Harry Belafonte On Donald Trump: ‘Welcome To The Fourth Reich’

Harry Belafonte has some direct words for Donald Trump: once he assumes the presidency in January, says the legendary musician and entertainer, it will be the “Fourth Reich.”

As Democracy Now reports, Belafonte, 89, was at New York’s City’s historic Riverside Church to note the media organization’s 20th anniversary. The location of the celebration is significant: the church has long been a symbol of the Civil Rights movement, including serving as the backdrop for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech condemning the Vietnam War.

A memorial service for Nelson Mandela at New York’s Riverside Church. [Image by John Moore/Getty Images]

There, Belafonte sat down with reporter Amy Goodman to offer his thoughts on Donald Trump. And mince words he did not.

“In a few weeks from now, if there is a platform on which I will be privileged to stand and speak, my opening remarks will probably be something like ‘Welcome to the Fourth Reich.'”

The term “Fourth Reich” refers to Adolf Hitler’s description of his version of Germany, which he called the “Third Reich,” or “Third Regime.” According to “A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust,” Hitler was referring to his belief that his regime would make Germany great again, equaling the power of two other points in history in which it was a major world power. The “First Reich” was the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted — on paper at least — from the ninth century until 1806. The “Second Reich” referred to the German Empire of 1871-1918.

Adolf Hiter called his regime the Third Reich. [Image by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images]

To Harry Belafonte, the parallels between Donald Trump’s vision of American and the Hitler regime are obvious.

“I was talking with a comrade recently. He was a victim of the Third Reich. He was a victim of the great Holocaust and what happened to the Jewish people during the reign of Hitler. And all my life I have committed myself to making sure that here, this country, not for the want of effort, but I and so many others would be forever committed to the idea that America will remain an open and a free and a democratic society.”

Harry Belafonte is not the first person to notice similarities between Donald Trump and the Adolf Hitler regime. Maiken Umbach, writing in International Business Times, noted some alarming parallels.

  • Both men “othered” minority groups; in Hitler’s case, Jews, Gypsies, “undesirables”; in Trump’s case, Muslims, blacks, immigrants.
  • Both men present(ed) themselves as the one solution to their country’s social and political ills.
  • Neither man offered much in the way of specific policies, instead relying on slogans and jingoistic rhetoric.
  • Both relied on heavily-curated versions of their biographies to sell themselves to their supporters (there’s a reason, says Umbach, that Hitler called his biography Mein Kampf (“My Struggle“).

For his part, Harry Belafonte has been active in civil rights and social welfare for the better part of his career. Born in poverty in New York, according to Biography, Belafonte spent his childhood in New York and Jamaica. In the 1950s, Belafonte took an interest in the nascent Civil Rights movement — a risky move for a black musician at the time. By the 1960s, he was in the personal, inner circle of Martin Luther King Jr.

In the 1980s, Belafonte began advocating for African causes, including fighting poverty and hunger on the continent through his connection to Live Aid, and later helping combat AIDS on the continent.

Do you agree with Harry Belafonte that Donald Trump intends to usher in a so-called “Fourth Reich”?

[Featured Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for RFK Human Rights, Sara D. Davis/Getty Images]

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