Trump intel memo controversy is nothing like Nazi Germany

Trump's first presser as President-elect
Trump's first presser as President-elect

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Story highlights

  • Steven Goldstein: President-elect Trump invokes Nazi Germany, in effect, trivializing the horror of that regime
  • Trump's tweet is another example of him either being callous or ignorant of history, writes Goldstein

Steven Goldstein is executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, which works to fight discrimination and advocate for the kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed. The opinions expressed are his own.

(CNN)Is anyone left in America whom President-elect Donald Trump has not offended?

During the campaign, he made remarks that were offensive to Muslims, Mexicans and women, for starters. Now he has offended Holocaust survivors and their families by trivializing the atrocities of Nazi Germany.
Our President-elect should be ashamed. Winning the Electoral College is not a license to lead without humanity.
    Steven Goldstein
    Wednesday, President-elect Trump tweeted that the release of information that came into the hands of intelligence agencies was reminiscent of Nazi Germany. As reported by CNN, "Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump."
    After our organization and several others took the President-elect to task for his comments invoking the Nazis, he had a chance to retract his statement.
    Instead, President-elect Trump held a news conference in which he again compared the story about US intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany. That's right. In one day, Trump twice equated the Nazis, who murdered six million Jews and millions of others, with American patriots who work to protect our nation and advance the cause of freedom around the world. Holocaust survivors around the world had to hear Trump's trivialization of the Nazi regime.
    In the same news conference in which Trump shamelessly invoked Nazi Germany, he described the reporting about the intelligence information as "fake news" -- the phenomenon in which phony news stories, planted for political propaganda, masquerade as real news to influence unsuspecting voters.
    How convenient of our President-elect, a leader in the dissemination of fake news. Trump had led the way for years in claiming that President Obama wasn't born in the United States, until Trump retracted the baseless claims during the heat of the fall election.
    As if that weren't enough, our President-elect attacked CNN at Wednesday's news conference, accusing it of reporting fake news. But Trump offered no proof. In fact, he never has proof to substantiate his attacks on CNN, or his other favorite media target, The New York Times.
    In decrying the phenomenon of fake news, Trump creates fake news to distract the nation's attention from his attacks based on ignorance or hate.
    How could President-elect Trump be so insensitive as to make the comparison to Nazi Germany? Someone who could help provide an answer is one of his closest advisers, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom Trump just named as senior adviser in the White House. Kushner is the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and a member of one of America's most prominent Jewish families.
    I get Jared's loyalty to his father-in-law -- to a point. Families are complex, and more complex when your wife's father is the incoming President of the United States. But out of loyalty to his own family and to millions of other families with a relative who died or survived the Holocaust, Jared must explain to his father-in-law -- and boss -- why he, Trump, has engaged in attacks that shock the conscience.
    Because nothing else has worked.
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    When President-elect Trump trivializes the experience of those who died in, or survived, the Holocaust -- and when he has denigrated other groups of people who have endured oppression -- is he acting out of genuine ignorance or politically motivated hate?
    That is the vise grip through which our President-elect forces the entire world to analyze his insensitivity. He is ruthlessly callous or ignorant of history.
    If understanding history is his problem, I would be more than happy to arrange a history lesson for President-elect Donald Trump free of charge. His teachers would be Holocaust survivors. Perhaps our new President would then discover the humility to say he's sorry.