Saturday, March 12, 2016

Noam Chomsky Reflects on the Dangers of a Trump Presidency

I remember the first time that Donald Trump ran for President, back in 2012, and he was not considered a serious candidate. I mean, at least not serious in the sense of being considered a serious contender for the presidency.

It was actually the first time that I learned that Trump considered himself a conservative, because prior to that, he had seemed almost anti-political, perhaps even with what might have passed for some relatively leftist views in some specific issues. So, how he got from there to being considered a conservative was anyone guess.

In any case, there was one guy at my job who expressed a favorable opinion of Trump. He said something to the effect of, "Out of everyone running right now, my guy would be Donald Trump, because he would get things done."

He would get things done.

It reminded me of a song from Jello Biafra (Full Metal Jackoff) in which, towards the end, you hear the incessant chant of "Ollie for President! He'll get things done!" repeated over and over again, accompanied by the Nazi style sounds of boots marching in lock and step.

Of course, this was before the more recent comparisons likening Trump to Hitler, which seem to be gaining ground as time passes, and as the possibility of a Trump presidency inches closer to a reality.

Now, make no mistake about it: I am not comparing Trump to Hitler. After all, people make such comparisons far too lightly, and that admittedly included me at times, as well. At the height of the Iraq war, I was comparing Bush to Hitler, but I was wrong. What I saw was a reckless leader of a very powerful country waging illegal war, and it seemed that if the shoe fits....well, you know. But in reality, although Bush is still, by my estimation, the worst president this country has ever had, he clearly was not as bad a leader as Hitler was. He did not espouse racial purity and outright racial hatred, had not built literal factories of death, and did not have the blood of six million Jews, or perhaps even more, the 50 million who died during the European part of the war that Hitler started.

Let us remember history accurately, and recall that Germany in the late 1920's and early 1930's had a very dire situation that differed greatly than that of the United States thus far in the 21st century. How? Germany had been defeated in a World War, had numerous wounded veterans who had no money and needed help, and most importantly, had been through an economic disaster almost unprecedented in modern history, where barrel loads of money would not buy a loaf of bread.

Okay, so America has no shortage of veterans who need help, although the voting population seems to have failed to figure out that it is the Republicans who stand opposed to any extension of veteran benefits (yes, the same Republicans who voted to send these vets off to the wars that they now need help recovering from). And yes, America did not exactly "win" that war or gain glory in the eyes of the world, but it was not a crushing defeat that ended the imperial dreams of a once proud nation, as was the case with Germany. And yes, we had an extended period of economic hard time, namely The Great Recession, although it never reached the point where you needed barrels of money to buy a loaf of bread, or even a tank of gas.

The United States does not have the Treaty of Versailles, either, although it does have a series of trade agreements that have proven detrimental to the workers of the country. And indeed, there are some similarities, although we need to be careful before we draw comparisons.

As far as how this relates to Trump, I think one of the similarities is that of scapegoating. The Germans were shocked by how the First World War went against them, and wanted, perhaps even needed, someone to blame. They felt cheated, especially as the times grew harder, and Hitler and the Nazis gave them what they wanted: a convenient scapegoat.

Trump has done much the same for many Americans who feel angry at the general decline in the country's standard of living, and that sense of prestige or pride in being American. A majority of Americans seem to agree that the country is in a state of decline, and is going in the wrong direction. Many of these people turn to a man with a big mouth like Trump, especially when they mistake brash talk for true accomplishment. Perhaps there is another comparison to be made, because both Trump and Hitler lied when they spoke, and seemed to promise everything to everyone if it meant more power.

But there is a difference, and not an insignificant one, either. Hitler lied about a lot of things, but he was very clear on some points. He hated France, and wanted to exact a measure of revenge. He hated the Treaty of Versailles, and wanted to tear it up. He hated Russia, and wanted to expand Germany at the expense of lands to the East, particularly Russia. And, of course, he hated the Jews, and could never accept that a Jew could be a German. On these points he was very clear, both before, and after, his rise and fall.

Donald Trump might be a lot of things, but he is not Hitler. We need to stop comparing everything to what we know, as if we are literally going to get some kind of a replay of a past that is now many decades done.

But Trump is a threat, and a serious one, at that. He is a different threat, for a different country, and a very different time. And as such, he may be an even bigger threat than Hitler is, if he acts as irresponsibly in office as he does in pursuit of it. Here, noted academician Noam Chomsky has boiled it down to five major ways that Trump's election to the highest office in this land would signal, as he suggests, that the "human species is in very deep trouble."

In short, they are in the fields of global warming, torture, refugees, race relations, and finally, the possibility of World War III.

Here is the link to the article:

Noam Chomsky: If Trump Wins, 5 Reasons Why the 'Human Species Is in Very Deep Trouble' Chomsky warns of the systematic threat Trump would pose, from human rights to the environment. By Alexandra Rosenmann / AlterNet March 7, 2016

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