About the author:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
"Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps, despite his ardent nationalism. Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out...”
There are a lot of parallels to the rise of Trump and the rise of Hitler. There are probably a lot of parallels between Trump's rise and other less notorious authoritarians which may be closer fits. But it's the one comparison I know best. And it's probably been better documented than others. And there are a lot of similarities From History place:
"Adolf Hitler and the Nazis waged a modern whirlwind campaign in 1930 unlike anything ever seen in Germany. . . . Hitler offered something to everyone: work to the unemployed; prosperity to failed business people; profits to industry; expansion to the Army; social harmony and an end of class distinctions to idealistic young students; and restoration of German glory to those in despair. He promised to bring order amid chaos; a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again; end payment of war reparations to the Allies; tear up the treaty of Versailles; stamp out corruption; keep down Marxism; and deal harshly with the Jews."One only has to substitute the date and the names - US for Germany, 2016 for 1930, payments to NATO for war reparations to the Allies, NAFTA, TPP, and Climate Treaty for treaty of Versailles, Muslims for Jews, and this would read like a description of Trump.
But there are also differences. One is that Hitler's Germany had a centralized government. American states have a lot of independence from Washington and states' rights has been a traditional Republican value.
Another difference is that we know what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. There are still some people alive who experienced it. The example is still in our memories. And we have lots of documentary evidence of what happened and how.
Americans would do well to reflect on the Niemöller quote.
The campaign has already targeted Muslims and immigrants, and people close to Trump are associated with white nationalism. Trump's grandfather was arrested at a KKK and Fascist rally in 1927. So these values aren't alien to the Trump family.
Those of us who believe in the rule of law, in decency and tolerance for human beings of all races and religions, have good reason to stand up for those targeted by the Trump administration. If not for altruistic purposes, then to protect yourself and your family when the first targets - it would appear they'll be Muslims and immigrants - have been dispatched. We need to reach out and embrace these groups and resist Trump's attempts to target groups of people based not on what individuals have done, but based on assumptions about the guilt of the groups.
One immediate effort Americans can make is to invite Muslims and immigrant families to their Thanksgiving dinner. Or find out where there will be community dinners where you can help out. Show them your support. Get to know them and let them know you. Connect so that if and when Trump moves to disrupt their lives, you will know and you will support them, and resist the kind of things that happened not only in Germany, but in the US with the internment camps for the Japanese.
It's time for good, loyal Americans to speak up.
I hope that those of us who fear the worst are totally wrong. But Hitler's rise to power was as surprising in its time as Trump's rise is now. People dismissed his most extreme views and focused on the positive things he promised - the jobs, the renewed glory of German people. We have that example relatively fresh in our history. Let's not let it repeat itself today. When Germany was eventually defeated in WW II, the United States assumed the role of the leading country in the world. Today, the most powerful countries in the world ready to take the place of the US on the world stage are Russia and China.