Kudos to Holocaust scholar Helene Sinnreich. In a recent Truthdig article titled “Beware of Another Reichstag (German Parliament) Fire,” she succinctly describes common attributes of Adolf Hitler, Mussolini and other authoritarian figures, noting beforehand that when they immediately assumed power they did not engage in mass murders and other atrocities that came later.
These common attributes include a rise to power that is nationalist in nature with calls to restore the nation to greatness or making reference to a mythical past; racist and anti-foreign rhetoric; violence or the threat of violence; attacks on the free press; marches or rallies to reinforce group cohesion; quashing of political opponents and democratic institutions, and taking away civil liberties.
What disturbs Helene Sinnreich is that the above attributes describe President Trump’s actual activities. She notes that his slogans such as “Make America Great Again” or “America First” not only have American Nazi historical roots but are eerily close to Hitler’s slogan “Deutschland Uber Allies (Germany Above All).
She finds that President Trump’s attacks on Muslims and Latinos, particularly Mexicans, have been pronounced, and includes false claims that they are a major source of crime and terrorism.
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President Trump’s attacks on the free press, observes Seinnreich, are extreme and includes describing it as the “enemy of the people.” Since taking office Trump has raged against his political opponents, democracy and civil liberties, and has attacked the judiciary particularly when it serves as a check on his authority.
Seinnrich observes that for most scholars it is not difficult to see how in the current climate Trump might easily seize on a single crisis to vastly solidify authoritarian power. For Hitler it was the Reichstag (German Parliament) fire of Feb. 27, 1933 that led to his political opponents being placed in concentration camps.
For Donald Trump? We the people must see to it that this does not happen.