*This isn’t comedy or meant to be funny so if you are here to laugh or for something silly, check out another post :)*
The internet has been abuzz lately with Jeb Bush’s comment about baby Hitler. “If you could go back in time to when Hitler was a baby, would you kill him?” His answer was, “Hell yeah, I would!”
I enjoy thought experiments like these quite a bit. I like to think of such hypothetical questions and situations and ponder over what my response would possibly be. When I first read that question, I also agreed with Jeb Bush. If there was no way of raising the baby differently such that he wouldn’t have committed the heinous acts he did then who wouldn’t kill the man responsible for the countless deaths that occurred during World War 2? I never thought I would ever agree with a Republican on something but that sentiment actually did not last long.
Yes to killing baby Hitler was only my first and immediate response to the question as I read it. You could say it was solely driven by my emotions. But after thinking about it for a few more minutes, I realized I had to change my answer to it. My final answer is I would NOT kill baby Hitler. Now before you bring out the pitchforks against me, I would like you to actually consider the points I am about to make.
Hitler did not create the concepts of fascism and anti-semitism. There were other fascist leaders before Hitler and dictatorships have existed since the beginning of time. Given Germany’s terrible condition after World War 1, people were vulnerable and the environment was conducive to a man with even the slightest power to rise to the role of a dictator. And as a dictator, his personal views, including his controversial ones about race, became views of the nation.
However, despite his power and influence, it is not possible to have a significant part of society to accept and share those views unless there were already shared sentiments regarding them. Quite simply, Hitler did not invent anti-semitism – anti-semitism was a vice that was already prevalent in society. I haven’t studied enough history to understand the origins of racism so I can’t say how it came to be but anti-semitism already existed in Europe before Hitler was even born. Hitler was a successful and heinous leader because he was able to appeal to and play up those sentiments and views.
Given these factors, if not Hitler, then another influential person would have been in his place, appealed to the very same sentiments to become powerful and committed similar, if not the same, crimes. Consider this – if we killed baby Hitler, isn’t there a chance that another stronger dictator rises to power instead and causes twice the number of deaths? Or that without Hitler and Germany in the way, Stalin would attack Europe and take more lives?
Hitler’s crimes are undeniably horrible and unforgivable. If I could prevent each and every death he was responsible for by going back in time, I would. But knowing that possibly (even if it a tiny chance) there was a worse evil than Hitler, a more vicious leader who would have replaced him and killed more people, I can’t bring myself to kill baby Hitler. Eliminating his existence does not cleanse society. He wouldn’t have been able to do what he did if people didn’t enable or allow him to. You can’t stop crime by killing criminals – that is only a temporary solution. The true solution should be to reform and nurture people and hence, reduce their desire to commit criminal acts.
Killing a person only makes you a killer but killing people’s prejudices or reforming society makes you a hero.