I said back on November 20th that Donald Trump wants to register Muslims like the Nazis registered Jews, and I put Donald Trump in front of a swastika flag to make my point. CNN left off the flag, but yesterday, political commentator Sally Kohn made her point quite clearly nonetheless. She began by saying she was mistaken initially to treat Trump’s campaign as a joke.
“We might be at the point that I might weep on national television,” Kohn told CNN host Ashleigh Banfield. “This is not funny anymore.”
“When you have a candidate that continues to say the same sort of demagogic things he’s saying and his support is maintained, and when you see a Black Lives Matter protester beaten during one of his rallies — and he said maybe he deserved to be roughed up — when a homeless immigrant is beaten by Trump supporters and Trump doesn’t condemn that but says, in fact, ‘Well, my people are passionate,’ there’s a word for this.”
“It’s fascism,” she concluded. “And people need to remember in this country, Adolf Hitler, when he first rose to power, was elected by 36 percent of the German voters.”
Hitler actually lost that 1932 presidential election with 36.8 percent of the vote, finishing second to beloved war hero and incumbent President Paul von Hindenburg, but that was all he needed, being named chancellor on 30 January 1933 and becoming the real power in Germany.
“This is kind of getting deeply disturbing and kind of troublesome, not only for the Republican Party, but for democracy, justice, and liberty,” Kohn continued.
Indeed, The New York Times editorial board has finally (Nov 24) – and correctly – identified Trump as a genuine demagogue.
Banfield did not put up any argument, and that is perhaps the most significant point here: “A lot of really weird Brown Shirt similarities. Identity cards, it’s okay to spy on your neighbors, the disabled are already being mocked.”
Don’t forget immigrants. The panel might have remembered Hillary Clinton pointing to Trump demagoguery back in August when she said Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans want to “go and literally pull [illegal immigrants] out of their homes and their workplaces . . . Round them up, put them, I don’t know, in buses, boxcars, in order to take them across our border.”
Marc Thiessen penned an op-ed in the Washington Post in response to Hillary, saying Donald Trump is no Hitler. No, he’s not. But he’s sounding like him. As the CNN panel showed, he passes the duck test.
Kohn, while she invoked Hitler, did not, unlike Spike Lee, compared Trump directly to Hitler. Instead, she took the “I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin'” tact by claiming that while she was accusing Trump of fascism, she was not comparing him directly to Hitler.
“We have to call it what it is. When he said thousands and thousands of Muslims were dancing in New Jersey watching the Twin Towers and I saw it with my own eyes, it is a lie, folks.”
“There is no video anyone has ever seen, Mr. Trump included,” Banfield added. “Mr. Trump, get your millions and offer it as a bounty for the person who comes up with the video.”
“I know I’ll be the subject of the next nasty tweet,” she added.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2015
His followers are quick to join him in misremembering the past:
"@thumpmomma: I likewise saw militant Muslims burning our flag and burning George Bush photos and figures, right after 9/11! Not#here!"
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2015
What Trump is doing is using Muslims in the same way Hitler used the Jews, and there is plenty of fear and hatred of Muslims out there – all stoked by years of Republican propaganda. We have seen how this typically ends: a white man with a gun, quoting his favorite right wing figure. Kohn is right to call this what it is: fascism.
What is interesting about Kohn’s comment regarding how she treated Trump and his campaign as a joke, is Hitler’s comment from 1939 about his own critics: “Their laughter was uproarious, but I think that for some time now they have been laughing on the other side of their face.”
Kohn said what every media outlet ought to be saying. She spoke truth to a very scary man and to his very scary supporters, who, from my own personal experience of encounters with them, seem to be more ill-informed even than your average Republican these days.
We do not want to be laughing out of the other side of our faces, as Hitler put it, by letting Trump achieve his dreams. As the Times editorial board said, “History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act.” But there is still time to learn from history. There is still time to stop Trump. There is still time for the media, like Kohn, to speak truth to power.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.