The opening scene of the feature film Mr Jones shows the vintage British ruling class laughing journalist Gareth Jones out of court in the early 1930s. Jones was predicting war with Germany, based on his first-hand knowledge of European events, including an interview with Hitler.
The film screened in Auckland in the same week Trump told "the Squad" of four US Congresswomen of colour to "go back to the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came". Although he was inadvertently referring to the US itself — three of the Democrat representatives were American-born — it was crystal clear Trump was mounting a campaign against Others — people of colour, foreigners, visible minorities.
Trump's audience swiftly picked up the patriot cue: "Send her back," they chanted about Ilhan Omar. "Send her back."
Likewise with the demonising in 1933.
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Under the heading, "Campaign of hatred against the Jews", Jones reports to his British newspaper an encounter with a leading Nazi. "I tremble when I think of England," the Nazi says. "You are on the verge of a precipice and nothing but ruin awaits you."
"As I listened," Jones says, "I felt as if I had been transported back centuries, to an age of witchcraft and black magic, so unreal was his description of the so-called machinations of the Hebrew race."
History is full of nations and leaders conducting campaigns of exclusion, discrimination and demonising. In the 1800s and beyond, inflammatory official announcements, poll taxes and straight-out racist oppression of Chinese and Japanese took place in Australia, New Zealand and North America.
The White Australia policy is notorious, but NZ was close behind with similar practices and public statements on ethnicities outside European norms. In the early 1900s, NZ gave Celtic language tests to would-be migrants it didn't want.
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In Australia in the 2000s, John Howard won elections on markedly race-based platforms, including the trumped-up charge claiming that refugees had thrown children over the side of a sinking boat.
In 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy blamed Roma for violence, claiming their nomadic settlements were illegal and a security risk. He authorised dismantling the 500-plus Roma settlements and deported individuals and families. Leaked government memos showed that, rather than a general sweep of any temporary settlements, Roma were the priority targets.
Across Europe right now, notably Hungary and Italy, there are sweeping campaigns to exclude desperate migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. So just how fanciful is it to put Trump in the context of these global horror stories? Two concerns should make us pause.
One is that his remarks are more than just a convenient platform for re-election.
His actions have a devastating effect. He's demonised Muslims and people of colour from day one. He has coerced Mexico into restraining would-be refugees from crossing the border.
And through his own campaign, Trump legitimises populist racism in the US and around the world. The FBI reports more racist attacks in the US. Social media picks up and reinforces discrimination of all kinds, given the President's lead.
As elsewhere, Trump's statements are planned. He's not speaking off the cuff. On the Squad, he spoke from a teleprompter. Like others, Trump's campaign is targeted at particular groups, those who look different, who believe differently, anyone he can frame as "other".
He implicitly invites reprisal and vigilante responses. He builds the black magic fantasy Jones saw in his contact. Trump gets lots of mileage from his race-based comments and paves the road for others with bad intentions.
• David Cooke is a member of the NZ Ethics Committee.