The New York Times‘ Charles Blow finally admitted that President Donald Trump is not “literally Hitler,” but he insisted that Trump lies just like Hitler did.
“There are strategies that Hitler used to secure power and rise — things that allowed his murderous reign — that can teach us about political theory and practice. And very reasonable and sage comparisons can be drawn between Hitler’s strategies and those of others,” Blow argued. “One of those lessons is about how purposeful lying can be effectively used as propaganda. The forthcoming comparison isn’t to Hitler the murderer, but to Hitler the liar.”
Conservatives should not be too quick to reject this argument. Blow noted the president’s absurd lie that “President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls” to console families of fallen soldiers. When called out on his horrid mendacity, the president said, “That’s what I was told.”
Blow noted that Trump has a style of deflection. He uses caveats like “I was told” and “Lots of people are saying” as shields when caught in a lie.
“Trump frequently couches his most controversial comments this way, which allows him to share a controversial idea, piece of tabloid gossip or conspiracy theory without technically embracing it,” The Washington Post‘s Jenna Johnson wrote.
“If the comment turns out to be popular, Trump will often drop the distancing qualifier — ‘people think’ or ‘some say.’ If the opposite happens, Trump can claim that he never said the thing he is accused of saying, equating it to retweeting someone else’s thoughts on Twitter.”
Conservatives should not allow their partisanship to blind them to this strategy. Blow and Johnson are right to note that Trump lies, and purposefully lies stupendously (saying Ted Cruz’s father was in league with the John F. Kennedy assassin, for instance, or that the crowd at his inauguration was the largest ever).
Blow is not even entirely wrong to say that Trump is using a Hitler-like strategy in doing so, and he deserves to be called out on it.
But there is a huge gaping hole in this New York Times article, and it needs to be seriously addressed. This kind of mendacity is by no means unique to Donald Trump.
Many in the media have repeated the blatant falsehood that Barack Obama’s presidency was scandal free. When Obama himself denied any wiretapping of Donald Trump or members of his campaign (a claim now known to be false), he used an Orwellian twisting to claim innocence.
Similar massive lies have become mainstream background knowledge for the liberal press. Unscientific assertions about climate change being “100 percent” manmade, claims that one in five women will be sexually assaulted on college campuses, and of course the gender pay gap are often uncritically accepted, despite being just as false as Trump’s claims.
Furthermore, another favorite tactic of dictators like the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin and Cambodia’s Pol Pot has been the rewriting of history. There is more than a hint of this in the Left’s push to remove all Confederate monuments, which has gone beyond any reason. A Southern Poverty Law Center map warning of “turmoil and bloodshed” from such monuments even targeted an innocent elementary school not named after a Confederate general, while activists have vandalized statues of Joan of Arc and Junipero Serra.
Hitler rewrote history, of course — notably blaming the Jews themselves for inspiring Kristallnacht. Stalin rewrote the history books to give himself a bigger role in the 1917 Russian Revolution. Pot slaughtered educated people in order to prevent anyone remembering a time before his name. Chinese dictator Mao Zedong launched a “Cultural Revolution” which destroyed historical sites across the country.
In discussions about the tactics of dictators, Stalin, Pot, and Mao should not be forgotten. It should also be remembered that each of these totalitarian dictators embraced a big-government ideology: socialism or communism. Naturally, all of this was absent from Blow’s story.
Blow added that “no matter how bad a present-day politician, not one of them has charted or is charting a course to exterminate millions of innocent people as an act of ethnic cleansing.” Rohingya Muslims in Burma would beg to differ.
But this statement is emphatically true in the case of President Trump. He has launched a rather modest attempt to repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, and shrink the bureaucratic state. Even so, the Left continues to pull out all the stops in trying to connect Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, white supremacy, and whatever evils they happen to find most deplorable at the moment.
This is why Blow’s arguments — while largely true — will fall on deaf ears. Yes, Trump is propagandistic. So is the media. So are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Yes, he is using tactics from a dictator. So are many on the Left. Heck, anti-Trump so-called “Antifa” protesters actually applauded a speech of Hitler quotes about the evils of capitalism.
None of this is to defend Trump’s absurd mendacity. But liberals like Blow should not pretend that he is alone in pushing ridiculous lies. This exact double standard helped Trump win the presidency in the first place.