We Can’t Allow Ourselves To Forget History

I refuse to be open to the possibility of a milder, gentler Donald Trump. Everyone who opposes him should refuse.

Now, I’m not saying we should oppose other citizens of our country (unless they’re being bigoted, sexist fuckwads, then feel free to oppose). I do think that the swath of people who voted Trump into office voted for hatred, bigotry, misogyny, isolationism, and nationalism. I won’t give them leeway on that. But I also believe that they are not exempt from the fallout of Trump’s election. You can say all you want that “they” deserve what they get with Trump, but the problem is that we ALL get Trump, not just them. The focus of our ire should not be on Trump voters, but on the man himself.

The rhetoric Trump spread during his campaign is nothing short of disastrous. Given half an opportunity to implement the things he’s talked about, he will usher in an era of nationalism, isolationism, and bigotry scarily akin to Hitler’s Germany.

It sucks to say that. It sucks to think it, to feel it, to know it. None of us – not even liberals like me – *want* to think that of our country. It’s not just frightening, it’s demoralizing. It makes us feel filthy inside, even if we didn’t vote for him.

The internet is famous for its hasty and spurious references to Hitler. So much that it’s been immortalized in Godwin’s Law. And that might be the problem, actually: We’ve spent so much time hearing idiots and assholes use Hitler as a baseless troll or a joke that when his values and policies are echoed in the highest stations of our nation’s government, we are either blind to it, or willfully resist the association.

But the comparisons are too close. We can’t forget history, lest we be doomed to repeat it. Only this time, we’d be magnifying history through the lens of a country four times Germany’s size and with exponentially more global influence.

Austrians and Germans thought Hitler was a blusterous buffoon who was merely using rhetoric for political gain, thinking he wouldn’t follow through once in power. When he came to power, the politicians surrounding him thought it best to give him a chance, thinking he was inexperienced enough that they could control him. Media dismissed his racist, nationalist rhetoric as theater.

Sound familiar?

Take a moment to read this Daily Beast article about Hitler’s rise, and try to tell me the similarities aren’t striking and horrifying.

Trump doesn’t need to be experienced to become the next Hitler. All he needs is for media and society to attempt to normalize him and his positions, for politicians to go easy on him, for citizens to back off long enough to “see if his actions match his words”. The problem is that his actions are what will destroy us. If we give him that length of rope, he’ll hang all of us with it. Even if we don’t think he’s got the wherewithal to do it himself, he’ll surround himself with a cabinet that can. Hitler did. Incompetent people can make terrible history given enough power.

A lot of conservatives right now are drawing false equivalencies between Trump and basically any other conservative politician. As a liberal, I can tell you that I would absolutely not have this attitude if it were Jeb Bush or John Kasich or Marco Rubio up there right now (maybe Ted Cruz, though, but probably not even him). I would absolutely not have had this attitude with Mitt Romney or even John McCain. Trump is different. Equating him to other candidates isn’t just specious, it’s outright dangerous.

Giving him space emboldens his positions. Gives him the power to act before we realize what’s happened. Gives him a chance to become the fascist we all imagined he’d become. I know I’m not the first person to say this, nor even the most eloquent or educated. But I have to say it. I can’t just sit on it for fear of the response.

Don’t normalize him. Don’t give him space. Don’t offer him the chance to send us down that path. Stay vigilant.

About Luke M.

Luke Matthews is a writer, board gamer, beer drinker, and all-around geek. He currently lives in the Seattle area with his wife, two cats, and two German wirehaired pointers.
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