In any election, there are some winners who feel morally superior and losers who feel cheated. Then there are the 90% remaining who just move on with their luves. People who don’t care about the give and take of politics and who need to make a living to feed their families. The Orange Peril is, doesn’t cate where we fall into this spectrum because this propaganda wasn’t just geared to win an election, it was created to change the mindset of Americans.
In the 1930’s, the Nazis perpetuated and accelerated the stereotype of Jews as non-Germans who were leeches that poisoned the culture and sucked money out of the economy. In 2016, Muslims have become the scapegoat when they are all portrayed as violent terrorists or revolutionaries seeking to impose Sharia law in the U.S. In both cases, an attempt was made to clearly identify a particular group of people who stood in opposition to everything that the host culture valued. In addition to the fact that the accusations were mostly untrue, they were magnified and applied to everyone identified as a member of the group. Is this just to get people (you know, the ones doing the work most Americans don’t want to do) deported, or is there some ulterior motive?
One of the wedges the Nazis used on their people was evoking guilt by continually referencing the Treaty of Versailles which they claimed was unfair burden on the people of Germany after World War I. They used the shame as motivation and rationalization for building up their armed forces and aggressive behavior towards their neighbors. The Orange Peril uses the specter of lost and losing manufacturing jobs to Mexico, China, and elsewhere as something Americans should be ashamed of because we can do the work better than any foreigner. What is never mentioned is that most jobs taken overseas are never coming back because either wages can’t cover the costs or automation has eliminated the need for human labor.
Key to the Nazi strategy was maintaining a mentality of “us versus them” through development and application of the term Aryan. Although they were mistaken regarding its origin, that didn’t stop them from using it to describe white, blond-haired, and blue-eyed people who they considered the superior “race”. Anyone not fitting this description was immediately suspect. For Trump, while his campaign slogan was “make America great again”, the undertone was always “make white America great again”. And while it can be debated exactly how he did this, the election results clearly showed that 9 out of 10 votes for him were white voters. Then again, it’s hard to imagine why minorities didn’t support him when, at just about every turn, he insulted, denigrated, and threatened immigrants with deportation. It was abundantly clear who “us” was when a surrogate suggested that Japanese internment camps from WW II were a precedent on how to deal with immigrants today.
The common element in the strategies listed above is that they were geared to set the populace on edge and have them ready to explode into action on command. For the Nazis, this took the form of storm-troopers in the blitzkrieg, Hitler youth, and the Brown Shirts. For Trump, the results were volatile campaign stops where violence could erupt spontaneously, shouting matches with dissenters, and eventually the combustion that took place on election day. In the post-election period, we now have a private security force supplanting the Secrete Service which may well be a parallel to the Brown Shirts. For the Nazis who masked an entire genocide behind their propaganda, no lie was too outrageous, no conspiracy too far fetched, and no atrocity too much. In 2016, we now have a president who would say anything to get a vote, told outright lies about his opponents, made promises he will never be able to fulfill, and now has the U.S. on the verge of global conflicts with China, Russia, and even our long-time ally Israel.
How does this end? If we’re lucky, we come to our senses in 4 years and vote this huckster out. If not, and the public remains blind to the manipulation of a Trump administration, we could be led into either civil or global war. Our only hope is to open our eyes to what they are attempting to do and resist the urge to give in to our basest instincts. We need real leaders, not a snake oil salesman who cribbed notes from the master propagandists of the 20th century. Keep your eyes open for that leader and when you do find one, tell everyone.