The stupidest thing I’ve seen today is this video, from last month.
If you can’t be bothered to click – and I’d argue that that’s the right position to take on this – a couple of Trump fans (both young white men, you’ll be surprised to learn) thought it would be fun to turn up at an anti-Trump demo and read out a speech made entirely of Hitler quotes, to see if the crowd would cheer.
Because the speaker did manage to achieve a smattering of what can only be called polite applause, the right have been gleefully sharing the video to prove…something.
Quite what the “something” is I’m not sure. That, deep down, everyone’s a fascist, maybe, or perhaps that people who oppose Trump are innately stupid. I’m sure it must have, at some point, seemed to prove something like that.
The first fatal flaw in this cunning plan is that Hitler was a populist. He didn’t pop up on the German political scene with a list of atrocities he wanted to commit and have everyone say, “Yeah, alright then”. He got into power by telling ordinary people what they wanted to hear, irrespective of whether those things happened to intersect with what he planned to do once in power.
He was also, and this may be controversial, not a nice person, and sometimes said things that he didn’t mean. Fortunately he’s dead and can’t sue me for this terrible defamation of his character, but you can easily see it for yourself. The Internet argument “Was Hitler a Christian/atheist” is so old that it not only pre-dates the Internet but also Hitler himself. If you find one of the 20-or-so billion threads where it’s been discussed you’ll be shocked to learn that there are a wealth of Hitler quotes supporting both sides. He said what he needed to say to get him what he really wanted. The absolute bounder!
The upshot of this is that you can’t just grab a Hitler quote and claim, “This is what he believed”. The corollary of that (and, to be fair, basic common sense) is that you’re on logically shaky ground to claim something is bad just because Hitler said it. None of the selected quotes particularly relate to fascism; none of them are about racial superiority, or any of the core attributes you’d associate with the Nazi regime.
As if that wasn’t already mild enough one of the quotes was altered by being prefixed with “Donald Trump seems to think that…”, which obviously changes the sense entirely.
The stupidest things of all, though, is that these trolls didn’t even have the intelligence to see their stupid idea through.
The first Hitler quote they picked isn’t a Hitler quote, and as it’s one widely used by the right to claim that Hitler was a socialist, and therefore socialism is the real evil, they must have seen it debunked before now.
The rest of the speech is then just a collection of contextless quotations. Hitler wrote and spoke extensively, so if their goal was to get a reaction from the crowd why not present a coherent speech? People don’t cheer for a string of unconnected age-old quotes, unless they’re at a Frankie Boyle gig.
I suspect that, deep down, they knew that this wasn’t really a gag worth putting any effort into, and that those on the right would laud it anyway.
That’s pretty depressing, and even more depressing that they seem to have been right.
Depressing and deeply, deeply stupid.