Thursday, May 05, 2016

3 reasons why my Jewish background causes Trump's nomination to give me absolute chills.

The "Nazi" comparison gets so overused in today's politics that it has (unfortunately) lost its meaning.  As awful as I think Trump is, I do not think he is a Nazi.  But there are 3 specific parallels to that period in Germany that I think are unavoidable.

The first is his "strongman" tendencies, inciting violence at his rallies.  Any "leader" deserving of that title would be a calming force.  Instead, he tells people how he'd "like to punch him", how people should be "roughed up", and that he'll pay their legal fees.  No surprise, his supporters commit violence against protesters.  This is the behavior of someone who wants to be dictator, not president.  I think it's very telling that the only foreign leader who has expressed support for Trump (and who Trump has openly admired) is Putin.

Trump's call for a ban on Muslims, besides being likely unconstitutional, is exactly the sort of bigoted scapegoating of an entire group of people.  But think about the logic here: if foreign Muslims are a threat, then so are domestic Muslims (look at San Bernadino, for example).  And if they're a threat, why shouldn't we make them identifiable (hmm, perhaps via identity card or symbol sewn onto their clothing?) or rounding them up in internment camps so that they can't harm us?  OK, these are "slippery slope" arguments to be sure, but nevertheless they are directionally consistent with Trump's rhetoric.  And the way he is demonizing entire groups based on religious or national affiliation is indistinguishable in nature from any other anti-semitic or racist regime.

Perhaps most frightening has been the fact that Trump has called for acts that range from being banned by the Geneva conventions (like torture), to other acts that have explicitly called for the commission of war crimes ("taking out" the families of terrorists).  These are war crimes for a reason, and anybody familiar with 20th century history would understand why Jews in particular (though by no means exclusively) think that the "war crime" designation is quite justified.

Trump is known for bluster, our democracy is (I hope) strong enough to provide adequate checks on such tendencies.  But these are attributes that should send warning flags - red flags and sirens - about the potential perils of a Trump administration.  This would be a leader with more in common with Putin than any previous US president.

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