On Trump: Against Normalization: The Lesson of the “Munich Post” by Ron Rosenbaum

I consider Ron Rosenbaum as one of America’s best and most entertaining journalistic writers. For me memorable articles include the ones on Watergate, the CIA mole-hunt and a few articles about Yale’s semi-secret senior society Skull and Bones.[1]

He also wrote a fascinating study, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil about the many serious but diverse theories trying to get a grip on this most disturbing dictator.[2] Because of this expertise he was apparently asked many times to weigh in on the Trump-Hitler comparison debate, which he resisted till just after the inauguration.

“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.”[3]

Besides being vintage Rosenbaum, the article will be of interest for journalists as it focuses on the fate of a German opposition newspaper which was forced to stop its presses in early 1933 just after Hitler became chancellor.

“And I remembered the Munich Post, defending Weimar Germany. I reflected on how fragile democratic institutions could be in the face of organized hatred. Hitler had been tricky about his plans until he got the position and the power to enact them. Trump had been tricky, neither accepting nor rejecting the endorsement of KKK leader David Duke. David Duke! The KKK! In this century! He claimed he didn’t know who he was. He couldn’t be disqualified because of someone he didn’t know. That’s where we all went wrong, thinking he was stupid and outrageous, not canny and savvy and able to play the media like Paganini. The election demonstrated the weakness of a weak democracy, where basic liberties could be abolished by demagoguery and voter suppression.”

[1]. Articles collected in: Rosenbaum, Ron. Travels With Dr. Death: And other Unusual Investigations (New York: Penguin, 1991) and The Secret Parts of Fortune: Three Decades of Intensive Investigations and Edgy Enthusiasms (New York: Random House, 2000).

[2]. Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil. (New York: Random House, 1998).

[3]. Rosenbaum, Ron. “Against Normalization: The Lesson of the ‘Munich Post’ “.  Los Angeles Review of Books. Feb 2017.

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