‘Me Ne Frego’, Fascism, Trump and Vulgarity

There was a bit of mild controversy a few days ago about the low tone the rivalry between Trump and his rival for the presidential nomination, Marco Rubio. Rubio had made a speech stating that while Trump was a big man, about 6’2″, he had small hands. He then implied that another part of Trump’s anatomy was similarly petite, adding, ‘And you know what they say about men with small hands.’ Trump responded at one of his rallies a day or so later by claiming that he was very well endowed in a certain direction.

This had caused something of a stir, with Bill O’Reilly talking on Fox News about whether or not this piece of vulgarity was justified, or if it had been too crude for public taste. O’Reilly himself didn’t think so. His partner in the debate did.

Actually, this seems to me to be par for the course for Trump. Trump’s rhetoric is violent, full of put-downs, threats and vitriolic attacks on his opponents. Trevor Noah on the Daily Show pointed out how similar his attitudes as expressed in his rhetoric were to Fascism. It occurs to me that his vulgarity is another aspect of this. One of the formative elements in Mussolini’s Fascist movement were the arditi, elite Italian soldiers with a reputation for reckless bravery. The name means something like ‘Daredevils’. After the First World War, these and other discontented ex-servicemen, unable to adjust to civilian life, formed bands to beat their political opponents. And they had a slogan, ‘Me Ne Frego’, which means, ‘I don’t give a damn.’

Trump doesn’t just share the Fascists racial and nationalistic intolerance, or their taste for violence. He also has their crudity and vulgarity. And unfortunately, it seems to be winning him votes.

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