Trump Has Taken A Page Straight From The Hitler Playbook

28 January 2017. Author: Social Justice – Bruce Emmerling. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

by Steven Reisner

And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” ― Exodus 22:20

As a child, I lived in two worlds: the world that I shared with other kids on the streets of Brooklyn, and the world inside my house – a place of tension, strange stories, uncomfortable silences and sudden outbursts; a place where you never knew what would evoke rage and fear or what would trigger a horrific memory or what would turn light, empty talk into the subject of a dire warning. My parents were refugees who had escaped from Poland during the Second World War – and my family kitchen was, in a way, an outpost of the Holocaust.

 So, although I lived the privileged life of lower middle-class white America in the 60’s, I didn’t know it as a child. Because simultaneously, I lived in a world where friendship was determined by who I believed would hide me when the Nazis came to take us away; and where naiveté was represented by those who wouldn’t take these threats seriously or wouldn’t recognize when it was time to flee.

 This is why, when reading about what Donald Trump and his appointees are doing to our current immigrant population and to those seeking refuge, I can’t help but identify with the “aliens,” intuitively replacing the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘Syrian refugee’ with ‘Jew’ and ‘Jewish refugee.’ I instinctively transpose the language, for example, of Trump’s new Federal program, Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement, to Victims of Jewish Crime Engagement, just to feel what it would be like to be Trump’s target, and wondering, if it were written that way in newspaper headlines, whether it would change anyone’s consciousness of what is happening.

 This is not to say that Trump is preparing concentration camps or the mass extermination of Muslims. But it is to say that that I read Trump’s policy-making as borrowing a page from Hitler’s playbook, galvanizing populist support by mobilizing his followers’ sense of special suffering at the hands of a specific population of alien usurpers. And, by ‘Hitler’s playbook,’ I am not speaking in generalizations or euphemisms; I am referring to Hitler’s actual playbook, the 1920 25-point program of the Nationalist Socialist Party. Like Trump’s playbook, this plan identified aliens as a threat to national unity, responsible for the usurping of jobs and the weakening of “positive Christianity.” Here are excerpts from Hitler’s 25-points:

Only members of the nation may be citizens of the State. Only those of German blood… may be members of the nation. Accordingly, no Jew may be a member of the nation… Non-citizens may live in Germany only as guests and must be subject to laws for aliens… We demand that the State shall make it its primary duty to provide a livelihood for its citizens. If it should prove impossible to feed the entire population, foreign nationals (non-citizens) must be deported from the Reich…

My friends tell me that, as a child of Holocaust survivors, I am too sensitive to these issues, and I, too, have always been skeptical of the overuse of the Hitler card to criticize political hate-speech. But the vitriol of the language of used by the current administration, coupled with the skill with which Trump mobilizes this hatred, has changed this reticence, not only for me, but for other historians of the Holocaust.  

One of the stories that was frequently told in my house was the story of my mother’s father, a tailor who delayed my family’s deportation to Auschwitz from the Lodz ghetto, because he spoke German and made uniforms and other garments for the German elite. One day, a neighbor, who had escaped to the Soviet Union, returned to the ghetto to try and help his family escape and warn the Jews of what was happening. He told terrible stories of mass shootings of Jews at the hands of the Germans. My grandfather, who learned German as a young soldier in the German army during the First World War, refused to believe his stories. He told my mother that he had been treated very well in the military and that the Germans were a civilized people.

 For my mother, this was not simply a cautionary tale, but simultaneously a story about how her father, even in the ghetto, had not given up hope in others’ humanity. For me, it is a reminder that, sometimes, holding on to long is the greater threat. My grandfather, my grandmother, my aunt and two uncles died in Auschwitz as a direct result of the hatred of the foreigner, stoked by Hitler’s playbook.

 So when Trump stokes ethnic hatred by painting an immigrant ethnic group as criminals, rapists, and drug dealers (in much the same way that Nazi propaganda highlighted Jewish crimes); creates a special Office on Victims of Immigrant Crimes; and calls for a weekly report to “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens,” it does not feel like a leap to harken back to Hitler’s creation of a special Office of Racial Policy, and the order from Hitler’s Minister of Justice that called on prosecutors to “forward a copy of every [criminal] indictment against a Jew to the ministry’s press division.”

 I play my language game very seriously because, as a Jew, I know that when one group is targeted, we must see all groups as targeted. As a Jew, I know that when bystanders ignore one outrage and then another and another, they become complicit and less likely to protest as time goes on. As a Jew, I know better than to confuse my current privilege with safety. And as a Jew, I know that when they come for the aliens, the Muslims, the Mexicans, when they come for the [fill in the blank], they come for me.

  Originally published on the Huffington Post, 04/09/2017 06:16 pm ET.

Steven Reisner is a psychoanalyst and founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and adviser on ethics and psychology for Physicians for Human Rights.

Posted in Armed conflict, Children and war, Donald Trump, Genocide, Media, militarization, politics, Propaganda, Protest, racism, resistance, social justice, Terrorism, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Beware the spin!

                                                                                                                                                            By Kathie MM
In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation about the threat of the military-industrial complex (MIC) to national security, social justice, and peace. Not only has the MIC become gargantuan since his warning, it has also swallowed up institutions that should be alerting citizens to the persisting dangers identified by Eisenhower.

In 2005, Norman Solomon* warned the nation about the entanglement of the corporate media in an expanded military-industrial-media complex. He provided frightening examples of members of the media cozying up to the military and assuring the public that each new war is good, valiant, necessary, and desirable when pursued by the U.S. government (which, after all, must struggle to line all those pockets that bring it to power).

To Norman Solomon, I sing, in the music and words (with a little editing), of Don McLean:

“Now, I understand, what you tried to say to me

How you suffered world insanity

And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how

Perhaps they’ll listen now.”

Sadly, war drums are once again drowning out voices of reason and ethical reflection. The enthusiastic rush of the corporate media to anoint Donald Trump as miraculously “presidential” because he ordered the launching of those “beautiful” missiles towards a site in Syria is a scene right out of 1984.

The day after the first strikes, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) revealed that the corporate media were singing the same old song: Rah, rah for the red, white, and blue.

If you must read the establishment newspapers and watch hyped-up television programs glorifying Trump’s attacks, at least balance out your exposure to the military-industrial-media complex by diving into alternative media:

Read War is the ultimate distraction by Mark Summer.

See what Former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, tells Paul Jay on Real News  .

Learn more about #HandsoffSyria demonstrations .

Listen to the first song (Nasty Man )  Joan Baez has written and recorded in 25 years:

And see what the Friend’s Committee on National Legislation recommends .


*Solomon’s War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (John Wiley & Sons, 2005). The first chapter of the book can be found at


Posted in Armed conflict, Book reviews, capitalism, Democracy, Donald Trump, Media, militarization, Military-industrial complex, Patriotism, Poetry and the arts, politics, Propaganda, Protest, resistance, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Human Kindness: America’s Positive People

Two young girls were among the approximately 7,000 protesters who gathered in downtown Minneapolis on Jan. 31, 2017 to denounce President Trump and express solidarity with immigrants. (Photo by Fibonacci Blue/ flickr CC 2.0)

by Charles Bayer*

Last week I described how I have often encountered America’s positive people — those I know, as well as complete strangers who have gone out of their way to be gracious and helpful. This week I want to widen that observation and describe how many Americans welcome and support countless others to their homes, cities, churches and hearts. Why? Perhaps they remember that a generation or two ago their forebears arrived at Ellis Island undocumented. Or perhaps they are compelled by the deep roots of their religious faith.

“The sanctuary movement is only the latest sign that at heart we are a gracious people who care deeply about each other and a world of others.”

These days we are witnessing the bitter vituperation of an ignorant president who continues to sow fear and suspicion, who has accused Mexico of sending across our border rapists and drug dealers whom he plans to keep out by constructing an impenetrable wall.

This fearmongering has not gone unnoticed or unchallenged. Across the nation hundreds of communities large and small have declared themselves to be “sanctuary cities.” While no one seems certain as to what that implies, at a minimum it is an indication that when the reds come to seize someone the government has decided to deport, the transfer will be resisted.

In addition, churches all across the nation are now willing to open their buildings to those who are no longer safe from the threat of deportation. According to The Los Angeles Times, these congregations now number in the hundreds.

Historically, churches have been safe havens where fugitives could seek temporary protection. In Anglo-Saxon England, churches and churchyards generally provided 40 days of immunity, and neither the sheriff nor the army would enter them to seize the supposed outlaw. But gradually the right of sanctuary was eroded. In 1486, sanctuary for the crime of treason was disallowed, and sanctuary for most other crimes was severely restricted by Henry VIII. This right was later abolished.

In the 1980s many US churches provided sanctuary for political refugees from Central America. A member of our community was convicted of participating in a religious body that offered refuge during those troubling years.

“If this drive toward fascism is what it means to make America great again, then greatness has been badly defined.”

When President Trump declared that we should prioritize Christian refugees, and followed it with a prohibition against anyone coming here from several Muslim countries, a blanket of fear descended on every mosque and Muslim community. There’s a Muslim religious school a few blocks from where I live. Concerned about their children’s safety after Trump signed the ban, parents were hesitant to send them to class lest they be harassed on the way. When a threatening letter was sent to the school, a nearby Christian congregation dispatched volunteers every morning when the children were due to arrive and every afternoon when they were to return home, to make sure they were OK.

When President Trump suggested the possibility of assembling a Muslim registry in this country, scores of Christians said they’d go to the registration sites and declare themselves Muslims.

This state of affairs does not reflect the America I love and to which my grandfather, Peter Bayer, came from Germany after World War I. The United States has now become an enclave for frightened people who are controlled to the extent they internalize Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Thankfully, there are enough good people around who accept as fellow citizens those who are different — even if they do not personally know them.

The sanctuary movement is only the latest sign that at heart we are a gracious people who care deeply about each other and a world of others — added to the list that includes the underground railroad, the end of slavery and segregation, the civil rights revolution, care of the elderly through Social Security and Medicare, women’s suffrage, gay rights, WIC (the program for women, infants and children) and the effort to guarantee health insurance to every American.

We must not be ruled by fear or kept in line by how this administration defines the “outsiders” we are supposed to hate. If this drive toward fascism is what it means to make America great again, then greatness has been badly defined. It is not greatness to which Trump is pointing us, but a narrow sectarian nationalism that may end the greatest experiment in democracy the world has ever known.

  • This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. This article was originally published on Common Dreams, Friday, March 31, 2017, by

Charles Bayer

Charles Bayer is a somewhat retired theological professor and congregational pastor who writes regularly for The Senior Correspondent. He lives in Claremont, California, where he is still involved in writing a newspaper column and a variety of other jobs, boards and activities.





Posted in Donald Trump, Nonviolence, Pacifism, Protest, racism, Reconciliation and healing, resistance, Stories of engagement | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ferguson: The telling is in the art

by Kathie MM

Artists, musicians, and poets often seem to have a special capacity for empathy and a driving need to use their gifts to resist violence and oppression. Their work makes a chronically troubled world a better place, a place where hope can survive,  resistance to violence can grow, and diverse peoples can join together for good.

A spectacular recent example of art and poetry as vehicles for peace and reconciliation can be found in the book, Painting for Peace in Ferguson.

This book is advertised as a children’s book; it has been viewed as a resource for helping children deal with the “national tragedy” that rocked Ferguson, MO, in 2014, when an unarmed 18-year-old man of color, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a white policeman, and the community erupted in protests that turned violent .

As a children’s book, Painting for Peace in Ferguson is a deserving inclusion on the 2016 Teachers’ Choices Reading List.   But it is far more than a children’s book.

Like its companion piece, Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book for All Ages , it is a beautiful and inspiring book for every human being with a heart that can be moved by loss and by pain, and by recovery and healing. It is rich enough in color, words, and message to deserve a place of honor on a coffee table, an engaging item for all eyes.

The author, Carol Swartout Klein,  has gifted us not just with eye-delighting artwork from the boarded up windows in post-riot Ferguson, and not just with moving photographs of volunteers working to substitute art for wreckage, and not just with messages of peace from inspiring sources, but also with hope, with inspiration, and with appreciation for the power of a community that works together to heal.

Proceeds from the sale of Painting for Peace in Ferguson and Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book for All Ages are being re-invested in arts and education programs in the community of Ferguson. The healing goes on.



Posted in Armed conflict, Book reviews, Champions of peace, Children and war, Commemorating peace, Poetry and the arts, police violence, Protest, racism, Reconciliation and healing, resistance | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments