Modern American Politics & Hitler

Hitler is no doubt considered to be the world's greatest and most infamous villain.  And, having said this, he is typically the standard by which we gauge the speech and actions of American politicians.  It is also for this reason that we stand to compare him with politicians we prefer to dislike.  Even though, in some ways, Stalin and Tse Tung were just as villainous or even more so.


Time and time again, we see - somewhere in the long posts of social media - a side-by-side comparison of some politician who eerily states something very much similar to Adolf Hitler.  Hardly ever do we see a pictorial wherein Stalin or Mao Tse Tung is the villain of choice.  But that does happen too.


A Modern Monstrosity


Why do we see this so much?  And why does Hitler stand as a monstrosity, not over just the last century, but this century too?  His gargantuan shadow casts forth its darkness into the hearts of who love individual liberty and into the nightmarish dreams of what could be again - a terrible and dark history repeating itself - right here in America.  So shuddering is the idea of Nazism, there was a film made about it in 1994 called, Fatherland.


The Smallest Seeds


Perhaps we are so engaged and locked on the issues of Nazism that we find that, even the smallest similarity could bring about mass destruction, war, chaos as well as another holocaust.  But, the idea is not too far from the truth.  Small things start with the mildest of insinuations, accusations, the smallest deeds of slandering and libel.  That's how it all starts.  Books, literature, films, ideas in such a way that the smallest rumblings lead to the greatest of political upheavals.  And we, the American People, are terrified of the notion that such Nazism and such horror could ever materialize here.  But, we will get to that notion a little later...


Ever hear of one of the most plausible (and yet most ridiculous and unlikely) of scientific ideas?  It's the idea that, on the microcosmic scale, great things begin to occur?  For instance, could flap of a butterfly's wings ultimately "stir up" a hurricane?  Perhaps only God knows for certain.  But, in the case of politics, the idea that is real and powerful.  It only takes one idea to take root and then there is the one plant, then the garden, then the field, then the forests... ever creeping, ever conquering one square inch at a time.


Libensraum ("Living Space")


This was the Nazi idea of taking land from other people and nations so that the Great Germanic Northern People might have more living space to farm, live and play.  Indeed, the conquering of these other lands was akin to the idea of making such a "space" to "heaven on earth" and it was an appealing idea to the Nazis.


Manifest Destiny - The Mother Doctrine of Libensraum


There is no doubt that Germany was somewhat fascinated by America and some of its history.  In fact, Joseph Goebbles' favorite film, not surprisingly, was Gone With the Wind.  Likewise, German fascination with the Western Expansion was the idea that it was the "white settler's destiny" to settle in the West and to ultimately quell its wildness (including the American Natives).  Such an idea, as conquering strange, new lands would have it, would have to include such a mandate.  For White Americans, this was (almost as religiously as it sounds) God's plan for this "conquer" mandate to occur. For Nazi Germany, the mandate was found in the "German Blood" and therefore, Germans must rule the world because they were, after all, "far superior" to any, and all other races.  This was not too much unlike the White American attitude with regard to Native Americans much of the time and therefore, because of reasons of white supremacy, there was also a mandate to not only take the land.  It was, as if, these persons felt entitled to land to which they had no rights in taking.


American Indian Containment Camps - Precursor of the Modern Concentration Camp


Hate is a powerful motivational concept.  And, based on skin color, looks and national origin, it can prove to be a type of racism that leads to unfair and even criminal treatment of people of color.


The internment of American Indians in "containment camps" often called, "reservations" were truly the first "concentration camps".  Such places were terms that were used to confine such people to "less desirable" land and to keep them there as a precaution so as to avoid harm to White settlers and soldiers working to build American infrastructure.  Indeed, the taking of land from Native American People was a common occurrence and relocating these people to other areas was a common occurrence.  And it really amounted to nothing more than an act of stealing in complete violation of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment.  The "forcible" trading of less acreage of less desirable land for more acreage of more desirable land does not, in my opinion, account for much of a "fair or just trade" - but that is a whole other issue for another time.


As land and property was claimed by the settlers and the American Government, the Indians had to be removed and relocated somewhere.  That "somewhere" came to be the "containment" or "concentration" camps ran by an American official.  Much like a Camp Commander, the Bureau of Indian Affairs' "Camp Director" became the American official to "oversee" the camps.


Such brutality often lead to horrible circumstances of relocation.  The "Trail of Tears" is only one such example and is often very much similar to the "Battan Death March" experienced in the Philippines under Japanese military treatment for prisoners of war.


Fast Forward - Nazi Germany Concentration Camps


Hitler was very much interested in American history as many Germans were.  In fact, they saw that America, in its treatment of American Indians and black African Americans was not much different than how the Germans treated non-Germans, especially the Jews and Slavic peoples.  In fact, seeing how white Americans had effectively placed blacks into inner city ghettos limited and powerless against "Jim Crow Laws" and American Indians into concentration camps was for "re-education and re-assimilation", in Hitler's view, amazing political accomplishment and a testament to sheer will power of the white peoples of America.


Hitler would set out to do the same.  He would have his manifest destiny renamed, "Libensraum" and he would place political adversaries in ghettos and concentration camps along with other "undesirables" such as Jews and Slavs.  But, in Nazi madness, they would take it one step further - outright murder.


What's more amazing is that the American government didn't do this just ONCE to American Indians. They did it again, in an act of racism, by interning innocent, law-abiding Japanese-American citizens to concentration camps.  They didn't do it with German-Americans and they didn't do it with Italian-Americans either.  Why?  Because they were a "threat" based on their nationality, and, j'accuse, their physical looks.


Hans Christian Andersen & the Ovens of the Holocaust


It is interesting to note that the holocaust would be "foretold" by a fairy tale of what would come about in Nazi Germany and the use of ovens to burn the bodies of murdered citizens.  This seems to be so "far-fetched" as to be considered crazy and borderline "conspiracy theory" and yet, the nightmare became real.


UNAmerican, Right?!?


Yes.  Concentration camps, ghettos based on race, Jim Crow Laws are all unfair, racist, terrible, horrible and yet a product of the United States of America.  But, these things are completely against that which America, itself, as an ideal, stands.


These concepts, born out in fruition in other nation states have lead to an unfathomable amount of death, war, division, destruction and unfathomable sorrow.  And all these concepts have their origination right here on American soil.  Not Germany.  Not Japan.  America.


Next time we consider what Hitler is saying, we need to ask ourselves where he got his ideas.  Because if it isn't AMERICA (as the IDEA that we know it is) then it really isn't truly American at all.  It is a crazy idea either based on fear, hate, sorrow, grudges or some other negative idea that stands diametrically opposed to what America is really supposed to be.  America is a concept that embraces freedom, tolerance, the free exchange of ideas, democracy, republic values, constitutional freedoms, justice, life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.


John Minehan Added Mar 11, 2016 - 6:38pm
Hitler was known to be a great fan of German Western Author Karl May (creator of Old Shatter Hand and Winnetou).  The Nazis also apparently pushed up the time table for their racial ideas because they were behind the Americans in matters eugenic.
Still, there is such a thing as "Hitler ad absurdum"
Michael Hathman Added Mar 11, 2016 - 6:45pm
Yeah!  I agree!
Mircea Negres Added Mar 13, 2016 - 3:33am
Though I stand to be corrected, Stalin was a huge admirer of Hitler's and after WW2 had the world's largest collection of that maniac's memorabilia. Apparently Stalin used to study Hitler's filmed speeches relentlessly to learn what made him appeal to such a large number of people while he drove them to their ruin.
The U.S. military's Unconventional Warfare (UW) and Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrines are based in large part on the model the German military and security services used in Germany and occupied territories during WW2, much of it coming out of Project 1946, in which US Army historians interrogated Wehrmacht and Gestapo leaders about the various tactics and strategies they employed before and during the war because in the time period between the First and Second World wars Germany was a military pioneer while the America and other countries got complacent, which made the knowledge gleaned extremely valuable to the Allies, who regarded it as revolutionary and extremely effective.
As such, and concurrent with more than 70 years of propaganda and fascination with the rise of evil in the 20th century, it's inevitable that politicians will not only try to copy Hitler's success but also be in turn judged by the standard for demagogic effect he set. 
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Mar 13, 2016 - 2:37pm
Americans like Hitler. At least your 1%ers ;-)
Surprising for me is only the not even hidden hypocrisy of the US society.
Michael Hathman Added Mar 13, 2016 - 4:23pm
I love history.  It's amazing how much Hitler is used in comparisons in politics.  But what is more amazing is American hypocrisy on the subject.  We hate Hitler because he stands for everything freedom and liberty do not.  Yet, American history itself is riddled with a vast number of incidents that don't put our history too far afoot from the Nazi's goosesteps.  
Yet, somehow, we find a way to still be shocked by Hitler's deeds as well as the Nazi Party.  Indeed, the American double standard for the laws they past regarding the Jews are not too different than our own laws passed with regard to people of color here - including Jim Crow laws and anti-American Indian laws.  In fact, American Indians, while attending boarding schools were required to adopt European names, customs and the English language in such "re-education camps" while denying their own customs, culture, history, names and languages. These are Nazi-fascist methodologies that were all used later in Nazi Germany.  Much of what Nazi Germany political stances were already long ago institutionalized in the United States.
It's just ironic how we condemn others so quickly for the same logic Hitler used when so much of it was already part of America and the culture here and yet we turn a blind eye to that soiled and shameful part of our nation's past.
Michael Hathman Added Mar 13, 2016 - 4:25pm
@Purcell: Great point on Libensraum bro!  Thanks for that addition!
Michael Hathman Added Mar 13, 2016 - 4:27pm
@Negres: Great points! :)
Bill Kamps Added Mar 14, 2016 - 7:55am
People in the USA are pretty ignorant of history in general.  Very unlikely that most know we put American citizens in concentration camps during WWII. 
I see time and again on WB how the conditions in the USA are now "the worst in the nations history", I guess these people conveniently forget the 30% unemployment during the Great Depression, or the millions who died during the Spanish Flu epidemic. 
They say politics now is the "most corrupt" is has every been, when the truth is it is a lot less openly corrupt than it was in the previous century.
I do find comparisons of politicians to Hitler to be a particularly poor form of debate.  Its the kind of thing that ends conversations rather than starts them.  Whatever the flaws of politicians it is unlikely in the extreme that any of them would turn out to be a modern day Hitler, or that our system would allow that to happen.
Michael Hathman Added Mar 14, 2016 - 5:22pm
@Michael Loffe: We must always be on guard against hatred and oppression.  For evil to succeed, all that is required is for good people to do nothing to stop it.
Patrick Writes Added Mar 15, 2016 - 3:15am
The Holocaust wasn't an American idea. Starting a World War wasn't an America idea.
Hitler's favorite movie was said to be Metropolis (whose look was based on 1920's New York City, 100 years into the future). But I'd say, so what?
And finally, on Jim Crow South, it was completely immoral. But, it was rooted in Eugenics which was a mainstream discipline in academia in those days. Across Europe and the U.S., this was accepted science in universities. It helped keep colonialism around the world in place. And the Nazi's took those ideas and created monstrous practices and showed the world how disgusting these ideas really were.
I'd argue that there were a lot of similarities between the Nazi's and most European countries and the U.S. leading up to World War II. But there were also a lot of differences too.
Patrick Writes Added Mar 15, 2016 - 3:35am
Finally, on Native Americans, I don't know all the history that well. I know by the days of Custer's Last Stand, what the U.S. army was doing was completely wrong (i.e. massacring defenseless villages). But, also it's hard to make treaties with tribal people because nobody is in charge.
The British learned this in New Zealand with the Maori despite having all the tribes nationwide there sign a treaty, and setting up a legal process for settlers to buy land from tribes. War still broke out within 20 years (and it was the settlers fault, not the Maori).
But it usually goes like this: Make a deal with this chief to live on certain land and then later other guys are shooting at you. They are from a different tribe. But the settler's don't know any different, hostilities break out, and the army over-reacts, it turns into open war, then tribes gets kicked off land. Same scenario plays out over and over.
From what I understand, Australians treated the aboriginals just as bad if not worse than the Americans treated the Native Americans (if that were possible) because they all stole children away at age 5 from parents and sent away to be raised in state schools for something like 100 years, ending this only in the 1970's. This happened in the U.S. to some tribes but it wasn't a nationwide policy to my understanding.
Bill Kamps Added Mar 15, 2016 - 12:10pm
Patrick, many people like to claim the moral high ground, and the fact is no country should be doing that.  We all have problems in our history and crimes against humanity.  We are in no position to say who is relatively better or worse.
In the USA we take a lot of things for granted.  For example, regardless of what anyone thinks about Obama, you would have a very difficult time finding anyone who believes that when his term is over, we will need the Army to remove him from the  White House.  There are quite a few countries where this is not taken for granted.
Having said that, Julian Bond was elected to the Georgia State legislature, and the legislature refused to give him his seat, simply because he was black.  He did stick it out, and went on to serve 20 some years in the state legislature.