Early this morning while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I noted that two friends had posted diametrically opposing comments on the current debate regarding border security. Their posts appeared right next to each other, one on top of the other. One friend was appalled that we could treat children so inhumanely regardless of how they came to our country. The other questioned the values of a parent that would bring their child into harms way, and bemoaned any alternatives to incarceration.
Setting the merits of their comments and respective opinions aside, there seems to be a renewed effort in comparing President Trump’s border policy to the Holocaust, and in comparing Trump himself to Adolph Hitler. These comparisons cannot be tolerated.
The comparisons are not limited to casual comments on social media. Many lawmakers have used the “Trump as Hitler” metaphor to express their displeasure with his policies. Retired 4-star General Michael Hayden, a former NSA- and CIA-Director serving under President George W. Bush took to Twitter to post an image of the entrance of Auschwitz-Birkenau, directly implying that President Trump’s border policy was a repetition of what we saw from Hitler and Nazis during World War 2.
When questioned, Hayden defended the tweet and his use of Holocaust imagery, stating on CNN’s New Day that “I didn’t choose that picture at random, I’ve been to that camp, actually several times…that’s where families were separated.” Later in the interview he oddly conceded that “I know we’re not Nazi Germany…I was trying to point out we need be careful we don’t move in that direction.”
Unfortunately for Hayden, words and images matter, and he needs to be careful in the choices he makes. The use of any Holocaust imagery and references to Hitler, no matter how vehemently you oppose Trump, is at best a lazy, hyperbolic exaggeration that reflects more on the ignorance of the one suggesting it than on Trump or anyone else one might compare Hitler to. In its worst form, it is a concerted effort to dilute and tone down the true horror of the Holocaust, aiding and abetting those Holocaust deniers who strive to promulgate the notion that the Holocaust is a Zionist invention and not a true record of history.
General Hayden has never heard of a friend of mine living in North Miami named David. David’s mother, Liba, had a son named Munya, who was murdered by the Nazis on the banks of the Danube River. At the time, Munya was an infant, and this is how he died:
Liba, holding her infant of a few months, was herded along with many others to the banks of the river. The Nazis were skeet shooting, but instead of tossing clay pigeons or plates, they were using Jewish babies. The sadistic soldiers were firing at their target as the baby was helplessly tossed up into the air over the water. Liba was told Munya was next, and she managed to nurse the child to sleep before he was grabbed – a miracle in itself during those dark times. When it was his turn, Munya was thrown into the air, shot and killed, and then carried away by the Danube, never to be seen in this world again.
General Hayden, does that sound like anything happening at our border today?
What’s truly remarkable is that there are 5,999,999 more historical realities, some known and others forgotten, just as horrific as Munya’s that compose what we collectively identify today as the Holocaust.
You may disagree with Trump’s border policy and his entire MAGA agenda, you may hate the way he talks or styles his hair. That’s your right. What you don’t have the right to do is take the lazy way out of expressing yourself because it is an affront to the memory of each of those souls murdered by one man and his army, at one time in history. Frankly, if you’re resorting to Hitler as your fall back argument, you probably haven’t thought out your opinion well enough to express it.
I remember as a child my father asking me to grab something out of the Frigidaire, but what he really meant was that he wanted something from the refrigerator. And when someone at the office asks you to xerox something for them, they’re looking for a copy. Using names to identify the generic may be perfectly acceptable when it comes to the mundane, but the Holocaust is anything but mundane, and we must reject any argument on its face for suggesting that the Holocaust and Hitler is akin to anything occurring in America today.