Letter to the Editor

The Donald Trump alt-right hijacking of the Republican Party warrants a host of historical analogies: business tycoon Henry Ford’s political rise in 1924, Wendell Willkie’s flip-flopping from Democrat to Republican a year before winning the 1940 GOP nomination, and most recently, Ross Perot’s 1992 and 1996 anti-foreign trade presidential runs.  These comparisons are appropriate because, like Trump, they were anomalies that occurred within the confines of American democracy.  With so many legitimate and applicable comparisons for Trump, likening his political rise to Adolf Hitler, as is it is plastered in the Schreiber lobby art display, is benightedly lazy and historically ignorant.

My family and I have been donating to the Hillary Clinton campaign since last fall.  She is an exciting candidate who will continue a great legacy of liberal leadership in Washington.  Nevertheless, when I walked past the portrait of Hitler on exhibit across from the Main Office, I did a double-take.  For those who have not seen the week-old art display, it is an array of collages all chiding Trump with the title, “Our opinions about this time in American History and the ELECTION” in the center.  Directly next to that title is a small collage with photos of a young and old Hillary Clinton above two parallel portraits of Adolf Hitler and a young Donald Trump.  The words “Nobody has respect for women for a strong future” are set across the page.

So many points can be made about such an egregious statement, but I’ll start with the obvious.  For those who don’t know, I wear a kippah (yarmulke) wherever I go, and have been doing so for five months.  I am no fan of identity politics, but I will bite my tongue and say that as a proud observant Jew, I oppose the mainstream knee-jerk reaction to any mention of Hitler in political discourse.  Lindsey Graham’s comparison of the the Iran Deal to Hitler’s embracing of the Munich Deal was totally legitimate, as both Iran and the Third Reich are radicalized Jew-hating political entities, and Iran certainly poses a threat to Jewish continuity.  So to put it simply, as a Jew, I take the likening of Hitler to any political body seriously, as such a comparison should imply that a completely innocent and entirely unthreatening ethnic group is being dangerously and violently scapegoated.  Trump cannot pose that threat to any minority without a supportive military, vulnerable government infrastructure, and an overwhelmingly sympathetic populous.  He has none of those things.

The buzz for the Hitler Trump comparison rests on the diction of their speeches, but such a claim is absurd.  Hitler rose to power only after his anti-semitic manifesto, Mein Kampf, was spread widely across Germany.  He seized power on the basis of Jew-hatred.  Trump certainly isolates minority groups to a level that infringes on American democracy, but his political appeal can be clearly traced to grievances against political correctness.  Unfortunately, such grievances created a coalition of supporters that included loud bigots.

An arguably more important point can be made about the delegitimization of differing political opinions at Schreiber and amongst a large portion of millennials.  It comes as no surprise that every single collage in the display is a critique of Donald Trump, as Port is generally very blue.  With that said, I would not be writing this article if Hitler had not been utilized to undercut Trump.  See, every other collage is a real criticism of Trump or provides relevant support for Clinton, but the Hitler collage exemplifies the left’s growing effort to undermine any opinions distant from their own by quickly labeling them cold, racist, bigoted, or in this case, genocidally ethnocentric.  The Hitler collage particularly epitomizes such a tactic, as it makes the case that Trump and Hitler have a similar “respect for the future of women,” when there is literally no facts to support Hitler being a distinct misogynist within his wider rhetoric of Jew and Romani hatred.

Donald Trump poses a threat to American democratic ideals.  The United States has no room for a strong-man leader, and the Republican Party has seen its conservative platform tarnished with Trump’s nomination.  I am confident that the wider American people know that, and will vote as such in two weeks.  Regardless, Trump’s popularity, and his words and actions, all fall within the context of a free and just society, and exacerbated political divisiveness is perhaps even more dangerous than a poor leader.  Stay open to conversation and avoid losing perspective, because delegitimization is the real threat to our democracy.

I wrote this piece two weeks prior to the November 8th election, but I deeply believe that it holds more weight now than it would have before.  There is no denying that President-elect Trump ran a divisive campaign that emboldened scores of racist, sexist, and anti-semitic people.  Trump is a morally objectionable person, and there really is not much refuting that.  My cynical side would question when in history giving power to a bad man has turned him good, but I hope and pray that his actions as President do not reflect the words of his past.  With my thesis in mind, Donald J.  Trump is now set to become the leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world.  He is a lot of things, but he is not Hitler, and approaching his January inauguration with such a conception will only breed more divisiveness.

Best regards,

Aaron Siff-Scherr