Donald Trump-as Adolf Hitler-analogies are all the rage right now.
Over the past week, Jimmy Kimmel recast Trump as Hitler in an elaborate parody of The Producers, Bill Maher put Trump’s words in Hitler’s mouth, Louis CK directly said the Republican frontrunner is Hitler (and America is 1930s Germany) and Saturday Night Live portrayed his supporters as Nazis.
And on top of all that, this happened:
On Monday morning, the Trump-Hitler analogies left the late-night comedy world and entered the mainstream of daytime television when Joy Behar introduced The View’s latest “Hot Topic.”
After playing a clip of the SNL ad, Behar said, “For years, I’ve been hearing don’t make comparisons to Hitler, there was only one Hitler, thank God, that everybody else is not Hitler.” But with so many people making the analogy over the last week, she asked the panel, “Is that a fair comparison, do you think, or is it over the top?”
The panel’s sole conservative guest, Fox News contributor Jedediah Bila, was quick to dismiss the comparisons as “over the top,” saying that she has similarly disapproved when people have said the same about President Barack Obama. While the analogy might have a place in comedy, she said, “the problem is it seeps out from SNL and you have commentators saying that.”
Commentators like Sunny Hostin, who drew upon Trump’s own initial refusal to disavow support from the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups as evidence of his Hitler-esque tendencies. “His message is one that is courting those groups and all you need to do is really look and listen and it's there,” she said.
“I don’t think any of us are saying that every single Trump supporter is a racist,” Hostin added. “But, I don't think we can deny the fact that there is a group of people that his message is resonating with and that is a message of discrimination and bigotry and misogyny.”
Bila continued to push back on the comparisons, saying that would mean Trump wants to “exterminate a whole race of people,” to which Hostin brought up the candidate’s plan to deport “millions and millions” of Latinos from the United States. “You can't equate border security with the extermination of Jewish people,” Bila argued.
“I just did,” Hostin shot back.
Meanwhile, co-host Michelle Collins, herself a descendant of Holocaust survivors, did not blanch at the comparison, saying Trump’s rhetoric “frightens” her. “I know he's not targeting me right now, but we don't know,” she said. “I can't even imagine being a Mexican person or a Muslim living in this country, how they must feel right now.”
Perhaps the most chilling moment of the segment came when Collins read from the very first New York Times article about Adolf Hitler, from Nov. 21, 1922.
That article reads: “[S]everal 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.”
Whether Trump’s casual bigotry is real or merely “bait to catch masses of followers” is yet to be seen. But history tells us that to dismiss it as readily as the world dismissed Hitler would be a mistake.