Dana Milbank: "We Would Never Call Trump a Nazi"

Sign at an anti-Trump demonstration in New York City, May 23, 2018. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Dana Milbank hilariously leads off his latest Washington Post column about how the Reichstag is supposedly burning by telling us that he and his colleagues realize how grave it is to compare someone to Hitler, so they would never ordinarily do such an extreme thing. “For five years,” he claims, “my colleagues and I have taken pains to avoid Nazi comparisons. It is usually hyperbolic, and counterproductive, to label the right ‘fascists’ in the way those on the right reflexively label the left ‘socialists.’ But this is no longer a matter of name-calling.”

I’m not sure who Milbank considers his “colleagues,” but whether he means fellow journalists, or even just fellow Washington Post columnists, the Nazi analogies have hardly been rare. As for Milbank’s own work, it’s fair to wonder whether he has read much of it. He routinely smears Trump as a Nazi or at least a fascist.

Column: “Donald Trump, America’s Modern Mussolini.” (December 8, 2015) A claim that Trump was the new Wendell Wilkie inspired Milbank to write, “Trump is the very opposite of Willkie, pulling the party to the black-shirted right by playing on fears of foreigners and racial and religious minorities” and asserts “Trump uses many of the fascist’s tools: a contempt for facts, spreading a pervasive sense of fear and overwhelming crisis, portraying his backers as victims,” etc.

Column: “Trump’s flirtation with fascism.” (March 29, 2016) Trump asked followers at a rally “Can I have a pledge?” and asked them to raise their right hands. This amounted to “leading supporters in what looked very much like a fascist salute . . . the sort of scene associated with grainy newsreels from Italy and Germany” and added, “the Germans, too, find him dangerous — and they should know. Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, last month called Trump ‘the world’s most dangerous man’ and leader of a ‘hate-filled authoritarian movement.’”

Column: “Reality is catching up with Trump, everywhere.” (February 5, 2018) Milbank gloats that the stock market has plunged two thousand points in recent days and says, “Trump has given rhetorical support to white supremacists . . . look where this is Göring.”

Column: “Trump’s America is not a safe place for Jews.” (October 28, 2018). “Trump’s presidential campaign began with genteel anti-Semitism, progressed to dog whistles and ended with a full-throated targeting of Jewish ‘globalists.’” Milbank reminds us he “wrote on Election Day that the results would be coming in on the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the infamous night of Nazi violence and vandalism against German Jews” and adds that Trump’s “words and deeds inspire the hateful and the violent.”

Column: “Trump’s rhetoric is a hallmark of totalitarianism.” (May 29, 2019). Milbank notes Trump’s penchant for using words like “incredible,” “thriving” and “booming” and says this is the way dictators talk. “Trump isn’t necessarily a fascist, but his language is,” Milbank says, then turns to a professor, Jason Stanley of Yale, who has been publicly calling Trump fascist for years. “Goebbels talks about propaganda being best when it appeals to straightforward emotion: fear, suspicion, anger, and then it would be culminated with ‘we’re winning,’ ‘we’re going to get them,’” Stanley tells Milbank.

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