During this highly unorthodox election cycle, some of the harshest criticisms of Donald Trump have been leveled by respected members of the right-wing establishment.
Early on, the fascist label was first affixed to Trump’s policies not by Bernie Sanders but by John Noonan, foreign policy advisor to Jeb Bush.
Now, just weeks away from the November 8, 2016 Presidential Election, Max Boot, a neocon apologist and former foreign policy advisor to hawkish Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) informs us in a Los Angeles Times editorial that he can hear "Nazi echoes in Trump's tweets".
Specifically, Boot makes a troubling comparison between the fact-free tweet the Republican nominee posted in response to the firebombing of a North Carolina Trump campaign office to the deliberately deceptive Nazi response to the Reichstag fire of Feb. 27, 1933...
While Boot himself has warranted past criticism --- in Sorrows of Empire, historian Chalmers Johnson suggested Boot may be "indifferent to the ruthless and bloody repression that stood behind the British Empire" --- by comparing the Trump phenomenon to 20th century fascists and the Nazis, Noonan and Boot added a much needed perspective that would automatically be rejected as mere hyperbole if offered by anyone who is considered either center or left.
Thus, we find historian Peter Ross Range struggling in his Washington Post editorial to distance his own apt Trump comparison to Hitler that he found in the Republican Presidential Nominee's messianic "I alone can fix it" theory of political leadership. Range felt compelled to add a caveat: "Trump is no mass murder" --- a view that ignores the fact that Hitler himself had not, as yet, committed genocide when the Nazis first consolidated their power immediately after the Reichstag fire in 1933 or even at the time the United States competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Munich.
Historical comparisons like these are of little value if we must wait to see what the demagogue does after seizing power before we can say, "Oh, I guess he really is another Hitler".
Reichstag fire comparison
After making a half-hearted effort to suggest that "Trump is no Hitler," Boot tells us that he hears "echoes of 1933 in Trump's immediate response" to the firebombing of a North Carolina Trump campaign office and the Nazi response to the Reichstag fire.
As revealed by Richard J. Evans in The Coming of the Third Reich, investigators determined early on that the Reichstag arsonist, an unemployed Dutch construction worker, Marinus van deer Lubbe, had acted alone based on the delusional belief that by setting it ablaze he'd trigger a workers' revolution.
Neither Adolf Hitler nor his master propagandist Joseph Goebbels were interested in the evidence, however. Warning of an imminent "German Bolshevik Revolution," they parlayed the event into a decree that suspended key sections of the Weimar Constitution, eliminating, as rights, freedom of speech, the press, assembly and privacy. Beginning with the Communist Party, one-by-one the non-Nazi parties were outlawed as Germany descended into the darkness of a totalitarian state.
This past week, one or more arsonists firebombed a Trump Campaign Office in Orange County, North Carolina, leaving behind graffiti: a swastika and the words Nazi Republicans leave town or else."
Trump immediately tweeted:
To this, Boot replied:
For Trump, the inconvenient truth --- aside from the generosity of Democrats who promptly raised $13,000 to rebuild the GOP campaign office --- lies in the fact that police have, as yet, been unable to identify the perpetrators. It is no more reasonable for Trump or his supporters to blame the firebomb on the Clinton campaign than it would be for Clinton supporters to allege that the bombing was a false flag event intended to shore up a failing campaign.
Trump's effort to demonize the opposition, however, while leveling fact-free allegations calls to mind another apt comparison.
Trump emulates Nazi propaganda
The Trump campaign can be reduced to a series of simplistic slogans, like "Make America Great Again" and the demonizing of "crooked Hillary." Clinton, for her part, observed that no matter how outlandish his remarks and no matter how many times fact-checkers have debunked his assertions, Trump "never apologizes."
What Hillary and others overlook is that Trump has taken a page out of Adolf Hitler's propaganda playbook.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote:
Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968) and a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. He has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing