Reductio ad Hitlerum
Is Trump the new Hitler? We can go ahead and dispel this from the beginning. While there may be similarities in ideologies, strategies, or overall personality, we must abandon this rhetoric. It should be abandoned, not because it is false, but that it immediately shuts down discussions. It is also imperative that we dispel this because Trump is not coming to absolute power. Although, he acts as if no one has told him this.
Separation of Powers as a means to Stop Tyranny
We have already seen our separation of powers work to stop Trump from beginning his purge of those he dislikes. On January 30, 2017, Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit to request the declaration of the Executive order to ban Muslim entry into the country unconstitutional. As a result, there was a restraining order issued to halt these actions.
Later the restraining order was challenged and taken to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, in which it was unanimously upheld. This effectively blocked the actions taken by Trump on this matter.
As long as we uphold our standards, and provide political will to those in support, this would-be dictator is neutered. The separation of powers must be maintained, for it is through this that autocracy and tyranny can be stopped or at the very least slowed.
Even With a Defeat in the Courts, this is Dangerous Rhetoric
It must; however, be said that the maneuvers and rhetoric of this administration are horrifyingly similar to the actions of the National socialist party in the Weimar republic.
It is true that, eventually, the National socialist party succeeded in making all of their actions legal under German law. And they did so through just as many legal and peaceful means, as they did with force. Force was however their main tool to silence opposing voices.
They also seized control of all of the media, and used force to keep protesters and dissenters silent.
**By controlling the flow of information through the media, they maintained the illusion of holding the moral high ground.**
Propaganda campaigns and creating a narrative of faux persecution
The German people would never have supported the massive despotism and tyrannical rule of the Nazi party, had it not been for them being convinced that the Jewish people were a threat to their way of life. The belief was so fervent they stood by as the Jews were rounded up and taken to camps. All the while they would stand and cheer the Nazi soldiers that took them away. The German people had been so thoroughly convinced that the Jews were the oppressors and they had finally won by removing them.
The hate propaganda campaigns alone strengthened the view of Jews as a race of marauders with no moral conscience. One of the many propaganda outlets Der Stürmer( The Striker) went so far as to talk about the Jewish ritual celebration of the Passover, and how they worshiped the slaughtering of Christians.
“The numerous confessions made by the Jews show that the execution of ritual murders is a law to the Talmud Jew. The former chief rabbi, and later monk, Teofite, declared that the
ritual murders take place especially on the Jewish Purim in memory of the Persian murders, and Passover in memory of the murder of Christ.:
–Der Stuermer, (issue no. 14 for April 1937)
**While the Passover is a horrible thing to celebrate, the propaganda speaks of it as if the Jews wanted to actively go out and slaughter all the first born children of Christians. **
Many of their supporters felt it was divine duty, to destroy the Jews. For example: In the children’s book Der Giftpilz, (The toadstool), it is said “He who fights the Jews, battles the Devil”.
This is a significant parallel with the hatred of Islam and Muslims by Trump and his followers.
While it is true that there have been a few attacks by Muslims, the number of Americans killed by non-Muslims is significantly higher. And as history has taught us, a blanket removal of a group of people is a terrible step and never turns out well.
There is also a xenophobic disdain for any so called “non-Americans” in this new Trump era. In fact our current president ran his campaign on exclusionary policies. Trump campaigned with claims of calling immigrants rapists, and murderers. It was complete dehumanization of the “enemies” of the alt-right.
Now that he is in office Trump has beefed up his rhetoric through executive action to remove the “non-Americans” from this country. And to criminalize and vilify those who would protect immigrants and refugees.
From the executive order on January 25, 2017:
Section 1. Purpose. Interior enforcement of our Nation’s immigration laws is critically important to the national security and public safety of the United States. Many aliens who illegally enter the United States and those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas present a significant threat to national security and public safety. This is particularly so for aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States.
Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.
Again, this is a very toned down version of the policies of the Nazi party. This is what autocrats must do in the political climate of today. They must use a carefully crafted language, but in the case of Trump the hatred can barely be contained. Many of his supporters also feel this hatred and fear. There is an incredible fear of immigrants and in particular a fear of Muslim or Latino immigrants.
The alt-right movement and the evangelical conservatives are particularly emboldened. All of the persecution complex and victim-hood claimed on behalf of these organizations has created a mandate that is now in the highest office in our country.
From Trumps Executive order: January 27, 2017
Sec. 2. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.
Sec. 3. Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern.
In addition to the targeting a specific class of persons to prevent them from coming into the U.S, this order also prevents further immigration through the suspension of the Issuance of Visas. Again here, the language is toned down from the National Socialist’s similar orders.
From the National Socialistic Yearbook 1941
published by: Central Publishing House of the N.S.D.A.P.
8. Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since the 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich.
However, the interpretation and implementation of the Executive order issued by Trump, had roughly the same effect. It was used as blanket Muslim ban to bar entry from several countries deemed as dangerous by the alt-right.
The key difference being that in the case of the Muslim ban, our separation of powers kept this from causing too much harm. This is why, in light of the fact, I am showing all of the similarities between the alt-right movement and the Nazi’s: I am also pointing out that the consolidation of power the Nazi’s enjoyed does not yet exist in the United States.
Rallying support through anger and fear, while creating a false moral imperative.
The president gave a horrifyingly negative speech on inauguration day talking of America as if it was a wasteland.
For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.
We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own. And spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.
Trump spoke of our policies to aid our allies as causing America to fall into “disrepair and decay”. And that we are being weakened while other nations are strengthened
A similar cry was made in Germany almost 78 years age to the day. In Hitler’s Reichstag speech, he called the treaties from WW I a theft of German colonies, and attempting to create a moral imperative for them to defend themselves.
From Hitler’s Reichstag speech January 30, 1939:
“The theft of the German colonies was morally unjustified.Economically, it was utter insanity. The political motives advanced were so mean that one is tempted to call them silly. In 1918, after the end of the war, the victorious Powers really would have had the authority to bring about a reasonable settlement of international problems.”… “The great German colonial possessions, which the Reich once acquired peacefully by treaties and by paying for them, have been stolen…”
This is all just political rhetoric, the only true power it has is mustering the fear and anger in the people to create political will to act. However, now in America it is having the opposite effect. Rather than causing fear and anger to act on xenophobia, it is causing a widespread resistance to tyranny.