I was born in 1955, ten years after the end of the Holocaust. Growing up, I was fascinated and terrified by thoughts of it. What would it have been like to have lived through that period? What would it have felt like? I am Jewish. Would I have survived? Would I have ended in a death camp, as a slave laborer, hiding in a cellar, or fought in the Resistance? How would other people who were not Jewish have treated me or my family? How could normal people let such a thing happen? Could it happen anywhere else? Were Germans different than other people or is any group of people capable of perpetrating such horrors? “Never again!” proclaimed the survivors.
In recent posts on Facebook, I have coined the term my “Never again radar.” It is going off now. The usual response to comparisons with Nazism and Hitler is that such comparisons are basically an admission of the weakness of the argument. The misuse of such comparisons runs the risk of trivializing the comparisons, and of not being taken seriously when the comparison is justified. With Trump however, I believe the comparison is justified for the reasons I argue below.
As I have thought about this blog for a while, I visualized about five similarities. But then when I started to list them, it became apparent that five was too limited. My first written list of ten grew quickly to eighteen. Here is the list, I offer brief descriptions of each below: persistent lying; alternative facts; attacks on the press; promotion of bigotry and racism; loss of civility and respect for government officials; gaslighting opponents; hypocrisy; attacks on judges; nationalism and demanding obedience to the flag; demanding loyalty; mass rallies with exhortations to radicalism; encouragement of violence against opponents; advocating jail for political opponents; support for autocrats and attacks on democratic leaders; Nazi dog whistles; Nazi support; studying Hitler’s speeches, and attacks on the rule of law. There is some overlap here. I don’t claim this is an exclusive list, and I have deliberately left out some other equally odious character traits of Trump’s that do not necessarily justify invoking the Nazi comparison, such as his misogynistic treatment of women, nepotism, narcissism, corruption, theft, or the Russia investigation. And my brief overview can’t possibly do justice to the myriad of ways Trump has attacked our country.