The first article that the New York Times ever released about Adolf Hitler is a fascinating and terrifying read. The article by Cyril Brown, which came out on November 21, 1922, asserts that Hitler’s anti-semitism was “not so violent or genuine as it sounded,” but rather a tactic to gain votes among the German masses.
Several aspiring politicians have used this tactic, although I know we’re all thinking about Donald Trump. As noted by Vox, the extraordinary part of the first New York Times article on Hitler is, naturally, the section about his anti-semitism. The author does admit that terrified Jewish communities were fleeing from Hitler, but eventually asserts that Hitler’s rhetoric was merely a tactic to gain votes from the angry German masses.
He is credibly credited with being actuated by lofty, unselfish patriotism. He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish. The keynote of his propaganda in speaking and writing is violent anti-Semitism. His followers are nicknamed the “Hakenkreuzler.” So violent are Hitler’s fulminations against the Jews that a number of prominent Jewish citizens are reported to have sought safe asylums in the Bavarian highlands, easily reached by fast motor cars, whence they could hurry their women and children when forewarned of an anti-Semitic St. Bartholomew’s night.
But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic, and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.
A sophisticated politician credited Hitler with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: “You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”
Trump has repeatedly asserted that Mexico will pay to build his ridiculous wall, even asking his gigantic crowds, “Who’s going to build the wall?” to which they respond in unison “MEXICO!” He’s threatened to make Muslims wear ID badges, and has even suggested “a total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States.”
The media needs to learn from its mistakes, and stop playing off dangerous rhetoric as simply a tactic to rally voters, especially as it’s encouraging hate crimes and violence against minorities. Cyril Brown was most likely told by his sources that Hitler was just using anti-semitism to gain popularity with the German masses, but Nazis were already terrorizing Jewish communities.
People absolutely must realize the threat posed by Trump’s rhetoric, and the devastating impact it has already had on so many lives. Many people are suggesting that Trump won’t be such a terrible president because he can’t or won’t follow through with the racist propositions he has put forward. What they fail to realize is that Trump even if he is not elected, he is empowering white supremacists to become more vocal and act more often. And worse, what if he is elected?
While Trump is not a traditional fascist like Hitler, he is an extremely dangerous right-wing populist, with rhetoric that caters directly to white supremacists, racial separatists, fascists, and nationalists. He has an enormous base from which he can mobilize people to act on his ideas, and it may be only a matter of time before Trump rallies turn into anti-immigration rallies. Hitler and the Nazis were wreaking havoc in Germany well before he was actually elected.