Hitler Was A Great Man Too

At the dawn of World War II, history books like to forget that Hitler had done the seemingly impossible. He had united a previously torn country. He had eradicated unemployment. He had single handily restored nationalism and pride to the German people. Today, when we look back at World War II, Hitler’s apparent ‘greatness’ is often pushed under the rug. It’s easy to understand why. Hitler was great.

That doesn’t mean he was good.

Lots of leaders follow this logic. In Russian history Stalin, Peter the Great, and Catherine the Great are good examples. They were great rulers who achieved amazing political feats for their nations. All three left a bloody trail behind. Just speaking in terms of Stalinism, his nationalistic authoritarianism brought the Russian economy into the industrial age. It also killed millions of people.

The definition of “greatness” has come into full focus in this election.

Definition of great

1a :  notably large in size :  hugeb :  of a kind characterized by relative largeness —used in plant and animal namesc :  elaborate, ample <great detail>

2a :  large in number or measure :  numerous <great multitudes>b :  predominant

great

    1. majority>

    2. 3:  remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness <great bloodshed>

    3. 4:  full of emotion <great with anger>

    4. 5a :  eminent, distinguished great poet>b :  chief or preeminent over others —often used in titles Great Chamberlain>c :  aristocratic, grand <great ladies>

    5. 6:  long continued great while>

    6. 7:  principal, main great hall>

    7. 8:  more remote in a family relationship by a single generation than a specified relative <great-grandfather>

    8. 9:  markedly superior in character or quality; especially :  noble <great of soul>

    9. 10a :  remarkably skilled <great at tennis>b :  marked by enthusiasm :  keen <great on science fiction>

    10. 11—used as a generalized term of approval great time> great>

“Great.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.

No where in that definition is the word “good” or “morally correct.” That’s not what “greatness” is. Yes- those two things can go hand in hand. But hurricane Katrina was a great storm. It wasn’t a “good” one.

The United States has always been Great. But we have not always been good. Japanese internment camps. Slavery. The genocide of the Native Americans. The Civil Rights movement. The Iraq war. Torture of prisoners. The Trail of Tears. These things are all “great” by definition.

I don’t want to be great. I want to be good.

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