Failure to Understand?

MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews equated the victory of Bernie Sanders and his supporters in the Nevada Democratic presidential primary to the Nazi victory over France in 1940. Although Matthews later apologized to Sanders, the initial claim was not only reprehensible, but shows that Matthews doesn’t really know or understand history.

In the early 1930s, the Nazis were a minority party. In fear of a takeover of the parliament by the communists, German President Paul von Hindenburg offered the chancellorship to Hitler, who represented himself as an ally of the more moderate business-oriented political parties. Hindenburg thought his group had “captured” Hitler, when it turned out the other way around, and Hitler consolidated his power by blaming all of Germany’s problems, including the burning of the Reichstag [parliament] building in 1933, first on the communists and then on the Jews… and foreign powers.

In historical terms, it’s Trump who’s analogous to Hitler and the Nazis, not Sanders. In both Germany and Italy, Hitler and Mussolini were supported by the business and industrial community, not by the left-wing radicals such as the communists. Even a number of large U.S. companies financially supported German industrial concerns long after WWII started.

The same pattern also existed in Spain and in Portugal, where right-wing, big-businesses supported the dictators Franco and Salazar. Yet, particularly in Germany and Italy, these dictators presented themselves as populists who were rescuing the middle class from the dangers of the left and from foreign domination and untoward influence. Might this sound just a little bit familiar?

So how could Chris Matthews be so incorrect? Was it merely a desire to see Bernie Sanders as Hitler…or was it something more sinister? I suspect the latter, because the Matthews quote refers to an accurate event in a totally inaccurate context and with an incorrect backstory, which is the staple of self-identified “populist” dictators and their followers.

There is a reason why the oath sworn before courts uses the phrase, “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Too bad that certain news commentators and Trump don’t believe in the “whole truth.”

4 thoughts on “Failure to Understand?”

  1. Derek says:

    I guess its a question of what history books he read? Or worse, he’s been a public speaker for so long he bought into his own hype?

  2. Wine Guy says:

    I am wondering if the answer is more simple: he lacks imagination. Hitler is the biggest government leader boogeyman card that a person can play. Whether the play is right or wrong, playing the Hitler card will always create strong emotion and politicians and media talking heads know this. Could you drop Mussolini, Franco, Genghis Khan, Borgia, Pol Pot, etc. into that sentence and engender the same response? No.

    Chris Matthews went with the easy and wrong comparison because he lacks imagination and the intestinal fortitude to get it right. At least if he had said Pol Pot, he would have gotten some partial credit from anyone with an appreciation for history…. unfortunately, most history classes in high school end at the start of the Cold War and most people under the age of 30 have no idea who Pol Pot is or why he should be as reviled as Hitler.

  3. Tom says:

    With the availability of the internet there really is no excuse for Chris Matthews or anyone else who can read (even without understanding).

    e.g. https://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/genocide/index.html

  4. Ryan Jackson says:

    It was deliberate. They’re doing everything they can to show the more progressive side as villains.

    This is the same nonsense as them throwing out talking points like “If you combine all the Centrist candidates together you can clearly see that they out perform Bernie.”

    It’s nonsense because they don’t want to admit people want something new.

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