An Open Letter to Baby Hitler
Originally Published 23 November 2015
Dear baby Hitler,
The New York Times published a poll in which a majority of Americans said that they would go back in time to kill you. When the question was posed to presidential candidate Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida (home to a lot of American Jews), but also brother of former President George W Bush (Born-again Christian) and son of President George HW Bush (old-school partition and Connecticut born Episcopalian), he responded without thinking: “Hell yeah, I would! You gotta step up, man.”
But just because there are so many people out there willing to kill you, doesn’t mean they should. First, it’s a hypothetical because we don’t have time machines. If we did though, how cool would that be right? Pretty damn cool is the answer. But for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that they were really expensive and difficult to build and we only had one and we only got one chance to use it and people had to go through a lot of vetting and training to make sure that they used it wisely because of the butterfly effect and stuff. You know like in Ray Bradbury’s short story about time travel called a Sound of Thunder where these guys go back in time to hunt and kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex and the hunting party is told that even the most tiny alteration to the distant past could have catastrophic consequences on the course of modern history and they discover upon their return to the future that one of them crushed a butterfly under his boot resulting in the rise to power of a cruel fascist dictator? No? Well, I never read it but I saw the TV adaptation.
Second, you’re a baby. And, once you’ve seen one baby you’ve seen most all babies. So I’m not sure that if I made it past the vetting process that I’d waste my turn visiting you. But apparently Jeb disagrees because he recognised the potential for the butterfly effect, which he described in terms of Back to the Future and Michael J Fox, and still wanted to do it. In that movie Michael J Fox goes back in time to date his mother and when he goes back to the future he gets rewarded with a new truck and a rich family. Kind of a different moral at the end of that story which I guess is why Jeb thinks things will work out OK.
Still, you’re a baby. So, for a presidential candidate of an anti-choice political party that wants to overturn a ruling to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest, killing a baby just seems wrong and inconsistent with those values. But kudos to them I guess for waiting until after you're born to think it acceptable to do it.
All the same, I don’t want to kill you baby Hitler. I want to thank you. Because as with the sweet baby Jesus, you’ve become symbolic of something and someone so much greater than you actually are. And, while that’s probably where the similarities between you and the Christ child end, you can still say with confidence that you and the baby Jesus have something in common. Which is nice.
So, what is there that’s worth thanking you for? Well, off the top of my head, I’d like to thank you for reminding us that even cute little babies can grow up to mass murdering tyrants. That’s a pretty big lesson. Maybe it’s nurture. Maybe it’s nature. But either way: some babies grow up to be real pieces of work. So, if I was a new parent that’s constantly worrying about whether or not I’ve done the right thing or am a good parent, my kid ain’t Hitler. So, that’s something.
I bet your parents probably said the same thing. At least he’s not Napoleon or in case you’re inclined as I am little bit to give Napoleon a pass, because sure he was pretty rotten but he actually did a lot like introduce a whole new legal system, and promote meritocracy and egalitarianism, maybe they said at least he’s not Genghis Khan cuz by all accounts that guy was a real asshole.
Also, without you America wouldn't be the most powerful nation on the earth and Churchill would never have managed to escape his legacy as the father of the concentration camp during the Boer war.
Most of all though, I want to thank you for letting me know you let me know who all the crazies are. Without you, I would have thought it was simply OK to be anti-Hitler, anti-hate, and anti-Nazi. But now I know you can't hate the man without hating the baby that man once was. Because evil is born it's not made. It's back to nature vs nurture except now I know that nature always wins. And, once I know that, I know that people can’t change or be made better or worse by the way they are treated. Evil is born evil; good is born good.
And because I know America is good (we defeated you didn't we) I know we can only ever be good. So if our next president is Jeb who wants to only accept the Christian refugees from Syria or Dr Ben Carson who thinks arming the Jews would have prevented the holocaust or the Donald who wants to set up a Muslim database and issue Muslims in the US with special IDs, I know I have you, baby Hitler, to thank.
Mr Sean Sellers