Did Obama compare Trump to Hitler?

Obama makes veiled references to President Trump, invokes history of Nazi rise to power in Germany - yet story goes largely unreported.

David Rosenberg,

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
Reuters

Former President Barack Obama spoke at an event in Illinois earlier this week, fielding questions at a Q&A session hosted by the Economic Club of Chicago.

The event was closed to the general public, with only members of the club and their guests permitted to participate. Some 2,800 people attended the event, held at the Chicago Hilton.

The appearance, one of many by the former president since he left office on January 20th, drew little media attention, despite veiled references to Obama’s successor, President Donald Trump, seemingly comparing him to Adolf Hitler.

The sole first-hand account of the former president’s comments comes from a local weekly, Crain’s Chicago Business.

According to the report by Crain’s, Obama made the “jaw-dropping bottom line” intimating that President Donald Trump’s rise to power had similarities with the rise of the Nazi party in Germany in the early 1930s.

While the question and answer session largely steered clear from bombastic rhetoric, including discussions on issues ranging from combating the Ebola virus to lighthearted questions, like Obama’s favorite superhero, the former president drew closed with references to the rise of Nazi Germany, and argued that the demise of the Weimar Republic in the 1930s and the takeover by Adolf Hitler resonated to today, teaching Americans the importance of ‘paying attention and voting’.

Though Obama never named President Trump during the appearance, Crain’s writer Greg Hinz, who attended the event, says Obama’s warning appeared to be a veiled reference to his successor.

Obama warned of the rise of ‘nativist mistrust’, as mass migration and globalization put people in contact with foreign cultures.

“People didn’t [used to] challenge your assumptions,” said Obama. “Nothing feels solid,” anymore, and “sadly, there’s something in us that looks for simple answers when we’re agitated.”

The former president warned of executive challenges to the freedom of the press, denouncing the ‘tough times’ of President Nixon and Senator Joe McCarthy.

There is today in America, Obama continued, “a grow[ing] complacent, [feeling]”.

“We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly."

“That's what happened in Germany in the 1930s which, despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolf Hitler rose to dominate.”

“Sixty million people died,” Obama added. “So, you've got to pay attention. And vote.”

Despite the apparent incendiary comparison between a sitting American president and the deceased German dictator, Obama’s comments were largely ignored by major American media outlets.


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