In 1925 Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf was first published and outlined in vivid detail Hitler’s philosophies and plans for world denomination. As noted by famed author William L. Shirer in his epoch treatise, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, “The blueprint of the Third Reich and, what is more, of the barbaric New Order which Hitler inflicted on conquered Europe in the triumphant years between 1939 and 1945 is set down in all its appalling crudity at great length and in detail between the covers of this revealing book.” Hitler’s racist views on Jews and non-Aryans, their “treacherous acts” against German society and the need for what became the “final solution” were clearly outlined for all to see, assuming they were able to work their way through this rather ponderous and tedious book. While history and the Allied armies of World War II ultimately rebuked Hitler’s attempts at a new world order under laid by nationalistic and nihilistic racism, unfortunately, we continue to face ongoing assaults on our basic liberties and freedoms both within and outside of our country.
Today we are faced with challenges and concerns, not unlike those of the past century: we have seen global economic challenges—witness the Great Recession and the Greek economic crisis; regional wars and conflicts that have challenged our military power— Iraq, Afghanistan, the Ukraine, Syria; racism and civil unrest that continue to fester in our communities—Ferguson, Missouri; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; national security fears focused on terrorism here and abroad—first Al Qaeda and now ISIS; fear of a “flood” of immigrants, documented or undocumented somehow distorting “our” way of life here and in Europe; national capitals, including ours, seemingly powerless to confront and solve the problems facing us. As we enter full blown into a Presidential election year, we must be careful we do not head down a path that would trade critical national values of freedom and liberty for those of illusionary security and national greatness.
The political rhetoric has gotten particularly heated within the Republican primaries where, without a single vote’s being cast, several would-be candidates have already dropped out—Perry, Walker, Jindal, and Pataki. A surprise to many, outsider Donald Trump has surged to a commanding lead in recent polls (38% of potential GOP voters) followed by Ted Cruz (18%) and Mario Rubio (11%), with Ben Carson and “others” in the single digits. Most professional pundits and pollsters predicted Trump would fade rapidly, given his lack of political credentials but now have to consider the “what if” of Trump winning the GOP candidacy. While not an experienced politician, Trump is particularly adept as a salesman and promoter, especially when the product is himself. Self-financed and unabashedly wealthy, he is unburdened in seeking funds from any super-PACs, special interest groups or the National GOP apparatus itself. His bombastic statements against “illegal” immigrants as murders, rapists and thieves; his railings against women (immediately followed by “I love women”!); a proposal to build a wall between the US and Mexico to ensure national security; a promise to round up and deport the more than 11 million “illegal” immigrants (“I love Mexicans”!); and his proposal to first suspend legal migration of Syrian refugees and then, upping the ante, of all Muslims. These, among many other controversial and sometimes contradictory proposals, have only increased his profile and standings among potential Republican voters. Cruz, Rubio and the others while at first having tried to distance themselves from his proposals, now try to “out-Trump” Trump, pushing their own rhetoric to histrionic levels in hopes they can rise higher in the polls.
Some of this could be seen as comical, the actual stuff of late night TV shows, where entertainment of the masses is far more important than serious policy debate, if not for the critical and grave nature of the outcome of these elections, not only to our country but to the world at large. Hilary Clinton, the Democratic Party front runner recently stated Trump’s statements were no longer humorous and needed to be taken seriously. Indeed. His statements to use religion as a litmus test to prohibit the legal migration of Muslims, as well as a proposal to create a national Muslim data base, earned him the rebuke of national and international world leaders, including the House and Senate GOP leadership. Many noted that his singling out Muslims for such special treatment only played into the hands of ISIS and other extremists committed to our nation’s destruction.
In a little reported 1990 Vanity Fair interview it was revealed that ex-wife Ivana Trump claimed Trump kept a copy of Hitler’s Speeches at his bedside, reading them from time to time. After first acknowledging that a friend had given him a copy of Mein Kampf (it was actually a copy of Hitler’s speeches: My New Order), Trump stated: “If, I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.” Whether Trump has or has not read Hitler’s books, it is apparent that he has taken a page or two from Hitler’s repertoire:
- Using racism and xenophobia in attempting to rise to power.
- Proposing mass deportations to solve our economic and political problems.
- Promising to “Make America Great Again.” (Hitler promised to “Make Germany Great Again.”)
- Blaming our problems first on Mexicans, followed by the Chinese and, now, the Muslims. (Hitler placed all blame on the Jews and non-Aryans.)
- Suggesting Muslims should wear special ID’s. (Remember the yellow “Stars of David” worn by Jews under Hitler?)
Not surprisingly, Trump’s positions have won him the endorsement of the American neo-Nazis. Jared Taylor, the editor of a prominent white supremacist magazine, told the New Yorker, “I’m sure [Trump] would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”
Unfortunately, with Trump leading the charge and with the other Republican candidates looking to match him with ever more aggressive positions, we are seeing the promotion of policies that normally would be seen by most as reprehensible and counter to our American values. The American electorate is being subjected to tactics of fear and hysteria while more moderate voices in both parties are being drowned out or marginalized by the sheer volume and shrillness of the conservative extremists.
Even should Trump ultimately fail at winning the Republican nomination, it is clear he has set the course of debate and public policy focus in directions that no one thought acceptable or even possible a few short months back. Should Trump win the nomination, we all have much to fear as we march down a path that clearly resembles that seen in Germany in the beer halls of Munich in the 1920s. To paraphrase George Santayana: Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.—Paul Maxwell
This document was edited by Carol Feickert, CeeJay Publications, Denver, Colorado. Contact [email protected]