Adolf Hitler used to refer to the lying press of his enemies, as in the “Marxist Lügenpresse,” while today Donald Trump, disturbingly, does the same.
“Lügenpresse” is a Nazified word from 1914 when it was used by German author Reinhold Anton to refer to foreign propaganda.
The German Defense Ministry even used the word in a book title in 1918, “The Lügenpresse of Our Enemies.” That sounds like Trump too but the enemies were foreign then.
The Führer turned it around to include anyone in the German press who disagreed with him – at least until he had made the German press entirely state-controlled – a state of affairs Trump has already shown he desires.
As The New Yorker observes, “’Dishonest’ and ‘lying’ are Trump’s go-to insults when talking about the press.”
Watch Trump’s complaints about a “rigged” and “dishonest press” courtesy of The Washington Post:
He repeated these refrains the other day in Melbourne, referring to the “fake news”:
“I also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news. The dishonest media which has published one false story after another with no sources, even though they pretend they have them, they make them up in many cases.”
And of course, there is that now infamous tweet:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Like Trump, Hitler liked to talk a lot about the “will of the people” which was, of course, in the German dictator’s view, strictly behind him and him alone. That’s why Trump is so sensitive about his victory. Losing makes talks about popular mandates difficult. Sure he won the electoral vote, but by a historically low margin, so he has to lie about that too.
The real problem is less the lies about a mandate or a will of the people (disturbing as those are) and more about Trump’s willingness to embrace Hitler’s language, because language reflects thought. A really disturbing video from Trump’s Cleveland rally in October 2016 captured by The Atlantic‘s Rosie Gray illustrates the point well:
Friendly interaction outside the press pen. "Lugenpresse!" pic.twitter.com/MWUZynJ8jx
— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) October 23, 2016
From Lügenpresse to Hitler salutes to personal oaths of loyalty these reflect a mindset – the mindset and worldview of Adolf Hitler. In 1922 Hitler was using Lügenpresse to refer to the Marxist press, as in the “Marxist Lügenpresse,” a formulation repeated by the Nazi-controlled paper the Volkischer Beobachter in 1932.
No surprise since Adolf Hitler personally owned the paper, which fancied itself the “fighting paper of the National Socialist movement of Greater Germany.” It is not reasonable to suppose that this is the sort of thing to which Donald Trump himself aspires.
It wouldn’t be the first time Donald Trump quoted Hitler. He employed words and anti-Semitic tropes virtually out of Hitler’s own mouth to attack “secret meetings” and “international banks” back before the election.
We also saw Trump supporter and Nazi Richard Spencer use the term recently, in celebrating Donald Trump’s election victory: “the mainstream media — or perhaps we should refer to them in the original German, Lügenpresse.”
Naturally, this is all very disturbing. Trump has been repeatedly criticized for his frightening display of autocratic and dictatorial behavior and quoting Hitler isn’t any way to reassure people as to his good intentions.
When called out, Trump, like Hitler, prefers to simply lie about something else. When Hitler was put on the spot as a witness in a trial of his murdering SA thugs in 1931, he could only lie and sputter angrily in defense because, as in Trump’s case, the lies were all his.
We can easily imagine Trump doing the same, because we have already seen it when confronted by unappetizing questions from the press, and then afterward, in the unhinged and appalling dishonesty of his tweets.
We may or may not ever see such a day of Trump on trial; what we can see are the frightening similarities in how they view the world, between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler