Why Trump's State of the Union Was Even More Fascist Than You Realize

President Donald Trump praised a New Mexico police officer in his State of the Union address for adopting a heroin addict’s baby — but a historian noticed some disturbing parallels in the anecdote.


The president highlighted Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets, who while on duty in September encountered a pregnant, homeless woman as she prepared to inject heroin.

“When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep,” Trump said. “She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby. In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: ‘You will do it — because you can.’ He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.”

“Ryan and Rebecca: You embody the goodness of our nation,” the president added. “Thank you, and congratulations.”

Historian Angus Johnson couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the language Trump used to tell that story and his rhetoric against Latino and other immigrants brought to the United States as children.

“In the context of the full speech, of Trump’s presidency, this story is a question and an answer,” Johnson tweeted. “What do we do with the children of those we despise? If they’re brown, we expel them from our land. If they are white, we take them for ourselves.”

The City University of New York professor paid attention to the details Trump’s speechwriters chose to omit from Holet’s story, and those they chose to highlight.

“We don’t know what process was followed in this adoption,” Johnson said. “We don’t know where the mother of this child is now, how she’s doing, what her relationship with her kid is. Trump’s people could have said. They chose not to. They chose to erase her.”

Johnson drew a parallel between the presidential anecdote and the history of los desaparecidos — or, the disappeared — Argentinians who vanished after a military junta took over in 1974, and many of the political prisoners’ babies were stolen and given to party loyalists.

“The children of subversives were seen, (historian Marguerite) Feitlowitz explained, as ‘seeds of the tree of evil,'” reported New York magazine. “Perhaps through adoption, those seeds could be replanted in healthy soil.”

Johnson pointed out the baby’s mother was still homeless as of December and not in contact with her child or the adoptive family — and the historian was disturbed by the way Trump wrote the woman out of her own story.

“That erasure wasn’t accidental,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t merely rhetorical. It was ideological. It was an expression of a specific kind of ethno-natalism we’ve seen before. It was fascist.”

#story_page_ below_article

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.