My recent mini-series on the Great War of 1914-’18 reminded me that creating a political narrative which takes over a nation’s political discourse and eventually dictates its political direction is not a new phenomenon in modern history. In describing the aftermath of that war, I noted that the conclusion of an armistice to end hostilities without a clear victory by either side gave rise to a conviction in the ranks of the German Army that they had not been defeated in the field, but had instead been “stabbed in the back” by traitorous politicians. Millions of German Soldaten marched home – after four years of terror, sacrifice and bloodshed – under a bitter cloud of imagined betrayal by faceless villains.
Radical politicians like Ernst Röhm, Josef Goebbels, and Adolph Hitler were quick to exploit the “stab in the back” myth to cultivate a smoldering resentment in veterans who lacked informed insight into the collapse of German arms that had led its leaders to sue for peace. But true or not, that myth became the foundation of a narrative that eventually changed the political course of Germany. Jews had suffered discrimination and ill treatment for centuries in Europe, but the Nazi-hyped legend that Jews had betrayed not only Germany’s brave soldiers, but the entire nation, was a wicked mega-leap into the unknown. As we now know, that leap occasioned a holocaust for European Jews that beggared the imagination of every decent person. Indeed, so dire were those events that a reactionary faction – the so-called “holocaust deniers” – now maintains that a catastrophe on this scale simply could not have happened.
Jews on Selection Ramp at Auschwitz, May 1944
Today another narrative is being hammered by a certain political faction, and once again Jews are part of it. But this time Jews are not the supposed villains in a national political drama. Instead, they are the victims. The narrative runs (approximately) like this:
- Donald Trump is a racist and a white supremacist. (“Everyone” knows this.)
- This means that Donald Trump is essentially a Nazi.
- The Nazis were violent anti-Semites.
- So Donald Trump must be anti-Semitic, too.
- Conclusion: if some nut attacks a group of Jews, he must have been motivated by Donald Trump.
A significant political faction in our country seems to believe that the above sequence passes for logical analysis. If so, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Let’s try to get at the truth by first examining the opening assumption – i.e., “Donald Trump is a racist and a white supremacist.” Is there any actual evidence that this statement is true?
Trump-haters will immediately jump up and claim that Mr. Trump’s actions and attitudes on immigration demonstrate his racism beyond all doubt. But the president has repeatedly stated his opposition to uncontrolled entry of illegal immigrants – not to all immigration. In numerous public statements Mr. Trump has affirmed and applauded the fact that nearly all Americans are descendants of – or actually are – legal immigrants. In fact, he advocates increasing legal immigration for people who can help the nation. This is the significant distinction that Mr. Trump’s political opponents consistently ignore, in order to falsely accuse him of racism.
What about Mr. Trump’s successful career in business? Is there any indication that he has animus toward any particular ethnic or racial group? No business associate has come forward to say anything of the kind; nor has any “enemy.” Successful business-people always have some enemies, or at least business competitors who don’t like them very much. The fact that none has accused Mr. Trump of racism may not be conclusive proof, but is at least noteworthy.
What about those white supremacy groups that like to show up at leftist demonstrations to shout at Mr. Trump’s opposition? Don’t they prove that he’s one of them? Hardly. If that were so, it would mean that Democrats’ sainted FDR would have to be branded as a racist, since some of his most ardent supporters were white supremacists from the Solid South. Ditto for Harry Truman, who came from the South, himself. In those days, Democrats relied on the support of Southerners who favored separation of the races, if not outright suppression of “negroes.” Woodrow Wilson, an earlier Democrat hero, segregated the federal civil service, relegating minorities to menial jobs only. That executive order was finally rescinded by President Dwight Eisenhower (a Republican) in 1953. Wilson’s support of the virulently racist film, Birth of a Nation, also caused a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan across the country. Interesting how little we hear about that now.
The Nazi-accusation – Point #2, above – demonstrates a serious lack of historical understanding by accusers who don’t realize that Nazism was about more than race. Yes, the Nazis came to be associated with Hitler’s crackbrained theories of racial purity, which resulted in the murder of at least six million Jews and another 5 million “undesirables.” Hitler championed that emphasis, but the Party’s program went beyond that. Fundamentally, its economic program called for privately-owned business under government control. Obviously, Mr. Trump is not aligned with that in any way. He is a free-marketer, through and through.
Democrats like to throw the “Nazi” charge at Republicans over nearly any issue, but their tendency to do that evokes Abraham Lincoln’s famous question: “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?” The answer, of course is “four,” because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one. Just so, calling every Republican president a Nazi doesn’t mean he is one.
With or without the “Nazi” label, though, the charge that Mr. Trump is anti-Semitic – Point #4 – is absurd. How could he be successful in modern American business with such an attitude? People of Jewish ethnicity are intricately involved in American business. They are very talented, and usually make money for anyone who will work with them. Mr. Trump is far too smart to be anti-Semitic. Besides, isn’t his son-in-law Jewish? Come on, what is this? Are we in Mississippi, circa 1912? (Dems have got to come up with some new material.)
So this stinking pile of illogical rubbish is supposed to tell us that whenever a loonie attacks some Jews, it’s Mr. Trump’s fault. Really? Having some Jewish ancestry myself, I devoutly hope (and pray) that no one of this ethnicity is buying it. None of us should be. It doesn’t pass the laugh-test.
Nevertheless, Democrats are pitching that narrative, and their media-handmaidens are running with it. If we let them get away with it, it will become a poisonous fruit of Josef Goebbels’ classic Big Lie – i.e., a story of absurd proportions that will be believed if it is repeated often enough. And, like the Stab in the Back narrative, it could change our nation’s future, if we let it.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)
Josef Goebbels (a.k.a. “Poison Dwarf”)