When the New York Times reviewed the latest Hitler biography, they cleverly used the various words used to describe the murderous dictator in a way that serves as a warning to voters today.
Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939 by historian Volker Ullrich focuses much on Hitler’s demagoguery and nativist beliefs. It’s a rich biography that follows how Hitler rose to power by appealing to millions of Germans by playing on their fears and hatred. It also mentions a description of Hitler by a 1930s magazine editor who called the Führer a “half-insane rascal” and “pathetic dunderhead” who has a “big mouth.”
If that sounds awfully familiar to someone in politics today you weren’t imagining it.
Whether on purpose or not, the New York Times book review subtly compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler simply by repeating what the author and other people at the time said about Hitler’s rise to absolute power.
The bullet points listed painted a picture of a man that if you didn’t know it was Hitler you would swear that it’s all about Donald Trump.
For instance, the first bullet point points out:
Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who “only loved himself” — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a “characteristic fondness for superlatives.” His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity.
Seriously, replace Hitler’s name with Trump’s and it’s the perfect description.
But that’s not all. The very next bullet point quotes a finance minister who “wrote that Hitler “was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth” and editors of one edition of “Mein Kampf” described it as a “swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts.””
Or how about this point:
He specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus. Here, “Hitler adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners,” Mr. Ullrich writes. He peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers. Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.
Again, that is Trump to a tee, especially since he has started calling himself the “law and order candidate.”
Even Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” is something Hitler would have come up with.
Hitler increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising “to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness,” though he was typically vague about his actual plans. He often harked back to a golden age for the country, Mr. Ullrich says, the better “to paint the present day in hues that were all the darker. Everywhere you looked now, there was only decline and decay.”
The Times review also notes that Ullrich talks about how Hitler’s nomination as Reich Chancellor could have been prevented but ended up being nominated in the end because of several factors such as “erosion of the political center,” the “unwillingness of Germany’s political parties to compromise,” and the belief of supporters “that the country needed “a man of iron” who could shake things up.”
Many conservative politicians in Germany also believed Hitler wasn’t a threat because they thought they would control him, thus neutralizing his power while supporting the man who could help them consolidate their own. But Hitler could “not be tamed” and Trump has not been tamed either.
The final point drives the comparison home.
Hitler had a dark, Darwinian view of the world. And he would not only become, in Mr. Ullrich’s words, “a mouthpiece of the cultural pessimism” growing in right-wing circles in the Weimar Republic, but also the avatar of what Thomas Mann identified as a turning away from reason and the fundamental principles of a civil society — namely, “liberty, equality, education, optimism and belief in progress.”
In short, Donald Trump’s rise is frighteningly similar to Hitler’s and that should concern every American voter. We need to make sure history does not repeat itself and that means voting for Hillary Clinton in November.
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