Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Rings Terrifying Historical Alarm Bells

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Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Rings Terrifying Historical Alarm Bells

Trump had just one message for Americans on Thursday night: Be afraid. (Photo: AP)

Donald Trump's speech accepting the Republican nomination for president will probably go down as one of the most frightening pieces of political rhetoric in U.S. history.

Even for people who believe the danger of genuine authoritarianism on the U.S. right is often exaggerated, it’s impossible not to hear in Trump’s speech echoes of the words and strategies of the world’s worst leaders.

Trump had just one message for Americans: Be afraid. You are under terrible threats from forces inside and outside your country, and he’s the only person who can save us.

The scariest part is how Trump subtly but clearly has begun melding together violence against U.S. police and terrorism: “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities,” he said, “threaten our very way of life.”

This is the favorite and most dangerous message of demagogues across all space and time. After all, if we know our external enemies are deeply evil, and our internal enemies are somehow their allies, we can feel justified in doing anything at all to our internal enemies. That’s just logic.

And if anything, Trump’s speech is actually more terrific, fabulous and huge than those of previous fanatics, since he promises he’s going to fix everything overnight. “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon — and I mean very soon — come to an end,” Trump says. “Beginning on January 20th of 2017, safety will be restored.”

This use of fear to destroy democracy is so old that it’s described exactly in Plato’s Republic, written in Ancient Greece around 380 B.C.

Tyranny, says Socrates in The Republic, is actually “an outgrowth of democracy.” And would-be tyrants always in every instance claim to be shielding regular people from terrible danger: “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector.”

Trump said that he is going to “protect” Americans or some aspect of American life 13 times tonight.

That makes sense, since as he portrayed the world, we desperately need protecting...

Read the full article at The Intercept.

Jon Schwarz

Before joining First Look, Jon Schwarz worked for Michael Moore’s Dog Eat Dog Films and was Research Producer for Moore’s Capitalism: A Love StoryHe’s contributed to many publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones and Slate, as well as NPR and “Saturday Night Live.”

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