Against normalization: The lesson of the “Munich Post”

Many thanks to Mark Colvin for bringing this measured – and chilling – commentary by Ron Rosenbaum to my attention. I have not asked the Los Angeles Review of Books for permission to republish at this point, so have only included the introductory paragraphs.

I suspect that, on reading this introduction, some may sigh, and mutter, “Not another article about Trump …”. However, the analysis is persuasively argued and is relevant not just to Trump’s America but to everybody on this planet. So, I do urge all interested Pubsters to click on the link and read the complete piece.

Historisches Lexikon Bayerns

The Trump-Hitler comparison. Is there any comparison? Between the way the campaigns of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler should have been treated by the media and the culture? The way the media should act now? The problem of normalization?

Because I’d written a book called Explaining Hitler several editors had asked me, during the campaign, to see what could be said on the subject.

Until the morning after the election I had declined them. While Trump’s crusade had at times been malign, as had his vociferous supporters, he and they did not seem bent on genocide. He did not seem bent on anything but hideous, hurtful simplemindedness — a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had mainstreamed. When I say followers I’m thinking about the perpetrators of violence against women outlined by New York Magazine who punched women in the face and shouted racist slurs at them. Those supporters. These are the people Trump has dragged into the mainstream, and as my friend Michael Hirschorn pointed out, their hatefulness will no longer find the Obama Justice Department standing in their way.

Bad enough, but genocide is almost by definition beyond comparison with “normal” politics and everyday thuggish behavior, and to compare Trump’s feckless racism and compulsive lying was inevitably to trivialize Hitler’s crime and the victims of genocide.

But after the election, things changed. Now Trump and his minions are in the driver’s seat, attempting to pose as respectable participants in American politics, when their views come out of a playbook written in German. Now is the time for a much closer inspection of the tactics and strategy that brought off this spectacular distortion of American values.

What I want to suggest is an actual comparison with Hitler that deserves thought. It’s what you might call the secret technique, a kind of rhetorical control that both Hitler and Trump used on their opponents, especially the media. And they’re not joking. If you’d received the threatening words and pictures I did during the campaign (one Tweet simply read “I gas Jews”), as did so many Jewish reporters and people of color, the sick bloodthirsty lust to terrify is unmistakably sincere. The playbook is Mein Kampf.

Read on.


469 thoughts on “Against normalization: The lesson of the “Munich Post”

  1. Another ‘thwack Labor with my walking stick’ moment.

    Last April Bill Shorten said he would accept the decision of the Fair Work Commission on penalty rates, no matter what it turned out to be, and Labor would not fight it.

    It was a dumb thing to say during the lead-up to an election,, but he still said it.

    Labor won’t fight any Fair Work Commission decision to cut Sunday penalty rates: Bill Shorten

    Last month Shorten finally took a position and said Labor would fight any changes.

    Today Bill Shorten says he won’t accept today’s announced cuts and will fight them by introducing legislation to change the rules. Legislation that will probably get through the senate but won’t get through the reps.

    Penalty rates: Labor vows to stop Fair Work Commission cuts

    Pardon me for being just a little bit cynical, but Bill has faffed around on this issue for far too long, sitting on fences and refusing to take a stand. Beginning to talk about fighting decisions and legislating changes just one month ago was far too late. It should have been done long ago.

    The decision announced today was made months ago, but the announcement was delayed so the bad news would not be broken during last year’s election campaign. Shorten was still fence sitting back then.

  2. In UK politics, today is the day for a couple of by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland. With Labour polling as it is now, it’ll be hard pressed to win them both.

    I think they’ll win one of them, but if they lose both, then I think Corbyn will be on notice. And if there’s a significant loss in the local elections for Labour in May, then things may start to get dark for him.

    UK Politics has kind of been at the forefront of my mind this past month since I’ve been marathoning The Thick of It.

  3. Looking at the Murdochracy, I see the right are in a frenzy about an interview with Keysar Trad and Andrew Bolt about the Quran’s views of violence against women.

    I think it’s clear that Trad didn’t advocate husbands beating wives at all, saying that the sensible view would be to always seek peaceful resolutions in domestic disputes. The main issue seemed to be about the key words ‘before’ and ‘instead of’ between ‘peaceful resolution’ and ‘violence’, but sadly it seemed he may have got the wrong idea across when talking about the specific verse, probably because being interviewed by Andrew Bolt and you’re someone he’s prejudiced against, it’d be like going up against one of Hitler’s appointed judges in the early 1940’s.

    In regards to Islam, I mostly think that as a religion it does need to take a look at itself and reform to turn away from radicalism – that its moderate followers need to be empowered because major countries like Turkey and Indonesia seem to be going down the dark path toward radicalism. However, cheapshots like this – it shouldn’t stand.

    It’d be like an Islamic interviewer suddenly confronting a Christian leader about one of the many verses in the bible that advocates extreme violence against women and then all of the Islamic press using that interview as an example of why Christians are evil, it’s just something I don’t think is right.

  4. Kirsdarke

    Total 😆 for the Stoke on Trent by election was some UKiP peasant has a notion that Bad Vlad and the ubiquitous Russians may interfere with the election.

    • The only way I’d see how the Russians would interfere in this election is if they’d support the Labour candidates in order to secure Corbyn’s leadership for the next election.

      I mean, Corbyn is taking the Labour party to a place it hasn’t been since 1983 under Michael Foot, and probably even worse than that since Scotland still hates Labour.

      And of course the Russians would love for him to stay in his position since it keeps the right wingers in power. I doubt the Russians have any other motive other than vicious extreme right politics, seeing as their own parliament seems to have just relaxed laws against domestic violence.

  5. As if things weren’t bad enough, with penalty rate cuts and omnibus bill welfare cuts while the members of the government frolic around at lunches for visiting tyrants and enjoy birthday parties at our expense.

    Now we have this news.

    PM Malcolm Turnbull to enjoy $6740-a-year tax cut

    Calculations for The West Australian show the Prime Minister will get a $6740 a year tax cut from July 1 when the temporary Federal Budget deficit repair levy is removed.
    On his $517,000 base pay, Mr Turnbull pays more than $212,622 in income tax. From the 2017-18 financial year, this will fall to $205,882.
    Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce will get a $4560 a year tax cut or almost $88 a week. For other members of the Cabinet, the end of the levy will leave their pay packets more than $64 a week bigger

    Combined, the ministry will share in $112,000 worth of income tax relief in the coming financial year.

    A year ago there was talk of making this ‘temporary’ levy permanent. That would be a most excellent idea.

  6. My Facebook feed, which is usually full of cute animal videos, the odd bit of news, some family stuff and other bits of trivia is chock-a-block with comments about the penalty rates cuts. There’s not one good comment anywhere, not from my friends and family, not in the comments from people I don’t know on every single post on this topic, not in the news items, not anywhere. Usually any political stuff in there will attract a lot of pro-conservative comment, but not today, not even from people I know to be devoutly right wing. I can’t keep up with the flood of posts, which is also very unusual.

    If Turnbull thinks the cuts re good news then he’s even more deluded than I could ever have thought.

  7. Wixxyleaks on the penalty rate cuts.

    Penalty rates.
    If a small business employing one or two staff saves about $60-$100 a week on an employees wages, only an idiot would expect that that business will be hiring extra staff.
    For those employees in big retailers or fast food, large hotel chains etc who think they are not affected as they don’t get paid the penalty rates, think again.
    In the most part your wages are negotiated by unions into a workplace agreement, most retail workers etc are paid an above award hourly rate each day as a trade off for not receiving full Sunday rates. What this change means to you is that your bargaining power on the higher hourly rate has been drastically diminished and next time your enterprise agreement is negotiated you can expect no increase or perhaps a decrease in your hourly rate.
    Don’t for a second think that because you don’t currently receive Sunday penalty rates you won’t be affected.
    You most certainly will

  8. Ahmed Fahour discusses his decision to resign as Australia Post CEO and really socks it to Pauline Hanson over comments she made about him personally, and about saying it was easier to run Australia Post than a fish and chip shop. Well done Mr Fahour!

  9. Kaffee…an article that may interest you:The problem is this is a secondary source and I can’t find any reference to it on Wikileaks

    NZ Government Joined CIA in Interfering with
    the French Presidential Election

    By Simon Monrad Gough

    If you were wondering what the price of the National government’s détente with Washington after decades of cold NZ-US relations is, Wikileaks has you covered. According to leaked documents published by Wikileaks on 16th February, the CIA spied and made dossiers on all major candidates of the French Presidential election in 2012. Several other states, including New Zealand, were asked to provide assistance to the operation.

    The CIA compiled intelligence dossiers on all major presidential candidates of the 2012 Presidential Election in France. This included the likelihood of Sarkozy’s re-election and what various outcomes would mean for the stability of the EU. It is implied by the leaked documents that the CIA’s methods involved having human assets infiltrate French political parties and gather on-the-ground intelligence. New Zealand was listed among states whose intelligence services were part of the operation.

    • UnZud is one of the ‘Five Eyes’ so always part of the spying. When it comes to the French the Rainbow Warrior terrorist attack by France would make it an easy decision to say ‘Shit yeah’ when it comes to going dirty on France..

  10. Kirsdarke

    Actually, according to current orthodox Russian hysteria they would support UKiP. For the same reasons those Eddy Everywhere Russians deviously got behind Brexit . It is all utter bullshit. A dog ate my homework excuse for failures.

  11. The headline for this should read “Dutton slapped down by Julie Bishop after blabbing to the media”.

    Peter Dutton backs down on Trump refugee swap comments after being corrected by Julie Bishop

    Peter Dutton has backed down on controversial comments suggesting a quid pro quo with the Trump administration over refugee resettlement plans, after being corrected by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop from Washington on Thursday.

    Defending himself on Thursday morning, the Immigration Minister said he was a “frank speaker” who was “not going to get bogged down in nuance and discussion” over the arrangement with the US

  12. Fiona

    In other words, a BLUE green.

    Ah yes a blue green algae, Cyanobacteria. Very toxic toxins produced by them blighters

  13. A bit of info from over the road about the WA campaign

    This polling is completely consistent with the responses of voters to campaign effort.

    It’s also affirmed by the near-total absence of campaigns by the Liberals in seats like Wanneroo and Mt Lawley. The Libs may be doing some direct mail, but in other respects they seem to have written themselves off. Anecdotally, the Lib/ON deal has all-but certainly ensured Labor will win Mt Lawley where the Jewish community is swinging strongly to the excellent Labor candidate, Simon Millman, adding to the pronounced swing already evident in other parts of the seat.

    Labor are going to defeat the Liberals and ON at the same time.

    As a seat to watch, we should observe Hillarys. A combination of a split in the Liberals and an attractive Labor candidate, Teresa Ritchie, might mean the Liberals lose an otherwise safe seat. That would be a singular delight.

    Can’t vouch for the accuracy but if Labor came close in Hillarys (lib margin 16%) that would be something, also with that seat the incumbent former Lib is running as an independent.

    Another thing, of the six seats polled in the marginal seat poll only one (Wanneroo) has a One nation candidate.

  14. Also a list of seats where one nation isn’t running candidates.

    Burns Beach
    Mount Lawley
    South Perth
    Southern River
    Victoria Park
    West Swan

  15. Calculations for The West Australian show the Prime Minister will get a $6740 a year tax cut from July 1 when the temporary Federal Budget deficit repair levy is removed.

    The last time I checked, the deficit was going gangbusters…

  16. Barry Cassidy now on ABC Breakfast feeling sorry for Malcolm Turnbull having to put up with Tony Abbott’s sniping.

    Poor diddums Malcolm, Barrie says, has never been given a fair go by either the party or the public. It’s a rotten shame, that’s what it is. Malcolm’s only got a “razor thin majority” (which, presumably, is not his fault and does not have anything to do with his performance – or non-performance) and it’s just lousy that he has not been allowed to spread his wings and show us all what he can do.

    I think Barrie Cassidy is proof that there is life on other planets and that they are among us.

    Take your pick which one…

  17. MODERATOR’S NOTE: as a custodian of this site I frown upon bad behaviour by posters. However, after due consideration, and in the spirit of brotherhood, giving BK full due for his past excellent services to this site, I have decided to temporarily waive his current “banned” status and to publish The Dawn Patrol on his behalf.

    Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Abbott is being very “helpful” for Turnbull. AGAIN! Now he has a five point plan to win the election.
    And Mesma has a scratch back at Abbott as she defends her loyalty.
    Trump and Turnbull are being lined up for a photo op on a battleship.
    The Victorian government is demanding the operator of Australia’s main electricity grid explain how the state came close to losing electricity during the recent extreme heatwave to ensure NSW avoided power outages, adding to calls for a wider inquiry. Good!
    Trump’s America.
    Australia’s military has pulled its advertising from a website closely linked to the White House, after a woman complained the site promoted racism, sexism and homophobia.
    Harold Mitchell points the finger directly at negative gearing. A great last paragraph.
    It’s been a lost decade on climate action and political opportunists and charlatans were the ones who lost it for us, writes former Treasurer Wayne Swan.,10048
    Andrew Street is not happy with the penalty rates outcome.
    James Campbell wonders what are the likely political consequences of cutting the pay of hospitality, retail, fast-food, restaurant and pharmacy workers? Who are the 1.5 million people affected by yesterday’s Fair Work Commission decision going to blame? Google.

  18. Section 2 . . .

    Something similar from Katherine Murphy.
    Rob Burgess says that Turnbull must step in to prevent a low wages shock.
    And Michelle Grattan says that Shorten’s own goal will become Turnbull’s problem. She sums up the political week that was.
    Ged Kearney writes that Turnbull is cementing his standing as the anti-worker PM.
    As the government dithers over money laundering policy, policy which would keep a lid on Chinese buyers whipping up a frenzy in city property – and as baby boomers and politicians revel in their suite of superannuation tax lurks and holiday homes – an entire generation of young Australians remains locked out of the real estate market. Michael West follows up on money laundering.
    Angered Republicans are making it difficult for representatives at town hall meetings all over the country.
    Steph Peatling goes after Pauline Hanson’s ridiculous comments on parenting.
    Solar energy’s surge is only just getting started in Australia as utilities join the rush to a source of power that is now far cheaper than new coal plants, a report by the Climate Council finds. Soory to start it off again folks.
    John Hewson writes that career politicians are not qualified to run the country. he has some interesting propositions.
    Hundreds of employees at NSW’s land titles registry are now uncertain about their future after a leaked draft contract revealed the future private operator could send their jobs out of the state. Gladys will have her hands full with this one!

  19. Section 3 . . .

    Broadband speed and performance claims, misbehaving health insurance providers and consumer guarantees, such as those provided by the airline industry, are in the sights of the competition and consumer watchdog this year. I wish them every success.
    The archbishops sat in the CA Royal Commission and agreed on the many egregious failings of the Catholic church. No doubt this will strengthen the resolve of the Commission to come out with some very incisive recommendations.
    Are the chickens coming home to roost for Soapy?
    Mark Kenny looks at the consequences of the penalty rates decision.
    Sarah Gill can’t understand why the government can’t or won’t realise that there is no such thing as “clean coal”. It’s quite a dump from Sarah.
    As a team of elite U.S. commandos found themselves under unexpectedly heavy fire in a remote Yemeni village last month, eight time zones away, their commander in chief was not in the Situation Room. He was busy tweeting.
    An independent California would be a progressive powerhouse that could rival the world’s largest economies, according to supporters of a growing breakaway movement.
    As Donald Trump’s “listening event” with manufacturing CEOs at the White House descended into the President rambling and giving free commercials to companies in attendance, both CNN and MSNBC cut away from their live coverage of the event.

  20. Section 4 . . . Cartoon Corner

    Cathy Wilcox on housing affordability action.

    Alan Moir on the “people swap” that Potatohead alluded to.

    Matt Davidson and “clean coal”.

    Broelman on CCA closing its SA plant.

    And he has a good one on the penalty rates reduction.

    No words are necessary for this American contribution.

    Great work from David Rowe on penalty rates. What’s Michaelia carrying I wonder?

    Ron Tandberg gets right to the point with this one!

    Mark Knight with his take on the penalty rates decision effects.
    Bill Leak on the Netanyahu visit and the comments from Hawke and Rudd.

  21. “Trump and Turnbull are being lined up for a photo op on a battleship”

    “If it comes off, the symbolism would be high and the imagery would be stirring”. Really? Two incompetent fools, both doomed to fail, standing on the deck of a floating museum, a ship that can’t sail anywhere because it would fall apart if it tried, a ship that had nothing to do with the event they are commemorating and that will be stirring? Pfffft.

    What a shame the deck of the Titanic is not available, it would be so appropriate.

    Let’s get the nit-picking out of the way. USS Intrepid is not a ‘battleship’, it’s an aircraft carrier. The words are not interchangeable, not if you take your naval history seriously anyway. Hartcher eventually got it right, but not before revealing his complete ignorance to his readers.

    Now – why on earth would you have a Battle of the Coral Sea commemoration in New York Harbour? If it has to be in the US what about San Diego naval base? At least it’s on the Pacific Coast. They could use another floating museum – USS Midway – for their photo op. It wouldn’t matter that Midway wasn’t involved in the Coral Sea battle because Intrepid wasn’t there either. Neither of them were even built in 1942.

    We could have the thing in Cairns, closer to the scene of the action, except that would mean Trump would have to come here, and we really, really don’t want that.

  22. By now there have been hundreds of articles about the FWC decision, mostly repeating the same things.

    Here’s something different, and something very important that the rest of the journalists have missed.

    ABC business reporter Michael Janda gets it.

    Penalty rate cuts could backfire on business

    So, we will have hundreds of thousands of people who are thousands of dollars worse off every year and need to cut back their spending to make ends meet.

    Where do they cut?

    Perhaps they don’t go out to a cafe for brunch, or to the pub for a drink after work.

    Maybe they’ll eat at home instead of buying a restaurant or takeaway meal.

    They may not upgrade their phone this year because the old one still works, or they’ll pass on that new dress because they just can’t afford it now.

    In short, the staff that businesses are saving money from are also the consumers that keep the whole economy ticking over

    The last two sentences really nail it. Well done Mr Janda!

  23. The strange route Benjamin Netanyahu took to get from Singapore to Sydney

    If only our government followed Indonesia’s example and had the guts to refuse normal diplomatic relations with Israel until the Palestinians were allowed to have their own independent state. But we don’t have a government with guts, or an opposition with guts. We just have a bunch of fawning, grovelling lickspittles instead.

    Netanyahu and Indonesian President Joko Widodo will both be in Sydney tomorrow. Let’s hope whoever is minding them does not allow their paths to cross.

    • You’ve got to love Ding-Dong, Bill was a good sport for going along with it all. I can’t see Turnbull doing anything like that.

  24. This is a real hoot –

    From Destroy the Joint.

    Kentucky Rep. Mary Lou Marzian has acknowledged that men have been missing out on the concern about their bodies that women benefit from. All. The. Time.
    It’s just not fair that the men bear the burden of doing all that protecting – why, just recently men in the Kentucky Senate and House passed bill SB4, an “anti-abortion measure SB4, which requires counseling 24 hours prior to an abortion.”
    So to ease the load on men, uphold family values and in a spirit of equality Marzian has introduced bill “HB 396, which would require at least two doctor’s visits and a permission slip from one’s wife, before a man could acquire erectile disfunction-type drugs.”
    To protect men from themselves, of course.
    “HB 396 also specifies that only married men may obtain the drug and requires ‘a man to make a sworn statement with his hand on a Bible that he will only use a prescription for a drug for erectile dysfunction when having sexual relations with his current spouse.'”
    Of course, the men in the Kentucky are a stoic lot and it’s unlikely HB 396 will pass

    Kentucky rep proposes bill only allowing married men—with wife’s permission—to get Viagra

  25. Tories have won Copeland

    Trudy Harrison – Conservative – 13,748

    Gillian Troughton – Labour – 11,601

    Rebecca Hanson – Lib Dem – 2,252

    Fiona Mills – Ukip – 2,025

    Jack Lenox – Green – 515

    Michael Guest – Independent – 811

    Roy Ivinson – Independent – 116

    • A pitiful result for Labour. Probably the worst by-election result for them since WW2. Governments winning seats like that from the Opposition hasn’t happened for years.


    • The shame of it is that, as is always the case, Abbott leaves a stinking pile of loopy policy ideas steaming on the footpath – ranging from cutting immigration to the renewable energy target – that others will have to go to some considerable trouble to avoid, or, worse, being the sort of populist nonsense they are, be adopted by those profferring simplistic solutions.

  27. New Jersey is trying a new algorithm to fix its broken bail system, a flashpoint for criminal justice advocates who argue that court-assessed fines can discriminate against low-income and highly policed communities—most often, people of color.

    Guidelines for how judges set bail vary across the country, but generally use a combination of a bail schedule, which prices out fees for specific offenses, and their own assessment of whether the defendant will appear at their hearing or commit a crime before their trial. If you can’t pay up, you stay in jail until your trial date, sometimes for up to a month.

    On January 1, New Jersey replaced its bail system with an algorithm designed to mathematically assess the risk of defendants fleeing or committing a crime—particularly a violent one—before their trial date.

  28. Leroy

    The Guardian’s Weekly Beast dated today –

    Weekly Beast can reveal that the name of Stan Grant’s new Friday night news program on the ABC is The Link. The Link will replace the Friday edition of 7.30 years after a special end-of-the-week show was mooted to replace the state-based edition. “Each week The Link will take the stories we’re all talking about and explain what it means for you,” Grant says.

    Weekly Beast can reveal … the ABC has been advertising the show for a couple of days ‘ ‘Beast’ must be a watcher.

    • I think I’m quite capable of working out what ‘the stories we are all talking about’ mean for me without Stan Grant explaining it to me. How very condescending – ‘You can’t possibly understand this so we’ll get Stan to mansplain it for you’. What PR hooplehead thought that was a good approach to take?

      I won’t be watching.

  29. Socrates from over the road posted a vg quote of H.P. Lovecraft .It is from the year 1936 and about Republicans but it could just as well be the Coalition of today
    ““As for the Republicans — how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.” ― H.P. Lovecraft 1936

    • How can the government go ahead with this PaTH rubbish if there’s no enabling legislation?

      I notice Sarina Russo’s ‘school’ is on the list. More taxpayer millions for Sarina, more young people dudded.

  30. And isn’t Turnbull lucky Abbott’s outburst blasted penalty rates out of the headlines.

  31. Turnbull said he would not be provoked by Abbott’s speech and then raved on and on about what he thinks he has done, because he was provoked into defending himself.

    Turnbull is seriously deluded. Just look at this daft comment from Mr Spineless.

    “I had the courage not just to give speeches, but to act.”

    Referring to Abbott plans that had not been implemented before Abbott was knifed and which took Fizza over a year to drag put of his too-hard basket.

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