Many articles warning that President Trump’s slogan of “America First” is comparable to Hitler’s “Deutschland Uber Alles” and the rise of National Socialism should give a thinking person pause to remember that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. However, the missing piece, I believe, may be to fail to remember the full history of the comparative period.
The rise of Hitler and National Socialism didn’t take place in a vacuum. It took place at a time in Germany — 1920s-1930s — as a reaction to the rise of Marxism (world-wide communism) causing many Germans to fear a Bolshevik-type revolutions similar to what occurred in Russia in 1917.
Thus, today in America, the rise of conservative nationalism may be a reaction to the perceived march toward socialism under the previous administration. Such examples as the rise of the marxist “Antifada” movement and the attempts during the previous administration to “weaponize” the IRS against conservative organizations (Lois Lerner); its establishing “operation chokepoint” utilizing federal banking regulatory agencies to illegally blackmail any bank under threat of audits if such bank continued to provide legitimate banking services to gun shops, pay-day lenders and similar legitimate businesses, which the Obama administration found objectionable but could not get Congress to outlaw; and misuses by high-level FBI personnel for political purposes, shows that totalitarianism in America could just as easily come from ”the Left” as it could arise out of super nationalism on “the Right.”
With the extreme polarization present in the U.S. today, maybe the full history of Germany in the 1920s can provide a look into what could become our future.
Perhaps real patriots on both sides who honestly want America to continue to be both a great nation and a defender of democracy, with both equality and rugged individualism, need to be on guard against any form of totalitarianism: conservative nationalists against nativism and intolerance, liberal/progressive socialists against the growth of the regulatory state and the resultant increase in regulatory re-socialization by a central government.
As a start, let’s not condemn “America First” as being the equivalent of “Deutschland Uber Alles,” and thus indirectly compare President Trump to Hitler unless we are also willing to equally condemn “wealth redistribution” as being the equivalent of “collectivism/collectivization,” and thus indirectly comparing President Obama to Lenin and Stalin.
Robert H. Fryer
James City County