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14th Nov 2016

Archive reports of Hitler’s early political career are eerily similar to media coverage of Trump

This is difficult to ignore.

Tom Victor

When American lawyer Mike Godwin asserted that any internet discussion would inevitably lead to a mention of Hitler, even he probably couldn’t have predicted the current political climate.

Now, of course, Godwin’s Law is becoming less of an invocation and more of a jump-off point, following Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election.

As well as having the literal Ku Klux Klan in his corner, President-elect Trump has appointed as his chief strategist a man whose news site has a history of discriminatory headlines and whose own behaviour appears very suspect.

And anyway, does it count as invoking Godwin’s law when Trump is literally doing things Hitler did, and his media treatment is worryingly similar?

Trump promised before his election that he would not take a salary as president, and has since confirmed he will take a nominal sum of $1. You know who else did this, ostensibly as a PR move to increase his standing as a man of the people? That’s right.

In isolation, this particular PR move would not be as worrisome as it is when it comes from a candidate whose campaign was already built on virulent racism, and whose election has empowered acts of hate in which the perpetrators often directly cite his victory.

And it’s not just these elements which are encouraging comparisons with a certain führer.

Before Hitler came to power in inter-war Germany, there had been signs of what was to come in terms of his racial politics.

However, rather than attempt to cut it off at the source by challenging the very real words used, some within the media wrote it off as bluster intended to get the masses on-side.

If the same mistakes end up being made during Trump’s presidency, and indeed the downplaying of racism and antisemitism has already begun, the excuse that ‘we couldn’t have seen this coming’ isn’t going to fly.