On the normalization of Donald Trump

Something that might get lost in the daily political-information overload is a thought-provoking historical article in yesterday’s LA Review of Books by Ron Rosenbaum, the author of “Explaining Hitler.” Rosenbaum writes that initially he had declined to write or speak about potential links between Hitler and Trump prior to the election because he did not wish to water down the atrocities committed by Hitler and compare them to someone who had not yet been elected and who seemed to simply be “childishly vindictive.”

And yet. Post-election, Rosenbaum’s views have changed, and he worries about the normalization of of Donald Trump and his administration. The way he chooses to broach this subject is incredibly compelling – through the story of the long fight by the Munich Post to attempt to hold Hitler accountable before, during, and after his rise to power. It is a story of a small newspaper refusing to normalize Hitler, defiant in their rejection of the lies and diversions that had been accepted by others.

…The Munich Post never stopped investigating who Hitler was and what he wanted, and Hitler never stopped hating them for it.

As Hitler sought to ingratiate himself with the city’s rulers (though never giving up the threat of violence), the Post reporters dug into his shadowy background, mocking him mercilessly, exposing internal party splits, revealing the existence of a death squad (“cell G”) that murdered political opponents and was at least as responsible for Hitler’s success as his vaunted oratory.

Set aside twenty minutes to read this piece. It serves as a strong reminder to continue to think critically and ask questions in the face of an onslaught of lies and diversions in this administration. This is, as Rosenbaum writes, not normal.

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A Historic Nomination…with a Precedent

You may have noticed a somewhat curious wording about Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination yesterday. Most media outlets are reporting that she is the first woman to win the nomination of a major political party, not the first woman to win a nomination.  Continue reading A Historic Nomination…with a Precedent

A Nineteenth Century Donald Trump

Historian Joanne Freeman has a great op-ed in the New York Times today about early 19th century political grandstanding.

“…the swaggering threat, the mocking taunt, the over-the-top insult” – This sounds like Donald Trump, but she’s actually describing Congressman Henry A. Wise – who benefited from his outrageousness and served six terms from 1833 and 1844. Six!

“Then as now, raising hackles before the eyes of the press was a play for power; politicians who displayed their fighting-man spunk were strutting their suitability as leaders,” writes Freeman. So if you think election politics are worse than ever…take heart. It’s an American tradition.