I’ve already written several times how I am opposed to analogizing Trump with Hitler under the theory of Reductio ad Hitlerium.
Hitler was the posterchild for neurotic Psychopathy
If anything, Hitler was the posterchild for neurotic psychopathy. The man had no conscience at all. To demonstrate how little of a conscience he had, I give you the Night of the Long Knives1, where members of the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Gestapo killed at least 85 people, many of them Nazis and former comrades of Hitler. One of those killed was Gregor Strasser, one of the original Nazis who had collaborated with Hitler in the Beer Hall Putsch. And he was hardly the only one.
Again, Hitler had no conscience. He would kill anyone who he thought would get in his way, and clearly had no second thoughts about the Final Solution.
By comparison Trump is a wuss. Hitler enlisted voluntarily in the infantry in World War 1, where among other things he was a regimental message-runner and demonstrated courage under fire. In contrast Donald Trump used the excuse of “bone spurs” to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War.
Trump is poster child for malignant narcissism
No, if Hitler is the posterchild for neurotic psychopathy, then Trump is the posterchild for malignant narcissism. He is a man-baby requiring constant praise and attention. A compulsive liar, he began on day 1 of his presidency by claiming that the crowd for his inauguration was bigger than the crowd for Obama’s first inauguration. Trump lies constantly about things which are so easily disprovable.
Now, during the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump:
- Has been concerned about his TV ratings at his daily press briefings
- Has wanted everyone to praise him for his pandemic response when it’s clear that his response has been belated, haphazard and disorganized.
- Has been desperately looking for someone to blame, and has tried to blame Obama, China, 2and more recently the World Health Organization.
- Has claimed power that he doesn’t have, claiming that he had “total authority” to reopen the government on his own (when most of that authority is held by the 50 state Governors).
- Has ordered a delay in sending out the $1200 stimulus checks because he wanted his name on the checks (even though many of them will be going out electronically).
Goebbels was, of course, the Nazi’s Reich Minister of Propaganda, where the Nazi’s bought into the notion that when lying, one should keep it simple, make it outrageous, and keep repeating it over and over. That’s what Trump and his minions (especially his press secretaries3) have done.
So, for example, Trump claimed that there were millions of instances of voter fraud in the 2016 election so to make it appear that he had won the popular vote against Hillary Clinton, when he actually lost the popular vote by 2,868,686 voters (as of the most recent count). His claim of voter fraud has been debunked over and over again, and yet, it doesn’t keep him from repeating the claim ad nauseum.
Other lies promoted by Donald Trump include:
- The lie that Ukraine tried to interfere on behalf of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
- The lie that Article II of the US Constitution lets Trump do “whatever he wants”.
- The lie that he was exonerated by the Mueller report.
- The lie that China is paying the entirety of the cost of his tariffs on imported Chinese products.
- The lie that his administration did not disband the US Pandemic Response Team.
Most of these lies are consequential, but Trump also makes claims that simply betray his extraordinary ignorance (and in this sense they are not like the lies of Goebbels). So for example, Trump has:
- Claimed that windmills cause cancer.
- Claimed that “raking” the forests will prevent forest fires.
- Claimed that Alabama was a threatened target from Hurricane Dorian (the “sharpie fiasco”).
Trump apparently does this because he enjoys speaking off the cuff but then won’t allow himself to be contradicted.
The point here is that by now, in 2020, seventy-five years after the demise of the Nazi regime, we would be more sophisticated about propaganda. But we’re not. Even though the propaganda can be easily demonstrated and explained, so many people are emotionally attached to swallowing the propaganda. They would rather believe the “fuck you” President because it makes them feel good. And there it is.
- Actually more than one night, the “Long Knives” incident took place from June 30 to July 2, 1934.
- And to be fair, China does deserve some blame for its initially disingenuous and surreptitious response to the virus when it first emerged in Wuhan.
- Kellyanne Conway famously tried to re-characterize Donald Trump’s lies as “alternative facts” when challenged by the press.