A chilling comparison

As far as I can tell this piece is historically accurate and therefore necessary reading. From US Uncut:

Here’s the first thing Trump and Hitler did when they came to power

Zach Cartwright, January 14, 2017

While there have been many comparisons made to Trump and Hitler, some accurate and some not, one action Trump appears to be taking is particularly chilling.

President-elect Trump has built a reputation for rewarding loyalty with power in his administration regardless of experience, just as he did for former Texas Governor (and early Trump supporter) Rick Perry by appointing him to head the Department of Energy. He did the same in appointing Dr. Ben Carson as his Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with former Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault (who once said “every detractor will bow to President Trump”) as his public outreach czar.

However, the flipside of that is Trump’s propensity to punish those who are disloyal to him. Shortly after the billionaire reality TV host won the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Reuters reported that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — who was leading Trump’s transition team at the time — said that if elected, Trump would make moves to purge the federal government of any and all Obama appointees who may not be 100 percent loyal to a President Trump.

“One of the things I have suggested to Donald is that we have to immediately ask the Republican Congress to change the civil service laws. Because if they do, it will make it a lot easier to fire those people,” Christie said during a closed-room meeting with donors at the Republican National Convention. “As you know from his other career, Donald likes to fire people.”

While it may have seemed like an innocuous nod to Trump’s reality TV catchphrase at the time, there is chilling historical precedent in a newly elected leader firing members of the civil service who are not politically aligned with his regime. In April of 1933 — just three months after being elected Chancellor of Germany — Adolf Hitler’s administration passed the Law for the Restoration of the Civil Service, which prohibited Jews, non-Aryans, and political opponents from working in government. The law also stripped pensions from all workers fired as a result of this law:

According to § 3 (1) of the “First Ordinace for the accomplishment of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, officials without “Aryan” heritage were those who had even just one Jewish grandparent… They could be let go or prematurely forced into retirement…

According to § 6 of the law, civil servants could be forced into retirement without cause “for the simplification of administration”. The vacant positions created by this action were not to be refilled.

In rapid succession numerous regulations were dispensed with, as well as many employees and laborers in civil service as well as in the Reichsbank.

Pensions were not allowed for all groups of people forced into the ranks of pensioners by this law.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum marked the passage of the civil service law as one of the most significant precursors to what would become one of the bloodiest dictatorships in world history.
A letter (reproduced in the original German) Dr. Susanne Engelmann received, informing her that she was being dismissed from her duties in compliance with the April 7, 1933 civil service law (courtesy USHMM)

Before dismissing this comparison as liberal hyperventilating, it’s important to remember that the Trump transition team has already requested the names of Department of Energy workers who were studying climate change-related issues, along with the names of State Department workers who were focused on women’s rights and gender equality. Team Trump also requested the names of employees within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who were focused on countering extremism. An unnamed source told Reuters that the move could be an attempt to weed out DHS workers who were not convinced that the U.S. was in a war against Islam, rather than against extremism of all stripes.

It appears that the President-elect is already looking for federal employees who work on issues antithetical to his campaign promises of disregarding the Paris climate change accords, his past comparisons of equal pay legislation to socialism, and his disdain for the Obama administration’s hesitancy to focus exclusively on Islamic extremism instead of more general acts of terrorism. To top it off, House Speaker Paul Ryan recently gave Trump a new tool in his toolbox to make punishing disloyalty that much easier.

Last week, the House Republican Caucus revived an arcane 19th century procedural rule that allows Congress to legally cut any federal employee’s pay to as little as $1. The so-called “Holman Rule” was passed with little fanfare, with proponents arguing that the rule’s resurrection was necessary to save taxpayers’ money. Maureen Gilman, who works for the 150,000-member National Treasury Employees Union, called the Holman Rule’s comeback part of a “very chilling theme that federal workers are seeing right now.”

The Holman Rule could theoretically be applied to further Trump’s goal of purging the federal government of disloyalists. While Gov. Christie quipped that firing civil service employees was “cumbersome” and “time-consuming,” the Holman Rule could be selectively applied to outspoken federal workers by lowering their pay to such an amount that it would force a worker to quit of their own volition.

While Trump and Hitler are undoubtedly two different leaders from two different countries in two different times, the fact that both Trump and Hitler emphasized blocking political opponents from government work as one of the first acts of their administration should alarm both liberals and conservatives alike.

Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Send him an email at zachcartwright88@gmail.com.




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