Nazism, Fascism

The Moderate, Sensible Hitler that Christians Approved Of

We watched PBS’s Bonhoeffer video last night (the full-length version; the current PBS airing is a shortened version for tv).

How’s that old saying from Santayana go? – something like “those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it”.

Hitler was deliberate about, and very effective at:

Using God-talk and religious talk
“Lord, we do not let you go. Now bless our struggle, our liberty, and … our German people.”

Lying about his intentions so as to make his agenda seem reasonable, even utterly necessary
“We will not harm anyone; but we WILL defend ourselves.”

Energetically blaming others for what he himself was doing
“If the Jews in charge of international finance plunge the world into another World War …”

[See a list of posts dealing with Hitler and with Nazi tacitcs.]

Why did so many Christians support him? As the movie makes clear many powerful, well-educated, highly respected church leaders eagerly supported the new wave of German reform and power – Nazism – as did the people in the pews. Church leaders and members really believed Hitler was a Christian and could be trusted to act legally and sensibly. As one person said, “many of our church people fell for this.”

In the movie we see the swastika superimposed over the cross. We see swastika flags in churches over kneeling couples during church weddings. Many Christians thought it was fine, or at least tolerable.

Many, many could or would not see at all what a few could see very plainly. Pastors who spoke out against what they could see happening – and yet to happen – were arrested. Unfortunately the majority of ordained ministers could not see, or chose not to see, and did nothing to warrant repression or arrest.

I know it is very offensive to point out similarities between the strategy of Hitler’s rise and the tactics of the current American administration, but there clearly are some important similarities. See the three items in the box above, for example. But in the movie one big difference did stand out to me. Hitler himself preached hatred very energetically and effectively – against the Jews and several other classes of people. He was a great public ‘evangelist’ for his ‘gospel’ of hate. George Bush, on the other hand, does not make modern Republican-style hate-talk a prominent theme of his speeches. I am glad for that fact.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t much matter, because in our country today there is a LOT of prominent hate-talk going on anyway (see Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, key Senators and Congressmen, even preachers) against our fellow-Americans who do not agree with or submit eagerly to neocon (radical Republican) domination and corruption.

And Bush clearly approves of others doing it on his behalf – and often hires them to do it, as has been so apparent in his various political campaigns. Unfortunately, in this country, that probably makes Bush’s hate-campaigns even more effective than if he himself were the prominent public voice of hatred.

I hope you will rent the dvd or tape, or arrange to see the tv version of PBS’s Bonhoeffer (made in 2003, and directed by Martin Doblmeier).

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  • Who started a war that has killed thousands for oil?
    Who has depleted our resources from education, and welfare for the two reasons above?
    Who has claimed that God told him about 9/11, when cornered as to how he knew about the tragedy?
    Who has condoned torture, and illegal wire taps, and is ready to give liberty to Iraq, but denies freedom of his own people? Who has said that if you don’t support the war, you are terrorist.
    Who ignored the people in Florida in the 2000 election? How does a 70% democrat district in Ohio, have 77% of the same democratic district vote for a republican? Who paid for Nader’s Campaign in the year 2000? Who compromised the life of their own CIA operative to throw off the media? Who lied about Enron? Who broke 720 of our own US laws. Who gave weapons of Mass destruction to Iraq? Who gave weapons to the Taliban? Who disregarded the whole process of extradition, to take out a man, who was in a sovereign nation? Who threatened Iraq, Iran, and Korea since day one, calling it the axis of evil. Who tried pushing a vote of discrimination into the constitution, when we had much more important agendas, like Relief to Katrina victims, and Libby and Rove’s involvement in US Leaks? Who Impeached Clinton for an affair (Against popular opinion) and would not go after Bush for violating the LAW and for lying (Which he was caught LYING) about the Iraq war?

    There are so many other questions you should be asking? All I can ask is how do we have such men in power.

    “The fact is that my native land is a prey to barbarisim. that in it men’s only god is their belly, that they live only for the present, and the richer a man is the holier he is held to be.” St. Jerome 342-420 A.D.

  • I have to agree with Larry, we were warned to look at fruits, we were suppose to be fruit inspectors. So we wouldn’t be taken in. so easily. I don’t care if it is democrat or republican, we really have no two party system anymore only the smoking mirrors. Republican or democrat nothing changes, society doesn’t change, we continue to lose more freedom with each consecutive arbitrary order. We need to focus more on deeds and not on words.
    We should also educate ourselves on how this country was designed to run, so we can cut through the rhetoric. Our Federal government was only given the power by the people (by the people the key phrase here) to protect our God Given rights, not to take them away from us. Should we just hand over Our Responsibilities to the most popular candidate because he talks nicely, or has the most money.
    Our government was always reigned in, by past generations when these rights were threatened. I am afraid because of the failure in our schools to educate us about our founding, our failure as thinking human beings to not have studied this on our own, when we saw things going wrong, have made us easy prey for deception. And has set us up for one worse than Hitler to rule us, if we don’t do something fast to turn the tide.

  • We should also recognize that there is a lot of hate-talk going the other ways as well. (Michael Moore, Al Franken, et al–although they claim the cloak of “comedy,” as if that makes mean-spiritedness okay… and let’s not forget Ted Kennedy. He can be pretty mean as well).

    Let’s face it, both Republicans and Democrats are nasty to each other. The only difference is who has to be on the defensive because they do not have the majority in Washington. (I recall much of these same sentiments when Clinton was in office, only it was coming from the other camp.) That’s the unfortunate nature of politics.

    And it is part of the reason why, as a Christian, I get frustrated with both sides and am struggling with being able to call either camp “mine.� In my little naïve utopia, we could stop with the name-calling and the conspiracy theories (which I have to say, Larry, your Hitler/Bush comparison flirts with that a bit), and start working together for real solutions to our commonly shared problems. Sigh. Makes that desert island mentioned in the other post seem desirable, doesn’t it?

  • “George Bush, on the other hand, does not make modern Republican-style hate-talk a prominent theme of his speeches. I am glad for that fact.”

    Hey! You actually gave Bush a tiny bit of credit! Congratulatons! (I promise I won’t read too much into that.)

    You’re rating pretty low on the Godwin scale, though.

  • I will grant this difference too, which you established between Bush and Hitler. And the conclusions you attached to it.

    Bush is a puppet; he’s not the dictator. Which is why those who refuse him a rigorous Christian admonition are the real haters of his soul.