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CNN’s Christiane Amanpour compares Trumpism to Nazi pogrom

It’s the latest in a complicated debate: is it accurate or acceptable to compare Trump to a Nazi?

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Monday 16 November 2020 23:30 GMT
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CNN's Amanpour compares Trump to Nazis, sparking outrage

CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour provoked outrage after comparing the Trump administration’s authoritarian leanings to Nazism on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a horrific 1938 pogrom against Jews in Germany.

Her comments, made during the introduction to her international affairs show Amanpour on Thursday, invoked the anniversary of the pogrom and compared Nazi book-burning to the Trump administration’s regular distortions of truth and attacks on the media.

“In that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth,” she said. “After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden-Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth.”

She also condemned the president for refusing to concede the election as part of the monologue.

“Every day, Joe Biden makes presidential announcements about good governance and the health and security of the American people while the great brooding figure of his defeated opponent rages, conducting purges of perceived enemies and preventing a transition,” she added.

Invoking the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which means “night of broken glass” in German, to criticise the president sparked outrage among some Jews and others in conservative circles online. They argued that the comparison was inaccurate and minimised the horror of the pogrom, which killed at least 91 Jews, damaged more than 1,000 synagogues, and is regarded by some as the official beginning of the Holocaust.

Israeli diaspora affairs minister Omer Yankelevich sent a letter to CNN president Jeffrey Zucker on Sunday demanding an apology, the Times of Israel reports.

“We find hereby the false equivalence made between the actions of a sitting US president and the atrocities of the Kristallnacht pogroms which were carried out by the Nazis eighty-two years ago belittling of the immense tragedy of the Holocaust,” she wrote.

She argued that the comments misrepresent the historical record around the Holocast for “cheap shock value,” which gives ammunition to antisemites.

“Distortion and minimisation of the Holocaust are deplorable lies that only encourage the evil voices of antisemitism,” the minister added in the letter. “Employing the memory of the Holocaust for cheap shock value and to further a political agenda is a deeply troubling and offensive spin of historic and moral truths with dangerous implications.”

Others criticised the move online.

It’s the latest in an ongoing debate about how to characterise the president’s politics, which often includes the demonisation of racial minorities, attacks on the media, and semi-explicit support for hate groups. Multiple scholars, like Yale University’s Jason Stanley, argue this combination means the president and his movement is a fascist one. 

Some have even gone so far as to compare him to a Nazi.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America, for example, compared the president and his supporters to Nazis in a September election ad, called, “Hate Doesn't Stop Itself, It Must Be Stopped.”

Others, like Jewish-American political cartoonist Eli Valley, regularly compare the president and his allies to Nazis.

Still, comparisons between contemporary politics and the horror of the Holocaust have long been controversial, in and outside of Jewish circles

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