During the 1930s, in the years that led up to the Holocaust, Nazi Germany established a number of laws to persecute Jews. These included requiring Jews to carry special identification that designated them as Jewish, and their passports were also stamped with the letter "J."
This occurred under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, one of the most infamous figures in history. The laws Hitler instituted in the 1930s were the prelude to a genocide that claimed millions of lives.
Instead of Jews, Trump targeted Muslims, proposing such things as banning them from entering the US, while also calling for them to register in a database and carry special identification. Sound familiar?
This is precisely why the comedian Louis CK recently compared Trump to Hitler, stating,
The guy is Hitler. And by that I mean that we are being Germany in the 30s. Do you think they saw the sh*t coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all.
While accusing someone of being similar to Hitler is extremely insulting, it's somewhat hard to disagree with Louis CK in this instance.
Adolf Hitler was a bigoted demagogue who came to power at a time when morale in Germany was very low.
The European nation was still reeling from losing World War I and suffering a great deal economically. But, along came this charismatic leader with a penchant for impassioned speeches and grand visions to make Germany a great nation again.
Meanwhile, that leader blamed Jews for all of the country's problems, among other groups.
It's a tale as old as time. When things aren't going well for certain societies, they look for two things: strong leaders and scapegoats.
In a lot of ways, America is in a similar situation to Germany today. Many Americans are feeling very down about the political and economic state of the country. There are many people yearning for some version of a golden era in America they feel is long gone.
While the US economy recovered a great deal from the Great Recession, people are still struggling to make ends meet. In this context, Trump's popularity is understandable. He's promising to "make America great again" and bring all of his supporters along for the ride.
All the while, he's blaming Muslims and immigrants for the country's problems (and it's pretty easy to inspire these sentiments in a country with a long history of discrimination against minorities).
It's almost as if Trump is following a "How To Gain Power Playbook" written by Hitler.
But in an interview with DuJour magazine published on Tuesday, Melania Trump, the real estate mogul's wife, took issue with this comparison.
No. We know the truth. He's not Hitler. He wants to help America. He wants to unite people. They think he doesn't but he does. Even with the Muslims, it's temporary. Maybe he needs to say it in a softer way. He doesn't go after religions. He feels like we need to know who's coming to this country. If not, we don't have a country. That's how he feels. We see how he is, and he wants to unite the country and bring people together and bring jobs back.
It's not surprising a wife stood up for her spouse, but her remarks don't match up with the facts.
Trump characterized Islam as an enemy to America, which stands in contrast with reality.
He's never discussed the more than 5,000 Muslims who serve in the US military, nor has Trump mentioned how a minority of extremists are not representative of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, the vast majority of whom are peaceful.
He's also failed to highlight the fact right-wing extremists have killed more Americans on US soil since 9/11 than jihadists.
Instead, he's been happy to paint a false picture of a world in which Muslims are the most dangerous threat to the US, while arguing immigrants are ruining our economy. Both standpoints couldn't be further from the truth.
Citations: Louis C.K. on Trump: "The guy is Hitler. And by that I mean we are being Germany in the 30s." (Vox), Lady and the Trump (DuJour), More than 5,000 Muslims Serving in US Military, Pentagon Says (ABC News), Deadly Attacks Since 9/11 (New America), All False statements involving Donald Trump (Politifact)