Monday, July 4, 2016

Trump Is Not Hitler, Not Mussolini, But Is Dangerous

NOTE***After I posted the following essay, three very smart people showed me a big thing I missed in asserting that Trump is neither Hitler nor Mussolini.  That is, Trump sets up the conditions for tyranny and appeals to people who want authoritarian government. So even if Trump does not become a dictator himself, he sets up the conditions for tyranny.  Really, he is doing so now by stoking anger for his own purposes when a sane leader would aspire to lead the entire nation.  It's well to remember in this connection that Hitler never had the support of more than a third of Germans before his power grab in 1933.  The SS and the Gestapo raised his "popularity" after that.
Trump, in one friend's view, is the "gateway drug" to tyranny.  I  think he is right.***

The New York Times Sunday Review recently had yet another article comparing Donald Trump with Adolph Hitler.  Trump also gets paired with the Italian dictator of the same period, Benito Mussolini. These comparisons make some sense given the horrible things Trump says, but miss an essential difference between Trump and these 20th Century dictators: physical courage.

During World War 1 Hitler volunteered to be a courier in the trenches, one of the most dangerous jobs in a war of mechanized slaughter.  Mussolini was 33 years old when Italy entered the war.  He volunteered to be a private, a front-line soldier.  Mussolini was in the trenches on the front lines with young men half his age.  Then he was badly injured when the howitzer he was assigned to exploded.  He went through a long and painful recuperation with many operations to remove shrapnel from his body.

Both Mussolini and Hitler served jail time for their grabs at political power and when it came time to take power, they both were resolute at holding out for full power, not compromising.  Also, Mussolini took power in Italy at age 39 in 1922.  Hitler took power when he was 44 in 1933.  

By contrast Donald Trump hid from the draft and never missed a cocktail hour for his political views.  Physical courage and relative youth made Hitler and Mussolini even more dangerous than their lust for power and horrible beliefs.  By contrast, Trump is a flaccid old man who let another man serve in his place during the Vietnam War and expresses his manhood with lawsuits.

Hitler and Mussolini are two of the worst people ever to disgrace the human race, but they were not cowards.  When their countries were at war, they signed up to be on the front lines. When Donald Trump’s country was at war, he signed up for college and let another man go in his place. 

Cowards are haunted by their cowardice.  When Trump slammed John McCain and all Prisoners Of War, Trump was acting as any coward would.  By tearing down someone truly brave, Trump could tell himself he is better.  Trump may sound cynical or crazy, but much of what he says is just the self-talk that bubbles out of the cauldron of insecurities in his craven guts. 

Even if he does not become a tyrant himself, Trump inspires people who want authoritarian government and he paves the way for their evil designs.  Trump may not be Hitler or Mussolini, but he is dangerous.

The Philosopher of War and Terror and Politics: Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt 1906-1975 Today a friend asked and I were talking about politics and how refugee problems have led to wars in the pas...