Is Trump acting like Hitler?
Yes, in one key way, says New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who dropped a bombshell on Thursday that President Donald Trump manipulates facts to maximize his power — just like the Nazi Führer did.
Of course, before dropping the Third Reich mic, Blow admitted in his carefully titled piece, “Trump Isn’t Hitler. But the Lying …,” that he risks nullification by raising a Hitler comparison.
“It is a commonly accepted rule (that) he or she who invokes Adolf Hitler, either in oratory or essays, automatically forfeits the argument,” Blow wrote. But, he added, “the forthcoming comparison isn’t to Hitler the murderer, but to Hitler the liar.”
Blow’s argument is not that the least popular president ever is moving ahead on a plan to exterminate millions of people, but on how Trump uses lies to build power.
“Trump is no Hitler, but the way he has manipulated the American people with outrageous lies, stacked one on top of the other, has an eerie historical resonance,” Blow writes. “Demagogy has a fixed design.”
Trump, like Hitler, uses “mass deception as masterful propaganda,” Blow adds. The result isn’t a holocaust, but “can manifest as a multitude of other, lesser horrors, in both protocol and policy, including the corrosion and regression of country and culture.”
Any reference to Hitler provokes strong sentiment and, indeed, Blow’s column received more than 1,000 reader comments within just a few hours.
Many were positive (Blow writes for the Times, after all).
Kevin Rothstein applauded Blow for “not shrinking from the mention of Hitler in his column.”
“Hitler was a successful politician before he became the archetype for evil,” Rothstein commented.
But Richard Luettgen, of New Jersey, pointed out that Blow nullified his own argument.
“Charles is right that whoever invokes the name of Hitler when demonizing an adversary forfeits the argument. Pity that he’s chosen to do just that,” Luettgen said.
“No, it’s highly unlikely that Trump will be … putting in massive orders for Zyklon B; but, you know, that’s the clear implication here, and that’s … excessive,” Luettgen wrote.
Hitler’s crimes were not limited to exterminating people. He was a master manipulator, seeking to control the truth, Blow points out. And Trump is just getting started; he has more than three years left in office.
Trump, like Hitler, has demonized the free press, accused opponents of being traitors, and capitalized on weak political opposition. Historians have pointed out that very few Germans saw the threat of Hitler in 1933.
Indeed, after the Allied powers finally defeated Hitler in World War II, German journalist Felix Hirsch looked back and wondered how Hitler rose to power, using words that could be a parallel to today.
“Many members of the professional class and of the higher civil service … professed confidence that Hitler himself would eventually correct (his) mistakes,” Hirsch wrote. “They did little to prevent the catastrophe while there was still time.”
Blow is sounding a similar alarm, closing his column with a question to readers: “This is the very real threat we are facing. … Are enough Americans sufficiently discerning to understand that this time they are the ones being manipulated?