Donald Trump, who may very well become our next president, is being accused of Hitlerism.
By the time this column appears, the charges may have been dismissed. Or confirmed. Whichever way it goes, it behooves all of us to think about Hitler and Trump, and how they compare.
For younger readers and those who may have heard vague reports about World War II and other related events, a little history: Adolf Hitler was a German soldier and political activist who climbed to power in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. His National Socialist (Nazi) Party took full control in 1933. In September 1939 Germany invaded Poland, which triggered the beginning of World War II. Not long afterward, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. Bad move. Within a few years the USA, United Kingdom, Russia and other Allied nations reduced Germany to a bombed-out starving wasteland.
Enough history. Let’s see how, or whether, Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler resemble each other:
WEALTH. Trump was born with a platinum spoon in his mouth. Initially Hitler was poor as a church rat but later later enjoyed many creature comforts. At his death, he owned an extensive underground bunker in Berlin.
SPEAKING STYLE. Hitler was a dynamic orator. His high-pitched voice and passionate utterances excited his followers and drove them to the edge of madness, especially when he revealed that most of Germany’s (and the universe’s) woes could be blamed on the Jewish people. He was a student of government and politics, and easily listed dozens of twisted reasons why he should lead Germany.
Donald Trump also speaks in a penetrating, passionate manner to his overflow crowds, most of whom would cheer themselves hoarse even if Trump uttered nothing more than “Fish for sale!” Rather than referring to specific facts to support his beliefs, he relies on repetition of a few mostly inflammatory thoughts. He also uses various insults to thwart anyone who disagrees with him. This sets him far above Hitler, who dealt with opponents by having them shot.
PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES. Hitler was not much to look at. He was fairly short, and seldom smiled. It was rumored that he was born with only one testicle. If true, this did not keep him from scaring the tar out of thousands of more fully equipped males in Germany and elsewhere. Trump’s most notable physical deficiency is a paucity of hair on the forward half of his scalp. He also has a habit of pursing his lips and defiantly tilting his chin upward, much like the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini did in his Roman balcony harangues.
ROMANCE AND MARRIAGE. Hitler didn’t have much luck with the ladies. He is believed to have connected with several young women, but the hookups did not endure, partially because a number of the women committed suicide. Hitler’s longest romance was with blond Eva Braun. They did not marry until late April 1945, when Russian troops were turning Berlin into a morgue. Two days after the wedding ceremony, Adolf and Eva killed themselves. Their bodies were burned.
Donald Trump’s personal life has been somewhat cheerier. He has married three attractive women (although not all at the same time). They have given him five children, all of whom reportedly think highly of their father.
RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. The Donald (as Trump’s many friends sometimes call him) is a (non-devout) Presbyterian, reflecting his Scottish roots. He has maintained good relations with other religious adherents, until recently when he uttered some unkind words about militant Muslims. Hitler’s thoughts about religion were vague, except for his lifelong anti-Semitic fervor. He liked to think of a heaven where everyone resembled Norse gods and goddesses and was enraptured by the music of Richard Wagner. Hitler did not believe in an eternal hell. Instead, he created it on earth, to the tune of 29 million victims of Nazi ambitions.
IMMIGRATION POLICIES. Hitler did not welcome newcomers to Germany unless they were Aryan, enjoyed book-burning and wept copiously as they sang “Deutschland uber Alles” while smashing the windows of Jewish shopkeepers. Hitler’s final solution to the presence of unwanted citizens was to emigrate them to concentration camps. As I write these words on Dec. 9, Donald Trump is saying various things about U.S. immigration and anti-terrorism policies. They can be summed up as “Send the illegal bad guys back to where they came from, and don’t let Muslims inside our land until they are officially purified.”
CONCLUSION. All aspects considered, I’d much rather have Donald Trump in the White House than Adolf Hitler. However, this should not be considered my endorsement of Trump, except to say I hope he stays in the race until the very end. Rightly or wrongly, Trump is the personification of the First Amendment – freedom of speech – at a time when many in our land want to bend it, cripple it or shut it down.
Bob Driver writes for Tampa Bay Newspapers. He is a former editorial page editor for the Clearwater Sun. Column courtesy of Context Florida.