President Joe Biden’s inauguration has not made Metaxas and the Trump supporters who agree with him go away. In fact, Metaxas has become only more vocal—and seemingly fearful—in recent weeks. He believes, without evidence, that there was significant fraud in the 2020 election. (Some three-quarters of Republicans agree, according to a December poll.) And like roughly one-third of registered voters, he doesn’t believe that Biden’s victory was legitimate. I wanted to understand why Metaxas, who lives in Manhattan and has spent much of his life among journalists and his fellow Yale graduates, has come to believe that he is righteous for questioning the 2020 election. Our conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Emma Green: Do you see yourself as a rebel against elite consensus?
Eric Metaxas: I grew up in a working-class, immigrant environment. When I went to Yale, that was the first time I was among the so-called cultural elites. There really is a kind of enforced consensus. If you don’t think that way, you can quickly become persona non grata.
I wasn’t in D.C. for the Capitol riots. But I was blown away at how instantly anybody who supported Trump—which is, you know, half the country—was demonized as potential white domestic terrorists. I just thought, Holy cow. What am I, in Nazi Germany? This is really sick. That’s not what we do in America.
Green: You brought up Nazi Germany there, and I want to make sure I understand how you’re using the metaphor.
Metaxas: You have to forgive me. Part of the reason I bring up Germany, always, is because I spent a huge part of my life studying that period. I wrote a 600-page book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
We can’t allow people to be silenced. People immediately say, “You bring up the Nazis? That’s out of bounds.” But it’s the principle of the thing. When you start pushing people around and telling them what they can say—and they better say, “Heil Hitler,” loudly—that should be a warning sign.
Green: Do you believe that Trump supporters are like Jews in Hitler’s Germany?
Metaxas: Now, Emma, you’re trying to get me to say something. That’s a good journalistic tactic. I can see the quote, right? That’s not really going to be helpful, because: Of course not.
The point is, in Germany, if you didn’t go along with the party line, you would be demonized. You would get in trouble. People just think, I hope I don’t get in trouble, so what do I have to say or not say to get in trouble? At that moment, you cease to be free.
We’re kind of getting there. Even a millimeter in that direction is too close for comfort for me.
Green: You have tweeted about the early actions of the Biden administration being similar to the Reichstag fire. You tweeted that—
Metaxas: No, no, no. The Capitol. I’m referring to that.
This event happens, and before the smoke clears, we are using the opportunity—and I’m not talking about the Biden administration; I’m talking about the Democratic establishment and the media—instantly seizing on it to demonize, in the harshest terms, anyone who would support Trump. That just blew my mind. I thought: You don’t do that in America. That’s what the Nazis did with the Reichstag fire. Before the smoke cleared, they had already figured out who they were going to blame.