THE HITLER PHENOMENON
None of us lived through those days, but we all know about them.
At first, everyone made fun of Hitler. He ranted like a fool, and he looked half-crazed—above that nasty little mustache were wild eyes, and pasted-down black hair.
Germany’s intelligent citizens shook their heads and clucked in scorn. He makes a lot of noise, they thought, and says what he damn pleases, but to most Germans it was all show and idiotic nonsense, aimed at people who didn’t know better. So who could take him seriously? For heaven’s sake, he was a house painter!
To this day, intelligent Germans cannot fathom why so many people were comfortable with Hitler’s venom, and ultimately accorded him power that the rest of the country could never take back. In “The Past is Myself,” Christabel Bielenberg, a Brit married to a German lawyer, described--with appropriate horror--what she and the vast number of intelligent Germans lived through. With amazing detail she records the surprise, and then dismay that this could possibly happen. Over the next eighteen years, her book was re-printed twenty-three times!
Everyone I know or read about made similar noises of scorn when Donald Trump entered the Republican race. His message was ludicrous, and so disparaging of Hispanics it bordered on dangerous--and besides, he looked terrible. Even he admits people make fun of his hair.
The Hispanic comments supposedly finished him. Except they didn’t. Next he attacked John McCain, (who really was a hero), and said, “My heroes are people who don’t get captured.”
The McCain slur should have finished him.
But it didn’t. Next he made hash of another Republican. And then he said, “Sarah Palin makes sense. She will have a place in my cabinet.”
To all of us watching in surprise, it seemed unthinkable that Donald Trump rose in the polls—and kept rising.
Surely, we think, nobody takes him seriously. But like the intelligent Germans who couldn’t believe what happened to them, a lot of us can’t believe what is happening right here in America.
It seems that plenty of people take Donald Trump seriously. REALLY! How easily we dismiss them, how cavalierly we assume their hero will soon implode.
But will he?
Don’t be so sure.