Yes, we can go there. If not now, when?
Dismissing Godwin by Angie Brill – the “Mean Progressive”
Trump supporters have a new rallying cry when he goes on his rambling tirades: “Lock Them Up!”
Them who? The media.
It’s not funny. It’s absolutely fucking ridiculous. But it is not funny. The reason they want to lock up the media isn’t for some profound universal infraction. Their ire is drawn by repeated condemnations by Donald Trump demanding that the media is out to get him. And the initial response, instead of asking for retractions or correcting any records, is to forfeit journalists Constitutional rights and toss them in jail. Again, this isn’t funny. And this is not an issue to be taken lightly.
I preface to all who automatically cry “Godwin’s Law” when someone mentions Hitler – Shut Up. It could be argued that Godwin’s Law has become a victim of that which the rule, itself, was meant to address: hyperbolic comparisons (to Hitler/Nazis). Now, of course, it is used hyperbolically to dismiss meaningful conversations where those comparisons are drawn.
In December 2015 Mike Godwin wrote in an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump.” Ok. Thanks.
Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:
Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (…) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (…) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (…) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.
Trump seems to understand the value of crowds of ‘human children’, as well. He offers constant reminders of building his wall, banning Muslims and demanding our leaders use terminology to dismiss billions of ‘others’ when talking about terrorism. He even insists to those feeble minded that our current president is one of those ‘others’ and implies that President Obama is in league with the terrorists we are all supposed to fear that only Trump can save us from. This is all rounded out by telling us, “I love the poorly educated.” Yeah. No shit.
Hitler had a very powerful propaganda machine. It was built and perfected over a decade. Trump had little to do with the machine he is using today, but he is exploiting its existence nonetheless.
In Hitler’s time, radio and print journalism were the dominant media used to inform the masses. Hitler said of his message, “I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn’t matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth.” As with Trump’s messages of blaming immigrants for rapes and murders and blaming Muslims for all terrorist acts in America, Hitler used his propaganda to elevate the Aryans by correlating all evil acts in society to having been perpetrated by the Jews. And Communists (the left).
The first objective of propaganda is to dismiss those who the public is used to getting their information from. In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote of his propaganda, “It must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favorable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favorable to its own side.” Donald Trump has certainly made the same assessment. So consider that every time you hear him whining about his media coverage or see him tweeting about his supposed vilification. These were just from today:
He has defined his victimhood by the press for over a year now. His rallies have a penned area where the media are kept and he regularly points them out to the crazed audience for their condemnations. The hysteria has even bled over into the pen and MSNBCs Katy Tur was once even afforded a Secret Service escort for her own safety after a particularly nasty tirade against her by Trump.
It might seem like a stretch to suggest that he would round up the press who reported unfavorably about him if he were elected. There really is no telling what he would do, to be honest. He has given us some hints about his own opinions on killing journalists, however.
In 1933, when the Nazi’s were rising to power, one of the first acts was to create concentration camps for Hitler’s political opposition. Many of those who opposed him were the journalists who had written about him and warned of his rise.
Fritz Gerlich was a German who wrote against the Hitler regime. Early in his career, he was a conservative nationalist until the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. He saw the Nazi movement for what it was and reported accordingly. In 1929 he started a newspaper to expose the lies the propagandists were beginning to feed the public. By 1932 the paper had a circulation of 40,000 and was renamed Der Gerade Weg (The Straight Path) where he wrote, “National Socialism means: Enmity with neighboring nations, tyranny internally, civil war, world war, lies, hatred, fratricide and boundless want.” After taking power in 1933, Gerlich was one of the first arrests made. He was transported to Dachau and died a year later during the Night of the Long Knives.
Otto Felix Kanitz was prominent in an Austrian anti-authoritarianism movement and his pamphlet, Kämpfer der Zukunft, was banned by the Nazis and a part of the first book burnings in 1933. In 1934 he went into exile but returned to Austria in 1938. He was then captured and sent to Buchenwald where he was executed.
Arne Jostein Ingebrethsen was a Norwegian newspaper writer who determined to write against the German occupation of Norway. He was imprisoned for an article in 1940 and, upon release, continued his work to denounce the occupation. In 1943 he was arrested again and moved to different concentration camps until he died in Melk, just months before the camps were liberated.
I don’t spend any of my time imagining that Donald Trump has the intellectual curiosity required to research Hitler’s rise to make use of his successes. I believe Trump’s methodology comes from having learned through his own career, and secondarily from subconsciously witnessing the rise of the Tea Party about how to manipulate facts and appeal to the least among us.
Books will certainly be written in the future to chronicle and compare Hitler and the Nazis to the rise of the Tea Party and Trump’s capacity to hijack their very limited message of nationalism and hating the ‘others’ to rise to the point where he has. They will compare their prominent egos, questionable sanity and demagoguery. They will note Trump’s taking dog whistles to the next level at a time when those who needed to hear them most were at their apex. One of Hitler’s greatest draws was his promise to disavow the Treaty of Versailles and rebuild the nations military. Trump has a similar message. Of course he manages to twist-turn it into a dismissal of our own military greatness and paints his patriotism as dubious, at best.
Historians will show how neither Trump nor Hitler were remotely religious but espoused Christian ‘values’ in attempts to build up the simple minded and define their superiority. Trump’s bullshit nationalistic dialogue depicting a country very few can identify will be covered. Trump’s nonsensical rhetoric about caring for the nation’s poor mirrors a lot of what Hitler said. Of course, to be honest, Hitler actually did see to the social welfare of the working class. Trump’s tax plan and long history of only looking out for himself would surely offer more than a little supposition about who would benefit from any policies he might want to enact.
The good news? The myriad commonalities between Hitler and Trump can be countered with numerous differences. Hitler was an amazing orator and used his skills to rally many people beyond his base. Trump can either stand in front of a teleprompTer and mangle the very words in front of him or ad-lib an entire speech and leave any thoughtful audience to seriously question his own mental stability, but be certain he thinks of little more than inflating his own ego.
Hitler worked very hard for many years to build his movement. He was passionate in his attempt. Trump is lazy and expects to just hijack a fading movement and take it to the White House. As utterly disgusting and inhuman as Hitler’s entire rule was, he completely believed in it. He was a genuine zealot of his own movement. Donald Trump could obviously care less about nearly every issue in the GOP (or any other) platform. Hitler had a large team of people who understood his mission and worked tirelessly for him (many out of fear). Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing from one minute to the next and his own ‘team’ are wholly confused about his end game. Those in the GOP who would gladly kiss his ass and embrace his platform of hate are even being dismissed by the candidate. Hitler had the foresight to make use of the willing parasites around him.
Let me be plain … Just because he is a goddamned clown doesn’t mean that, if given the opportunity, he wouldn’t absolutely destroy our country. Evidence is found in countless answers he’s offered from quickly determining that women who seek abortions should be punished to his absolute dismissal of the killings of journalists shown above where he says of Putin, “At least he’s running his country.”
Because we are a democracy, the likelihood of his ascension can be diminished by our own passion and drive to continue moving America forward. Of course, that means all of us have to continue to speak out. Even to those who would really rather not talk about it. And, as hard as the media often makes it for us, we must rally behind their attempts to communicate the truths about the vile self-serving creature who is trying to follow MY President into the White House.
Kiss Kiss…. Mean Progressive