Final exams began for me on Wednesday (December 9) and I’ve got tests also on Thursday and Friday. After that I’ll be grading so I won’t be visiting blogs for a few days, probably not until Monday. I did want to share a little something before hunkering down with a red pen, though.
Those of you who know me, know that I’m a Liberal. You may or may not know that I’m not a fan of the current GOP front runner. I’ll call him the “Grump” in keeping with the season of the Grinch. I’ve never had any positive regard for the Grump, never watched his TV show, never had the remotest interest in his thoughts about the world. However, I now find myself in the unpleasant position of having to defend him on one, very specific matter.
In the last couple of days I have seen the Grump accused—and “accused” is very much the right word—of having “read” both Mein Kampf and the speeches of Adolph Hitler. This is clearly an attempt to paint him with the Nazi brush. Despite the Grump’s rather uncanny physical resemblance to Il Duce, and despite disagreeing with everything I’ve heard out of his mouth so far, I don’t find the “he’s a Nazi” attacks terribly compelling. That’s not my point with this post, though. Others have made a closer study of his behaviors and can certainly express their opinions on the matter.
No, what I’m saying is that you can’t judge an individual’s personality simply from his or her reading material. Maybe Grump considers Hitler his role model, but you cannot make that judgment based just upon what he’s read. You literally do not know what his reasons were. I’ve also read both Mein Kampf and many of Hitler’s speeches. I read them for a couple of reasons. First, I was a history minor in college with a particular interest in WWII, and I thought at one point I might go to grad school in history. Second, as a psychologist, I’m also a student of people, and of why and how people do the things they do. Reading these works both educated me on the dangers of fascism, and also helped cement my own opposition to it.
Reading Mein Kampf does not make you a Nazi any more than reading the Bible makes you a Christian, or reading the Quran makes you a Muslim, or reading Roots makes you African American. As a reader, I protest anyone’s attempt to say differently. Would you want to be judged on the basis of that one erotica novel you read? As a liberal, I think this kind of tactic is beneath us because it is irrational. There is plenty enough to criticize about the Grump without reaching for straws, and this is a very dangerous straw indeed.