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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

History has lessons about today’s dangerous leaders

Catie Clark
Posted 2/1/24

Bad things happen when good people become complacent and forget that they need to stand up and stop the evils happening on their doorstep. These are two true stories. Ignore them at your peril. The …

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History has lessons about today’s dangerous leaders


Bad things happen when good people become complacent and forget that they need to stand up and stop the evils happening on their doorstep. These are two true stories. Ignore them at your peril.
The soldiers of the King came in the cold of a January night, looting and burning the port of Sunbury. Dr. Hall mounted his horse and fled, knowing that if he were caught, he would be shot or hung without trial. His house and all his possessions were set on fire. Hall was left with the clothes on his back. The year was 1777.
In fear for his life, Hall fled to Charleston, where he reunited with his wife, who escaped by another route. When the British moved to invade the city, Hall and his wife fled again, back to his hometown of Wallingford, Conn., where they were sheltered by his brother, Col. Street Hall of the Connecticut Militia.
Dr. Lyman Hall, my many-times great uncle, stayed with his brother, my many-times great grandfather, in Wallingford until 1792, when the British evacuated Georgia. Then he and his wife returned to Sunbury to piece his life back together. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first Governor of Georgia. The price he paid for his fame as a patriot was fear for his life, flight, and the loss of everything he owned.
Others in the Hall family also lost their homes and farms when the red coats raided and looted a path across Connecticut in 1777. Four in the Hall family paid the ultimate price, that of death, in the war against Great Britain.
The past is a foreign country, and we can only visit it through the dusty pages of books and other historical records. It’s easy to forget the price the founders of this nation paid. They were willing to die for their independence from a non-representative government and its system of corporate welfare that benefited only elites in London.
Corporate welfare in the 18th century? Check your history books, folks. Parliament’s corporate welfare bailout to keep the East India Company afloat led directly to the Boston Tea Party and other colonial acts of unrest. Colonist complaints over the economic injustices were met with hostility by King and Parliament. The rest is history.
Why am I writing an opinion piece that sounds like it should be printed on the Fourth of July? Because I believe the danger facing the American Republic is real, right now, today. Because the time to be complacent is over. Because the Minnesota presidential primaries are upon us. Absentee balloting and early voting have already started. This is the year that the American experiment can fail if the voters of this country don’t take a stand against a man who I believe will do far worse things to Americans than King George and Parliament ever did.
I formed my opinion about Donald Trump from watching the man for more than four decades. Lend me an ear for a moment and I will tell you why I think this man is a danger greater than a hundred Clintons.
In the late 1970s, when I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I don’t think there was a single New Yorker who didn’t know that Donald Trump was the son of a crooked slumlord, and a swindler in his own right. Newspapers on either side of the political fence catalogued his abuse of the legal system to defraud his investors.
I watched the whitewashing of Trump through “reality TV” with mounting disbelief. Despite my lifelong affiliation with the Republican Party, and my own conservative tendencies, I have watched in horror as this man has decimated the values of the once proud party that Abraham Lincoln founded. I believe the evidence points to Trump following in the footsteps of Hitler or Lenin.
Don’t take my word for this. Consult some history books. You should find that both Lenin and Hitler had many supporters who believed in them. Why? Because they promised the things that their supporters wanted, like economic stability and an overturning of ruling elites.
In 1981, I shared a train compartment traveling from Vienna to Munich with a German grandfather who had been a member of the SS. My young, naïve self asked this old soldier why he followed a man like Hitler. I will never forget his answer. “Because I believed he could save us from a bad government … Hitler promised us what we wanted.”
We need to remember Hitler and his insidious takeover of a democratic Germany. He did so through a legal election followed by legislative sleight-of-hand. He built his support with voters by telling people what they wanted to hear, not what he meant to do.
We need to remember how Hitler and his cronies murdered six million Jews and many others like disabled people, journalists, clergy, and any political foes, including the leadership of moderate political parties. Hitler promised posterity. He delivered a war, economic ruin, and mass murder on a scale only rivaled by Stalin.
My favorite books to read are history texts. My considered opinion is that there are too many parallels between Hitler and Trump, too many to list here. I believe the evidence of this man’s self-serving character has been on public display for five decades in the news.
He thumbs his nose at the rule of law and has done so all his life. In the mold of Hitler, immigrants and those of Hispanic descent are his Jews. Moderate Republicans and Democrats are branded as “antifa” and traitors, just like the moderate Socialists and Christian Democrats of Hitler’s Germany. Violent attacks by Trumpists on peaceful protestors and journalists have increased every year since 2016.
Do you think the violence can’t happen here in St. Louis County? It already has. Have people already forgotten the attack in 2020 on a reporter just doing his job in Duluth by a Trump supporter? Working in journalism right now is uncomfortable with Trump branding every news writer as an enemy of the people. If re-elected, I wonder if some evening I will be making my own flight to a safer place like Dr. Lyman Hall.
I doubt that any Trump acolytes will leave the altar of their idol and vote for someone else. I appeal to the rest of us who can see the cult of Trump for the fraud that it is, to the independents, the Libertarians, and the Republicans like me who have been driven out of the now-corrupted Party of Lincoln: don’t be complacent. Keep Trump off the ballot in November. Don’t vote for this wannabe Hitler in the primary.