Today's column from New York Times' op-ed contributor Nicholas Kristof presents a 12-step program for those of us struggling to deal with Donald Trump.
Step 3 of Kristof's pseudo-pledge includes this line: "I will avoid Hitler metaphors, recognizing that they stop conversations and rarely persuade."
Let's put aside the fact that one of the most eye-opening pieces I came across during the entire campaign was The New York Times' review of Michiko Kakutani's book "Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939" and the way that review artfully laid bare the many parallels between the rise of Hitler and the rise of Trump.
Let's put aside the fact that Trump himself has uttered what I consider to be many, many conversation stoppers from the very first day of his campaign to the last, yet we were all forced to continue the conversation regardless.
And let's put aside the fact that if we choose to focus on what actually persuades people rather than on what we honestly think the truth is, we'll probably end up creating dozens of fake news sites and sliming Trump with an unending series of outrageous falsehoods until the public finally agrees with our very low opinion of the man (albeit for very different reasons).
The simple fact is, Trump is *not* Hitler and acting as if the two were one and the same might blind others and ourselves to the fact that Trump might actually end up being much worse.
----- Hitler didn't have nuclear weapons. Trump will soon be in control of some 4500 warheads, each of which has more firepower than was expended in all of World War II.
----- Hitler didn't have the ability to attack every country on the planet or to kill virtually anybody anywhere. Thanks to ICBMs, cruise missiles, drones, aircraft carriers, and all the other elements that make today's US military the most powerful in world history, Trump will.
----- Hitler served in the military during wartime and obtained at least some knowledge about what war is really like. Trump evaded the draft in a highly questionable way, never served in the military, and will enter the White House as commander-in-chief with perhaps less knowledge about military affairs than the average Army cook.
----- Hitler didn't have a private, multi-billion-dollar fortune to use to support his mad plans. Trump has untold billions upon billions of dollars and other assets all around the world that he can use virtually any way he wants with very little oversight.
----- Hitler doesn't seem to have been driven by insatiable greed. Trump and his family seem to have done everything they can to obtain as much wealth as they can, the law be damned (or at least those laws against fraud pertaining to such entities as Trump University and the Trump Foundation). As president, Trump will have innumerable opportunities to enrich himself and his family in ways we might never discover no matter how illegal or reprehensible they may be.
----- Hitler didn't have the assistance of any adult children. Trump has the assistance of several, any one of whom could end up serving as the second link in a Trump dynasty.
----- Hitler didn't have access to modern technology or the many ways it can be used to create and sustain a totalitarian state. Trump will have access to and control over the ultra-sophisticated databases and data gathering capabilities of the Pentagon, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and other federal agencies.
----- Hitler didn't threaten the global environment. Trump's denial of global warming and the policies that flow from that denial might lead to the extinction of countless species, destroy countless seacoast cities as ocean levels rise, play havoc with our food supply, and leave future generations living in a world that's much, much worse than the one we know today.
----- Hitler wasn't a sexual predator. Trump seems to have had a life-long preoccupation with sex and has apparently used his power to repeatedly insult, degrade, demean, and assault women without ever seeming to realize the immorality of what he was doing or the severe, long-lasting consequences of his behavior on others.
----- Hitler recognized the danger of Russia and leaders like Putin. Trump seems dangerously naïve and extremely short-sighted in comparison, with not even obvious evidence of Russian hacking and meddling in the most important of US institutions seeming to ring any alarm bells for him.
So, yeah – let's remember that Trump isn't Hitler.
But let's also remember that the just-elected Hitler of 1933 wasn't the Hitler of 1945, either….