Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trump’s Hitler Like Disregard for the Truth

Fact checking has shown that close to 75% of what Donald Trump says is either completely or largely false.  The man lies with abandon.  More frighteningly, he seems to believe whatever the lie is that is rolling off his lips at any given moment in time.  Trump's apologists argue that all politicians lie.  While this my be true to some extent, especially in today's Republican Party, in fact, no one lies as much and dangerously as Donald Trump.  Only among the conservative professional Christian set does one find even a close level of dishonesty (which may help to explain evangelical Christian support for Trump).  As a column by Richard Cohen suggests, there are historical comparisons to Trump, and none good.  In the column, Cohen compares Trump and Adolph Hitler's similar levels of lying and apparent belief in the truth of whatever the lies may be that they are promoting.  Here are highlights:
I realize that the name Hitler has the distractive quality of pornography and so I cite it only with reluctance. Hitler, however, was not a fictional creation but a real man who was legally chosen to be Germany’s chancellor, and while Trump is neither an anti-Semite nor does he have designs on neighboring countries, he is Hitlerian in his thinking. He thinks the truth is what he says it is.
Soon after becoming chancellor, Hitler announced that the Jews had declared war on Germany. It was a preposterous statement because Jews were less than 1 percent of Germany’s population and had neither the numbers nor the power to make war on anything. In fact, in sheer preposterousness, it compares to Trump’s insistence that Barack Obama was not born in the United States — a position he tenaciously held even after Obama released his Hawaiian birth certificate.
At the time, people tried to make sense of Hitler’s statements by saying he was seeking a scapegoat and had settled on the Jews. Not so. From my readings, I know of no instance in which Hitler confided to an intimate that, of course, his statements about Jews were, as we might now say, over the top. In fact, he remained consistently deranged on the topic. He was not lying. For him, it was the truth.
Trump’s fixation on Obama’s birthplace is similar. It was not, as far as he’s concerned, a lie. It was a strongly felt truth that he abandoned only last week and then only under intense pressure — not out of conviction. . . . Like a child, he had his fingers crossed.
 Just as Hitler’s remarks about Jews were deeply rooted in German anti-Semitism, so was Trump’s birtherism rooted in American racism — with some anti-Muslim sentiment thrown in. Trump’s adamant insistence on it raised issues not, as some have so delicately put it, about his demeanor, but instead about his rationality. It made a joke out of the entire furor over revealing his medical records. I’m sure that Trump is fine physically. Mentally, it’s a different story.
It’s a mistake to make the unreasonable compatible with the reasonable — to think, say, that Trump cannot be serious about this birther stuff or building a wall or likening the difficulties of becoming a billionaire to the loss of a son in Iraq. That was the authentic Trump, a man totally unburdened by concern for anyone else.
There is no lie that cannot be believed. Even after Germany had murdered most of Europe’s Jews, allied investigators at the end of World War II found that many Germans believed, as historian Nicholas Stargardt put it, that their country’s defeat only “confirmed the ‘power of world Jewry.’ ”
Germany was not some weird place. At the advent of the Hitler era, it was a democracy, an advanced nation, culturally rich and scientifically advanced. It had a unique history — its defeat in World War I, the hyperinflation of the 1920s — so it cannot easily be likened to the contemporary United States. But it was not all that different, either. In 1933, it chose a sociopathic liar as its leader. If the polls are to be believed, we may do the same.

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