Donald Trump; Benito Mussolini (AP/Getty/Salon)

Trump fans mock leftists for applauding Hitler quotes, forget the president retweeted Mussolini

Righties mock viral video, seemingly ignorant of their hero defending quoting Mussolini


Matthew Sheffield
July 12, 2017 6:30PM (UTC)

A video showing a crowd of left-wing protesters politely applauding a speech comprised of out-of-context quotations from Adolf Hitler is making the rounds in the right-wing world.

“Trump protesters applaud speech comprised entirely of Hitler quotes,” wrote Twitter user TEN_GOP. “This is the best thing on the internet today.”

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Tom Knighton, a writer for PJ Media, spoke for many on the right in seeing the clip as proof that left-wingers are the real fascists:

Mussolini was a Leftist. Fascism was a variation of socialism that still required totalitarian central control of the economy. Fascism is a leftist ideology. Free markets and limited government power and "life, liberty, and property" don't mesh too well with fascism.

But so-called "anti-fascists" don't comprehend that, so they label everything they dislike as fascist, and they are literally textbook fascists. Watch them reenact the Brown Shirts' greatest hits by burning buildings every time someone disagrees with them.

That sentiment was echoed by a number of Twitter users.

As a piece of trolling, the effort of the unidentified Trump supporter is pretty good. But the clip really doesn’t really prove anything.

In the first place, one of the statements used in the speech that supposedly came from Hitler was actually originated from one of Hitler's political rivals. As Snopes.com notes, the Nazi dictator never said this:

We are Socialists, enemies, mortal enemies of the present capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, with its injustice in wages, with its immoral evaluation of individuals according to wealth and money instead of responsibility and achievement, and we are determined under all circumstances to abolish this system!

Secondly, while there is some audible cheering in the clip, the pro-Trump troll really doesn’t get that much applause for his statements. People clap at the end but the assembled protesters don’t really seem as into his remarks as they were for the female speaker who preceded him.

Thirdly, Trump supporters are probably the last people on earth who should be trying to point and laugh at political opponents for accidentally applauding out-of-context statements from dictators. The president has himself literally retweeted a quote from Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and then defended doing so.

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Notably, the account that Trump promoted to his millions of Twitter followers is called ilduce2016, a reference to Mussolini’s well-known Italian nickname, Il Duce or The Leader. That Twitter account also features a profile picture of Mussolini wearing Trump’s famously coiffed hairstyle.

The not-so-subtle parody account was the creation of the now-defunct website Gawker which, in November 2015 — as Trump was beginning to make noises about running for president — decided to create a Mussolini account with the explicit purpose of getting him to retweet it. Months later in February of 2016, their efforts paid off:

Then-Gawker writer (and former Salon staffer) Alex Pareene gave the details on the ruse in a subsequent post:

Last year, we set a trap for Trump. We came up with the idea for that Mussolini bot under the assumption that Trump would retweet just about anything, no matter how dubious or vile the source, as long as it sounded like praise for himself. (It helps that that a number of Mussolini’s quotes sound plausibly like lines from Trump’s myriad books.) …

Our Fascist bot was anything but subtle. It was, after all, directly named after Mussolini. … At the time of the account’s creation, Gawker Media Executive Editor John Cook expressed some concern that the joke behind the account was far too obvious, and wouldn’t trick anyone but a complete idiot.

Today, Donald Trump proved him—and all of us—right.

Amusingly, Trump actually defended the tweet at the time in an interview with NBC after he was exposed as having fallen for a troll.

“It’s a very good quote,” Trump said. “I didn’t know who said it, but what difference does it make if it was Mussolini or somebody else — it’s a very good quote.”

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The future president was then asked if he wanted to be associated with the deceased Italian dictator. “No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes,” he replied. Ever eager for publicity, he added “Hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?”

Trump fans eager to ridicule leftists for expressing vague approval of Hitler quotations stripped out of context might also want to recall the episode that occurred just last week when many supporters of the president became enraged at the Declaration of Independence’s line about tyrannical rulers being unfit to lead, believing that was meant as a left-liberal attack on Trump.

In summary, yes, the video above was a pretty good troll. But Trump supporters have little grounds for declaring victory in the social-media wars.

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Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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