Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote about historical comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Trump administration in the Atlantic Monthly last year: “Equating the two is not only historically wrong, it is also strategically wrong. Glib comparisons to the Nazis provide the administration and its supporters with a chance to defend their position, something they do not deserve.”
But is that necessarily the truth? After all, Hitler didn’t just eradicate millions of people on the first day of his rule. He started somewhere else.
No one can argue that Hitler didn’t stoke nationalist and anti-immigrant sentiments. He did. Trump has been doing the same for about as long as Hitler did before his own rise to power. Hitler published a regularly released document summarizing the crimes of immigrants, something the Trump administration has also done. Why can’t we, then, compare Trump’s incarceration of immigrants and blatant disregard for immigration laws to Hitler’s concentration camps?
Is it really so impossible to believe that it could all happen a second time — and on American soil, no less?
Not everyone thinks so.
But then again those comparisons serve to highlight a liberal talking point: the constant escalation is leading somewhere, and that place can’t possibly be good. Trump’s vitriol has led to increased attacks on minority populations here at home, and just because we’re not rounding up immigrants who already live here doesn’t mean it won’t happen someday soon. Even politicians take their crappy ideas and enact them one step at a time.
Right now, the Trump administration is trying to make it virtually impossible for anyone to seek asylum in the United States if they’re not coming from Canada or Mexico. The people who’ve been rounded up so far? They haven’t broken any laws (even though that’s not what you’ll hear from Trump supporters, many of whom think it’s perfectly okay to keep these “illegal immigrants” locked away even though that’s not what they are).
Trump said, “We are taking unprecedented action to secure our Southern border and stop illegal immigration.”
Unprecedented is most definitely an accurate word to use when characterizing his actions, especially when the imprisoned people aren’t even immigrants. They’re asylum-seeking refugees. There’s a big difference. And all this when immigrants are among the least likely to commit violent crimes here at home.
But the real problem with Trump’s immigration policy isn’t the reality of the change — it’s what that change says about today’s America. No longer are we a country willing to accept the sick or poor or starving. Trump has distorted policy so much that only skilled workers will be accepted into the country. And certainly, Trump doesn’t want anyone coming into our country from foreign countries with predominantly Muslim populations.
So much for the great American melting pot.
Much of what trump has done and continues to do is blatantly illegal based on current laws (which is why he’s trying to change them), and he’s been sued for his disregard for the law dozens of times. That trend will likely continue for as long as he’s president.