Politics

Anthony Bourdain Likens Trump to Mussolini

CNN's culinary traveler implies post-2016 America comparable to fascist Italy

Anthony Bourdain, famed food author and TV personality, compared President-Elect Donald Trump to fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on his CNN show, “No Reservations,” Sunday night.

The segment did not mention Trump by name but Bourdain’s intention behind the segment was painfully transparent.

“It needed someone who said he could make Italy great again. He was a man on a horse saying follow me, and they did … It can happen anywhere. It can happen here.”

“As so many have found throughout history it’s easy to fall in love with Rome,” Bourdain says smoothly as picturesque shots of Rome appear on the screen. “She is seductively beautiful. She has endured and survived many things. What’s left of her former glories — her days of empire — are in ruins, but those ruins continue to enchant us,” he continues.

“You fall into a trance here, you think no matter what, this beautiful dream will last forever,” declares a thoughtful-sounding Bourdain before finally arriving at his point. “And then suddenly, sh** gets real,” he says, as the camera cuts to a photograph of Mussolini as foreboding, doom-filled music begins to play.

“Before World War I, Benito Mussolini was considered a bully and a crackpot, a short-tempered, ever pontificating soap box orator from the small town of Predappio,” Bourdain claims. “In time, though, the country was divided and in crisis — it saw itself as besieged by enemies within and without,” he continues.

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“It needed someone who said he could make Italy great again. He was a man on a horse saying, ‘Follow me,’ and they did … It can happen anywhere. It can happen here,” he says finally.

While wholly inappropriate — if not dangerous — and demonstrably unjustified, Bourdain’s analogy is hardly surprising.

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Bourdain is something of an archetypal 21st century New York liberal — a sophomoric character masquerading as an intellectual who uses his relatively extensive vocabulary to disguise the fact that his understanding of politics appears roughly on par with that of a coddled millennial who was never exposed to real history.

Either that, or he is actually intelligent, understands Mussolini and fascism fully, and is simply being intentionally dishonest — which is even worse.

Bourdain and other liberals might detest Trump so much that they are willing to spread fear and destabilize the transition process by comparing him to one of the 20th century’s most infamous dictators, but if they are going to pick a dictator to which to compare him they might try picking one whose ideology isn’t far more in line with their own.

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Fascism at its heart is really just nationalistic socialism — it is fundamentally an unconservative, anti-traditionalist, revolutionary endeavor. Mussolini himself described fascism as a “third way” between communism and socialism.

If Bourdain is truly trying to find a 21st-century equivalent to Italian fascism, he need only look to the Democratic Party, as exemplified by Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Obama campaigned on a demagogic “us vs. them” narrative. His campaign rallies — the larger-than-life stages, the wide-eyed, tear-stained faces of adoring supporters, the communal chants of “Yes We Can” — were straight out of the Nuremberg playbook.

And if the whole notion of a new golden age of hope and change wasn’t enough to give off the whiff of fascism, Obama’s acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention came replete with full-sized replica Roman columns.

Of course, Bourdain is more than happy to share a meal with Obama, as he did for a saccharine scene in an episode of “No Reservations” aired earlier in the year.

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