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Jill Soloway: ‘Any Moment That I Have to Call Trump Out for Being an Inheritor to Hitler, I Will’

When does political rhetoric lead to outright prejudice and become terrifying?

Jonathan Zalman
September 19, 2016
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Jill Soloway accepts the Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for 'Transparent' in Los Angeles, California, September 18, 2016. Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Jill Soloway accepts the Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for 'Transparent' in Los Angeles, California, September 18, 2016. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

On Sunday night, after Transparent creator Jill Soloway collected an Emmy for Directing for a Comedy Series, which included references to the Holocaust, she went off about Donald Trump. “Jews were ‘otherized’ in Nazi Germany to gain political power for Hitler, and right now Donald Trump is doing the same thing,” said Soloway. “He’s other-izing people. He calls women pigs if they don’t look like beauty pageant contestants; he blames Muslims and Mexicans for our problems; he makes fun of disabled people, this is otherizing with a capital ‘O.’”

“It has been used in our history before to start and win wars,” she continued, as Jeffrey Tambor, who also won an Emmy, was by her side. “He needs to be called out at every chance he gets for being one of the most dangerous monsters to ever approach our lifetimes. He’s a complete dangerous monster, and any moment that I have to call Trump out for being an inheritor to Hitler, I will.” (CNN reached out to Trump’s people for comment but, unsurprisingly, none was given.)

Soloway’s comments—particularly about “otherizing” groups of people, and placing blame on religious populations, like Muslims—calls attention to Trump long-running, flaming rhetoric. Trump’s bombast has either become the stuff of fear, the stuff of entertainment, or the stuff of support. These people are bad—get ’em out, or don’t let ’em in the first place.

It’s important for people like Soloway to continue to give history lessons. But if her commentary feels too head-on or, perhaps, like a reach or even unfair, consider a question asked by Zeeshan Salahuddin, a Pakistani journalist at August’s annual Muslim Jewish Conference in Germany. Salahuddin’s recently published article, which ends in a teary trip to visit to the memorial and museum at the site of the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp, continues in this candid tone, and is well worth a read in Pakistan’s The Friday Times. Assured that the conference and its meetings were a safe space for honest and open dialogue, Salahuddin asked the following question to a cohort:

Now what if I said I don’t like Jews? What if I said that Jews are the scum of the earth, that I do not want any Jews in Pakistan, and that any existing Jews in Pakistan should be deported, interned, or heavily monitored and interrogated to ensure they are not up to something? That is a hurtful sentiment, it is blinkered, it is dangerous and we have already seen it escalate to one of the most devastating events in human history—the Holocaust. Now take this scenario, and replace Pakistan with the U.S., the Jews with Muslims and me with Trump. This is what is happening. This is how it begins.

The week of events, wrote Salahuddin, served as a “blunt reminder of what unchecked hatred and prejudice results in.” (See: Soloway’s comments above). But it was also a promising experience because the conference served as a “reminder that we have a lot more in common with the world than the issues over which we are at odds… For many, it provided a renewed sense of purpose to march on, to fight prejudice in any and all forms and to continue to spread the message of a shared humanity.”

It would be nice to hear Trump say something even close to that.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.