About this time eight years ago, my friends on the right filled my inbox with e-mail comparing Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler. Now I’m seeing Facebook posts from friends on the left comparing Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler.
Yesterday a new Facebook friend, whom I’ve never met and about whose political persuasion I know nothing, posted a documentary-style clip explaining the factors that enabled Hitler’s rise to power.
The Facebook friend did not compare anyone to Hitler, he just posted the clip.
I shared my observation that both sides seem to use Hitler as a scare tactic.
This morning someone replied:
“Yes, that’s true. That was irritating because it showed how little we understand history. And here we are again not understanding why a facist in the White House could be dangerous.”
I asked for clarification, which I have not yet received: “Did you mean to type fascist or racist? You’re just one letter off from each possibility. We’ll never understand anything, past or present unless we seek to understand.”
Our downfall will be that most of us don’t care to know. We don’t ask for clarification, we don’t ask questions, we don’t listen with open ears to opposing views, we don’t want the truth to get in the way of our hate. We feed on soundbites. We feed off ratings-getting media-promulgated hate.
Round and round it goes.
Back when the Flint water crisis dominated the local news, I witnessed ignorance in all its infuriating glory.
I was wrapping foil strips onto a small plastic board as fast as my stylist could paint highlights into my hair.
The woman in the chair across the aisle was chattering away at her stylist.
The noon news was playing on a tv mounted in the corner.
Another story about the water in Flint.
“Where’s the mayor in all this?,” her stylist asked.
“He’s vacationing in Florida,” the woman replied.
The mayor of Flint is a woman, I thought to myself.
The woman went on about the male mayor.
The mayor of Flint is a woman, I wanted to say in a matter of fact voice to John, my stylist.
But I didn’t.
She continued on about the male (now adding white-privileged) mayor vacationing in Florida during a water crisis in his city.
THE MAYOR OF FLINT IS A BLACK WOMAN, I almost screamed.
And then I almost laughed. Adding the white-privileged brought her opinionated, knee-jerk ignorance to a nearly comical level.
A couple of weeks ago I was back at the salon.
Another blatantly fact-distorted discussion on another topic between two customers.
Please John, put me under the dryer and turn it up LOUD, I can’t take any more.
I watched some of the RNC speeches last night.
I wonder how many people who did not watch them will be discussing them at the office, at the salon, on Facebook today.
I wonder if the woman who replied to my Facebook comment was referring to Donald Trump.
I wonder whether she meant to type racist or fascist.
If she meant fascist, I wonder if she has asked anyone who has worked for him whether or not he runs his companies in a fascist manner.
Because that would be helpful to know.
I wonder if she knows that he generously invited all of his primary opponents to speak at the convention. I wonder if she knows that he allowed Ted Cruz to speak without vetting his speech, to speak without the promise of an endorsement. Because that would be something to consider.
A fascist would allow none of that.
I’ve watched a couple of interviews in which longtime friends of Trump’s say he is not a racist. I wonder whether she has heard any of those interviews.
I wonder if the statements of those who know him well have any weight with her.
But since I don’t know whether she meant fascist or racist or whether she was referring to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or none of the above, I won’t jump to any conclusions.
Obama is Hitler, Trump is Hitler, the mayor of Flint is a privileged white man. Yesterday, in a woman-on-the-street interview, a senior citizen said Trump is pure evil. When asked why she had no answer.
My guess, in the absence of an answer, is that he is pure evil because someone told her he is pure evil.
Because someone pulled out the pure-evil political-opponent-bashing template and compared him to Hitler.
Round and round
God help us.