If we are to believe that Donald Trump has used the same tactics that Adolf Hitler used, then we must also believe that Americans today are largely similar to the Germans then. Frankly, the comparison does not work.
In his 2019 book When at Times the Mob Is Swayed: A Citizen’s Guide to Defending Our Republic, Burt Neuborne, a Civil Rights attorney and law professor, is careful to distinguish between the person of Trump and the person of Hitler. As noted in a lengthy article by Steven Rosenfeld, “The author repeatedly says his goal is not ‘equating’ the men — as ‘it trivializes Hitler’s obscene crimes to compare them to Trump’s often pathetic foibles.’” (Since the book was released in August 2019, we can now better evaluate its arguments.)
Neuborne, however, does accept the claim made in divorce filings by Trump’s first wife that Trump “kept and studied a book translating and annotating Adolf Hitler’s pre-World War II speeches in a locked bedside cabinet.”
And, he writes, “Watching Trump work his crowds . . . I see a dangerously manipulative narcissist unleashing the demagogic spells that he learned from studying Hitler’s speeches — spells that he cannot control and that are capable of eroding the fabric of American democracy. You see, we’ve seen what these rhetorical techniques can do. Much of Trump’s rhetoric — as a candidate and in office — mirrors the strategies, even the language, used by Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s to erode German democracy.”
Putting aside the claim about Trump’s alleged study of Hitler’s pre-World War II speeches – I have not heard this before and cannot verify or refute it – Neuborne is not the first academic to compare Trump’s methodology to that of Hitler.