dictator whose foolish poses on old newsreels make us laugh. Really, we wondered, who could have taken seriously such a ridiculous man?
But frighteningly, a majority of Americans supported Mussolini for most of his dictatorship. Isolated by an ocean, they fell for his rhetoric. We no longer have an ocean between us and such rhetoric and bombast. Il Duce Donald has arrived.
After the "March on Rome" in October of 1922, in which hundreds of Mussolini's followers demanded a Fascist government and the weak King Victor Emmanuel III relented, America was quick to brand Mussolini a winner. Politicians, journalists, and businessmen believed that Mussolini's new political program, with its brutal intolerance of strikes taking place throughout the country, would restore order and stem the tide of the growing Bolshevist threat.
Americans lapped up Mussolini's rhetoric about restoring the greatness of the Roman Empire. Even the name of his party -- the fasces, a bundle of wheat bound to an ax -- symbolized Roman authority. Finally someone would impose structure on an undisciplined nation and make the trains run on time. Or in Trump parlance, he would Make Italy Great Again.
History reminds us that not only the "poorly educated" fall for the inflammatory, belligerent, and contradictory rhetoric of a demagogue whose skill lies in manipulating people's fears. American elites thought Mussolini could stave off the spread of a radicalism that championed immigrants and worker rights. Trump supporters feel economically oppressed and threatened by a disappearing white majority and some Republican leaders are beginning to accept the inevitability of his nomination. Once upon a time, America found itself attracted to the preening strength and false promise of a comic showman. But then again, it can't happen here. Remember both National Socialist German Workers Party and the Fascists were freely elected under democratic regimes.
And if you have not figured it out already, the German party mentioned above is commonly called the Nazi Party. 'Nuff said.