Less than a week into his presidency, Donald Trump has so upset the liberal applecart that many Democrats just don’t know how to cope. But in a classic case of Reductio ad Hitlerum, at least one Democrat in Congress has found his safe place. In response to Trump’s immediate actions to keep his campaign promise to secure the border between the United States and Mexico, Gerald Edward “Gerry” Connolly (D-Va.) took to Twitter with a comparison to Hitler.
Godwin’s Law states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1." In other words, if an online discussion — regardless of the topic — goes on long enough, someone will compare someone or something else to Hitler. Usually, it takes a long time and many participants for the conversation to become heated enough for someone to pull the “Hitler card.” In this instance, Connolly is to be congratulated. He was able to pull it off in less than a week of ranting about Trump. And he did it all by himself.
Since the inauguration of Trump on Friday, January 20, Connolly (shown on left) has tweeted 40 times as of this writing. The majority of those tweets are aimed at President Trump and his policies, with many of them naming him directly. He has tweeted about everything from the inauguration — which he says he boycotted — to “climate change” to abortion to his claim that “HRC won electoral vote” to immigration.
While most of his tweets were the typical low-brow snark of a man who exemplifies the childish ramblings of a poor loser, it wasn’t until he got to immigration that Godwin’s Law kicked in. In his 29th and 30th tweets since Donald Trump became president, Connolly wrote:
DJT initiates plans for promised wall and immigration restrictions while squelching speech within the federal government. (1/2)
Maybe his enablers will rouse themselves when the Brownshirts come for them. I, for one, will resist. (2/2)
Well, that escalated quickly. Not only did Connolly manage to achieve Reductio ad Hitlerum in a mere 30 tweets, he did so as the only participant in the conversation. That may not be a record, but it's noteworthy.
To be fair, Trump compared the intelligence community to Nazi Germany. But that was after the intelligence community added a fake “dossier” alleging all manner of salacious and outrageous claims to an official report and allowed it to leak to the media for the purpose of delegitimizing his presidency.
That is hardly the same thing as this.
It should also be noted that Connolly’s comparison of Trump’s immigration policy to Hitler misses at least one critical point: Hitler’s actions were almost always a violation of existing laws. The laws he did not violate, he changed. Trump’s immigration policies are in keeping with the Constitution of the United States. The president has both a responsibility and the authority to protect the border against an illegal alien invasion. He isn't changing anything; he's just doing what his predecessors failed — or refused — to do to execute existing laws.
Connolly’s congressional district includes most of Fairfax County, Virgina. In response to his tweets comparing Trump’s efforts to protect the border to Hitler, Matt Ames, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee said in a statement:
Yesterday, Congressman Gerry Connolly sent the following tweet: “Maybe his enablers will rouse themselves when the Brownshirts come for them. I, for one, will resist.” If this doesn’t offend you, it should, regardless of your political leanings. This is not run-of-the-mill political invective, but short-sighted and dangerous talk.
After giving a brief primer on the Brownshirts, Ames expressed his opinion that Connolly seems to be confused, writing:
After all, it wasn’t masked Trump supporters who were breaking store windows in downtown Washington last week. It wasn’t the Tea Party that burned a Muslim limo driver’s car. And Republicans have no history of political violence that I’m aware of, unless you count the Civil War. Just so we’re clear, the Fairfax County GOP denounces the first two instances, and we'll stand where our Party stood on that last one.
But I think it’s safe to say that Gerry had something else in mind, which is why we’re asking you to contact his office today and demand an apology.
The statement, sent via an e-mail blast, then lists the phone number for Connolly’s office in Washington, D.C., as well as a link to his e-mail address.
That Connolly’s tweeted remarks are beyond the pale is without question. While the merits of building a wall along the southern border are open to debate, the invective of Hitler is totally without merit. As Ames wrote:
If Gerry Connolly wants to criticize Donald Trump on policy grounds, that’s well within his right. If he wants to make fun of the President’s hairstyle, that’s fine, too; childish, maybe, but certainly within bounds. There are lots of things Gerry can say and do to advance his political agenda, or block the Administration’s. But there are lines that must not be crossed, especially by a sitting member of the House of Representatives.
After all, as Ames asserts in his statement, “Gerry Connolly has constituents who know what totalitarian governments actually look like, and who have suffered the evil that they do.” Ames goes on to write:
Our local Republican Party has members whose families, or who they themselves, left Europe one step ahead of the real Nazis; who left Castro’s Cuba, where to this day the slightest hint of political dissent is swiftly and viciously punished; who risked their lives to escape Communist Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s; who gladly left authoritarian China and have since become proud American citizens.
Ames himself claims to know something of the fear of real tyranny, writing in his e-mail statement, “I myself grew up in countries where political kidnappings and killings were common, and tanks rolled through residential neighborhoods.” The New American asked Ames about that and he replied in a Facebook message, “My father was a CIA officer (not Robert and not Aldrich) and I grew up in Latin America in the 60s and 70s.”
Given the condition of the political landscape in Latin America — especially in the time Ames spent there — he certainly has the personal experience to address Connolly’s inane comparison to Trump as a dictator along the lines of Hitler. With his own personal experience on one hand, and the people he knows “whose families, or who they themselves” escaped real tyranny in Europe, Cuba, Vietnam, and China, Ames’ frustration at Connolly’s cheap political shot in the form of a tweet can easily be understood. As he wrote in his e-mail statement:
Gerry’s snarky tweet manages to malign the President, diminish the sacrifice and suffering of millions of Americans who have known real tyranny, and undermine faith in our system of government, all at once. As an act of subversion, it’s brilliant. As a statement by a sitting member of Congress, it’s a despicable lie.
Of course, as recent events have shown, politics and polity are not always friends. And judging from the lies and half-truths of the liberal establishment leading up to and in the wake of Trump’s electoral victory — Connolly’s protestations duly noted — Connolly is just playing by the rules of his particular political persuasion.