THE HITLER ANALOGY

As Trump has risen to power (insofar as media attention is power) over recent months, one hears a lot the Hitler analogy. The comparison is made seriously and fearfully in these very pages in letters to editors and op-ed columns: Trump is a dangerous demagogue, playing to racism and other fears of disaffected white workers, making wild, macho promises to restore us to our former greatness (and look out world!) Certainly the style is there; and it’s certainly obnoxious and scary to many of us that it’s appealing to so many.

But are there not crucial differences? Structural differences? I’m no expert on this, but Hitler’s small army of “brownshirt” thugs—were they not an important part of his rise? Would that be legal here? Would it be likely or even possible? Is not the structure of our government and laws such that if Trumpery got beyond style it would be shut down (for instance, if the very few thug incidents at rallies became larger and more systematic)?

If Trump became Commander in Chief of our mostly mercenary armed forces, of course, it might be a whole new ballgame.

Can anyone recommend a succinct, expert comparison of the men, os the circumstances of their rise, of the U.S. now and Germany then, both style and structure? (Or of Trump and Mussolini, which a friend suggested is the more apt analogy.) It would be welcome as a guide to thinking about the threat of Trump(ism).


Wellfleet: historians needed

The Wellfleet Historical Society, a venerable artifact itself, has new, enlarged space on Main Street and a new burst of energy and vision. The new slogans are “taking history to the streets” and “not just objects”–the old stuff that has been collecting dust for decades–”but stories.” “Stories” sounds good, but perhaps easier said than done. […]


Ali: Transcendent athlete transcendent of his sport

Not sure just why I am so moved by the not untimely death of Ali. It might have something to do with how he used his fame in that dangerous and exploitative sport to transcend the sport– even while being exploited, to refuse to be exploited. This from a “New Yorker” blog by David Remnick: […]


HIROSHIMA: THE APOLOGY ISSUE

It’s one of those acts for which history will honor the Obama’s presidency that, for a moment at least, he made Hiroshima the focus of the world’s attention. It was an appropriately solemn speech.. But, while dramatizing the horror of that bomb descending on a whole city, the president did not,, as been widely emphasized, […]


Walking with an added dimension

I took a walk the other day. I take a walk a lot of days, but this was different. I was walking with a couple of thousand of others in a fundraiser for Alzheimers research. It wasn’t an especially nice day for walking–the wind was blowing too hard for comfort. But it was a good […]


THE BINGE-WATCHING PHENOM

In a recent “New Yorker,” Clive James owned up to binge-watching “Game of Thrones,” a most un-”New Yorker”ish thing to do, one would think. But binge-watching is where it’s at, our new favorite thing. Suddenly a respectable thing. Everybody you meet has a new fav they are touting. Those who might have turned up their […]


WHAT THE WORD “PHONE” MEANS THESE DAYS

The word “phone” is more popular than ever, but what does it mean, now that the device the word used to refer to is all but obsolete? What does a kid of, say, under 15 years old, understand by the sound “phone” (fone? foan?) ? “Mouse” is probably more often used these days in its […]


LIE IN A HIGH PLACE

What do we make of HBO’s “Confirmation”? Seen by millions, this movie strongly suggests that Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas perjured himself in 1991 in denying the accusations of Anita Hill of sexual harassment. The story is not just of the personal disgrace for Thomas but of the national scandal that he was ever confirmed. […]


What does and doesn’t make it to Town Meeting

Town Meeting time again in Wellfleet, that seasonal punctuation mark. Being of a naively, even romantically, democratic bent I’ve always thought, without thinking a whole lot, that anything of importance to this town would get voted on by Town Meeting. I mean, that’s the whole purpose of Town Meeting government, right? To give people—all the […]


PILGRIM AND EVERSOURCE: WHAT TO DO ABOUT COMPANIES IN CONTEMPT?

Laws are codified public sentiment. They are supposed to represent what’s right. They exist to protect us. But sometimes laws don’t feel like that. Case in point: the laws that allow two local companies to act like outlaws. I’m speaking of course of Entergy and Eversource, both widely perceived to be endangering the public health […]