Recently, North Korean state media compared our leader to Adolf Hitler. I have been hearing this comparison a lot recently and it just seems lazy. Now let us be clear, Adolf was one of the worst entities ever to be forcibly dealt with by Western society. We were right to dispose of his Reich and the burden it put on Europe, minorities across the continent and the world. No one in their right mind wants to go back to any life similar to that. However, should we be comparing our present time to the age of the radio? Our president is not Hitler. Our president is barely a hack.
Hitler had it rough, Hitler didn’t have a small million dollar inheritance. Hitler got rejected from art school and decided to follow his interests in politics. Hitler made a plan for himself. Donald has gotten caught up in something he barely understands. Hitler didn’t get any help from Russia either, unless you count their abandoned non-aggression pact help. Adolf has for almost a century been the go to example for the devil on earth, the world’s greatest evil, and, of course, the perfect historical excuse for a pre-emptive strike on an enemy. The name today though has almost lost its meaning, like the word fascism, the ideology tied to the man. Both sides of the aisle shout out fascist and Nazi without really taking their comparison seriously. The overuse of these power words and historical comparisons has drastically hampered our ability to talk about these issues with any seriousness or urgency. So, to call our president Hitler is an insult to Hitler. It is an insult to our basic understanding of high school history. And much like this entire debacle, calling him that is an insult to our intelligence.
Donnie didn’t create a nationalistic party like Adolf, he hi-jacked a party that had for the better part of 50 years been marinating in Cold War fears and American gung-ho-erry. While Adolf crafted his image when he was put in jail after the Munich Beer Hall coup in 1923, Donald spent his time being a late 20th century mega-crook and TV personality. Are we trying to insinuate that The Art of the Deal is somehow equivalent to Mein Kampf? Donald may have tried to take ideas from Hitler, like his Muslim registry, but only a true showman or corruptible idiot would publicly admit to planning on making a registration of minorities in the early 21st century before an election.
Perhaps the closest thing the two men have in common is their relationship with the media and the branding of their goals. Donald made his last name synonymous with success, a name which was apparently changed from Drumpf. Hitler made his party synonymous with making Germany great again. Both have used the strategy of insulting and discrediting the media to keep their product effective. Fake news! Only for Hitler this was the Lügenpresse (lying press). Today in Germany this is a taboo word that represents and highlights the worst parts of their history. This is nothing new. It is an old trick used by the forces of the right to distract from certain realities and rile up support. While Hitler used the radio as a terrifying powerful orator, Donald has turned to Twitter to blabber on and commit acts of nonsense.
If you want to make a comparison, let’s say that Donald is the member of your family you hate the most while playing monopoly. If we keep comparing him to a dictator that will be exactly what people expect and eventually accept as a reality. Donald probably isn’t that important in the end. When Hitler took his own life the Third Reich went with him. Donald is simply riding the wave of new right-wing populism, if he fails, the wave continues and we remain blind to the real issues that are far more pressing than what some jabroni tweeted, like who is actually pulling his strings.
The hardest goal for anti-populists will be to remain focused when so much political and media stimuli are being thrown around. There are many ways to combat fake news claims, including; human editors, fact checking sights, crowd-sourcing, and tech solutions. However, all these solutions come with their own limitations that must also be better understood. Editors are reliable but they can also be slow and corruptible. Crowd sourcing and fact checking can be democratic but it can be biased sometimes too. It seems whether it be a newspaper, radio or twitter, it comes down to our own judgement to stop megalomania and the spreading of misinformation.