Comparing Trump and Hitler: Apt, or Hyperbolic and Offensive?

Given the unexpected success of Donald Trump in the current US primaries, and the increasing violence and vitriol at Trump rallies, I am seeing more and more articles and memes comparing Trump with Hitler. Together with this spike, I am also seeing a fair amount of push-back, often from Jewish Americans, saying that this comparison is at best Godwin-ing, at worst disgusting, hyperbolic and a slap in the face to the millions of people who died during the Holocaust.

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The Patriotic Mentality

Note: This is an old post from 2011 but, given the current political climate, one that is still relevant today.

As I explained in my first ever post, I have a double nationality, with one foot firmly in Italy, and one (well, perhaps a toe at the moment) in the US of A. This has given me a unique perspective, one that can view both countries in both a subjective and objective way. Something that has always struck me about the accepted cultural mentality with regards to these countries (speaking in generalizations of course, there are always people who are more objective with regards to their own country) are polar opposites, and yet I see both as being straight roads to failure. Let me explain further.

I have always been floored by the patriotism that is commonplace in the USA. The reverence for the flag, the pledge of allegiance, the national anthem played at every baseball game, all of it baffled me. But even if you forget about all of that, there is still a prevalent mentality, sometimes a subconscious one, that the USA is the best country in the world, and every other country wants to be like US. When I used to visit during my college years, I had numerous people, and I mean liberal, freethinking and well-traveled people, ask me why on earth hadn’t I chosen the US when I was deciding on a college. In order to keep the answer short and away from “starting my working life under a pile of debt just didnt seem all that appealing to me” I gave them my second reason for not doing so, because the US is just too far away from the rest of the world. They all looked at me baffled, thought for a moment, and all of them, I shit you not, gave me the exact same answer:

“Huh. That’s interesting. I never thought of that. See for us, America is the world”

The lack of internationality also aside, the patriotism in the US runs extremely deep. Many Americans believe, unconsciously or not, that they are a model for the rest of the world, that everyone wants to move there and live there, that they have the best quality of life of the developed world, despite the stark evidence to the contrary. If I picked any old bar in the US, stood up, raised my glass and yelled “A toast to the USA! The greatest country in the world!” I would probably be met with a variation of nodding to outright applause (if any of you USAers want to give this a shot for me and share your stories, I’d love to hear them!)

Now lets contrast that with the prevalent Italian mentality.

In Italy, all you ever hear is “this is the worst fucking country in the entire world”. When I tell people that Im here doing my PhD at the moment, all they can say to me is “What? Why the hell did you come back here? You speak English, leave this god forsaken country! Don’t you know that this country has gone to the dogs?! If I were young, I’d leave this place and never look back! Well you finish your PhD, but then get out as fast as you possibly can! Here, we might as well be living in the Congo the way things are going nowadays. You’ll see, we’re destined for a ruin the likes of which Haiti hasn’t even seen. We’re the laughing stock of the EU let me tell you!” And on and on and on. Good old Italian optimism. If I picked any old bar in Italy, stood up and raised a glass and yelled “A toast to Italy! The greatest country in the whole world!” I’d be met with laughter, jeers, and at the door the men in white coats would be waiting to bring me to a special place.

That isn’t to say that Italy doesn’t have its problems. I am the first to acknowledge that there is a lot of work to do to get this country back on its feet. But Italians fail to recognize that there are other countries that have it much, much worse. They take what they have for granted, that if Italy has it, that means everyone does (like a very inclusive universal health care system), and everything else is just garbage and attests to the fact that Italy is unsavable, shameful and embarrassing.

And now these two polar opposite countries are both facing some extremely tough times ahead. Both need sweeping reform and really new ideas. Yet what struck me most was how these two extremely opposing views seem to come to the same conclusion: hampering this change that is sorely needed.

On the one side you have the American view. What this can come to often is “yes, we have some problems, but we’re still Number 1. We’re still the best. We may need to change some things, but what we’re doing works, we’re number 1 after all, so there’s no need to rock the boat all that much”

Compare that to the Italian view: “It doesn’t matter what we do. All politicians are corrupt bums. I don’t even vote anymore. Why should I? they’re all the exact same and will the steal the exact same amount. Nothing is going to change. Ever. No point in getting our hopes up or expecting anything that’s never going to happen”.

See how these opposite extremes come down to the same thing? In order to have real change we have to put all of these personal biases aside. The idea that “change is impossible” or “we’re too perfect to change” is ludicrous. People need to start looking at things objectively. America, don’t be afraid to copy something that is working wonders in Norway because you think they’re “socialist” or because you’re subconsciously afraid that by taking a page from someone else’s book you will diminish your status as alpha male and acknowledge an inferiority on your part. Italy, don’t be afraid to really and truly reach for the stars, to identify what problems there are and do your part to eradicate them to create a better future for your children. Change is not bad, its inevitable, the important thing is to make sure that you change for the better, and you change enough to really make a difference.

Oh dear, where to begin…

Wow! I’m already getting comments on the blog and I haven’t even jumped in properly yet. Thank you all for welcoming me here, and now I find myself wondering where to begin.

I have had so many topics floating around in my head, I am having a hard time finding the ways to organize them properly and start talking about, well, something at least. But what?

However, as I intimated before, I used to have a blog back in my PhD days. I have decided that I will repost some of them, editing them appropriately if they are dated, referring to old posts which are not on this network or if my opinions have changed slightly since I first wrote them. There will also be new content of course, and I will be clear which posts are coming from the old blog.

Also, I am always open to questions. If, going forward, any of you want to ask me about certain topics, please feel free to do so in the comments below, and I might very well make a post about them in future.

So, thanks for your patience! More to follow soon.

You’re going to need a bit more introduction than that…

Hello everyone

I figure the easiest way to kick-start a new blog is to get back to the basics: who am I, what do I do, and why am I here.

My (blog) name is Crys. I was born in the United States, but moved to Rome, Italy when I was three months old. I was raised by an American mother and an Italian father, which resulted in my being bilingual and not really being entirely from one country at all. When people used to ask me where I am from, I would say “Italian-American”, until I moved to Ireland, where everyone was drawing the faulty conclusion that I was from New Jersey. Since then, the conversation goes something like this:

Stranger: So, where are you from?

Me: I’m from Italy

Stranger: Really? But your English is perfect and you have an American accent! Where did you learn your English?

Me: Well really my Mom is American but I grew up in Italy but I went to international schools so I ended up being bilingual and blah blah blah…..

I moved to Ireland when I was 17 for college, and 5 years later I carried my brand spanking-new biology degree back to Italy, though this time to the North, to get my PhD in Genetics. Three years after that, I brought my brand spanking-new PhD degree to Germany, to start my first PostDoc. It is now almost two years since I have moved to Germany and, in case you are trying to follow that math, that makes me 28.

I have wanted to get back into blogging for a while since I have been here. I have an annoying habit of wanting to discuss things, to hash out ideas and get to the root of why we hold the opinions we do, what logic got us to that place, and whether or not it is solid, or due to cultural differences, or an unforeseen and unacknowledged prejudice. However, I often find myself in the company of people who would far rather that I just shut. up. And I get it, and I try very hard to not draw people into conversations when they would rather stare at their beers and chat about the weather, but at some point I need to bounce ideas off of other people, lest I lose myself in my own head completely.

And sometimes, I just want to share something funny or great or inspiring I found on the internet or saw or did with as many people as possible.

And what better place to do that than at FtB? You are not a captive audience but an engaged one, and will only enter the conversation if you want to. I am surrounded by fervent SJWs who don’t find discussions about ethics or politics or social issues boring at all, but rather could provide some excellent insights and different points of view. I am astounded, and humbled to be here, and I can’t wait to get properly started. My 13-hour work days aside, I will make the time to post here.


Hello world!

Well Hello, indeed.

Hi everyone! I am so excited now I’m a bit like a small dog wagging itself in circles, and my work colleagues keep asking me what I’m smirking about. I’ve been reading FtB for ages, and now I’m feeling like the groupie who snuck backstage on the off chance of glimpsing the band, and then by some miracle got invited to the after party.

Well, enough gushing and all that! I hope that at least some of you readers like what I have to say and come visit me on a semi-regular basis. It might take me a couple of days to set everything up and get going, and then we’ll see where this all ends up.

So thank you for the opportunity, thanks for the platform and the reading, and let the wild rumpus start!