Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Fascism is just a few votes away

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A lot of what Donald Trump says is concerning, and his hair is a hate-crime against humans. Photo / AP
A lot of what Donald Trump says is concerning, and his hair is a hate-crime against humans. Photo / AP

The movie started out ridiculously. Any movie that starts with Adolf Hitler suddenly waking up in 2014 in the middle of Berlin is ridiculous.

After that, it got concerning.

The premise of Look Who's Back is that Hitler is brought back to life in modern-day Germany without a hole in the side of his head. He wakes up at the site of the bunker. The German public thinks he's a comedian taking method acting to a new level. They put him on TV. He becomes a star.

Then, the film-makers borrow an idea from Borat and take their Hitler out on the street to meet real people. That's where things get weird.

Despite the cameras pointed in their faces, these people tell Hitler exactly what they think of immigrants in Germany.

One guy says they're dragging down the country's IQ by 20 per cent.

Another one asks Hitler to bring back labour camps. Hitler tells them he agrees. If you close your eyes and just listen to these people, it could be 1939 all over again. Before any of us get smug about how fast the Germans have forgotten the lessons of World War II, they're not alone. Take a look at the US Presidential elections.

No, I'm not saying Donald Trump is the new Hitler. That comparison has been made in countless articles but it's premature.

A lot of what Trump says is concerning and his hair is certainly a hate-crime against all humans with eyesight, but he hasn't murdered six million people.

But the field of fascism seems about ready to plough. As recently as 2010, Noam Chomsky warned of the risk of fascism in the United States. He said he was just about old enough to remember Hitler's speeches on the radio and the mobs cheering for him.

And the next bit is important: nowadays, Chomsky says, "the level of anger and fear is like nothing I can compare in my lifetime".

But it compares to the 1930s. Germans were angry in the 1930s. Americans are angry now. Germans couldn't find jobs. Today, Americans can't find jobs.

The problem then was the Treaty of Versailles and the burden that put on Germany. Today, the problem is America signing up to free trade deals and sending its jobs offshore.

In the 1930s, they didn't like Jews. Today, they don't like Muslims.

Back then, a guy with a funny moustache said he would create jobs and get rid of the Treaty and make Germany strong again.

Today, a guy with a funny haircut says he would create jobs and get rid of the TPPA and make America great again.

Now, look across the Atlantic at the British Brexit campaign.

This week, UKIP leader Nigel Farage released a new billboard depicting a line of Syrian refugees behind the words: "Breaking Point". Quickly, social media pointed out how closely it resembles a scene from a Nazi propaganda film where an almost identical line of refugees are described as "parasites undermining their host countries".

If you think fascism has no chance, don't get too comfortable. It's the kind of thing that's here before you know it. In 1928, the Nazis got only 2.6 per cent of the vote. Five years later, the party won 44 per cent.

Every part of me wishes New Zealanders could feel smug about our tolerance and absence of men who do weird things with their hair, but have a look at what some of our politicians have said this week.

Act leader David Seymour suggested we force immigrants to sign a document pledging a commitment to New Zealand values. No hating women, no hating people who aren't the same colour, no hating homosexuals, and so on. Then he and Winston Peters had a spat about whose idea it was first.

It's a nice idea. Well, it would be if all Kiwis were like that. But we all know Kiwis who are misogynist or racist or homophobic. Those negative traits don't belong exclusively to immigrants and refugees. We can't make them sign that pledge unless we all sign that pledge, too. As Hitler says in the film, "I can work with this."

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something trying very hard to avoid growing up. So far it’s working, except for the husband, the mortgage and the proper job. She lives between Auckland and Wellington. When she’s not writing for the Herald on Sunday, she co-hosts TV3’s 7pm current affairs programme Story.

Read more by Heather du Plessis-Allan

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