The following letters from readers are in response to our Sept. 4 article about Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is Jewish and a Democrat, comparing President Donald Trump to Hitler at Michigan’s Democratic Nominating Convention on Aug. 29.
Compare Their Early Years
I am not one who has had the practice of writing letters to publications on behalf of a political issue or a candidate. In fact, this is my first letter ever to the Jewish News. What prompts me to write is the recent article and controversy about Michigan Attorney General Nessel’s comments in which the AG is alleged to compare Trump to Hitler.
To be fair, not having heard her actual words, nor seen or participated in the actual virtual event the article addresses, I cannot either support or criticize her comparison of the two men.
As a child of Holocaust survivors, I understand that most Jews recoil at such comparison because Hitler killed 6 million of our brethren, and thank God atrocities of such scale and magnitude have not been repeated. Thus, because of the mere fact that Trump has not killed 6 million, for most people in general as well as for most of the Jewish people the Trump to Hitler comparison is unfair, inaccurate and irresponsible.
However, if we want to ensure that history is not repeated, an “apple-to-apple” comparison of Trump to Hitler is valid. But that comparison must be made between the ascendency and Trump’s first years of political power (approximately 2015 to 2020) and the ascendency and first years of Hitler’s power (approximately 1926 to 1933).
In the earliest stages of their political careers, both men reflect the traits of an autocrat with the potential for evil acts against their fellow citizens and humanity. The only difference between the two is that, looking to history, we now know that in the later years of his power Hitler carried out the acts he detailed in his Mein Kampf. While Trump has been acting like a petty autocrat and perhaps aims to be one, he has yet to reach the stage of full power that Hitler was able to by the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps he will get there; perhaps not; but that is not the point of learning from our history!
If we are to learn from history and if we are to ensure that it is “Never Again” then we must be realistic and make a fair and intellectually honest comparison. We cannot permit the fact that, as of now, Trump has not carried out the heinous crimes against humanity that Hitler committed becloud our judgment.
Here is a shortlist of similarities between Trump and the early Hitler to consider:
- The use of the big lie
- Media is the “enemy” of the State
- Use and reliance on conspiracies as a political motivator
- The dehumanization of the “other” human being
- The use of a national tragedy for personal political gain (for Hitler the 1929 depression and for Trump the COVID-19 pandemic)
If one opens their eyes and looks at the history of Hitler as an early politician and then compares his views and acts to Trump the early politician, one will find too many similarities and find in Trump the seeds for doing the same as Hitler. Trump might never go down similar roads; such acts might not come to be, but who can be sure? What we do know for sure is that Hitler would have never accomplished what he was able to accomplish if good people kept their eyes open, not ignored what was happening around them and what could be a possible future.
The present cannot become the prologue. Today must be viewed in the context of what was yesterday. To learn from the past, to be sure that it is not repeated, we must not be afraid to call out similarities as they exist. Sadly, today we must consider the possibility that our President has the potential in him to be another Hitler.
Those who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat it!
Shame on Nessel
It’s amazing what Noah Arbit, chair of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus, will say to defend a fellow Democrat. What Dana Nessel said in comparing Trump to Hitler was outlandish and inappropriate. Arbit accused President Trump of demagoguery, however. I hear false claims and promises by both parties to gain power in the upcoming election. He accused Trump of persecuting minority groups. Where is your proof, Noah Arbit? I think you need to study the real atrocities of Nazi Germany before you make these false comments to save Dana Nessel.
Attorney General Dana Nessel’s reported comments comparing Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler, whom she extolls as being able to read and write and brave, shows that she has little or no knowledge of the Holocaust. Besides apparently not knowing about or dismissing the murder of 6 million Jews, Nessel, who is also Michigan’s first openly gay attorney general, must not be aware that the Nazis sentenced some 50,000 gay men, most to prisons but about 5,000 were sent to concentrations camps. I don’t see how any reasonable person could compare Trump’s actions to Hitler. Even if Nessel despises Trump, this type of ignorant, if not insensitive discourse is unbefitting of a high-level state official.