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Historian Of Fascism Looks At Trump

Is Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump using fascist rhetoric on the campaign trail? Not quite, an historian of fascism told On Point host Tom Ashbrook today.

"At least it's fair to say that [Trump] sounds like a fascist," Federico Finchlestein, professor of history and department chair at the New School for Social Research, said during an interview today. "He's bridging the gap between what he is, which is a radical extremist candidate, and what fascism has stood for."

A big divide between Trump's fiery rhetoric on Muslims and actual fascism is the assumption of real power and the actual elimination of a perceived enemy, Finchelstein said.

"Once fascist politicians reach power, they switch from racist statements to the physical elimination of the other," Finchelstein said. "He's not there yet, so he's not a fascist. Fascism not only talks about the enemy, but eliminates it from the political process."

While American voters will likely not tolerate the physical elimination of their fellow citizens as part of their regular quadrennial presidential election process, the distinction is an important one to note as the increasingly unwieldy process continues in the weeks and months ahead.

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