A Few Thoughts On The Trump/Hitler Comparison, Now That I’ve Calmed Down From ALL-CAPS MODE.
Pre-Trump, I criticized anyone quick to make Hitler and Nazi analogies. To do so, I insisted, was to throw down a verbal gauntlet diminishing the chance for further discourse, or at the very least greatly narrow the conversation. And, if used capriciously, the comparison minimized the actual genocide and was a grave insult to the memory of the Holocaust’s victims.
Trump was not, until this week, a politician, and so we’ve known thus far only what he says, and not what he will do. But if it is premature to compare Trump to Hitler, it is nonetheless not completely inappropriate.
His words, often, are alarming. They have at various times been the words of a demagogue, a dictator, and a fascist.
We know for a fact that Trump is the first those three things. But will he become the second and third?
History shows us that Hitler, as evil and dangerous as he proved to be, was only one man. What he accomplished (if one could even use a word like “accomplish” to address the Holocaust’s unspeakable horror) would never have been possible if he had not acted in concert with many other politicians, advisors, and leaders.
With that in mind, several things stand out when we take a look at the last few days.
First, we now have the opportunity to objectively examine the team Trump is assembling. It is a team that includes avowed racists, anti-Semites, and homophobes who DO have track records.
Second, we can take a look at the platform Trump is proposing. He has not for one instant walked back his hateful policy proposals regarding immigrants and Muslims — to the contrary, he is setting in place imminent plans to begin widespread deportations and bans on refugees entering the US.
Finally, let’s examine the troubling ideas that have yet to go beyond Trump’s campaign promises and find their way into official (or unofficial) policy. The threats against a free press and freedom of speech. The idea of creating a registry for citizens of Muslim descent. The harsh criticism against the recent lawful, peaceful protests. The support for reenacting Stop and Frisk. The divisive, racist language about predominately Black communities.
Whether history will draw parallels between Hitler and Trump is yet to be determined. But one thing history has also shown us is the grave risk of complacency in the face of overwhelming evidence.
So, no. No, I do not think it is inappropriate to draw comparisons to Hitler, in that Trump clearly hews to some fascist, perhaps even Nazi, ideals.
What’s next is that we must examine our choices. To me, this is a situation where it seems prudent to choose the possibility of being premature and wrong, to risk accusations of being paranoid and overreacting, if the alternative is playing catch-up (re: protecting my own or others’ lives) later.
My plan, for today? It is to remain vigilant. To demand accountability from the leadership I trust. To loudly and meaningfully align myself with others committed to upholding civil rights and liberties.
And to always, always, ALWAYS (sorry, all-caps again) repudiate the normalization of hate.