Just got through with Part One of Future Learn’s Holocaust course. I’ve read a lot of books on the topic; speak German; was stationed in Old West Berlin for four years, and this course is more like a refresher course than a true study—at least the first part is. We’ll see about the second part.
Reviewing what happened during the rise of the Third Reich has always been essential, but this is especially so right now. We have opponents of President Trump comparing him to Hitler while, with no sense of irony, rioting, destroying property and assaulting his supporters. Would any of them be inclined to “review” this history? Doubtful.
But more reasonable sorts—both proponents and opponents of the Trump Administration—should take the time to do this. Oh, not because anything like the Third Reich is possible yet in the USA, but because such a thing should be recognized from a long way off. And you can’t prepare for something you don’t recognize…or something that you misremember.
Example: my cousin is warier of Donald Trump than I am and asserted that Americans are “just as capable of voting in a Hitler as the Germans were.” Americans are certainly capable of making mistakes in picking who sits in the Oval Office, but the problem with the analogy is this: the German people did not vote Hitler in as Chancellor. His party didn’t even win a majority of votes. It received a plurality; the German President Paul von Hindenburg “decided” to choose Hitler as chancellor and thus began the descent into Hell. That’s the short version.
My cousin is very intelligent and very knowledgeable about this period of European history, but he forgot this essential thing about parliamentary elections and about that one in particular.
It takes just a little bit of effort to make sure one’s metaphors are correct so that one is not crying wolf on the day when a real wolf comes knocking on the door.
For a better essay about the absurdity of calling any American president Hitler, go here.
Thanks to Michael Tyson, Major, USAF (ret.)
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done on February 2017! Follow her on Twitter.
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