More on The 1934ists

 

(Ed. Note: this is a follow up post to It’s Not 1934, from January 20th)

Godwin Is Dead: Ron Rosenbaum, one of the great magazine writers of our time, has written a widely-hailed L.A. Review of Books piece that he insists does not argue that “Trump=Hitler.” He’s explicit on this point!

While Trump’s crusade had at times been malign, as had his vociferous supporters, he and they did not seem bent on genocide. He did not seem bent on anything but hideous, hurtful simplemindedness — a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had mainstreamed. … [G]enocide is almost by definition beyond comparison with “normal” politics and everyday thuggish behavior, and to compare Trump’s feckless racism and compulsive lying was inevitably to trivialize Hitler’s crime and the victims of genocide.

“I posit similarities and differences, not identity” between Hitler and Trump, Rosenbaum later declared. All very careful and nuanced. And yet, by the end of his piece, Rosenbaum seamlessly deploys the stock 1934ist template when discussing how the media should react to Trump: they should shun “compliance,” condemn “normalization,” emulate the “defiance that was heroic and inspirational” by the anti-Hitler journalists of the Munich Post. Obviously, Rosenbaum thinks the similarities are strong indeed– strong enough, anyway, to justify cranking up the full machinery of the pre-war anti-fascist struggle, strong enough to justify invoking the martyrs of Munich.

How strong, exactly? Rosenbaum says, “Trump and his minions are … attempting to pose as respectable participants in American politics, when their views come out of a playbook written in German.” [Emphasis added]

And they’re not joking. If you’d received the threatening words and pictures I did during the campaign (one Tweet simply read “I gas Jews”), as did so many Jewish reporters and people of color, the sick bloodthirsty lust to terrify is unmistakably sincere. The playbook is Mein Kampf. [E.A.]

Sounds pretty bad. ** And if Trump really is that much like Hitler — Not identical! Not equal — no sirree! But with bloodthirsty views out of Mein Kampf! — then we really don’t want to normalize him the way so many Germans foolishly normalized Hitler. The trouble is, Rosenbaum’s own piece, with its riveting, punctilious descriptions of Hitler’s rise to power, makes a perhaps-unintended but near-overwhelming case that Trump is really not much like Hitler at all.

I’m talking here of any indications that Trump, like Hitler, will , if “normalized,” pursue an evil, autocratic course of action. It’s not enough if both men are “mountebanks,”*** con men who don’t believe their cons, whose outrageous acts and contradictory statements distract, lull and befuddle opponents, so that

you can’t take a stand against Trump because you don’t know where Trump is standing. You can’t find him guilty of evil, you can’t find him at all.

What we need is the evidence, amid all the confusion, that Trump actually is driven to autocracy, as Hitler was — not that he, like Hitler, conned and clowned his way into office, but that he’ll use the office so acquired to further some horrifying, megalomaniacal, perhaps “bloodthirsty” anti-democratic scheme. That’s the key question, isn’t it? The Munich Post journalists knew that underneath it all Hitler was Hitler — and he needed to be fought, not normalized. How does the evidence they had compare with the evidence offered by Rosenbaum regarding Trump?

Here’s my crude catalog of HItler’s Hitleresque sins — as known (often uncovered) by Munich Post journalists — compared with Trump’s:

HITLER

  • Had attempted to violently overthrow the government (the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923)
  • Had “a death squad (“cell G”) that murdered political opponents”
  • Sent his private militia (precursor of the SS) to physically ransack the newsroom of the paper that opposed him
  • Planned a “‘final solution’ for Munich’s Jews.”

TRUMP

  • Supported by some racist and anti-Semitic tweeters
  • Proposed, and then abandoned, a hold on travel to the US by Muslims.
  • Allegedly had a copy of Mein Kampf by his bed
  • Once ducked an invitation to “unequivocally condemn” David Duke.

You get the idea. The two lists are orders of magnitude apart. Are there things about Trump — seeds, if you will**** — that make reasonable people worry about future developments? Sure, just as there were with a dozen other national politicians (including Nixon and even FDR). But those are seeds, not the tree, and there are seeds of a lot of things in Trump, including manygood things. Hitler, you had more than seeds.

And don’t say (as Rosenbaum did when we argued on Twitter) that “[H]itler was in office 12 years Trump 2 weeks.” The list above is a list of things Hitler did before he took office in 1933 — the equivalent of Trump before January 20 of this year. Was boycotting the Iowa debate Trump’s Beer Hall Putsch?

Maybe Trump will try to acquire autocratic power. But, in Rosenbaum’s piece, that seems to be more an assumption than a conclusion.

This became clearer after the piece was published, when Rosenbaum vigorously defended it on Twitter — because a funny thing began to happen. In argument, Rosenbaum tried to supply some of the evidence the piece he was defending lacked — evidence that Trump, if “normalized,” really would try to become an autocrat. Hadn’t Trump aides Steve Bannon told “the press to ‘shut it’s mouth.”? That was “an example of autorratic [autocratic] impulse he shares with many dictators not just AH.”

Rosenbaum’s right: Telling the media to “shut up” [actually, saying it should “be embarrassed” and “keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while”] does represent an autocratic impulse.*** It’s an impulse shared by half the politicians in America — but if followed blindly to its ultimate conclusion it would be bad news for the First Amendment. So why didn’t Rosenbaum include it in his piece, which cries out for actual examples of the dictatorial drive that only Munich Postische anti-normalist resistance can block?

Answer: Because it would look pathetic. Hitler sent his militia to physically destroy newsrooms. Trump has an aide who said a hostile press should put attacks on hold! See the paralllel? We do … and we don’t.

Likewise, Rosenbaum, who mentions the “Muslim ban” in passing in his piece, refers on Twitter to Trump ” banning an entire religion.” When a Twitter adversary notes Trump’s actual executive order affected only 7 out of “40 or so Muslim countries,” Rosenbaum responds “the order can be extended w/o to all Muslim nations.” Why yes, it can! But that would be a transformative change, and Trump has been heading in the opposite direction. Normalization works sometimes.

If comparing Politican X to Hitler makes you spend most of your time explaining that you aren’t equating the two, and mainly succeeds in making your legitimate complaints about X seem small in comparison to Hitler’s monstrousness, maybe it’s not such a useful comparison. Godwin had a point! If Trump’s only a 2% Hitler then maybe the media attitude we need is 2% no-business-as-usual anti-normalization–or, in any case, not 100% heroic***** dedicated resistance. All Rosenbaum’s words spent in stirring description of the Munich Post tend to obscure this point. They become a distraction, much as even Trump’s more righteous tweets are often distractions.

Why strain to make the comparison? Why not find an autocrat who better fits the subject? (Berlusconi seems an obvious choice.) [Because then Trump’s opponents couldn’t cloak themselves in the glory of the German resistance?–ed You said that.]

**************

** — The antecedent of “they” — who are “not joking” — seems to be Trump, or maybe “Trump and his minions.” Not merely the minions.

*** –Rosenbaum notes that historian Alan Bullock, proponent of the “mountebank” theory, “would later change his mind” and acknowledge that Hitler was heavily invested in his anti-Semitism.

**** — Attacking judges represents another potentially troubling impulse, a “seed”– one Rosenbaum doesn’t mention in his piece. So far, Trump has engaged in name calling while he obediently complies with judges’ orders. The author of the “Mein Kampf playbook” went a little further (at one point setting up an alternative court system until the judges “knuckled under”).

*****– Does it take heroism to oppose Trump? Not that I can see. In most places resistance (like resistance to the Vietnam War, or to Nixon) is more likely to get you laid. Former N.Y. Judge Robert Smith wrote recently that “Not many federal judges travel in circles where being an enemy of Donald Trump is anything but a badge of honor.” Same for journalists.

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  1. Profile photo of billy Inactive

    How dare he say these blasphemies on the hallowed pixels of Ricochet’s Main Feed! Have you no shame Mickey Kaus? Have you no honor?

    • #1
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:06 am
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  2. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Thatcher

    This post is difficult to parse. Where does Mickey end and Ron begin. Taken as a whole, this appears to be yet another in a long and distinguished line of arguments that try to convince us that draining the swamp is an autocratic act, managed by a monster. At least 60 million or so Americans differ.

    Please. Maybe this will gin up a new torrent of comments between the NT and normal crowds. Or maybe not? Maybe this meme is past its sell by date and we’ll discuss the healthcare makeover, the possibilities for tax reform, combat the Marxist left’s daily lies, how to identify and remove Obama’s deep state plants, or who we think was overlooked in the staffing of the White House?

    Update: After the formatting was fixed, it is now clear what Mickey is saying and it isn’t anti-Trump at all. He’s slicing and dicing the Hitler tool. Billy is right.

    • #2
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:14 am
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  3. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Thatcher

    billy (View Comment):
    How dare he say these blasphemies on the hallowed pixels of Ricochet’s Main Feed! Have you no shame Mickey Kaus? Have you no honor?

    Is it April 1st?

    • #3
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:14 am
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  4. Profile photo of KC Mulville Member

    The Left’s hysteria is just another version of The Minority Report. That is, start by assuming some disaster in the future, then backtrack the series of events, and then stop the disaster’s series of events before it starts. That scenario only works if you presume that you can see into the future and can correctly detect the train of events from point A to point B.

    It sounds attractive, but then you realize that you have to willingly disbelieve a whole lot of things that they can only get away with if you’re in a movie.

    For some reason, perhaps a secret urge for penance for my sins, I happened to read EJ Dionne’s column yesterday. What a hoot! He argues that after three weeks, we should all take for granted the progressives’ opinion about the effectiveness of Trump’s presidency (not yet a month old), and just admit that he must be replaced immediately.

    I’ve never had to use the phrase “fantasy world” so often in my life, and I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan.

    • #4
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:18 am
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  5. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    KC Mulville (View Comment):
    The Left’s hysteria is just another version of The Minority Report. That is, start by assuming some disaster in the future, then backtrack the series of events, and then stop the disaster’s series of events before it starts. That scenario only works if you presume that you can see into the future and can correctly detect the train of events from point A to point B.

    It sounds possible, but then you realize that you have to willingly disbelieve a whole lot of things that they can only get away with if you’re in a movie.

    For some reason, perhaps a secret urge for penance for my sins, I happened to read EJ Dionne’s column yesterday. What a hoot! He argues that after three weeks, we should all take for granted the progressives’ opinion about the effectiveness of Trump’s presidency (not yet a month old), and just admit that he must be replaced immediately.

    I’ve never had to use the phrase “fantasy world” so often in my life, and I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan.

    • #5
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:21 am
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  6. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    They use Hitler because they cannot use Stalin, the commies.

    • #6
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:22 am
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  7. Profile photo of billy Inactive

    I’m reading this as Kaus saying that the Trump-Hitler comparisons are just nuts.

    Hence, my shock that this would be allowed on the Main Feed.

    • #7
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:31 am
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  8. Profile photo of Columbo Member

    … a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had mainstreamed. …

    What great satire of the buffoonery of the former “ruling class” of the Media/Academia/Punditry Complex …

    What’s that? This isn’t meant as satire?!

    • #8
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:32 am
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  9. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    Mickey Kaus: — Allegedly had a copy of Mein Kampf by his bed

    This is one thing that I do not believe about Trump. I simply do not think he has bothered to read any book much less Mein Kampf.

    • #9
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:32 am
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  10. Profile photo of Blue Yeti Admin

    For those not aware (or don’t remember), this is a follow up post to It’s Not 1934, from January 20th. That post will provide some context for this post.

    • #10
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:37 am
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  11. Profile photo of Larry Koler Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Mickey Kaus: — Allegedly had a copy of Mein Kampf by his bed

    This is one thing that I do not believe about Trump. I simply do not think he has bothered to read any book much less Mein Kampf.

    Yes, Trump is stupid AND ignorant. I know that one pretty well by now.

    He’s pretty effective, though — even with these severe handicaps.

    • #11
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:40 am
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  12. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    Kaus is far more realistic about Trump than many people. Trump does tends towards the autocratic. So do most people up in DC.

    • #12
    • February 17, 2017 at 8:59 am
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  13. Profile photo of Michael Brehm Member

    When one equates Trump to Hitler they pay a compliment to the latter in order to slander the former.

    • #13
    • February 17, 2017 at 9:14 am
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  14. Profile photo of Jeff Peterson Member

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):
    This post is difficult to parse. Where does Mickey end and Ron begin.

    The formatting appears off, with what were intended to be inset quotes not correctly displayed. Help us, @blueyeti, you’re our only hope!

    • #14
    • February 17, 2017 at 9:43 am
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  15. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Thatcher

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Kaus is far more realistic about Trump than many people. Trump does tends towards the autocratic. So do most people up in DC.

    I think autocratic does not mean what you think it means. How is he supposed to drain the swamp? By asking permission from the alligators in residence, or does he proceed quickly and lawfully? An autocrat would dodge our constitution and laws he disagrees with, in Obama fashion. Trump has not. In fact, he’s shown restraint by not ignoring the judges’ illegal rulings on his order, a perfectly constitutional action. That has a price, too. The majority of refugees have come from the listed countries since the judicial intervention.

    • #15
    • February 17, 2017 at 9:44 am
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  16. Profile photo of Richard Easton Member

    I’ll read the linked article when I get home from work. But it seems that some on the Left are effectively asserting that if you’re concerned about Islamic immigration, you’re a Nazi. The argument then essentially becomes concern about Islam is anti-Semitism. Up is down and down is up. It’s too bad that Bibi is not as brilliant as Ron Rosenbaum. j/k

    • #16
    • February 17, 2017 at 9:44 am
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  17. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Kaus is far more realistic about Trump than many people. Trump does tends towards the autocratic. So do most people up in DC.

    I think autocratic does not mean what you think it means. How is he supposed to drain the swamp? By asking permission from the alligators in residence, or does he proceed quickly and lawfully? An autocrat would dodge our constitution and laws he disagrees with, in Obama fashion. Trump has not. In fact, he’s shown restraint by not ignoring the judges’ illegal rulings on his order, a perfectly constitutional action. That has a price, too. The majority of refugees have come from the listed countries since the judicial intervention.

    We are defining the term differently. I am talking about temperament. He tends towards the autocratic. Most executives do, and most people in politics do.

    • #17
    • February 17, 2017 at 9:51 am
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  18. Profile photo of Old Bathos Member

    I think we escaped being moved closer to Hitler when we elected Trump.

    • #18
    • February 17, 2017 at 10:02 am
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  19. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Thatcher

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Kaus is far more realistic about Trump than many people. Trump does tends towards the autocratic. So do most people up in DC.

    I think autocratic does not mean what you think it means. How is he supposed to drain the swamp? By asking permission from the alligators in residence, or does he proceed quickly and lawfully? An autocrat would dodge our constitution and laws he disagrees with, in Obama fashion. Trump has not. In fact, he’s shown restraint by not ignoring the judges’ illegal rulings on his order, a perfectly constitutional action. That has a price, too. The majority of refugees have come from the listed countries since the judicial intervention.

    We are defining the term differently. I am talking about temperament. He tends towards the autocratic. Most executives do, and most people in politics do.

    Sure. Understand. He is a charging bull in temperament. Autocrat has a particular political connotation. Google has two definitions, so we’re both right!
    a ruler who has absolute power.

    synonyms: absolute ruler, dictator, despot, tyrant

    Or:

    someone who insists on complete obedience from others; an imperious or domineering person

    Pace.

    • #19
    • February 17, 2017 at 10:03 am
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  20. Profile photo of Doctor Robert Member

    billy (View Comment):
    I’m reading this as Kaus saying that the Trump-Hitler comparisons are just nuts.

    Hence, my shock that this would be allowed on the Main Feed.

    I read this as Kaus doing all he can to keep the HItler-Trump comparison in our faces while getting to call us racists and buffoons on our own center-right platform.

    Why is this racist buffoon allowed on the main feed?

    • #20
    • February 17, 2017 at 10:06 am
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  21. Profile photo of Doctor Robert Member

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    Yes, Trump is stupid AND ignorant. I know that one pretty well by now.

    He’s pretty effective, though — even with these severe handicaps.

    Then how can he be stupid and ignorant?

    Maybe those who view him as being so are themselves the stupid, ignorant people.

    Mr Trump has, after all, been “pretty effective” in prevailing over a lot of smart, knowledgable people in the last couple of years.

    Just askin’.

    • #21
    • February 17, 2017 at 10:09 am
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  22. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I think we escaped being moved closer to Hitler when we elected Trump.

    Excellent! If only they could see themselves. I saved this to my computer.

    • #22
    • February 17, 2017 at 10:18 am
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  23. Profile photo of Richard Easton Member

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    billy (View Comment):
    I’m reading this as Kaus saying that the Trump-Hitler comparisons are just nuts.

    Hence, my shock that this would be allowed on the Main Feed.

    I read this as Kaus doing all he can to keep the HItler-Trump comparison in our faces while getting to call us racists and buffoons on our own center-right platform.

    Why is this racist buffoon allowed on the main feed?

    I think you’re misinterpreting his post. Please cite the parts you disagree with and we can examine whether they are his thoughts or come from the article by Rosenbaum.

    • #23
    • February 17, 2017 at 10:21 am
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  24. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    I think we escaped being moved closer to Hitler when we elected Trump.

    Excellent! If only they could see themselves. I saved this to my computer.

    I agree.

    • #24
    • February 17, 2017 at 10:26 am
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  25. Profile photo of Blue Yeti Admin

    jeffp (View Comment):

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):
    This post is difficult to parse. Where does Mickey end and Ron begin.

    The formatting appears off, with what were intended to be inset quotes not correctly displayed. Help us, @blueyeti, you’re our only hope!

    Fixed! Sorry, there were some formatting errors when we brought this post over from Mickey’s site.

    • #25
    • February 17, 2017 at 11:30 am
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  26. Profile photo of GFHandle Member

    Hugh Hewitt observed that an authoritarian (much less a Nazi) would not nominate someone to the Supreme Court as committed to the document which would limit his power as is Neil Gorsuch.

    10-20% of humans are sociopaths.

    10-20% are psychotic

    70% are neurotic (including, histrionic (nee hysteric) and paranoid types)

    And who the hell is calling Mickey Kaus a Racist and here on Ricochet? Jeez.

    • #26
    • February 17, 2017 at 11:50 am
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  27. Profile photo of billy Inactive

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    Yes, Trump is stupid AND ignorant. I know that one pretty well by now.

    He’s pretty effective, though — even with these severe handicaps.

    Then how can he be stupid and ignorant?

    Maybe those who view him as being so are themselves the stupid, ignorant people.

    Mr Trump has, after all, been “pretty effective” in prevailing over a lot of smart, knowledgable people in the last couple of years.

    Just askin’.

    @doctorrobert

    I really think you’re misreading Kaus’s post. I read it as demonstrating why the Hitler-Trump comparisons are over-the-top hysteria.

    • #27
    • February 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm
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  28. Profile photo of genferei Member

    Classic Mickey. Here’s to more of this on Ricochet! (The more there is the less chance of it being misinterpreted…)

    • #28
    • February 17, 2017 at 12:15 pm
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  29. Profile photo of Kozak Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Mickey Kaus: — Allegedly had a copy of Mein Kampf by his bed

    This is one thing that I do not believe about Trump. I simply do not think he has bothered to read any book much less Mein Kampf.

    Wow. And he managed to kick the (redacted) out of all those smart guys in the GOP and the Smartest Woman On The Planet.

    • #29
    • February 17, 2017 at 12:23 pm
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  30. Profile photo of Ryan M(cPherson) Listener

    Great post. You’ll get complaints for not being thorough enough in your defense of trump, but that heroic dedicated loyalty isn’t any more justifiable than the media’s heroic dedicated resistance. I appreciate your honest look, and I think you’ve got it pretty much spot on.

    • #30
    • February 17, 2017 at 12:23 pm
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