“My fellow citizens,
The rise of this blusterous man bewilders the educated among us, conjoins opposing politicians, agonizes our international allies, threatens minorities, spits on the disabled, and touches the hearts of those who just don’t know any better.
Let us stop propounding how mad this all is, but instead, do something.”
Well, indeed. Trump bears some resemblance to Hitler. The meme with the quote on a photo of Trump has gone round facebook, and eventually reached me. I googled Liselotte, and the first hit was Snopes. Another was this wordpress blog with the quote itself, and pictures of Hitler, and Trump with a Hitler moustache and uniform.
This has been a Republican game, too, comparing President Obama to Hitler, showing him with his arm in a position somewhat like a Nazi salute, and now Democrats are playing it. Possibly Liselotte Hubner existed, possibly she said something like that, though she would have been prescient, as the NSDAP had only twelve Reichstag members at the time. Sebastian Mueller-Soppart’s post on facebook has had 97,595 shares. “Minorities and the disabled” sounded a bit modern for 1929, but “minorities” was used in that sense in the early twentieth century, says the Oxford English Dictionary, and “disabled” may have particular connotations but is a modern translation. Sebastian says Liselotte, my grandmother, spent two years in a concentration camp after voicing her opinion. Dachau was founded in March 1933, just after the Nazi coalition came to power, so he may be right; though it only had two hundred prisoners, then.
But- what good does it do us? On the Left, it gives us a small hit of self-righteousness- at best, solidarity in sharing it- but tells us nothing. More use is Mark Salter, former top adviser to John McCain: Whatever Hillary Clinton’s faults, she’s not ignorant or hateful or a nut. She acts like an adult and understands the responsibilities of an American president. That might not be a ringing endorsement. But in 2016, the year of Trump’s s campaign, it’s more than enough. Hitler is uniquely evil, invading France, Belgium, Holland, Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and others, murdering six million Jews and as many gay men as he could manage. Trump can cause a great deal of damage, in the White House, but I hope not quite that much death.
It produces an emotional response. I don’t feel the “Hubner” quote motivates me, particularly: it just makes me horrified and miserable. It gives Trump supporters something to resent, and when we descend to their level we cannot ask them to show a better side of themselves. It lowers the tone of political debate. Trump foments and feeds on resentment and frustration. We need to be rational, and to lead his supporters to rationality.
Don’t make stuff up. There is plenty of reasoned argument: here’s Mark Salter again. [Trump is] unhinged by criticism from women, most particularly female journalists. Who knows what that’s about, but whatever the cause of his misogyny, minor exchanges provoke it. It needn’t take an insult or criticism; sometimes just a lack of fawning deference will have him spewing abuse at the offending woman. That is a fact. We can back it up, with examples. Comparing Trump to Hitler just plays into his hands.