Part 3: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 2: The Politics of Virtue

Content note for antisemitism, Trump, eliminationist rhetoric.

Hitler managed to persuade a German court to hand him a mild 5-year sentence for treason, rather than deporting him or imprisoning him for life. But he’d had to tone down his bigotry for the courts, and his followers were upset.

They needn’t have worried.

Hitler, once his future was secure, was more than happy to return to spouting his poisonous antisemitism. He assured them that his earlier ideas about the Jews were, if anything, “too mild.” He cast the conflict between Jews and Germans as “a question of life and death.” He turned his attention toward spewing venom to Rudolph Hess, who compiled his ravings into the book that would become Mein Kampf. He amped up his exterminationist rhetoric, describing Jews as parasites, freeloaders, “a dangerous bacillus,” maggots, and poisoners. He called for their extermination.

So, remember: if a Nazi or other bigot dials back their rhetoric in the face of legal trouble or social sanctions, don’t trust their change of heart until it’s backed up by subsequent, sustained actions. Watch for them to return to and possibly intensify their previous hateful speech and actions. Once the coast is relatively clear, they will revert to their true selves.

Hitler spent a mere ten months in prison, and once he was released, he set about unifying his followers before reaching out for new ones. He’d learned how to dog whistle. Because more educated people wouldn’t respond as favorably to overt bigotry, and because fomenting hate and violence could get him silenced or deported, he resorted to a more veiled antisemitism. He would speak about “one single enemy.” He used racist humor and metaphors. Continue reading “Part 3: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 2: The Politics of Virtue”

Part 3: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 2: The Politics of Virtue
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(Repost) “Blood Atonement” – Escape Chapter 23: Ruth’s Nose

In our last installment, we learned that Warren Jeffs was busy making everyone believe their every ailment could be cured by faith alone, leading many people to almost kill themselves and at least one to maim herself in the effort to follow Warren’s God’s supposed will. Now we find out Warren in into survivalist shit as well. This allows some of the more concerning members of the community to indulge their sadistic sides.

Content Note for graphic animal abuse, brutal animal killing, spiritual abuse, ritual murder discussion, elder abuse, medical neglect.

Carolyn learns from Merril’s daughter Merrilyn that Warren has been running a series of survival classes at the FLDS’s private school in Salt Lake City. They mostly consist of Dee Jessop killing various animals in a variety of horrifying ways in front of the children. This includes ripping the heart out of a living pig as it screams in agony.

And no one says anything against it.

The more Warren gets away with without opposition, the stronger his hold on the community becomes. I wonder if these brutal “survivalist” classes were to see just how far people would go to comply with his orders. Was he using them to desensitize people? If you can get people to start doing more and more outrageous things, you can walk them into ideas that would’ve had them running away screaming if you’d thrown them straight in.

His father, the prophet Rulon Jeffs, begins having strokes in 1996, and Warren uses them to usurp his power. The community is told that Rulon’s mind is intact, but no one’s allowed to see him. This allows Warren to pretend his father is still mentally competent enough to perform his duties. He acts as Rulon’s mouthpiece. He gives the orders. And, with the community firmly in his grasp, he begins to squeeze. He tells the community that immoral men must be banished. And then he goes further: Continue reading “(Repost) “Blood Atonement” – Escape Chapter 23: Ruth’s Nose”

(Repost) “Blood Atonement” – Escape Chapter 23: Ruth’s Nose

Protected: “All Our Lives Depended On It” – Escape Chapter 30: Harrison’s New Port

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(Repost) Fifty Shades of F**king Abuse

In light of Fifty Shades Darker infesting theatres, I figured it was time to repost this 2014 article in which I explain, at some length, just how fucked up and abusive this franchise is.

CN for sexual, physical, emotional and verbal abuse; stalking; fake BDSM; Fifty Shades shit; gaslighting; casual ableism in quotes and links.

Let me tell you how I got acquainted with some of the worst books on the market:

It was an odd time. I’d just spent over a month intensively critiquing creationist earth science texts, and that triggers depression after so many chapters. One begins to lose all hope for humanity. The end of summer loomed. B and I had a rather serious falling out. So there I was, mopey and miserable and wishing the world could just stop for a while.

I don’t remember what I was reading, but there was a link to Jenny Trout’s blog in the comments. And she had done to the Fifty Shades trilogy what I’m doing to Christianist textbooks. I’d been hearing for years how bloody awful the Fifty Shades of Grey books were, how they glorified abuse, how fake the BDSM was, and how terrible the writing was. I’d heard it from enough people whose opinion I trust that I hadn’t wasted my time attempting to read the bloody things. But now there’s gonna be a movie, and about nine trillion people think this shit’s the cat’s pajamas and ever-so-good for their looove lives, so maybe it would be a good idea to find out a bit more about it. And here was a brilliant, funny, and feminist writer who’d read and reported on them so I didn’t have to. It was like Cliffs Notes, with brutal honesty and snark.

Now, I should’ve been working, but I really couldn’t. And a day off wouldn’t hurt. And I read this: Continue reading “(Repost) Fifty Shades of F**king Abuse”

(Repost) Fifty Shades of F**king Abuse

(Repost) “A Person of Little Faith” – Escape Chapter 23: Ruth’s Nose

Like many cult leaders, Warren Jeffs is busy gradually cementing his hold over everyone in the community by fucking with their health care. His father has already convinced everyone that vaccines are a government plot to make children sterile. Considering previously-vaccinated FLDS women are pumping out children at a brisk pace, it’s amazing anyone believes him. But he’s their leader, the man in charge of their eternal salvation, so they trust him. Warren then comes along to see the ground his father has plowed, telling everyone that the only reason they’d ever need medical treatment is a lack of faith. If they’re truly in harmony with God, he says, they’ll be healed by prayer and fasting.

Content note: medical neglect, spiritual abuse, maiming, physical abuse of a mentally ill person.

Carolyn watches many people in the FLDS end up nearly dead from Warren’s claims. Thankfully, most people are still resorting to the hospital when faith doesn’t heal them. But some have faith in Warren. Ruth, her mentally unstable sister wife, develops skin cancer on her nose, and Carolyn gets to experience the consequences of Warren’s nonsense quite closely.

Merril apparently hasn’t yet fallen for Warren’s crap, because he sends Ruth to the clinic when a sore on her nose won’t heal. It’s cancerous, but very treatable, her doctor says. But Ruth wants to do it Warren’s way. She won’t entertain Carolyn’s idea that maybe GOd was healing her by placing her in the hands of a competent dermatologist. She wants to go the faith route. In addition to fasting and praying, faith also apparently includes questionable caustic chemicals from the health food store. God has revealed a new way of healing her cancer to her! It’s herbal, so it must be safe, despite the fact the caustic part of her concoction is illegal to sell! And while she’s been told to only use a pinhead-sized amount, she slathers it on, turning the entire end of her nose green in the process. God said to go for it. Continue reading “(Repost) “A Person of Little Faith” – Escape Chapter 23: Ruth’s Nose”

(Repost) “A Person of Little Faith” – Escape Chapter 23: Ruth’s Nose

Protected: “A Man Who Has Inspiration” – Escape Chapter 30: Harrison’s New Port

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Part 2: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 2: The Politics of Virtue

Content note for antisemitism, Trump, eliminationist rhetoric.

I think that where Trump and Hitler really diverge from each other is in their sincerity. Trump has always been a con man and a reality show personality. There’s no doubt he’s a bigot and a racist, not to mention a complete misogynist, but those things weren’t tied to his political ambition from the beginning. In fact, he seems to have pursued politics only to revive his failing brand. And the outrageous shit he spews on an hourly basis is calculated to pander, to shock, to get people buzzing. He’s discovered it’s very easy to get his ego fed to bursting by being the most “politically incorrect” politician possible. He hasn’t spent his life dreaming of Muslim registries and letting the religious right overthrow our Constitutional rights. These just happen to be a few of the things that get people sleazy enough to follow him excited, so he pushes them.

Hitler, on the other hand, pursued political power early on. And from the start, he intended to slaughter as many Jews as he could manage.

“Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews.”

This is a goal Hitler never lost sight of even when circumstances forced him to dial down his overt antisemitism. But when whipping up his followers, he knew hate sells. He used it freely. He spent years blaming all of Germany’s woes on Jewish people. And Germany, defeated and humiliated in the first World War, had plenty of woes. They were far worse off than we are. Desperate people need scapegoats; Hitler offered them up.

Hitler shouldn’t have been around to provide them. After fomenting hatred of the Jews for several years, he made a premature attempt at revolution that ended with him facing high treason charges. He should have been tossed in prison for life or deported. But he figured out what he needed to say in order to gain the court’s sympathies. He learned that with people outside the Nazi party, it was best to dial back the rabid bigotry and appeal to ethnic pride.

Over the next six weeks, Hitler, the uncouth agitator, remade himself into an innocent patriot who had been betrayed by a democracy too weak to defend Germanic honor…. Hitler transformed his public self from a raging antisemite into a resolute tribune of the Volk who captivated audiences with his vision of “cleanliness everywhere, cleanliness of our government, cleanliness in public life, and also this cleanliness in our culture… that will restore our [national] soul to us.”

Of course, “cleanliness” meant purging the Jewish people, but he wasn’t so crude as to actually say that in front of non-Nazis whose esteem he had to win. Instead, he attacked more widely despised and impersonal things: the Versailles Treaty, Bolshevism, and liberals. He cast himself as the doughty patriot willing to sacrifice anything to protect his beloved volk. He sprinkled in appeals to Germany’s proud military past, and finished with an appeal to “the goddess of the eternal tribunal of history.”

He’d found all the right buttons to push. And so, instead of spending the rest of his life moldering in a Bavarian prison or thrown out of Germany with no hope of returning, he received a mere slap on the wrist: five years in prison without subsequent deportation.

So what are we seeing? That a clever fascist will tailor his appeals to his audience. All it takes to rally nascent fascists who won’t respond to overt bigotry and racism is an appeal to be the hero fighting those things they abhor: liberals, socialists, Marxists, and other assorted lefties. Sprinkle in a hefty dose of national, ethnic, and military pride, and you can get conservatives to bless even outright treason.

Sound familiar? It should. Trump is far cruder, but he plays the tune Hitler wrote. Not surprising, considering how much he reportedly admires the genocidal shit.

We’ll see next how Hitler reassured his followers that yes, he still hated Jews. It’s a reminder to never take Trump at his word when he dials back his hatred to pander to less hateful audiences.

Image is the cover of The Nazi Conscience. It shows a brown-uniformed man digging while a man in traditional German folk costume holds a pole that has a swastika banner on it.
We’re studying The Nazi Conscience as a way to prepare for what’s happening now. If you want to read along, you can pick up an inexpensive used copy at Amazon. Buying through that link also supports my blogging, so thank you!

Intro • Prologue1.1 1.21.32.1

Part 2: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 2: The Politics of Virtue

Part 1: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 2: The Politics of Virtue

I call Trump Cheeto Hitler (Chitler for short), but the first paragraph of Chapter 2 shows what a cheap imitation of Hitler he really is. The original Hitler, at least, presented himself and his vision of the German volk as something of virtue: “the epitome of selfless devotion, humble origins, and abstemious tastes.” Trump is just a crass flim-flam man appealing to base greed, xenophobia, and bigotry.

But both of them know how to work their audience. Both enjoy preaching to crowds. Hitler thought highly of his own ability to influence an audience, bragging that he could bring his naysayers around within just a few hours. He sold them Nazi ideology by figuring out what they wanted to hear. Like Trump, he was a huckster.

Hitler seized upon technological advances to get his message out. “Without the loud speaker,” he said, “we never would have conquered Germany.” I’m reminded of Trump using his reality shows and Twitter to conquer America.

Of course, neither of them win over as many people as they claim. Most listeners aren’t swayed: they hear the vitriol, and know it’s dangerous. But both men give their followers something to convince themselves they’re good, sensible people, not bigoted assholes.

Opponents of Nazism heard only hatred as Hitler ranted against the Treaty of Versailles, Communists, rival politicians, and democracy. But they overlooked the pattern of Hitler’s speeches in which he counterpointed every outburst of fury with the exalted rhetoric of a higher purpose.

I think Koonz isn’t giving hatred enough credit. Spite is a powerful motivator, as we’ve so recently seen. Many Germans, like many Americans today, felt hard done by. I don’t doubt they were all too ready to lash out. And folks looking for scapegoats are quite happy to grab the most wilted fig leaf of “higher purpose” offered to incompletely cover up the fact that hatred is driving them: hatred of the religious minorities, the people of color, the women, and the queer folk who have the audacity to demand a place at the table. They’re only too happy to blame their disappointments on those uppity others. They’re only too willing to follow a leader who promises to put those others in their place.

Next, we’ll see how Hitler and Trump diverge. For all their similarities, I do believe they differ in important ways. And we’ll see that those differences won’t prevent Trump from doing things as bad as or worse than Hitler. Whether you end up trying to exterminate an entire ethnic group because you truly believe they’re evil, or start a nuclear war because your feelings got bruised, you’re still responsible for immense suffering.

The terrifying thing is, Hitler appears to have had more self-restraint.

Image is the cover of The Nazi Conscience. It shows a brown-uniformed man digging while a man in traditional German folk costume holds a pole that has a swastika banner on it.
We’re studying The Nazi Conscience as a way to prepare for what’s happening now. If you want to read along, you can pick up an inexpensive used copy at Amazon. Buying through that link also supports my blogging, so thank you!

Intro • Prologue1.1 1.21.3

Part 1: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 2: The Politics of Virtue

(Repost) “We Would Be Completely Vulnerable” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack

What’s worse than having an utter shitstain of a husband in the FLDS? Potentially not having him. When Merril has a massive heart attack, Carolyn has to face the fact that while she doesn’t love him, she needs him.

Content note for emetophobia, forced marriage, child abuse, medical stuff

On the way to the hospital, trying desperately not to vomit from morning sickness and fear, Carolyn confronts her unpleasant reality. Continue reading “(Repost) “We Would Be Completely Vulnerable” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack”

(Repost) “We Would Be Completely Vulnerable” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack

Protected: “A Matter of Life and Death” – Escape Chapter 30: Harrison’s New Port

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