I heard something unusual when I logged on to the New York Times this morning. It seemed to me a dire, authoritative, even apocalyptic sound. It was as if a gigantic clap of thunder had been produced by an immense boot of truth.
Allow me to explain. On my screen appeared a think piece comparing Adolf Hitler with Donald Trump. “Trump Isn’t Hitler. But the Lying . . . ,” by op-ed columnist Charles Blow, advances a breathtaking claim that has never, to my knowledge, appeared in any media outlet before: That though Trump isn’t Hitler, he’s actually pretty close, when you really think about it.
I was gobsmacked. My mind reeled. I can’t emphasize enough how fresh, how novel, how utterly without precedent this Hitler-Trump comparison is. Blow further clarifies that the first three words of the title of his column are something of a ruse, because in fact Trump is Hitler in important respects. Furthermore, to drop this knowledge on the public was to Blow a duty of such moment that it drove him to carry out a godlike act of slamming his truth-boot down through the firmament upon our benighted planet. If, Blow says, some might be shy about comparing Trump to Hitler, “I have neither time nor patience for such tiptoeing. I prefer the boot of truth to slam down to earth like thunder, no matter the shock of hearing its clap.”
I know I’m not the first to say this, but thank you, Charles Blow, and thank you to whatever celestial cobbler made your extraterrestrial boot of truth. Other, humbler writers may offer us, say, a sneaker of accuracy or a moccasin of factualness. Only you could deliver unto us the insight that Trump is the new Hitler with a truth-boot so colossal that it can “slam down to earth like thunder.”
As far as I’m concerned, what Blow has accomplished is not unlike the discovery of penicillin, or the theory of relativity. It is certainly, as he says, completely unheard-of — a “shock,” as he puts it — to hear someone compare Trump to Hitler. The intellectual history of our age must henceforth be divided into the period before and after Blow built the conceptual framework connecting Hitler to Trump for the very first time.
The more I thought about Blow’s breakthrough discovery of a through-line between Hitler and Trump, the more frustrated I became. Why has no one ever before warned us that our president is comparable to history’s greatest monster? Shouldn’t the alarm bell have been sounded long ago? Why did it take until October 19, 2017, for someone in the media to call out the similarities? Is it not a staggering dereliction of duty on the part of our academics, public intellectuals, and sages that so many days went by without a single one of them notifying us that Trump is much like Hitler?
I longed to know more, but as I don’t possess a righteous boot of truth to pull on over my foot of inquiry I decided meekly to look up the facts. With the aid of National Review’s data lab, I found a trove of statistics about Hitler and Trump. Here are some of them.
HITLER: Murdered 11 million according to one analysis.
TRUMP: Has murdered no one thus far.
HITLER: Invaded the sovereign states of Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Free State of Danzig, Denmark, France, Guernsey, Hungary, Italy, Jersey, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, San Marino, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia.
TRUMP: Has invaded no sovereign states.
HITLER: Started a world war that killed more than 5 million in his armed forces alone, plus many millions more in other countries.
TRUMP: Has started no world wars.
At this point in my research I was dejected. Trump didn’t appear much like Hitler at all. But things got better when I spent some time on PolitiFact, Snopes, and the site with the Pinocchios and learned that when people like Blow make claims that initially appear unconvincing, it’s important to pull back and add more context until, at worst, people like Blow can be described as half-correct. So let’s do that.
HITLER: Wanted to make Germany great again.
TRUMP: Wants to make America great again.
HITLER: Wore funny little mustache.
TRUMP: Wears funny little hat.
HITLER: Shunned alcohol.
TRUMP: Shuns alcohol.
HITLER: Time magazine Man of the Year, 1938.
TRUMP: Time magazine Person of the Year, 2016.
HITLER: Lied about Jews being the source of Germany’s misery.
TRUMP: Lied about ratings for The Apprentice, his Electoral College victory being the biggest since Reagan’s, and whether anyone else had been on the cover of Time more than he.
HITLER: Seized control of most media outlets including newspapers, radio, and newsreels.
TRUMP: Sent out many tweets.
These parallels are chilling enough. Trump isn’t Hitler, but . . . close enough. Congratulations to Blow’s mighty boot of truth and the thunderclap it made. Now I call upon the rest of the media to pick up where he began. Who will be the next to expound upon the manifold parallels between Trump and Hitler? Anyone who does so should, of course, credit Charles Blow for so courageously originating the theory.
— Kyle Smith is National Review’s critic-at-large.