Decades ago, the late, world-renowned explorer Lars-Eric Lindblad, whose international travel company, Lindblad Travel, was based in Westport, told me that because America is open to everyone, zealots can take advantage of our democratic freedoms, and our country could experience the rise of a dictator like Adolf Hitler. I pooh-poohed the idea at the time.

But now, I wonder. So I delved into Google to see what I could find. With the press having a ball with the raucous Republican debates between its flamboyant, often out-of-control control nominees, it came as no surprise when Mark Hemingway, a senior writer for the conservative "Weekly Standard," wrote on March 1 "the unpredictable Donald Trump allegedly has a passion for reading the speeches of none other than Adolf Hitler, arguably the most arrogant, brutal, power-hungry tyrant in modern history."

Hemingway stated: "Of all the crazy revelations about Donald Trump, arguably the one that seems most alarming, is that he has a fondness for reading Hitler speeches. Now the charge was made by his first wife Ivana relating to his divorce proceedings, but when asked about it, Trump's denial was less than reassuring.

"Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer, Michael Kennedy, that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler's collected speeches, ‘My New Order,’ which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed ... Hitler's speeches, from his earliest days up through the war of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist."

Later, Trump told Hemingway: “ ‘If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.’ Now lots of ordinary people read Hitler for valid reasons, such as innocent historical fascination. But it seems particularly strange in light of Trump's bizarre refusal to denounce David Duke, even as he apparently lies about knowing about the former KKK grand wizard.”

There's more. On March 4, HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher stated: “We should be absolutely able to compare Donald Trump to Hitler, because this is very Hitler-y, which is what’s going on in these rallies,” according to the text by Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett:

Maher began by talking about an article in "The Weekly Standard" that cited a "Vanity Fair" article that stated Trump kept a book of Hitler speeches by his bedside, and then played a video that he jokingly presented as an Adolf Hitler speech that had been translated into German.

The mock translation has Hitler saying (in parody): “We’re going to make Germany great again. That I can tell you, believe me. Germany doesn’t win anymore. England, France, America, they’re laughing at us. The Treaty of Versailles, a terrible deal. We have stupid people who are our leaders, really stupid people making terrible deals. President Hindenburg, he’s a stiff, very low energy. He built a blimp with his name on it. It was a total disaster. Look, we are going to have a military so big, and so strong that we’ll never have to use it. Okay, maybe we’ll use it a little. Look, we don’t conquer anymore. We don’t annex territory. When I’m Fuhrer, Germany’s is going to annex again. There’s going to be so much annexing, you’re going to get sick of annexing. And look, I love the Jews, nobody loves the Jews more than me, but folks, either we have a fatherland, or we don’t, so we’re going to have to build a camp, and I will make the Jews pay for it. When I’m done with them, they’ll be saying Merry Christmas, that I can tell you."

Later in the show, Maher played a montage of people being thrown out of Trump rallies before stating, we “were kidding about Hitler before, but there’s been this idea for a long time, that you can’t ever compare anybody to Hitler. If you do that, you’re outside the marketplace of ideas — unless it fits."

In addition, according to a recent CNN report on the Internet: "Others have made broadly similar, if less colorful, statements comparing Trump to the genocidal Nazi leader. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a spirited Trump detractor, said last month that the GOP frontrunner ‘reminds me of Hitler ...’ ”

Anne Frank's stepsister, in a January essay to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, accused Trump of "acting like another Hitler …"

Before that, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican, told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day" that Trump's plan to halt the immigration of Muslims into the U.S. reminded her of "the kind of rhetoric that allowed Hitler to move forward."

Further, in his New York Times column on March 5, Timothy Egan wrote: "The German magazine, Der Spiegel called Trump 'the world's most dangerous man.' The Germans know a thing or two about the topic."

This columnist hastens to add that while national comedians, politically biased columnists and newspapers spew all kinds of opinions, that does not make what they are saying true. All too many readers and TV viewers may not be entirely aware of this. Thus, all of the commentary about Trump being another Hitler is not worth much. They are opinions. That's all. I can understand the comparison, but I do not agree with it.

Economic and political conditions in the two nations are far different and there are, hopefully, many more safeguards against the emergence of a dictator in America today than there were in Germany in 1938

Woody Klein's "Out of the Woods" column appears every other Friday in the Westport News. He can be reached at wklein11@aol.com.