The political division in the US could lead the country down a “very scary” path, Des Bishop has told The Hard Shoulder.
He was speaking live in New York as part of the show’s US tour, just hours after former president Donald Trump was indicted.
Presenter Kieran Cuddihy kicked off the show by talking to protesters outside Trump Tower as well other New Yorkers who fully support the move.
Bishop, who has a history degree from UCC, said some of the rhetoric in modern US politics is very similar to that heard during the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Germany.
“The fact that (Fox News host) Tucker Carlson comes out and says keep your AR 15s ready – because he knows that that level of rhetoric is selling for him,” he said.
“There’s big money in divisiveness.
“It’s getting into - I mean, I’ve been saying this for years since Trump was elected - but it’s getting into that 1930s vibe.
“People don’t see that this seems quite like a reflection of the 30s’ and I think in the 30s’ they wouldn’t have been aware how dangerous the divisiveness was until it was too late.
“I feel like when you’re in America - not in New York but I’m travelling around here - you see that the potential is there for something very scary.
“I’m not scaremongering here. It’s real, you can feel it.”
“If a presenter on the number-one-rated new channel feels comfortable saying keep your guns ready … he is literally talking about, like, we might be heading towards a civil war or get ready because we might have a coup.”
Des Bishop is chatting to @kierancuddihy now on @NewstalkFM
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When Kieran pointed out that many people dismiss fears over the rise of the far-right as hyperbole, Bishop insisted, “that’s because they’re ignorant of history”.
“That’s because they’re thinking about 1939; they’re not thinking about 1935,” he said.
“That’s the problem. They think I’m bringing up the extreme end of the journey towards Hitler’s rule but that’s because they’re ignorant of history.
“The reality is there was a time where people became comfortable with the rhetoric and the rhetoric escalates to the point where people don’t question the extermination of human beings.
“That was a journey, you know?”
Elephant in the room
He noted that Hitler rose to prominence on the back of economic disruption but then fell away when things stabilised.
He said it was only when the Great Depression hit that Hitler reappeared - and suggested something similar could happen in the US if the country’s economy now “goes to hell”.
“It really is set up,” he said. “And by the way, Trump’s father was a Nazi.”
“Let’s not forget the elephant in the room; that Trump’s father was a Nazi and America First was literally a Nazi banner in Madison Square Garden.”
Donald Trump has always vehemently denied claims that his father was Nazi sympathiser – and his family concealed his German ancestry to avoid associations with Nazism.
From the end of World War II until the 1980s, Fred Trump claimed Swedish ancestry and also claimed to have been born in New Jersey.
There is little evidence to support claims he was a nazi-sympathiser; however, the Washington Post has reported that he was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan march in New York in 1927.
The paper notes that reports from the time suggest he was arrested for, “refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so”.
Bishop said it is becoming impossible to have centrist views in the US.
“Everybody is amped up, everybody is very reactionary, it is very hard to have a civil debate,” he said.
“I know I sound like a typical middle-aged white guy in that I miss the centre but the centre has been hollowed out.
“It’s like it is the worst thing you can be to have a nuanced position because, actually, you just annoy everybody so you get no support.
“You’re better off picking a side because at least you’ll get some people supporting you. They’ll support you against all the hate you’re getting.
“Whereas, if you don’t pick a side, then they’re hating you from both sides.”
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