Yeah, nah, Trump isn’t Hitler

By skepticlawyer

I dislike it when people hyperventilate over politics and political leaders, particularly when there’s an attempt to make a given politician seem better or worse than he or she is in reality.

For that reason, I’ve become very wary of the constant breaking news about Trump’s alleged Russian links, his vulnerability to impeachment, and his sacking of Comey.

The reason I’m wary is because the hyperbole has become so ridiculous I feel as though I’m losing my moorings, and with them my ability to assess coolly and clearly what is actually going on.

Maybe Trump has done enough wrong to be impeached. Maybe he hasn’t. The point is I don’t know, and because of the histrionics, I’m no longer able to make a reasonable, measured assessment.

This hyperventilation has its origins – going back to the moment when Trump threw his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination – in constant comparisons of him to Hitler.

At first I paid attention to the people making this claim, as some were my friends and others were people I respected. However, I have come to the view that the Hitler comparisons are not only wrong but odious, and for that reason I wrote this piece for the Cato Institute.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Cato Unbound’s Jason Kuznicki, who got me thinking about this issue, and who is quoted in the piece. Originally it was going to be for the Speccie, but then I discovered I needed another 500 words, which the Speccie didn’t have to spare. Excerpt:

So why do people insist on comparing their opponents to Hitler? One suggestion I’ve had is “because it feels so satisfying.” However, masturbation is also satisfying and we’ve managed to keep that out of the nation’s newspapers for the most part. Wheeling out the ultimate Big Bad is a Big Thing, a phenomenon deserving of closer examination.

To my mind, part of the problem is that political polarisation in liberal democracies means while we no longer agree on what is good and right, we do agree on what is bad or evil. Hitler is definitely bad and evil, ergo calling a political opponent a Nazi or comparing a politician to Hitler is a shorthand way of consigning him or her to a sort of moral outer darkness. You’d never apply the Hitler epithet to someone with whom you disagreed, but otherwise thought was basically sound.

If you want to figure out the significance of the golfing cat and his swastika pin flag, you’ll have to read the whole thing.

10 Comments

  1. Posted May 21, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Very well said. (But you linked to me, so I would say that, wouldn’t I?)

    There are SO many grounds to criticise The Donald: that folk go for the Hitler/Nazi/Fascism lever says so much more about them than it does about The Donald.

  2. I am and will always
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    What people? I have yet to read it.Trump is an ignorant braggart and more but he hasn’t killed any political opponents, nor closed down Congress for example

  3. Posted May 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I am @2 . Try a quick Google.

  4. Posted May 22, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Unless hyperbole is funny it doesn’t help you win arguments.

  5. Posted May 25, 2017 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Agreed with the point being made in the short essay. It is difficult in Australia to now anything at all of consequence about Trump. So I simply suspend judgment. I don’t know, and most of those who comment about his latest silly whatever are doing so with no more knowledge I have.

  6. I am and will always
    Posted May 26, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Lorenzo,

    I assumed from the article it was articles written by people in the Mainstream press.
    I have yet to read any indeed I have yet to read anything like that in any blogs I read.

  7. I am and will always
    Posted May 26, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    I think A far more interesting facet to Trump is why has he lost his intellectual wherewithall.

    He has always been a braggart but not always an ignorant braggart. This is recent I think.

    Why has this occurred. Why has he now a concentration span of a few minutes which frustrates his inner circle and most of the White house.
    This is what could be written about rather than absurd comparisons to Hitler.

  8. Posted May 26, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I am @7 Well yes, there are SO many more important flaws and worries to write about The Donald.

    Yet, the “It’s 1932 in America!” is still going strong.

  9. Posted June 2, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    The reason I’m wary is because the hyperbole has become so ridiculous I feel as though I’m losing my moorings, and with them my ability to assess coolly and clearly what is actually going on.

    This is my problem with how the media are covering Trump. Everything is blown up to the Nth degree. It’s almost as if the rest of the media looked at Fox News’ coverage of Obama and thought “that’s what we should aspire to”.

    Unless hyperbole is funny it doesn’t help you win arguments.

    That depends on if you count yelling ad hominems at your opponent until they go away as “winning”.

  10. Posted June 6, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    [email protected] . Nice comment, with a great last line. 🙂

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