Trump’s “enemy of the people’ attacks teetering on tyranny

Donald Trump has frequently attacked ‘the media’, interchanging ‘fake news’ and ‘enemy of the people’. The latter puts him in quite bad company. Lenin Stalin, Mao, Mugabe, and Hitler, and more recently in Venezuela, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

Trump has been doing it since the start of his presidency.

NY Times (17 February 2017): Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People’

President Trump, in an extraordinary rebuke of the nation’s press organizations, wrote on Twitter on Friday that the nation’s news media “is the enemy of the American people.”

Even by the standards of a president who routinely castigates journalists — and who on Thursday devoted much of a 77-minute news conference to criticizing his press coverage — Mr. Trump’s tweet was a striking escalation in his attacks.

USA Today (24 February 2017): Trump again calls media ‘enemy of the people’

President Trump turned his speech before a conservative convention into a full-throated attack on journalism Friday, saying some reporters make up unnamed sources for “fake news” and again describing them as “the enemy” of the American people.

“A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are — they are the enemy of the people,” Trump told the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

While praising some reporters as honest, and pledging fealty to the First Amendment, Trump claimed that “the fake news media doesn’t tell the truth.” He said reporters should not be allowed to use anonymous sources, and “we’re going to do something about it.”

And on Friday (2 August 2018):

So Trump has hept portraying ‘a large percentage of the media’ (media that doesn’t say what he wants) as “the enemy of the people”.  This is an insidious assault on an imperfect and essential part of a free and open democracy.

And it is a tactic that has been done by tyrants and dictators in the past.

Brookings: Enemy of the People

In Enemy of the People, Marvin Kalb, an award-winning American journalist with more than six decades of experience both as a journalist and media observer, writes with passion about why we should fear for the future of American democracy because of the unrelenting attacks by the Trump administration on the press.

Shortly after assuming office in January 2017, President Donald Trump accused the press of being an “enemy of the American people.” Attacks on the media had been a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign, but this charge marked a dramatic turning point: language like this ventured into dangerous territory.

Twentieth-century dictators—notably, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—had all denounced their critics, especially the press, as “enemies of the people.” Their goal was to delegitimize the work of the press as “fake news” and create confusion in the public mind about what’s real and what isn’t; what can be trusted and what can’t be.

Image result for cartoon enemy of the people


Trump continues to call the press “the enemy of the people,” which is both disgusting and dangerous. To understand why, let’s look at the history of that sinister phrase, who has used it in the past, why, and how it fosters a higher likelihood of violence against journalists.

The modern origins of the phrase are from the French Revolution’s “reign of terror,” when people were beheaded en masse. But it resurged during the Nazi era, when Hitler referred to the “lying press” and called Jews “the enemy of the people.” But, it keeps getting worse.

It’s a Soviet phrase too, something Lenin started and Stalin continued. For Stalin, labeling someone an “enemy of the people,” meant internment at a forced labor camp and sometimes death. The term was *too extreme* for Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced it *in the 1950s.*

Mao used the phrase regularly too to label anyone who opposed his rule as an “enemy of the people.” The consequences of that label were also dire and often led to death. Mao was a murderous dictator who killed nearly 40 million people.

In modern times, other dictators have used the phrase too. Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez labeled critical media outlets as “enemies of the homeland,” in the same vein. Are you beginning to see a pattern in what type of regime calls its critics the “enemy of the people?”

The phrase has also been deployed against the press in places as diverse as Myanmar (when it was ruled purely by a military junta) and Zimbabwe (when it was ruled by longtime dictator Robert Mugabe)

There is a reason that the phrase “enemy of the people” has been almost exclusively deployed by murderous dictators. To use it to describe the free press, which is a pillar of every democracy, is particularly sinister. Trump is borrowing a phrase from the worst of the worst.

In my field research, I’ve interviewed several authoritarian leaders who admit that they do *what they can get away with* when it comes to destroying the press. The White House used to be the deterrent, threatening consequences to regimes that harassed or attacked journalists.

Calling the press “the enemy of the people” encourages violence against journalists in the US. Keep in mind that he has also called the free press “a stain on America,” and “scum.” People listen to him. And a lot of crazy people with guns listen to him too.

Trump’s anti-press rhetoric puts him in a category with Stalin, Mao, Mugabe, Hitler & Chavez. This isn’t partisan. Democracy can’t survive without a free press. Authoritarianism requires the press to be crushed or cowed. Trump’s rhetoric is disgusting, dangerous, and must end.

I doubt it will end. Trump plays by his own rules as much as he can.

And it isn’t just Trump. He has his lackeys supporting his attacks on media – see Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuses to dispute claim that media is ‘enemy’ of the people.

And Trump has recruited an army of supporters who make excuses and defend his assaults on the media, and attack ‘the media’, and denigrate and try to discredit those who condemn his insidious attacks.

So does he see media that holds him to account is an enemy of his ambitions? Or an enemy of his ego?

I think it’s both. His presidency is teetering on tyranny.

Shaw embarrassed by Trump-Hitler comparison

James Shaw accepts “it wasn’t really an appropriate comparison” when he likened Donald Trump to Hitler. It was a dumb thing to say.

NZ Herald reported on it here (with some irrelevant reactions from Andrew Little and Bill English):

Shaw said Trump was “the most dangerous person since Adolf Hitler” on TV show Back Benches on Wednesday night as part of a panel of politicians.

Shaw said he accepted it was not an appropriate comparison.

“I said that in the context of a pub politics show and I was being hyperbolic, and it wasn’t really an appropriate comparison.

“However, I do think Trump has the capacity to plunge the world into chaos. The US does have safeguards, which he is testing at the moment.”

It’s understandable that some people are concerned what may happen in the world with Trump president of the United States, but there is no comparison to Hitler in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s – nothing is likely to come close to that again.

But it was way over the top and a silly thing to say no matter what the situation. This is quite embarassing for Shaw.

Be wary of ‘quotes’ (and advertising)

From Whale Oil today: Political quotes and memes to make you think


That last one isn’t a quote in the post, it’s an advertisement.

And the Hitler ‘quote’ is not something that Hitler has said (or has been proven to have said).

Snopes fact checks it:

Did Adolf Hitler once say that ‘To conquer a nation, you must first disarm its citizens’?

This purported quote from Adolf Hitler about the disarming of citizens being essential to “conquering a nation” is frequently cited in discussions about gun control in the United States, but as far as we know no one has ever turned up a source documenting that Hitler literally said this (or something very similar).

They do come up with a quote from the book Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941-1944: Secret Conversations which records Hitler as having said this sometime between February and September 1942:

The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjugated races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjugated races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police.

Hitler was speaking of the need to disarm non-Aryans in the parts of Russia that had been occupied by German forces during a war, not of stripping all Germans of their guns.

And these quotes actually come from Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier which were conversations recorded in shorthand, transcribed and in the above case, translated.

Even the title doesn’t translate exactly. Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier translates to “Table discussions at Hitler’s headquarters” (Google Translate).

Gespräche actually translates as conversations (Beolingus).


Although the table talk monologues are generally considered authentic, contentious issues remain over aspects of the published works. These include the reliability of particular translated statements within the French and English editions, questions over the manner in which Martin Bormann may have edited his notes, and disputes over which edition is most reliable.

Richard Evans expresses caution when using the English edition, describing it as “flawed (and in no sense ‘official’)” and adding that it needed to be compared to the 1980 German edition to ensure it was accurate before being used. Ian Kershaw also notes that the English edition is imperfect, with a tendency to miss words, leave out lines, or include phrases not found in the German text. He uses the original German sources for preference, advising “due caution” in using the English translations.

So be wary of people who use “To conquer a nation, you must first disarm its citizens” as a reason to make it easy for US citizens to kill each other with firearms when it’s not something Hitler has actually said.

Newsday also checked out the ‘quote’ in Misinformation: Did Hitler say “one must first disarm citizens” to control a nation?

One man wrote to Newsday to suggest that if the United States cracks down on gun ownership, it will be following in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler. He wrote, “Adolf Hitler said in 1933, ‘to conquer a nation, one must first disarm its citizens.’  “

This quote is easy to find on gun rights websites, but nowhere else. It struck me as the kind of thing people could keep repeating until they believed it was accurate.

So, I tried the Nexis archive to search newspaper and magazine articles. Nothing. Famous quotation websites produced many Hitler quotes, but not this one. A search of Google Books also turned up no matches.

So don’t believe everything you read on blogs, especially. Or anywhere on the Internet. Especially quoted by people hell bent on being allowed to arm themselves to the teeth.

Even  in comments at WO Tas said “I very much doubt Hitler said that” and provided a pertinent quote:


Godwin unwelcome

Likening the National Party to the Nazis and John Key to Hitler isn’t uncommon on political forums, even here on Your NZ.

It’s a low way of arguing against a politician or a party. It’s so outlandish as to be lame, but still not a good look for those who do it.

Zedd posted this yesterday (and it got a few upticks):

At least the ‘factions to the left’ seem to be allowed to express differing opinions..
those on ‘the right.. Team Key’ are united in one voice “Zeig Hile Mein Fuhrer” ! :/ 🙂

It’s sad to see that sort of attack by association here in New Zealand.

A recent example from The Standard (Brian Smith):

This is a good example of the ‘fourth estate’ aiding and abetting the fascist surveillance state by exposing and punishing those who dare to exercise their rights and freedoms. Ponytailgate was another example of the Herald exposing and punishing someone exercising her rights and freedoms (if you think that sexual harassment by a PM should not be made public, you clearly are a fascist who does not believe in democracy). At least the Nazi’s were upfront with their Ministry of Propaganda.

This is bad enough (dirty politics) but relatively tame when compared to other attacks. I’ve just seen a bad one on Facebook, with someone defending it as ‘protest art’ – I think that art should at least be original. And this from the last election :

It’s bad enough using this sort of imagery at all in New Zealand, but especially so considering that Key’s mother was a Jewish refugee who escaped the Holocaust.

This sort of thing is as bad as some of the worst attacks I have seen on Helen Clark and her Labour led government.

How should we remember him?

Seventy years ago today Adolf Hitler killed himself.

Steve Braunias recounts the last days of Hitler and asks: Ghosts of the Fuhrer: 70 years after Hitler’s death, how should we remember him?

The only thing worth celebrating about Hitler’s life is his death. It was all so furtive, so becoming of that trembling neurotic when he killed himself deep beneath the ground, at about 3.30pm on April 30, 1945. It was a Monday, 70 years ago today. He was on honeymoon. Eva, his bride of two days, slumped beside him on a sofa, dead of cyanide poisoning; the side of her blue dress was wet. Hitler had knocked over a vase of flowers when he put a bullet in his head, and the water spilled on Eva’s dress.

What to do with Hitler on the 70th anniversary of his exit? Picture him as the doomed and raving tyrant in the film Downfall, now the meme for all crazed occasions, played as someone so completely insane that it’s impossible to think of him as human? Mad dog, demonic.

Or bring him down to size, see him as shabby and pathetic, a little man shambling his lugubrious way towards death in that dark bunker, stinking it up with his flatulence and his halitosis?

Hitler’s last days are detailed, up until his last.

Hitler was served his usual lunch at the usual time on April 30: two fried eggs, with mashed potato. Eva Braun wore his favourite dress, black with pink roses at either side of a low, square neckline. They retired to his room. Hitler told his adjutant, Otto Graunsche, to wait 10 minutes after the shot.

Junge found some fruit and ham for the six Goebbels children and made them sandwiches. A single shot was heard. Helmut Goebbels, 9, hooted: “Right on target!”

Graunsche obeyed his final order, and opened the door after 10 minutes. He writes in Last Witnesses, “Hitler’s body was crumpled up, his head hanging towards the door. Blood was running from his right temple onto the carpet.”

Braunias concludes:

On May 1, the day after Hitler’s suicide, Magda Goebbels poisoned her children. She sat down afterwards and played patience. Her husband shot her and then himself. Bormann fled the bunker, and was killed. Most of the domestic staff survived; Junge records that when she came up for air, the first thing she saw were dozens of starved and hysterical Berliners cutting up a dead horse.

The end of the Thousand Year Reich, the end of a short, ghostly 56-year-old man from Linz. Stripped away bit by bit, piece by piece in those last days beneath the ground, sans his coloured pencils and his buttons, left with his enemas and his gas, Hitler finally emerged as identifiably human, no longer beyond understanding. He learned what it was like for everyone else touched by Nazi Germany. He felt afraid.

Islam backlash takes a nazi turn in Germany

Just as the anti-Islamic organisatiion Pegida was organising another rally, this time in Leipzg, their leader has resigned after being exposed posing as Hitler.

BBC report: Germany Pegida: Protest leader quits in ‘Hitler’ row

The head of German “anti-Islamisation” movement Pegida, Lutz Bachmann, has resigned after a photo of him apparently posing as Hitler emerged.

Mr Bachmann stepped down just as tens of thousands of people were expected to rally in the eastern city of Leipzig for the latest Pegida rally.

Prosecutors opened an investigation after the photo was published on the front page of top-selling paper Bild.

A Pegida spokeswoman sought to play down the Facebook photo as a “joke”.

Claimed to be ex-Pagida leader Lutz Bachmann

Not a very appropriate joke in Germany.

Bild coverage: Pegida-Chef Bachmann: „Ja, ich trete zurück“

And there’s more covering it:

Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (German: Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes), commonly known by its German acronym Pegida, is a German organization based in Dresden. Since 20 October 2014 it has been organizing public demonstrations, aimed at the German government, against what it considers to be the Islamization of the Western world.

Pegida was founded in October 2014 by Lutz Bachmann, who runs a public relations agency in Dresden.[1] Bachmann’s impetus for starting Pegida was witnessing a rally by supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on 10 October in Dresden,which he posted the same day on YouTube. The next day he founded a Facebook group called Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes (“Patriotic Europeans against Islamization of the Occident”) which initially was mainly directed against arms shipments to the PKK.

– Wikipedia Pegida

Stalin compared to Hitler

A post at Whale Oil makes an interesting point, comparing the near universal condemnation of Hitler to far more lenience to Stalin’s extraordinarily brutal rule. I’ve seen plenty of information about it but it has seemed fairly distant and impersonal

In Giovanni Tiso’s fondness for “Grandpa” Stalin there are two personal accounts of life (and often death) under Stalin.

First in the post from a friend of Slater’s who’s family is Russian.

My family fled the Soviet Union during Stalin’s purges of the 30s, abandoning everything, their friends, family, worldly-possessions, because they were terrified of what would happen to them as former farm owners. Most of their family who stayed behind were either murdered by the NKVD or sent off to Siberia, only a handful managed to survive the remaining years of Stalin’s reign.

I remember growing up that my dedushka would nearly break down if we tried to ask him about what life was like in Russia before he and babushka left. He’d point out the millions of people who’d died as a result of Stalin’s purges, power games, agriculture reforms and ethnic cleansing, that’s before he pointed out the two brothers and one sister he’d lost in the years following their decision to flee.

People in the west seem to forget that Stalin was every bit as ideologically nasty as Hitler, intentionally murdering millions of people for reasons just a batty as those Hitler advanced. Yet for some reason, he’s not seen as reprehensibly evil as Hitler.

There’s debate over the number of deaths that can be attributed to both Hitler and Stalin but both wreaked a savage toll on their own populations and also in other countries.

There is also a comment from Lucia Maria, someone who will be familiar to many around the blogs.

My father was a child prisoner in a Soviet gulag in Siberia during WWII. He was transported from Poland to Siberia on train in compartments made for cattle, not humans, during winter.

When the USSR became allies with the West, all Polish prisoners were given amnesty – my Dad’s family was split into those who were directed to the Polish army in the USSR and those that were not army material (ie mother and children).

The second group were sent to Kazakhstan to die of starvation. Amazingly enough, my dad survived this, when those sent to bury the family found some of the children still alive.

Anyway, I don’t have a strong reaction to people such as Giovanni anymore – there are just too many of them. But yes, the comparison of Stalin to Hitler is one I had to stress to my husband recently. Most people just don’t get it.

I guess a significant difference is that we haven’t fought world wars against Russia as we have against Germany.

But give or take a few million lives Stalin was as bad a genocidal brute as Hitler was.

Another difference is that Nazism largely died with Hitler and hasn’t been given any credence by anything other than small groups of extremists.

In contrast many seem to have excused or ignored Stalin’s barbarity because he represented a political ideology they supported.

These same people strongly oppose much of what the US does and stands for. The US is far from unblemished in it’s worldwide inferences but has been nowhere near as bad as Hitler or Stalin, different plant degrees of difference.

Both Stalin and Hitler deserve similar levels of condemnation – as much as can be given.Joking about grandpa Stalin is akin to joking about uncle Hitler. I don’t know why anyone would want to be related to either in any way. Even in jest it would be a sick joke.

For the record Calculating the number of victims cites various sources with most estimates being between 15 and 30 million deaths attributable to Stalin and his policies (which include famines).

Update: Tiso knows what it’s like to be associated with tryants:

(There is, besides, the crass ignorance of the comment. When she was seven years old, my mother was made to line up along the train tracks outside her village and salute Hitler’s train as it passed at speed on its way to Rome. This is my history, you pathetic fool.)

Tending Fascist

Dotcom’s Mein Kampf

3 news had a build up to the news tonight:

Kim Dotcom admits to owning Nazi memorabilia. has the exclusive report and I/V explanation at 6.

Kim Dotcom admits to 3News he owns a rare piece of Nazi memorabilia. Exclusive details at 6.

Sabin surprised Dotcom with a question about having Nazi memorabilia. He must have been tipped off.

Dotcom openly admitted to having what is probably one of the earliest copies of Mein Kampf, signed by Hitler. That will be a collectors item with a good chance that it will appreciate in value. It’s sort of interesting, but nothing more.

A couple of immediate reactions:

Dotcom owns one of the rarest copies of Mein Kampf in the world

um, and?

RT : Kim Dotcom admits to 3News he owns a rare piece of Nazi memorabilia. Exclusive details at 6. <- WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?!

The item is up on the 3 News website: Dotcom buys Mein Kampf copy signed by Hitler

    Dotcom fronted up to 3 News to talk politics, not expecting questions about Nazi memorabilia.

    “I’m a Call of Duty player right, so if you know the game Call of Duty it’s all about World War II,” says Dotcom. “I’m a big fan of that and I’ve bought material from Stalin, from Churchill and Hitler.”

    That “material”  includes a very significant and contentious piece of Nazi history.

    “I did buy a book at an auction, which Adlof Hitler wrote – Mein Kampf.”

    Mein Kampf, or My Struggle, is Hitler’s fanatical autobiography, full of what would become Nazi ideology. Four years ago Dotcom bought quite possibly the rarest copy on earth.

    “Adolf Hitler wrote that book in prison,” says Dotcom. “He wrote it with a cellmate there. He signed that book out to that cellmate. So it was one of the first prints and probably the first book that he signed.”

    Dotcom stores the book with a friend in Europe.

    “Let me make absolutely clear – I’m not buying into the Nazi ideology,” says Dotcom. “I’m totally against what the Nazis did. I did buy a cigar holder off Churchill and a pen off Stalin.”

    Dotcom says his purchase is all about his love of World War II video games, and it is also an investment.

    “These things are out there and they are worth a lot of money, and I think in another 100 years that book will probably go up in value times 10.

    “I don’t know if it’s an ethical investment, but if anyone is trying to take this and use it against me, I think it’s clearly wrong. You have got to look at who I am. I have all this foreign stuff.”

3 News concludes:

It is confession time for Dotcom, clearing the decks ahead of his party launch tomorrow – another controversial chapter in the tale of Dotcom.

An odd comment. It was hardly a ‘confession’ and doesn’t seem controversial at all to me.

However that may be only a small part of the story. Whale Oil has much more detail:

Kim Dotcom: Owns rare copy of Mein Kampf, a Nazi flag & loves Adolf Hitler

Further investigations by WOBH have revealed that not only does Kim Dotcom own a signed and autographed copy of Mein Kampf, one of the rarest copies on the market, but he also possesses other Nazi memorabilia.

One item is a Nazi flag, that until recently was displayed in the cellar of his mansion at Coatesville.

The flag was given to him on his birthday in 2011 by one of his guests at his birthday party.

At the time of the birthday and the gift Kim Dotcom exclaimed to all in attendance that this was “the best present he had ever been given”.

One former staff member spoken to by WOBH (who wishes to remain anonymous due to ongoing threats from Dotcom) in our ongoing investigations of the REAL secret life of Kim Dotcom has told us that regularly, at dinner, Nazi salutes would be made and Nazi chants like “Heil Hitler”  and “Sieg Heil” were made, especially if the guests were mainly German.

The 3 News tipoff and the Whale Oil revelations are likely to be timed to damage the launch launch of Dotcom’s Internet Party tomorrow.

Mein Kampf on it’s own seems minor. The wider story may do what it’s intended. It certainly continues the controversies surrounding Dotcom.