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Daniel Hizgilov
Professor Miles
22 September 2015
Demagogues of Hatred:
A Comparative Analysis of Xenophobic Rhetoric in Contemporary America and Nazi Germany
Crowds cheer with the rabid anger of a pack of wolves as a man with matted hair and a
scowl ascends the stage. The man speaks; his crass blanket statements, self-proclaimed
superiority, and calls for national purification grip the audiences attention. Its a picture straight
out of Nazi Germany, yet its recurring before our eyes as the 2016 U.S. Presidential race begins
to intensify. A non-politician with a radical message has become the leading candidate among a
field of politicians, traditionally known for representing the status quo. His opening speech,
given in New York, calls for plans to build walls, burn diplomatic bridges, and deport large
numbers of people. The man is Donald Trump and through use of xenophobically charged
oratory techniques and rhetorical appeals, he has managed to grip a large part of the conservative
American voter base in a way that hearkens back to the rise of Adolf Hitler in interwar Germany.
One of Trumps most striking rhetorical techniques is his ability to build a caricature out
of his personality, the immigrant groups he speaks out against, and the character of the
American people he panders to. He incessantly flaunts his accomplishments and successes as a
way to appear credible, whilst insinuating a them-against-us situation between American citizens
and anything deemed as foreign. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, lets say,
China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time (Trump). By emphasizing his own
supposed prowess in negotiating with foreigners and using violent diction, he portrays China as

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an enemy and himself as a savior, appealing to the ethos of the audience. This is mirrored in the
prose of Adolf Hitler as he postured the importance of supporting his Nationalist Socialist party;
We National Socialists therefore make the holy promise never to rest in raising the honor of this
flag, making it our symbol of self-discipline, obedience, and order. Let it be to us a symbol of
eternal struggle. We see in this flag the victorious sign of freedom and the purity of our blood
(Hitler). Hitlers prose, while much more flamboyantly worded, also emphasizes his role as a
protector and through a struggle, creates a distinct separation between the German people and
other groups, while emphasizing his credibility as a leader.
As he continues his xenophobic ramblings, Donald Trump creates a distinct sense of
geographic separation between the United States and Mexico, highlighted exquisitely by his
proposal to build a wall between the two countries. I will build a great wall and nobody
builds walls better than me, believe me and Ill build them very inexpensively. I will build a
great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my
words (Trump). In his mind, there is America, the idealized conception of an isolationist
country that hearkens back to a time when immigrants were treated like cattle and strict quotas
were imposed on the basis of race. Its no surprise that this message sounds remarkably similar
to the rantings of Adolf Hitler who proclaimed that A nation can do astounding things when it
carries this power in its own internal values. When, however, we examine the German people,
we must to our horror see that this last power factor is no longer present (Hitler). As history has
shown, Trumps idealization of the nation as a distinctly superior place, much like Hitlers
ideology, can only lead to self-centeredness and inspire feelings of national superiority; a
condition not conducive to diplomatic and social cooperation.

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Xenophobic rhetoric, inherently, is tailored towards making emotional appeals to pathos
in the hopes of then appearing logical to an emotionally charged audience. Trump uses this
approach consistently in his speech as he relays subjective fears about immigrants, which are not
backed by statistical evidence. When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best.
They're not sending you They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists he
says emphatically in his announcement speech (Trump). His use of logos appeals to the audience
by convincing them that the immigrants who are coming into the country are unlike good lawabiding Americans; theyre an evil and degenerate influence that is disintegrating his perception
of American society. He cites no statistical databases to back his claim, relying on the emotional
impact of his statement to then justify his proposed policy of deportation and wall-building that
he promises will fix the issue. To Trumps audience, such outwardly xenophobic policies seem
rational and acceptable in the face of the imminent threat that he has rhetorically fabricated.
Adolf Hitler did much of the same in his villainizing and dehumanization of the Jewish people,
especially recently migrated Eastern European Jews living in Germany. In view of the
international affiliations of the Jews and the particular danger to Germany... [We] are determined
to continue the bitter fight against the poisoners of the German people until they are entirely
destroyed (Hitler). These descriptions of Jews as international and not of the German people,
served to indoctrinate a negative emotional response into his audience and thus overcome the
irrationality of anti-Semitism to make it appear logical and even necessary. Much like Trumps
attempts to reinforce the idea of necessity in removing immigrants to preserve American society,
Hitlers emphasis on the supposedly dire situation caused by the Jews logically necessitated their
removal from an idealized German society.

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The flair for the dramatic, a technique long employed by the greatest of public speakers,
has been perhaps the most crucial aspect of Trumps oratory style. He whips crowds up into a
frenzy at large rallies using the old trick of building suspense. He executes this system in
textbook fashion at his announcement speech when he makes his arrival a flamboyantly
orchestrated event. He appears thirty minutes late, slowly descending an escalator, patriotic
music blaring, while keeping his audience tensely waiting. His arrival is then greeted by a wave
of relief from the audience whose tension had risen to breaking point. By doing this, he creates
an emotional attachment to his image and presence that excites and engrosses his audience
before he has even begun to speak. Hitler was one of the great proponents of this technique as he
used it to captivate extensive, choreographed audiences of German citizens in mass gatherings
such as the annually held Nuremberg Rallies. It was common for him to arrive almost an hour
late to his public speaking events and once he would finally arrive, crowds would serenade him
with reverent cheers. He would psychologically break down an audience before a word of
inflammatory hatred had even been uttered from his mouth, leaving his audience susceptible to
his abhorrent ideology. Xenophobia is inherently tied to the willingness of a group of people to
accept it and its irrational logic. Once they have become engrossed in the emotions of a
particular moment, they become vulnerable to illogical notions.
Donald Trump is not Adolph Hitler. He hasnt proposed ethnic purification of a
fictionalized American race, organized violent purges of opposition government officials, and
incited pogroms, but his use of similarly xenophobic rhetorical appeals and oratory techniques to
ascend the ladder of American politics has been troubling. By becoming a purveyor of hatred,
Trump has created a new type of American political campaign that draws on the methodology of
a dark and malignant chapter of European political history to build its support. Will the deep

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rhetorical wound he has re-opened be allowed to fester, or will it be healed by progressive
change? That depends on the response of Americas voters and lawmakers.

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Works Cited
"Hitler at Nuremberg in Anti-jew Speech Smashes Hope of Nazi Respite." Jewish Telegraphic
Agency. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 03 Sept. 1933. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.
"Hitler at the 1927 Nuremberg Rally." Calvin College, n.d. Web. 20 Oct.
TIME Staff. "Here's Donald Trump's Presidential Announcement Speech." Time. Time, 16 June
2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.