Thursday, December 10, 2015
Henry Ford and Donald Trump
Donald Trump is not the first rich guy to try to lead his country over a cliff.
Eighty years ago there was Henry Ford.
Also rich. Also famous. Also an object of fascination.
Which he used as a platform to spew his vicious anti-Semitism. He blamed the Jews for World War I, for all wars. And for controlling the press, and Hollywood.
As bad as it is to be a fan of Hitler, Ford was worse.
Hitler was a fan of his—Henry Ford is the only American mentioned in Mein Kampf.
“You can tell Herr Ford that I am a great admirer of his,” Hitler once said. “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany. ... I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration.”
And he did. Hitler was grateful to Ford. In 1938, Nazi Germany awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, which Ford accepted. The medal was displayed at his museum at Greenfield Village. I saw it.
Now Donald Trump, the 2015 Henry Ford, tells us that our enemies are Muslims. He fans the real fear in our hearts, put there by terror attacks by Muslim fanatics. And in doing that, he does the bidding of terrorists, because they commit these acts as a way to drive a wedge between Islam and the modernizing force of the West. Donald Trump is a pawn of ISIS as much as if he showed up in a cave fingering a Kalashnikov.
Many Republicans seem to be fooled, to their permanent shame. Trump is an embarrassment that won't soon wash off. Then again, they're just being true to form. The GOP has long been the party that would take this country back to the white-dominated, Christian-centric country they imagine it once was.
Even though it was never that way.
Trump speaks to the fear and ignorance and prejudice. And the fearful and ignorant and prejudiced love him for it.
But this is America, still, and we who are not fearful, not ignorant, not prejudiced, can speak too.
What should we say?
I know what I'd like to say. Something simple, forceful, and direct. Something like:
Fuck you, Donald Trump.
Because I'll be damned if Trump represents my country, a beautiful land where people are free to believe, free to worship, free to speak. Where the narrow tribalism that wrecks so much of the world has no place. Where we judge people by their own words and actions, and not by the actions of some other members of their religious or racial group. Trump's words and actions have already done much to damage our country, to encourage and inspire our foes. White nativists, normally so scorned and marginalized, love Trump, because they know that a man who would bar all Muslims would burn all Jews. A man who says Mexicans are rapists would say blacks are lazy. He is capable of anything.
Up to now, decent people have tried to ignore Trump's rantings because he's a clown, a sideshow. Hitler was a clown, too. Right up to the time he wasn't. And Henry Ford was his helper and inspiration. We must not tolerate Donald Trump, our present day Henry Ford, long enough for him to become more serious than he already is. This has gone on too long already.