Part 1: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 1 “An Ethnic Conscience”

This chapter begins with a brief history of conscience. Perhaps the most important line is this:

But, although every major culture honors the injunction to treat others as you hope they will treat you, the ideal often collapses in practice because the meaning of “others” is not always clear.

Who are the others we should treat as we wish to be treated? Koonz quotes Freud on the difficulty of loving strangers. And then she points out that “who deserves moral consideration” is defined either by religion or experts. In Nazi Germany, experts did the shaping.

The story of a Hitler Youth member is a klaxon, warning us what happens when those experts place a specific subset of others as enemies of the rest. He’d had the belief that the Jews were an immediate threat to Germany drummed into him. When his Jewish best friend was taken by the Gestapo, he didn’t protest. Despite knowing his friend was a good person and no threat to anyone, he “accepted deportation as just.”

And before we say it could never happen here, we must remember that it already has. We identified an enemy “other” (the Japanese citizens of our nation) and placed them into camps. Had we begun losing the war, had our experts stressed their supposed threat to us just a fraction more, we may have thought killing them would also be just. Continue reading “Part 1: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 1 “An Ethnic Conscience””

Part 1: The Nazi Conscience Chapter 1 “An Ethnic Conscience”
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It’s Up to Us Now

The electoral college has abdicated its responsibility and elected a fascist who is appointing the worst cabinet in history, and has already begun destroying America’s standing in the world. By the end of this – and there will be an end – countless people will be dead, our democracy damaged possibly beyond repair, our rights set back by 50 years or more, racists empowered as they haven’t been since the KKK ruled, the Supreme Court will be ruined for at least a generation, and we may never earn back the esteem we lose in the international community.

It’s not going to be an easy time. Not by any measure.

The next several years, probably the next several decades, are going to be tough, people. We have a hell of a fight ahead. We didn’t ask for this. We didn’t want it, and we tried to stop it, and all we can do now is deal with it.

Image is a screenshot of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. He is facing the camera, but looking somberly off to one side. Beside him is the caption, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
So I need you to do some things with the last days of this year. Continue reading “It’s Up to Us Now”

It’s Up to Us Now

Did Steve Mnuchin Screw You Over? Tell Senate Democrats

Trump is a garbage fire, and his cabinet appointments are trash. There’s not a single person he’s nominated who’s qualified for their job. They oftentimes don’t even qualify to be out of prison, but of course America certainly isn’t stingy when it comes to giving passes to rich white people.

Steve Mnuchin is a particularly despicable specimen.

From Elizabeth Warren:

After the 2008 housing crash, Steve Mnuchin swooped in to purchase a failed bank with mountains of bad mortgages on its books. He rebranded the bank as OneWest, and led the bank as it raked in billions in profits by aggressively – and sometimes illegally – foreclosing on people’s homes. OneWest also ran a reverse-mortgage subsidiary called Financial Freedom, which serviced 17% of the reverse-mortgage market but was responsible for 39% for foreclosures. Steve Mnuchin got rich off the backs of working families who were hit hardest by the financial crisis.

Donald Trump now wants to hand Steve Mnuchin the keys to the Treasury Department, where he can make big banks even richer at the expense of America’s families. Were you or someone you know hurt by Steve Mnuchin and OneWest Bank’s predatory business practices? The Senate Democrats are asking people to come forward and share their stories.

Do you have a story to tell about Mnuchin? Please do tell it here.

Image is a comic book-style image. It shows a black city skyline against a twilight blue sky. Grayscale letters along the bottom left say The Foreclosure King. There is a white silhouette of a running man with a briefcase beside them. On the right is a black and white drawing of a middle-aged white man with square-rimmed glasses, saying, "You're evicted!"
Image courtesy US Senate Democrats
Did Steve Mnuchin Screw You Over? Tell Senate Democrats

Resistance is Not Futile: Easy But Important Actions For Opposing Trump

I’ve had to retreat into a bit of a cocoon to build up my mental and emotional strength for the battles to come, but I’m still paying attention to what’s going on with this shitshow of an election. I’ve found some easy but important actions for us – some of which don’t even involve using the phone! Here are a few ways you can oppose Trump without leaving the house.

Hamilton Electors

A simple action: In a live Facebook session yesterday, a couple of the Hamilton Electors said that at this point what’s needed aren’t more letters and emails to the electors, but to:

(1) Contact your representatives and governors to ask that they demand that the electors be debriefed on the CIA information on Russian interference prior to Dec. 19, and to delay the electoral vote if that’s not possible, given the time-frame.

(2) Contact the U.S. Attorney General and ask that the Electoral College vote be postponed until a full investigation of Russian interference and the Trump campaign’s potential coordination with Russia is complete.

You can reach the Attorney General’s office at 202/514-2000. Comment line…press 4.

(Via Alexander Chee)

Calling your state’s Secretary of State could also help, as they oversee electoral votes.

Support the Audit of Trump’s Finances Continue reading “Resistance is Not Futile: Easy But Important Actions For Opposing Trump”

Resistance is Not Futile: Easy But Important Actions For Opposing Trump

The Nazi Conscience: Prologue

Would it surprise you to learn that the Nazis had a conscience? It shouldn’t. Most people do. The murderers who shoot abortion doctors have a conscience – a mis-aimed one, but in their minds, they’re heroes saving babies. They are heroes, and we are monsters.

This is important to understand. Even people on the wrong side believe they are right. Continue reading “The Nazi Conscience: Prologue”

The Nazi Conscience: Prologue

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

I didn’t post to Rosetta Stones for most of November because America’s election of the least qualified president in our history has me scrambling to assess and mitigate the damage. Much of what he’s done so far doesn’t yet touch on geology, which is what that blog is mainly concerned with – but we will be talking about the threat to our national parks, and there will doubtless be impacts on the USGS and other agencies responsible for essential geological services like volcano monitoring, seismic studies, and similar, which we’ll address.

Trump is already showing which direction he’s taking the country’s public education. If you care about kids being taught science, you’d best gird yourself for a war, because we’re going to have to fight to preserve our children’s right to a strong STEM education.

To begin with, Trump’s Vice President, to whom he plans to delegate most of the actual presidential work, is an evolution-denying Christian extremist who wants creationism taught in public schools. He’s also brought all his political power to bear on overturning the will of Indiana voters while he pushes for expansions of school vouchers and charter schools.

Trump also plans to slash NASA’s earth science division, which would not only cripple our nation’s climate change research, but also have a terrible impact on earth science research.

That rather sets the tenor for what’s to come.

But Pence is merely the beginning. It gets worse. Continue reading “(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education”

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

The Nazi Conscience: Introduction

We do ourselves a disservice in the way we talk about atrocities. When I was in school, genocide and totalitarianism were taught as things that happened “long ago” or “far away” (or both). Dictators, we piously pretended, could never rise to power here in America: our robust systems of checks and balances, plus red-blooded freedom-loving citizens, would never allow it. Genocide was presented as something done by very different people than us. Of course Americans would never ever do that! (Never mind what happened to indigenous Americans, that was all war and disease and totally different because reasons.)

Atrocities committed by white people were considered aberrations. Something extraordinary must have caused them to happen. My teachers were very uncomfortable trying to explain the Holocaust. They had to turn the Germans into people strangely hypnotized by an exceptionally evil man. The whole thing was a regrettable freak occurrence. Ordinary Germans weren’t really involved – it was those monsters in the SS. They didn’t actually know the extent of what was happening until after the war, when the camps were liberated. Ordinary people could never do such things, would never condone such things.

Only, they could. And did.

We are not well served by the way history is taught in America. The national myths pounded into our brains are adept at covering up our bloody hands. We did bad things in the past, but it was a different time. We did bad things in the past, but they weren’t that bad. We did bad things in the past, but we fixed them and everything’s fine now. We did bad things in the past, but that was just a few bad apples. We did bad things in the past, but those other people did things that were so much worse, and so we are good and noble. Let us talk about how good and noble and just we are, and how because we are good and noble and just, we fixed the bad things, and liberated the oppressed, and are the best in the world. By no means let us talk about the bad things we are still doing. We are good people, and good people don’t commit atrocities.

Only, they do. We are. And these myths we’ve told ourselves prevent us from seeing that.

We believe that nothing like the rise of Hitler and the horrors of the Holocaust could happen here in America. And because we believe that, we refuse to see the parallels between us and the Germans in the early 20th century. Because we refuse to tell ourselves the truth, we have left systems in place that arose from oppression, and rely on oppression, and those systems have now been utilized by a fascist con man and his white supremacist friends and followers to seize power. Because we refused to be honest with ourselves, admit we are just as fallible and racist and prone to do terrible things as those infamous others, we let the conditions here breed the kinds of beliefs necessary to make people think a bigoted blowhard is just the man this country needs to make it great again.

And now we’re in a situation where survivors and historians of Nazi Germany are experiencing a horrible deja vu.

We like to believe, perhaps need to believe, that only monsters can commit atrocities, and because we don’t see a monster when we look in the mirror, we’re fine.

The Germans who allowed – often helped – the Nazis seize power didn’t see monsters in the mirror, either. Continue reading “The Nazi Conscience: Introduction”

The Nazi Conscience: Introduction

New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!

Between Aunty Flow and trying to read up on Nazis, I’ve been a bit lax on blogging. But in case you missed them, here some spiffy recent Rosetta Stones posts for your reading pleasure: Continue reading “New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!”

New at Rosetta Stones: Trump’s Disastrous Education Picks, and More!

Two Quotes that America Needs to Take to Heart Right Now

With white supremacists now waltzing into America’s highest offices to the cheers of neo-Nazis and the KKK, I think it’s time to republish a couple of quotes I’ve used on this blog in the past. Too many in this country seem to have forgotten that America was supposed to stand against fascism. Too many have forgotten the cost of letting fascism gain power. Too many have forgotten that fascism is a monster that must be fought at all costs.

There is already a lot of blood on America’s hands, but the amount of blood and shame will be incalculable if we don’t stop this.

Whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to new risks of infection.

Richard von Weizsacker

Especially now, it’s critical to remember the true horrors perpetrated in the name of an ideology. Richard von Weizsacker, President of Germany from 1984 to 1994, gave a speech on the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II that speaks of the importance of that remembrance. Here’s the above quote in context (CN: casual ableism): Continue reading “Two Quotes that America Needs to Take to Heart Right Now”

Two Quotes that America Needs to Take to Heart Right Now

Remember: They’re the A**holes – How to Survive Holidays with Your Tr*mp-Loving Family

The Cheeto Hitler-in-Chief-Elect didn’t win the popular vote, but he’s quite popular with ISIS and various bits of the American electorate: neo-Nazis, the Klan, your relatives…

In the past, we’ve often stayed silent to keep the peace when various aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. have spouted racist nonsense. We’ve agreed to disagree about politics. We’ve let things pass.

Well, white folk, we can’t do that anymore. Letting it slide is part of how we got here.

So, when you go home this holiday season and your family passes the praise for Chitler* along with the gravy, remember: you’re not the asshole for pushing back. They’re the assholes for bringing it up to begin with. And they are very much assholes for voting for someone who wants to dismantle American democracy and rob the country. And before you get all sympathetic and think they’re victims, just remember that signs this shitheel’s a con man were everywhere for literal decades, and there’s no damned excuse for not knowing exactly what he is. He just had to settle a lawsuit over his fraudulent university, for fuck’s sake. There are no victims here. Just willing dupes.

With that in mind, here’s a brief guide to surviving the holidays with Chitler-loving relatives, and how to push back against their isms and bigotry. Continue reading “Remember: They’re the A**holes – How to Survive Holidays with Your Tr*mp-Loving Family”

Remember: They’re the A**holes – How to Survive Holidays with Your Tr*mp-Loving Family