Why Do We Keep Bringing Up Hitler and the Nazis?
Many things existed before Hitler came into power. Here are a few.
- The desire of human beings to feel superior to others
- Internment in labor and death camps
- Dictatorships and tyranny
- Hunger for war, glory, and conquest
- Systemic dehumanization of others
All of these have existed for centuries, all over the world. They didn’t start with Hitler and didn’t end with Hitler. They keep happening today, right now, at this very moment.
But Hitler has become the face. And his Nazi regime is still used today as a catch-all label for the far-right.
And what’s most fascinating is that this label is used both as an insult and as a compliment.
If you’re against far-right politics, racism, and tyranny, you’ll likely find yourself saying “This is Nazism” as the ultimate form of criticism.
If you’re racist yourself and enamored with the concept of a “one true charismatic leader” who “gets you and your people,” then you’ll claim the Nazi label, either privately or publicly. “You know, Hitler had a point…” you’ll hear yourself thinking or saying. You might even find yourself in any one of the countless Neo-Nazi movements or tattooing a swastika on yourself or spray-painting it on a residential building.
Hitler is not unique in being an evil mass-murdering tyrant. He’s unique in having become the epitome of evil mass-murdering tyrants.
Why? What makes him so special?
He turned it into a science.
Hating others is nothing new for human beings. Wanting to hurt people, wishing them gone, punishing them for being “different,” dehumanizing and murdering them — this is not new either.
It comes from fear and feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. So we, people, mask these uncomfortable and vulnerable feelings by telling ourselves we’re bigger and…