Twitter Thread and Blog Post on the Folly of Comparing the American Left to Nazis

In August, I posted a long thread on Twitter regarding the problem of bad-faith distortions of history. It was set off by an especially egregious statement by Dinesh D’Souza, the poster child for making absurd arguments supposedly underpinned by historical fact. He likened the program of the modern Democratic Party to that of the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany. I countered with a primary source analysis of the NSDAP program, pointing out why his take was patently preposterous.

If you follow Twitter, you may have seen D’Souza tangle with a number of actual historians, most prominently Kevin M. Kruse, Heather Cox Richardson, Kevin Gannon, and Eric Rauchway – all great follows, if you’re looking to add some more historical voices to your Twitter feed.

The thread – see below – became quite popular, according to Twitter it was seen by at least 500,000 people (the original tweet) and as many as 1.4 million (the parts of the thread taken together). This has given me some hope, that we can reach people outside of academica by highlighting how to think historically, and what it means to anaylze, criticize, and contextualize sources.

In the aftermath, Tracy Corley of the Co-Action Lab asked me turn it into a blog post, which benefits from some additional editing and is live on the site now.

You can follow me on Twitter for future threads, occasional snark, and general history geekery. I’d be happy to see you there!

There’s also an unrolled (that is, all tweets combined into one webpage) version of the original thread here:

Torsten Kathke
Torsten Kathke is a historian specializing in the United States and Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries. His book "Wires That Bind: Nation, Region, and Technology in the Southwestern United States, 1854–1920" is available from Transcript publishers in Europe, and from Columbia University Press elsewhere. Torsten earned his doctorate in American Cultural History from Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany in 2013. He subsequently worked at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC and at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. He is a lecturer in American Studies at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz.

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