Wednesday, June 13, 2018
I broke the law. Whatever it is. That one about 'the first one that makes a comparison to Hitler or Nazis loses the argument'. I broke it all to fuck.
I said "We would not tolerate a public school that printed yearbook photos with swastikas in them We would support any public school that refused to let a student quote Adolf Hitler as their yearbook motto. We revere freedom of speech, but we understand as a culture that publication by a government entity such as a public school is an indication of acceptance and respect and social sanction, and those things can never, never, never be extended to the teachings of Adolf Hitler or the Nazis."
"But Trump isn't Hitler," the person I was arguing with said, cogently enough. "I know he talks a lot of shit. I know he's a scumbag. He champions and validates our darkest and worst social instincts. His presence as President of the United States has licensed violent bigots to act out their hatred in vicious ways that they would never have dared to manifest under Obama, or even a Bush. But you can't call him Hitler. You just can't go to that extreme. Even if I agree with you that Hitler and the Nazis are just so egregiously horrible that we can exempt them from freedom of speech laws and traditions, Trump just isn't that horrible yet. He hasn't gone to those extremes yet. And he probably never will."
I said, "What extremes are you saying Hitler has gone to, and Trump hasn't?"
"Well," this guy said and now his tone was taking on a tinge of exasperation, like 'this is so obvious I shouldn't have to say this', "he hasn't set up any concentration camps yet. He isn't killing people for profit."
I paused. Thought about it for maybe thirty seconds -- I'm a slow thinker -- and then said "I will grant you that there aren't ovens, or mass graves, or gas chambers, or any concerted attempts to deliberately work people to death, and then rip their gold teeth out of their skulls, and weave their hair into winter overcoats for soldiers, and all that. But I'm going to say that I think ICE detention centers and for profit private prisons are in the same ballpark as concentration camps. And you know Trump and all his buddies, especially including Sessions, who is doing his best to turn the war on drugs back up to 11, are heavily invested in private prisons. So no. Trump isn't sending troops out to round up Jews and homosexuals and Gypsies and the mentally retarded and shipping them off to death camps. But he is using armed government agents to round up undocumented immigrants, the arrest and detention of which requires no warrant whatsoever, and he is encouraging and intensifying a police state that already makes it unsafe for a black male, any black male, no matter how affluent, to leave his home and travel anywhere. And you have to know that if he thought the Supreme Court and the justice system would tolerate it, he'd be rounding up Muslims, too. It would be the logical next step, if he'd been allowed to enact his Muslim ban."
The guy I was talking to started to say something, and I went on. "No. I know it's different, but only in the intensity of the application. Hitler scapegoated the Jews as a way of getting and maintaining political power, and he made a fabulous profit off stealing all their assets, including every last calorie of energy in their bodies -- and then he harvested their dental fillings, their hair, and some perhaps apocryphal tales indicate, even their skin, for various military uses. Trump is scapegoating undocumented immigrants, Muslims, and 'criminals' -- generally meaning, African-Americans -- to gain and maintain political power, and he's making a tidy profit off doing it, too. Hitler was more openly murderous, what Hitler did was a greater evil than what Trump is doing -- but we're simply arguing about gradations of horror and darkness. Trump's got his concentration camps up and running. If Hitler had had a judicial system constantly telling him that his pogroms were immoral and illegal, well, he probably would have sent brownshirts to murder all the judges that stood up to him. Trump hasn't done that... but he sure is talking a lot of shit about judges that won't let him do what he wants."
And the guy I was arguing with just sat there, thinking about it...