“Is this what Germany looked like in 1933?” Joe Scarborough asked on Morning Joe today.
No. Not at all.
Though many in my family were exterminated during the Holocaust—including my grandfather, who died trying to make his way home from Mauthausen after years of forced labor—I’m not completely offended by an occasional gratuitous Nazi analogy. But, as much I hate to intrude on our day of national indignation, Donald Trump’s idiotic, undoable, and probably unconstitutional immigration proposal (if we can call it that) is not comparable to the genocide of six million Jews. Trump is not comparable to Hitler. The Art of the Deal is not Mein Kampf. You can save your histrionic riffs of Martin Niemoeller, for now. Trump’s statist suggestions and nativist populism, though often reprehensible in their own special way, are not nearly as morally corrupt as the policies of National Socialism or Stalinism or even the theocracies that litter the Middle East right now.
“Heil Donald Trump”: Neo-Nazis, white supremacists LOVE Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim proposal. https://t.co/EjCo1nesfJ pic.twitter.com/NwoTIUhwXz
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 9, 2015
Unless political demonstrations have been banned and something comparable to the Reichstag fire is about to go down, Trump is not going to be Führer. Marinus van der Lubbe may not have burned down the German Parliament, but Islamic terrorists actually did gun down a bunch of Americans last week. And yet Stromtroopers didn’t smash Muslim businesses in a fury of collective punishment; a concentration camp for political opponents of Trump was not established this year; there’s been no decree banning Muslims from practicing law and civil service jobs, and no prohibitions on Islamic dietary laws. Not even Trump has claimed to want to institute any of these things—and other than a few fringy Nazi types on Twitter, I’ve never seen anyone claim to want to institute these things. All of them, of course, would be unconstitutional.
I realize that many liberals like to portray Muslims as an oppressed class, much like the Jews of pre-war Germany. But this historical fearmongering is not backed by evidence. Rarely are religious hate crimes directed at Muslims (over 60 percent of them are still aimed at Jews.) As of December 2015, Muslims have not lost a single right as Americans (other than the ones we all lose.) Calling for an end to Muslim immigration is more comparable to the Chinese Immigration and the Chinese Exclusion Acts (though, this has nothing to do with economic protectionism) than it is to Nuremberg Laws. Muslim Americans enjoy more individual liberty in the United States than they would in any Islamic nation.
Many Americans feel that they’re under attack. Many blame all Muslims and some won’t blame Islam, at all. Both are preposterous and dangerous positions. Trump’s crass populism—the crassiest—feeds off this fear. It’s an ugly overreaction to president’s underreaction regarding terrorism, though there is one incredibly important distinction: Both of these men have proposed actions that intrude on the Constitution this week, but only one will ever have been president.
Trump is never going to make a decision for the American people. Neither major party will support his run, should he somehow win the nomination, which is highly doubtful. But if you’re truly concerned that Trump is going to turn America in Nazi Germany, you should be a vocal opponent of abusive executive power, no matter who is president. That includes the one we have right now. Because it’s the precedents we set today that would make it easier for Trump to have his own Schutzstaffel.