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Thursday, May 23, 2024

According to Godwin’s law, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches one.” For those of you with no background in statistics, this means the longer an online discussion is, the more likely it is that someone will compare Nazism or Hitler to his or her opponent’s side of the argument. Given that this election is immersed in online communication, it’s unsurprising our candidates are already being compared to the early 1900s political movement.

One candidate is closer to Nazism than the other. Given that the leader of the American Nazi Party has endorsed Donald Trump, it should be easy to pick out who that candidate is. Trump’s rhetoric during this election has been pretty disgusting, calling Mexican people “rapists and criminals” and wanting to ban all Muslims from entering our proudly diverse nation. He, like Hitler, creates a phony atmosphere of fear and unites people around this common cause. It’s a pillar of fascism that cannot be ignored. Now, we are not going so far as to say Trump is the embodiment of Hitler and Nazism in the modern day. But he’s as close as America has ever gotten to it, and that alone should be eye-opening.

On Sunday night, we here at the Alligator watched Trump during the debate (if you can call it that) and were appalled alongside many other Americans. When confronted with a leaked tape about his desire to sexually assault a woman (which the Justice Department confirmed was, in fact, sexual assault), he apologized insincerely and immediately redirected the conversation toward the Islamic State group. This, dear reader, is a distraction from the fact that this man, like a dictator, doesn’t care about people and sees them as a means to an end rather than the end itself.

Perhaps the most terrifying thing wasn’t his total indifference to these leaked tapes. In an attempt to talk about Hillary Clinton’s well-publicized tangle with law enforcement about her emails (something the FBI has repeatedly brushed off as “irresponsible” but by no means “illegal”), Trump said if he wins the election in November, he will “instruct (his) attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into (Clinton’s) situation.” He turns to face her, wags his fingers and, while she responds, sulks angrily behind her like the world’s worst spy. He interrupts her in her refutation, saying “you’d be in jail.”

Trump has long abandoned the U.S. Constitution. Last debate, when he advocated for stop-and-frisk style law enforcement, was his first strike against the Constitution. Saying that alleged terrorists don’t deserve due process, that was his second strike. For strike three, he’s using arguably the best legal text in human history as his toilet paper, saying he’s going to jail his political opponent. This legal question is long over, and he’s dragging it out as a way to climb to power, now threatening to jail Clinton once he’s elected. That is the policy of a dictator, which is not up for debate.

The only thing more terrifying than Trump’s disrespect of the Constitution and his illegal desire to jail political opponents is the support he’s managed to garner. When he said “you’d be in jail,” there was mild applause from the crowd. We remember times when Trump made everybody “take a pledge” and raise their hands to him, not the Republican Party, the U.S. or the Constitution, but to Trump. We remember times when supporters were encouraged by Trump to beat up protesters. We remember times when supporters shouted “go back to Auschwitz” to people videotaping them as they left a rally.

Is Trump Hitler, and are his supporters Nazis? Are they all fascists? Not really. But they’re the closest Americans have ever gotten to fascism, and they’re blurring that line more and more every day.

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