In a recent Politico piece, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican, compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. In fact, she went even further, saying “It is no longer a stretch to compare Donald Trump, and some of the other current Republican candidates for president, to some of the worst dictators in history.” She goes on:
Trump especially is employing the kind of hateful rhetoric and exploiting the insecurities of this nation, in much the same way that allowed Hitler and Mussolini to rise to power in the lead-up to World War II. The parallels are chilling. In pre-WWII Germany, the economy was in ruins, people were scared, and they wanted someone to blame. Today we find ourselves with a nation of people who feel under attack both physically and economically and are fearful. The middle class has never fully recovered economically from the Great Recession. Income disparity is growing, but demonizing with a broad-brush all “immigrants,” forgetting that nearly all of our ancestors were exactly that at one point in the past 400 years, is both dangerous and contrary to all this nation stands for. After Paris and San Bernardino, attacking Muslims, the vast majority of whom are peaceful adherents to their faith, has become fashionable.
Whitman’s reference to “income disparity” is interesting, as it points to a bridge between her attack on Trump and another party and another demagogue in the presidential race. When two “1%ers” made similars analogies, the Left pounced all over them.
But not this time, at least for one “liberal.” Quoting Whitman, Left-leaning Tom Moran of the Left-leaning NJ Star-Ledger approvingly seized on Whitman’s charge in an article titled Whitman compares Trump to Hitler.
I left these comments on the Moran piece, edited for clarity:
If “It is no longer a stretch to compare Donald Trump . . . to some of the worst dictators in history,” then the same goes at least as much for the hard Democrat Left.
Every advancing dictatorship needs a scapegoat—some group upon whom all of the country’s ills came be blamed. For the Bolsheviks who created the USSR, it was the bourgeoisie. For the Nazis, it was the Jews. The Democrat Left’s demonization of “the 1%,” led today by Bernie Sanders, mirrors at least as much as Trump the Bolsheviks and the Nazis. At least there are voices on the Republican side loudly challenging and denouncing Trump. Who on the Democrat side is prominently rising to condemn the bigoted, broad-brush fear-mongering attack on “the rich,” whose only “crime,” for most of them, is to create great businesses, great products, and millions of jobs—and profit handsomely from these accomplishments?
And if it can be said of Whitman that she “rightfully draws parallels between Donald Trump and fascist dictators like Adolf Hitler,” then why can’t the same be said of venture capitalist Tom Perkins and Home Depot founder Ken Langone for drawing the same historical parallels regarding the hardcore Democrat Left? If “[Trump] and Hitler have a lot in common,” then the same goes, in the same respects, for Leftist demagogues.
I don't believe Trump is a bigot. But his call to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country is bigoted, nonetheless. Worse, it is a dangerous precedent. Setting a religious test for who can enter and live in the U.S. is tantamount to setting an ideological test. Religion belongs to the broader category of ideas. If the government ever got the power to determine which ideas are acceptable and which aren’t, it would be the end of one of America’s Founding principles—intellectual freedom. We should not take comfort by the fact that Trump’s policy refers only to non-Americans living abroad. Once the precedent is set, can anyone confidently say that the same test would never be applied to Americans in some way by some future Congress, court, or president? The erosion of intellectual freedom, once it starts, is the path to a fascist America.
Both Langone and Perkins retracted their Hitler comparisons under withering criticism, especially from the Left. But I don’t think such analogies are always out-of-bounds. In any event, if we’re going to draw lessons from history to head off a fascist America—and it’s appropriate to do so—we should dispense with double standards.
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