Calm down dear, Boris Johnson is not Hitler
The past may sometimes repeat itself, but historians don't have all the answers to today's controversies
Historians will look back on 2019 as the Year of Bad Analogies. I’ve seen Boris Johnson compared to both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell (quite a feat) and, of course, Adolf Hitler, a uniquely evil man whose soubriquet has become shorthand for “anyone who disagrees with me”. The right does it as much as the left. I don’t think Boris is Hitler, but I do think Jeremy Corbyn is Stalin.
Historians like me may roll our eyes but we’re partly to blame. We’re currently enjoying the same cult-like worship that comedians enjoyed in the 90s, when entertainers were rebranded as philosophers whose jokes about airline food told us something profound about the human condition.
Likewise, historians are on social media and panel shows, venting about Brexit – pro or con – and celebrated as soothsayers who by looking into the past can tell us our future...