I tell my students that the only rhetorical overkill, no pun intended, worse than likening some perceived injustice to the Holocaust is likening some perceived villain to Adolf Hitler. But I never allow my advice to apply to me. Accordingly …
If you’ve ever wondered how someone as vile as Adolf Hitler could have ascended to power in 1933 Germany, just remember Donald Trump in 2016 America. It’s not that Hitler was planning to be as vile as he turned out to be. It’s that he was surrounded by enablers, no one stood as a corrective, and what-can-be-done-shall-be-done just got the better of him.
If Trump is reelected in November, will he be rounding up everyone to whom black lives matter and incarcerating pregnant bodies? No. Why not? Because thanks to the Second Amendment, and unlike Jews in Germany, African Americans and women have guns too. So the analogy is not to how awful things could become if America’s march to fascism isn’t kiboshed in November. It’s only to how the liberator invariably morphs into the tyrant. And it’s as millions of tyranny’s victims would have said, had they lived, namely that “It’s easier to kill the liberator than the tyrant!”
Evil is a measure of consequences, not intentions. No one intends evil. Donald Trump is not an evil man. But neither was Hitler. Am I parroting the former’s infamous “There were very fine people on both sides!”? I suppose I am. People do what they’re allowed to do, because if they’re allowed to do it it must be alright. If you want to tell them what they’re doing is not alright, then you have to stop them from doing it.
Some people worry that Trump is planning a coup for November 4th. I find this implausible. Mind you, I’d have found the passage of the Nuremberg Laws implausible in 1935. If there is a coup on November 4th there will be a civil war. But not unlike in Russia in 1994, it will be short-lived, and its resolution will be summary.
But is America so polarized that there’ll be civil war regardless of who wins? I suspect not. But not being an American, perhaps I underestimate the depth of the conflict. Not being black in America, I underestimate their resentment. Not being white in America, I underestimate the resentment of that resentment. Not being a woman in America, I underestimate the fear of Roe vs Wade being reversed. And so on. On the other hand, the media hypes conflict to increase its ad revenues. So maybe this is all a tempest in a teapot. My only worry is that that’s exactly what some editorials were saying in Germany about Kristallnacht.
Hitler was an actor for his times and place, much in the same way that Trump is,
Hitler was very much an ordinary man of the people, and with that common touch that boasts very limited education, but many passions and a very peculiar sociopathic and shamanesque capacity to plug into the consciousness of others; especially their frustrations, anguish, bitterness, hatreds, hopes and fears; i.e., things that Germany at the time had in spades. Trump has something of that, but not even vaguely in Hitler’s class
Hitler’s public speaking was almost mesmeric as he conjured the spirit of his audiences, repackaged and amplified it, and delivered it back to them as if it were the most profound wisdom in the world. For the people who attended those meetings, initially small, but increasingly larger, it was a quasi religious revelation.
Hitler ‘made sense’ of defeat, humiliation, colossal war losses, subsequent economic loss through currency hyper inflation and the destruction of savings, particularly of the small people, and finally, the nightmare of economic collapse and chronic unemployment……and someone was to blame…..the Jews.
He very ably leveraged that to gain political respectability and parliamentary representation.
But underneath that was a gangster organization, which is what the SA Brownshirts were, that with the connivance of the police and the courts were able to break up the meetings of other parties, protect Nazi rallies, beat and kill their way into street dominance and the control of public discourse. And the SA didn’t just break up meetings, monopolize leafleting, smash shop windows and cause impromptu street corner gatherings where ‘enemies of the people’ were ‘made an example of. They also did ‘home visits’. They were a terrifying bunch of thugs without whom the Nazis would not have so easily taken over the state.
His political platform was as simple as it was diabolical, which was to rebuild the economy by paying for it later through military conquest, looting of ‘the east’, enslaving its ‘sub-human people, starving to death its ‘surplus populations’ to make way for German colons….., and eliminating ‘the Jewish problem’ forever.
And how he would do that was something he worked out as he went along…..
1933….Eliminate and liquidate all external political opposition in Germany.
1934….Eliminate and liquidate all internal sources of Party power that could compete with Hitler and replace the SA with the SS and the Gestapo.
1935….Eliminate all pretense at normal budgeting, order German industry to prepare for war by 1940 and roll out the racial laws that would form the basis for ‘solving’ ‘The Jewish Problem.
1936….First use of the rapidly expanding military to reoccupy the demilitarized Ruhr region of Germany.
1937-8.Full mobilization for war and sub conflict occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia
1939.. War 3 months ahead of schedule.
1942…Wannsee conference confirms the systematic expropriation and mass killing of Jews, Slavs, Roma, oppositionists of any type and the mentally ill, either by execution or working them to death….and then extracting recyclables from their corpses, including tons of gold.
This little history lesson merely serves to demonstrate the ludicrous notion of comparing Trump and Hitler and represents the completely fanciful nature of much so called thinking that passes for political analysis within the Humanist Ascendancy. Accusing Trump of fascism is crying wolf in the same sense that accusing Antifa is, although their predilection for black uniforms is not exactly reassuring. The SA used iron bars wrapped in newspaper
Having said that, the emergence of Trump is a profound signal of the extent to which the American social and ideological consensus has broken down and is breaking up as we speak, into effectively warring camps that hate each so much they will vote for a drover’s dog as long as it isn’t working for ‘the other side’.
In effect, the blue and red American states are increasingly different countries and both sides have succumbed to their own fruitcake radical fringes that now find themselves at the center of politics, as harbingers of war.