No, Donald Trump is not a new Hitler

Ben Kew

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Topics USA

I was recently ashamed to hear that in Bristol, my hometown, a mural has appeared depicting the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump as Adolf Hitler.

Comparisons to Hitler are all too common in contemporary political discourse. Nigel Farage’s unfortunate positioning behind a microphone so that it seemed to give him a well-groomed moustache led to a viral photo; SNP activists recently held signs describing David Cameron as ‘Hitler’s clone’; and anti-Zionists have described the prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu as a Hitler sympathiser.

It seems the Trump-Hitler comparison is gaining genuine political traction. American comedian Bill Maher likened him to Hitler; the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and the New York Daily News have all run columns making similar comparisons.

Calling political figures racist or Islamophobic is often just lazy journalism, but the likening of Trump to Hitler is an example of cheap and baseless rhetoric by a political elite that wilfully ignores those people who fail to follow the ‘right political line’. This is a sneering elite that hails democracy when the public delivers the supposedly right result but accuses their opposition of fascistic manipulation when it does not.

What annoys me most about this Trump-bashing is the trivialisation of Hitler’s crimes and the suggestion that Trump voters are on the verge of perpetuating Hitler’s deeds. As Rabbi Shmuley wrote in the Jerusalem Post, these comparisons ‘trivialise world war, genocide, the one-and-a-half-million children gassed to death, and is a vulgar attack on the good people of the United States’. In fact, far from being an orchestrator of mass murder, Trump’s words carry little weight with many Americans, and his proposed ‘temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States’ is just impractical.

Those who criticise Trump for creating a ‘climate of fear’ should consider the fearmongering stirred up by labelling Trump’s voters as Nazi sympathisers. What’s more, Trump’s critics are doing their own cause damage – demonising Trump supporters will encourage people to hide their political opinions until they vote. If something is inappropriate, sneered at or banned outright, some people will move towards it.

At best Trump is a shrewd and charismatic business leader; at worst he is a ridiculous proposition for leader of the free world. But if the American people disagree, and vote him in, we must respect that. Voters will make their choice and I am confident they will make the right one. But they should be able to do so without being scared into thinking they’ll be voting in support of another genocide.

Ben Kew is a writer and a student at the University of Bristol.

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