Trump surrogate John Phillips told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that all Donald had to do to beat Hillary is prove he’s not Hitler, “which is going to be easy.” I’ve been waiting a long time for a Trump apologist to broach the Hitler topic.
There’s a rule in civil discourse called Godwin’s Law that states, in essence, sooner or later every discussion results in comparisons to Hitler. The first to bring up the comparison loses the debate for using a reductio ad Hitlerum argument. Let the record show that I didn’t bring it up first.
I don’t think it will be easy for Trump to prove he’s not Hitler.
Lately, I’ve been experiencing an osmosis of thought regarding Trump. Last July, I merely thought he would be a terrible president (I’ve always held that view), but he wasn’t, you know, evil. I actually thought he valued the Constitution, and took extreme positions just to make a point and achieve a political position.
Then I saw how he lied and seduced people with those lies. Then I saw how he was a merciless bully, who openly mocked women, the disabled, and the underprivileged. Then I saw how he really means what he says about nativism, or racial heritage. “America First” is more than just a two-word slogan for trade protectionism. At the start of WWII, anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh was the America First celebrity spokesman.
Lindbergh’s racial beliefs were probably not very different from those of many Americans convinced by arguments about northern and western European racial superiority made in Madison Grant‘s The Passing of the Great Race and similar works. But the emphasis he gave them, and the vulgarity with which he expressed himself, made some members of his audience, like some Committee members, uncomfortable. That his beliefs did not discredit him with a larger American audience says much about opinions in the period.
A not insignificant number of Trump supporters agree with Lindbergh’s positions. And Trump strikes just the same tone, whether he–deep down inside–holds those views or not. It makes politicians like Chris Christie and Ben Carson uncomfortable. It makes some Christians like Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Robert Jeffress uncomfortable.
In summer, 1941, Lindbergh called President Roosevelt a greater threat to peace than Hitler. In September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went to visit Herr Hitler, flying to Munich to meet with the German Chancellor. Upon hearing the news that Chamberlain was willing to visit him, Hitler is recorded to have remarked “Ich bin vom Himmel gefallen” (“I fell from Heaven”), an expression of glee. Hitler lied to Chamberlain, his own people, and the world about his true intentions.
Trump has repeatedly and consistently lied to everyone about his true intentions. Herr Hitler endeavored to Make Germany Great Again, by elevating blood and soil as the basis for Germany first. America Firsters like Lindbergh admired him for it. Many who support Trump still do.
No, I don’t think it’s easy for Trump to prove he’s not Hitler. In fact, he doesn’t have to work very hard at all to prove he’s very much like the Nazi dictator.