Former President Donald Trump over the weekend continued his campaign to make late MAGA rioter Ashli Babbitt into a martyr, despite the fact that she was shot trying to break into the congressional chamber during the deadly January 6th Capitol riots.
Democratic strategist Max Burns writes for NBC News that the campaign to make Babbitt into some kind of fallen hero is startlingly reminiscent of tactics used by Nazi propagandists to rally people to their side.
"Trump's elevation of Babbitt to the status of MAGA martyr bears a shocking resemblance to the story of Horst Wessel, a Nazi brownshirt in the Sturmabteilung ("Assault Division"), or S.A., which comprised Hitler's paramilitary terrorism force," Burns writes. "Hitler seized on Wessel's death in 1930 as a propaganda gold mine, quickly elevating Wessel into a fascist folk hero."
The reason that this is effective, writes Burns, is that it allowed Nazis to recast themselves as the true victims of society, just as Trump has told his followers that they have been victimized by a "rigged" election in 2020.
All of this, he warns, could push Trump supporters to commit further acts of violence in his name.
"When Trump claims, falsely, that Babbitt was killed for 'no reason' and that he has information connecting Democrats to her killing, groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, who now evoke the brownshirt division of the GOP, hear the same message: What are you going to do about it?" he writes. "Having tried democracy and come up short, Trump and many others in the GOP are experimenting with a dose of old-style fascist strong-arming."