Last month Donny Deutsch, former host of his own CNBC show and a frequent contributor to MSNBC, was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” discussing the blossoming crisis of family separation on the Mexican border. At one point Deutsch observed, “If you vote for Trump then you, the voter, you, not Donald Trump, are standing at the border, like Nazis, going ‘you here, you here.’”
That scummy comment — disparaging more than 60 million Americans as akin to the pure evil of Adolf Hitler’s murderous regime — slid by the hosts and other guests without reproach or correction. Not surprising. Such remarks have become common in the Trump era.
No matter how much you may dislike or disagree with Trump, the warped practice of casually comparing him and other U.S. officials to the ruthless, merciless ghouls who executed 6 million souls and tortured and persecuted countless more simply for being Jewish or something else they despised is a disgrace and demonstrates massive, willful historical ignorance.
Criticizing the president is an all-American pastime, and a First Amendment right. That should not stop.
But those who resort to dimwitted Hitler references to denounce Trump embarrass themselves. Additionally, repeat a lie often enough and people begin to believe it. In a volatile age, no one knows where that might lead.
Yet the worst sin one commits with Trump-Nazi references is cheapening and trivializing the ghastly horror of Hitler’s “Final Solution” — the systematic, industrial-scale dehumanization and butchery of millions of people, the worst crime against humanity the modern world has ever seen. In case you’ve forgotten or don’t know what that is, check out the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website.
Within 12 years Hitler and his barbarous minions annihilated two of every three Jews living in Europe. But it didn’t stop there. The Nazis also slaughtered Slavs, Gypsies, the mentally ill, homosexuals, the disabled (including children), communists, socialists, union members, even Jehovah’s Witnesses and later Soviet Army prisoners.
According to the museum, Hitler operated a network of 40,000 prisons to murder, torture or punish his regime’s enemies. The most notorious of these were the “killing centers” such as Auschwitz. To illuminate their hatred and violence the museum reports that the Nazis at one point fatally gassed as many as 6,000 Jews each day at Birkenau, the facility Hayden so blithely tweeted about.
It was hell on Earth.
And it’s not happening here.
Bruce Anderson, a political science professor at Florida Southern College, is a student of German politics and history. Each spring he tours Germany with some students. The most solemn and powerful part of the excursion is the visit to the death camps.
Anderson is not a Trump fan by any stretch. Yet he tells us in an email that “comparing the current president — or anyone, for that matter — to Adolf Hitler is ludicrous.” “Trump is not only not Hitler,” Anderson adds, “he has none of the characteristics of Hitler. Equating the two is silly.”
To reiterate, Trump is not Hitler. America is not Nazi Germany. This must stop.
A version of this editorial originally appeared in the Lakeland Ledger, a sister paper of the Daily News with Gatehouse Media.