In describing Donald Trump and his minions I’m careful not to overuse the Hitler analogy. Not because of Godwin’s Law or anything, but because a lot of people get offended by it, in part because they’re supposed to get offended by it.
But I heard something yesterday that knocked me for a loop. And I’ll be damned if, as near as I can tell, everyone else has missed it.
To be sure, as everyone is saying, Trump has started using Hitler adjectives and nouns in a new set of speeches that I do not doubt were written by none other than the reincarnation of Josef Goebbels: Stephen Miller himself. Suddenly, Trump’s speeches are redolent with Hitler shibboleths. His enemies are “vermin,” or he’s going to rid the world of “Communists.” “Liberal thugs” are “poisoning the blood of the nation.” And so on. Hitleresque stuff like that.
But what chilled my blood and made me stop dead in my tracks was when I heard Trump say, “We are one dream, one people, one nation.” That’s half a step down from something Hitler used to say: “Ein volk, ein reich, ein Fuhrer.” That is: One people, one nation, one leader.
That was the unofficial slogan of the Nazi Party. It’s very close, and I am sure — absolutely sure — it’s not an accident. It’s “Make America Great Again” writ larger in the original German.
Trump said that on Veterans Day. Veterans Day. Donald Trump, in effect, proudly declared himself the new Adolf Hitler — on Veterans Day.
Trump, possibly in conjunction with Miller or someone like him, has been going over the Hitler playbook and fashioning his speeches accordingly. After all, if it’s a country you want to take over and mould in your very own image, there are few models as initially successful as Adolf Hitler’s.
It’s also a pervasive rumour that Trump goes to sleep each night with a book of Hitler’s speeches next to his bed. Maybe this time he’s actually read it?
I’m old enough to remember when scratching one’s head and wondering aloud how it was possible that the German people could have ever followed Hitler was a kind of pseudo-intellectual commonplace. We wondered if there was something unique about the character of the German people. Was the despair of Germany’s postwar weltanschauung the ideal Petri dish for fascism? Was it something in the German water?
We gave the human race too much credit back then. That Trump could parade around in imitation of Hitler in celebration of people who fought him firsthand is final proof that some members of the human race ain’t much.
That Republican members of Congress would say nothing in the presence of this monster’s cosplay of Hitler, some of whom have parents who fought Hitler, some of whom had grandparents who were even murdered by Hitler, is final proof of just how tawdry and disgusting and low Republicans can get.
Make no mistake, today’s Republicans would follow another Hitler. That much is clear. That is why the Republican Party must go. If you doubt this for a minute, recall that getting rid of the Nazi Party should have been a desperate imperative in the 1930s, and then act accordingly. Because that’s the same kind of madness we are facing today. It didn’t go away by itself back then and I doubt it will today. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.