Rudy Giuliani's 9/11 video of police fighting protesters is 'truly evil', fascism professor says

'It contains all sorts of rhetorical devices that Hitler loved to use in his orations', academic tells The Independent

Clark Mindock
New York
Thursday 12 September 2019 16:35 BST
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani marks 9/11 with video showing riot police fighting protesters

To mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has posted a pro-law enforcement video that has been described as “truly evil” and a “pernicious piece of propaganda”.

The video, posted on Mr Giuliani’s Twitter account, shows riot police facing off with yelling protesters. The colour scheme is bleak, with blood red and black lettering on placards being held by the demonstrators reading “Burn it down” and “FTP", apparently meaning “F*** the police”.

The 30 second clip then focuses on one of the officers, in full riot gear, staring down the protesters. In flashbacks, he is shown being given his police badge, saluting as a member of the US armed services, putting his hand over his heart during a high school football game during the national anthem, and, finally, as a child watching the aftermath of the terrorist attacks 18 years ago.

The video climaxes with the officer snapping down his visor and extending his police baton as the protesters charge towards him.

“This we’ll defend,” a message at the end of the video shared by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and headlined "GOD BLESS AMERICA" concludes.

Robert Paxton, a professor emeritus at Columbia University, who specialises in part on the spread of fascism in western Europe following the Second World War, told The Independent that the imagery in the video — especially coming rom the man who governed one of the cities attacked on 9/11 — represents a “distortion” of the attacks, and a borrowing of the “emotional energy” of the date for political means.

“I think it’s a thoroughly pernicious piece of propaganda,” Mr Paxton said.

“The protesters are other Americans, the enemy is internal, and I think that’s dangerous and slippery,” he continued, noting that the US was also polarised following the attacks in 2001, but that the anger was not as focused inward as Mr Giuliani is now projecting.

Mr Paxton said he was hesitant to describe the video itself as “fascist” — there are marked differences between the operations of Mr Trump’s administration and that of Hitler or Mussolini — but said that there are notable elements of concern.

In the video, for instance, the “defenders of order” are celebrated, and the battle between the two groups is depicted as one of good vs evil with no nuance. The protesters are dehumanised, and lack individuality.

The video, notably, appears to ignore certain American rights, like freedom of speech and dissent, in favour of law and order.

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“It’s truly evil,” Mr Paxton said, noting his reluctance to use the word “fascist” to describe pieces of messaging. “But, it contains all sorts of rhetorical devices that Hitler loved to use in his orations.”

Mr Paxton also highlighted the suppression of speech that appears to be favoured in the video: “It’s a truly frightening bit of propaganda that could encourage violence, and certainly intolerance of any kind of dissent or debate.”

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