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Are we traveling down the same road the Germans took in the early 1930’s?
I can’t say – but some of the landmarks sure look familiar.
People get upset when I raise that issue, but for different reasons.
- One extreme: “That’s ridiculous! Bush isn’t trying to kill people; he’s trying to save America! He’s a true Christian-American hero! Your remarks are outrageous, if not worse!”
- Other extreme: “Yes! I see the similarities, and they are outrageous and terrifying!”
- Middle: “Please don’t talk like that. Bush may be incompetent or even a crook, but he isn’t a mass murderer. You hurt our case against him when you overstate it so grotesquely. Please show some sense and restraint.”
Well, I didn’t say Bush is trying to kill millions of people. I said (and say) that there are frightening and outrageous similarities between Germany in the 1920’s and ’30’s and the US today. Nazis in the 1920’s and 1930’s were not killing Jews or Gypsies or anyone in large numbers. But there were other very dangerous things going on that are similar to things going on here. If that means we’re on the same road, or a similar one, then I want us to get off. Here are some areas of similarity.
I. The belligerence and aggressions of this US administration,
its transparent deceptions in support of such activities, and its contempt for all other nations and for international promises and commitments we have made, is frightening and outrageous and it is indeed comparable to Nazism in the 1930’s.
II. The strong and sustained attack on our proud American rights
before the law, on our freedom as American citizens from snooping and harassment by our own government, on our freedom from government police and arbitrary arrest, is a very Nazi way of approaching the world. The heavy Administration domination of popular media outlets and their effective use of many churches and religious groups fit right in. Those who have the power (tied to money, of course) make the rules and present the news, and they push to the hilt every advantage they get.
III. BUT THE HATE-TALK IS THE THING THAT REALLY GETS ME.
Destroying the Constitution and international law should get them all that they want. Why is all the hate-talk necessary?
Because hatred is an extremely powerful motivator. Hatred is a profound depressant of free and healthy mental activity. Hatred is a major ego-trip. And hatred sets the stage for purges.
The hate-talk is aimed against “liberals” in particular, though they have plenty to go around to lots of groups.
But “liberals,” or people with liberal ideas, is a big bunch of Americans!
- people who want more money spent on schools,
- people who think those who benefit most from our economy owe quite a bit in return
- people who want credible reasons before invading small foreign countries
- people who don’t want others (or themselves) locked away for years without charges, counsel, or accountability
- people who believe health insurance should be very broadly available
- people who want free access to Presidential appearances, speeches, and news conferences
- people who think torture is not a virtue, nor even a good idea
- people who think the government should be supervising boardrooms at least as much as bedrooms
- people who think gay male prostitutes should not have extensive, unscreened access to the White House,
- people who voted for a true war hero and highly honored US Senator to be US President
In fact many, many of us are “liberal” and thus their “enemies” – and they do indeed use that phrase “the enemy” about us! They motivate their supporters by using hate-words like that about their fellow-Americans, fellow-voters, fellow-tax-payers, fellow soldiers, fellow-worshipers.
And THAT IS how the Nazis behaved in the 1930’s.
The cattle trains full of German citizens were not rolling. The ovens burning bodies of Germans citizens murdered by their own government were not yet fired up. But the hate-talk and the re-structuring of power systems in German society and government were in full swing â€“ just as they are in America today.
Of course it’s “insane” to write, in an American context, about cattle cars full of people on the way to extermination. But it was also pretty unbelievable to talk of such things in Germany in 1935. But by 1945 it had happened to multiplied millions. It’s the road you travel that takes you to the destination you arrive at – even if you’re not there yet, and even if you didn’t think that’s where you were headed.
HOW DID THEY DO IT?
Claudia Koonz [The Nazi Conscience, Harvard, 2003] writes, “Germans, before 1933, were among the least anti-Semitic people.” Wow!
How did that “least anti-Semitic people” turn, in fewer than 10 years, into mass exterminators of their fellow citizens?
the Nazis just kept working at deliberately altering that “least anti-Semitic” German cultural conscience into “the Nazi Conscience.” Just stay on the road and keep driving, and great “progress” can be made in a few years.
The Nazi conscience in the 1940’s still did the same kind of WORK; it told Germans what they should or should not do, should or should not support. But it’s CONTENT had been replaced. So, Koonz tells us, in 1940 a Hitler Youth member named Alfons Heck could watch the Gestapo take away his best friend Heinz, and all the Jews in his village, and think
- not “How terrible that they are arresting Jews,”
- but “What a misfortune that Heinz is Jewish.”
- corrupted Nazi racial “science”, in concert with
- the relentless cultural and political aggression of the Nazis in control of the government
literally transformed good German consciences.
Not all of them, of course, but many. And those many came to see Jews (and other groups) as intrinsically evil and a great menace to German civilization. That is hate with boots on, hate getting “practical”. The visceral hatred behind Nazi planning and operations produced a (falsely) “educated” hatred in multitudes of Germans. The engine driving the discipline and organization and deadly heroism of Nazi Germany was hate.
And that is how our own home-grown radical right talks and acts today.
I don’t know if their hatred is honest or feigned – after a certain point it no longer matters.
- In their churches,
- on Fox,
- through Limbaugh’s mouth,
- in the halls of Congress,
- in many many places,
they lie about fellow Americans and talk hate.
They are re-training the American conscience.
They legislate manipulation and oppression, and they violate laws, treaties, and conventional standards of decency whenever they think they have anything to gain thereby. These patterns ARE VERY MUCH COMPARABLE to the German â€˜30’s, – and that’s not a good road to be on. Those religious leaders, Fox “news”, Limbaugh, etc. etc. etc. will have much to answer for when they stand before their Maker-And-Judge. But it would be far better for everyone if we could get them to start answering for it much sooner than that.
Koonz further says, “This transformation did not just happen. The expulsion of Jews from Germans’ universe of moral obligation was carefully engineered.”
How many people on this planet – how many fellow Americans – how many of US – are being deliberately expelled from the moral universe of this present American regime and its radical rightist supporters?
Jesus would have a LOT of trouble with all of this. Do you remember how he answered the question, “And who then is my neighbor?” He answered that the neighbor they must love (“as yourself”) was the foreigner with the corrupted language, the outsider from the dangerous culture, the practitioner of a repulsive religion. It was the one kind of person all of Jesus’ â€˜holy’ listeners despised as beneath them in every way. THAT’s who Jesus picked as the star in his little drama about “Who is my neighbor?” (“The Good Samaritan,” in Luke 10)
That goes the opposite direction from the hate-talk ways we are being led in by this regime.
Here’s a list of some other articles in this Hitler-comparison matter – with titles like,
“US Churches, Senators, and a Priest Under the Nazis”
“Hitler’s Respect for ‘My Lord and Savior Jesus'”
“Hitler Did Promote Christian Morality and Family Values”
and a couple on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
* This is a republication of a post from June, 2005. It bears repeating!
Thanks, Tammy Jo, and yes, youâ€™re right: â€œThe least of theseâ€? are paying the price. But they do so because the effect of some ignoring and some confounding the true import of the Word is neither patriotic nor Christian, but simply those two: (a) defeatist against those powers that truly rule the earth in these days (* see footnote) and press their rule to a breaking-point, whereafter either disaster or revolution (and most probably a mixture of both) must ensue if total worldwide tyranny, dignified of Anti-Christ, is to be prevented yet for one more time -â€“, those powers are â€œsynarchistâ€?, financial and international â€“, and lack the least of shred of any conceivable biblical legitimacy or authority, â€“ and (b) [this pseudo-messianic â€œChristianityâ€? is] escapist towards the true nature of the â€œpatriotismâ€? this president commends. For in my eyes, patriotism is not the same thing as Christianity, but patriotism (as one aspect of love) is a valid Christian recommendation for a world that does not (contrary to what some may tell you) cease to have siginificant ethnic fault lines along the contours of national identity, that need being taken up to ensure the rule of accountable personalities (kings, designed to honoured by Christians, see I. Peter 2:17), which is the only alternative to submission to the God of Mammon. One of the worst kinds venom instilled into the minds of present-day people (including Christians) is the equation of economic protectionism and a sound respect for autochthonous moral values, considerately applied, with narrow-minded or even xenophobic nationalism. This lie must be undone and overcome soon, if civilization is to survive the coming crisis of capitalism â€“ and prevent it from becoming a fatal crisis of physical production as well. And the counterpart of this dramatization is the converse operation of confounding â€œpatriotismâ€? with the rudest kind of possible self-assertion that your nation may commit against all the others, whereas true patriotism is the self-identification of citizens with their country, leading them to share not only the glory, but also the appropriate instances of SHAME a nation has or should have to suffer when bullying or annihilating (with radioactive warfare) other peopleâ€™s homesteads on false pretextes and for transparent ends.
(* by â€œdivide and conquerâ€?, mind you, therefore all this hostility being fostered, see. e.g., where I stumbled across only yesterday, quite unaware that such insights were to be found with HuffingtonPost among all the lesser utterances there â€“ they clearly profited from their innovation to let people vote on and mark out the best contributions)
(bolds by me; M.B.)
What we are dealing with here are Christians, (at least I hope they are Christians) who are not very familiar with the Word and they have allowed themselves to be convinced that patriotism is the same thing as Christianity; and that the President is the same thing as God. This myth has been perpetuated by people who should know better. I believe that eventually these people will answer for this, but in the meantime many of us, including “the least of these,” are paying the price.
It must be a sad thing for you, Larry, being forced to post twice a wake-up call like this, – because its actuality has even increased in the meantime, I guess (?). But so you did, and therefore let me state upon this repition that I did â€œenjoyâ€? it already upon my first reading in last autumn (or late-summer). Itâ€™s profound, itâ€™s interesting and itâ€™s doing such a heavy lot of justice to our German people (being exposed to easy, superficial (self-)imputations of collective guilt), all the while (you are) upholding the decisive charge against looking away when people are effectively victimized, – a charge that Germans (Europeans) must face just as Americans in these times. For throughout the western world, a crushing majority is silently humouring (a) the remilitarization of international affairs (no words here about Iran, which WILL be mass murder, on many fronts, and is already out of our power to still positively prevent) and (b) the outcasting and social harrassment of broader and broader portions of society all the while the (still) better-off portions are hoping (increasingly stealthily and ruthlessly) that they will be the last ones trampled down. — (In Germany, we have a bad campaign going on against the unemployed, which gradually prepares a parallel to those conditions that once made Hitler appear a savior – and the only one! – for the impoverished masses.)
There is no way for me here to safely escape suspicion that I am dealing in easy ways to impute guilt, myself. But nevertheless, let me state I am not. I am aghast, not gloating. And upon abstracting from the emotional plain (as we all should at least try to do) I am calling for reviewing what Christian faith really is about. And I am answering, it is, to a considerable degree, an effort (of the historical Jesus, which is the same as whom the Christian church rightly confesses as the â€œAnointed of the Lordâ€?) to reform the natural impulse of shame, which is distorted by sin. Naturally (i.e. under conditions of â€œoriginal sinâ€?), people are driven to be ashamed of weakness, whereas they should be ashamed of misuse of every scrap of power (all kinds of power!) that the vagaries and contingencies of life may happen to put at their hands. So in this case, we should NOT be ashamed to speak up against our collective guilt, being incurred in trodding along that road with unknown destination, – even if such is the surest way to make us blush or suffer worse. But on the contrary: If we are honouring the Lord, shame should work in the opposite direction. However strongly (the effects of this shame should be), is not for me to judge, – so, in this case, I CANâ€™T and WONâ€™T interpret the actuality of silence all around me as being proof of a majority of whatever environment holding false beliefs. But one thing, I do say: The tendency of most Christian congregations (at least with me, in Germany) to deny the relevancy of Larryâ€™s observations for the way contemporary Christians must present the Gospel seems completely flawed, indeed treacherous to me.
I have uttered protest against this silent distortion in what was up to now was my spiritual surroundings in Germany, and met with a (consistent) rebuff. Now itâ€™s for me to repeat myself, stating I heartily hope that Americans will finally prove more sensitive than Germans did (and do) and venture upon an effort to eradicate the evil from where it really roots: in the hearts of masses and in the power centres of Washington and New York (Council on Foreign Relations and other centres of the nexus between financial and political power). Only in case the Lord will grant you that success in purging yourselves, will you travel to a better place than we did. Please donâ€™t even dream of suspecting any scrap of reason, or even moderateness, in those answers 1 and 3, above at the top: They are redolent of one thing alone: ESCAPISM, systematic reneging on reality and a sophistical kind of intelligence. Such is not the way to morally survive as that great nation, Americans should strive to be.