US President Donald Trump is using the same kind of “racist language” that helped push the world into the First World War in 1914, a British television presenter and historian has warned, comparing Trump to former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Dan Snow, who helped launch a poetry competition inspired by the poets who exposed the horrors of the First World War, told The Independent that there are important similarities between Trump’s rhetoric and the late 19th and early 20th century nationalism that helped start the war. “There are important similarities with 1914. One is [Trump’s] use of overtly racist language. He has called Mexicans rapists."
Snow also argued, “When Trump merrily talks about nuking North Korea, when he threatens violence and talks about the size of his nuclear arsenal, we absolutely should remember the war poets.”
“We should remember that those young men who marched away to war in 1914 suffered the most appalling things you could ever imagine – and they did so because morose old men were worried about national status,” he explained.
Snow (pictured below) said parts of Trump’s State Union address were “straightforward 19th century nationalism,” which he described as “very worrying.” The historian also said Trump’s inauguration address was “a terrifying expression of popular nationalism.”
He went on to criticize Trump’s questioning the legitimacy of a judge because he was of Mexican descent, saying the president "is ‘othering’ Mexicans in a big way and people with brown skin: ‘s***hole countries’ and all that sort of stuff. That use of racist language is very similar to 1914."
At a closed-door meeting over an immigration deal in the Oval Office last month, Trump made contemptuous comments about immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and African countries, saying “Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?”
His remarks prompted rebuke from around the world and raised questions about the billionaire's racist attitude, but the billionaire denied saying "anything derogatory" about the people of Haiti, and instead blamed the media for distorting his words. He said that his description of "s***hole" was not racist but rather a straightforward assessment of some nations' depressed conditions.
Snow also compared the forty-fifth president of the United States to Benito Mussolini, but clarified that the US president was not a fascist.
“We need to talk about Trump within the context of right-wing populist supermen – and that means mentioning him in the same sentence as Mussolini," he said. "No-one is saying he is about to invade North Africa [as Mussolini did when he sent Italian troops into Abyssinia in 1935]. But there are concerning tropes there."
He also called on professional historians not to forget the purpose of studying the past, which he described as “a duty to warn about what light it might shed on present concerns.”
Snow, however, said his concern "doesn’t mean we are about to have another First World War, but it does mean we should be vigilant.”