Fear Hitler: The warnings of history can’t be ignored without imperiling our future

As sure as winter turns to spring, you can always count on a conservative falling for liberal disarmament traps.

That’s why I’m not surprised that Steve Cortes, a usually reliable conservative commentator, wrote a column advising people to “Stop Comparing Political Rivals to Nazis.”

This advice has become something of a truism, but it has the disadvantage of being bad advice. I wrote my own column on this topic last month when I asked about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “Can we justify comparing a young socialist today to a young Hitler 100 years ago?”

The question is how can you ignore the lessons of history — especially the ones writ most large and in blood — just to avoid stepping on politically correct toes. As I wrote in my column:

Do we dare compare Ocasio-Cortez to Hitler? The question should be, “Do we dare not?” A charismatic leader with dangerous ideas can never be dismissed as just a nuisance; they must be taken seriously — and stopped while they still can be.

Of course, Cortes is offended by the left making similar analogies to Trump, and that’s what led him to this argument.

In fits of hyperbolic condemnation for President Trump and the America First movement, political and media leftists continue to escalate their rhetoric and now reach almost casually for comparisons to Hitler and his evil Nazi regime.  Such obscene references poison our public dialogue, demean the horror suffered by Holocaust victims, and betray the heroism of our American military veterans. 

My rebuttal would be that it is wrong to take the historical precedent of Hitler off the table, but analogies must be used with wisdom. When liberals compare Trump to Hitler without evidence, they just make themselves look stupid, but we cannot ban stupidity and nor should we cease to be wary of that future or current leader who really does have the capacity for evil that was found in Hitler. Would Uganda have been better off if the country had taken seriously warnings that Idi Amin was a genocidal maniac like Hitler? Would Cambodia have been safer if someone had effectively called out Pol Pot before he killed millions?

As I noted in my earlier column, “Hitler wasn’t always Hitler … Once upon a time he was a youthful failed artist just like Ocasio-Cortez was a hustling bartender. But he turned his charismatic personality and his dream of German resurgence into a threat to the whole world.”

To imagine that America is exempt from the danger of a charismatic leader like Hitler is to completely misread American exceptionalism. We are not exempt from human nature and human failings, and if we bury our head in our own presumed superiority, we are just more likely to fall victim to the smooth talk of an alluring despot.

If Beto O’Rourke wants to compare President Trump to Hitler, let him do so. Presidents Trump’s actions speak louder that O’Rourke’s paranoid words. But I do not want to cede my own right to learn from history and speak loudly and plainly when I see evil on the public stage. Nor should you.

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HeartlandDiaryUSA.com hosts the commentary of Frank Miele, former editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. Your support for this blog is appreciated. Please consider purchasing one of my books at Amazon. My new book is “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake?” — a look at Fake News from the perspective of a small-town newspaper editor. In addition, my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy documents the downward spiral of the USA that made Trump’s presidency so important. The books are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Go here for a free sample of “The Media Matrix”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/sitb/B07PDQBJM4

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