Former President Donald Trump’s Veterans Day address, where he referred to his political opponents as “vermin” to be “rooted out,” has raised concerns about the potential slide into authoritarianism if he returns to office.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an authoritarianism expert from New York University, highlighted this risk in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, as per a report by Raw Story on Tuesday, November 14.
Ben-Ghiat drew parallels between Trump’s rhetoric and historical fascist movements, noting that the language of purging certain groups within the nation is characteristic of fascist ideologies.
She explained how fascism originated as a decentralized militia movement in Italy, with veterans forming its nucleus and turning against their own population, particularly targeting leftists. The dehumanization of specific groups, such as referring to Jews as parasites, was a crucial aspect of fascist rhetoric.
Hayes pointed out that Trump’s plans go beyond rhetoric, citing audacious proposals, including the potential use of the Insurrection Act—an old and controversial law—to punish critics and opponents using the federal government.
Trump’s associates have reportedly drafted plans to invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office during a second term, allowing the deployment of the military against civil demonstrations.
Ben-Ghiat emphasized that these actions align with the authoritarian playbook, expressing concern about Trump’s intentions.
She referred to her previous warnings about Trump, citing her book “Strongmen,” which places him in the context of a century-long history of authoritarian leaders starting with Mussolini. According to Ben-Ghiat, Trump’s proposed actions are reminiscent of tactics used by strongmen throughout history.