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Yeah, nah, Trump isn’t Hitler

May 21, 2017 - 01:33 -- Admin

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.