Noam Chomsky Unveils America's Deplorable History of Playing Footsie With Fascism

At the second presidential debates, GOP nominee Donald Trump utttered a horrifing remark never before heard in a televised presidential debate.


"You'd be in jail," Trump told Hillary Clinton as he described what he would do to her, should he become president.

His remarks were widely criticized post-debate, and even Fox News pundits agreed the comments reeked of fascism. 

But while Trump's admiration of dictators is a clear aberration in modern American politics, it also brings back a sentiment deeply rooted in our history, notes lifelong activist Noam Chomsky. 

"[Franklin Delano] Roosevelt himself had a mixed attitude," Chomsky explained in his new series "Reexamining History" when asked about the U.S. government's view of fascism in Germany before the World War II. 

"[FDR] was pretty supportive of Mussolini's fascism," Chomsky continued. "In fact, [FDR] described Mussolini as 'that admirable Italian gentleman,' [although] he later concluded that Mussolini had been misled by his association with Hitler and had been led kind of down the wrong path."

Coincidentally, the rise of Trump eerily parallels American alliances at that time.

"The American business community, the power systems in the United States, were highly supportive of Mussolini," Chomsky explained, and proceeded to describe how Fortune magazine covered the movement in 1934.

"[Fortune] had an issue with the headline, 'The wops are unwopping themselves,'" Chomsky said, noting that, "'Wop' is a kind of derogatory term for Italians and 'the wops are unwopping themselves under Mussolini' [meant they were] becoming part of the civilized world."

Despite criticism of Italy's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, America's feeling toward Italy at the time was predominantly positive. 

"When Hitler took over Germany, the attitude was more mixed [but still] fairly supportive," Chomsky noted.

"In 1937 the State Department described Hitler as a kind of a moderate who was holding off the dangerous forces of the left, meaning of the Bolsheviks, the labor movement... and of the right, namely the extremist Nazis," he explained. "[They believed] Hitler was kind of in the middle and therefore we should kind of support him."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.