Yale Professor Explains Exactly Why We Need To Compare Trump To Hitler

In the late 20th Century, author and attorney Mike Godwin said that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches.” Soon, though, “Godwin’s Law” was used to invalidate any mention of Hitler, which effectively worked to white-wash a significant portion of 20th century history.

Who knows, that could be why we’re seeing a rise in holocaust denial and the election of Donald Trump. Now, a Yale Professor is taking on that very issue, saying that our fear of making Hitler comparisons is making us historically illiterate.

Yale history professor, and author of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” Timothy Snyder isn’t going so far to say that Trump is like Hitler, but he is saying that there are a lot of lessons to be learned from Hitler, specifically in how democratic republics fail and that our refusal to even talk about Hitler simply feeds our intellectual laziness.

So the way to start the discussion about comparisons is to point out that Americans are extremely lazy about history. I mean that’s one way in which were definitely number one among major nations. And one of the ways we’re lazy about history is that as soon as anyone suggests that the past might be useful, then we say “but wait it’s not exactly the same and therefore I’m just going to discard it.” In that way in two or three seconds we give ourselves an excuse not to think about history.

Source: Business Insider

Here’s the video:

The main reason for studying history, other than the fact that it’s fascinating as hell, is to learn from what our forebears got wrong as well as from what they got right. Clearly, a hell of a lot went wrong during the late part of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century. There were the robber barons, there was the Great Depression and there was the rise of fascism that killed millions of people. Perhaps if we weren’t so lazy about history, we wouldn’t need to talk about income inequality and banks wouldn’t be too big to fail. If Mike Godwin hadn’t been so wildly misinterpreted, perhaps we would not have have been silenced when comparing Trump’s white nationalist following to that of Hitler. Instead, neo-nazis are now an actual voting bloc and the nation’s press secretary can conveniently ignore the fact that Hitler gassed six million Jews. Hey, at least Spicer is getting us to talk about history.

Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images