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):

The vast majority of today’s population were either children then or had not been born. They cannot profess a guilt of their own for crimes that they did not commit. No discerning person can expect them to wear a penitential robe simply because they are Germans. But their forefathers have left them a grave legacy. All of us, whether guilty or not, whether old or young, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it. The young and old generations must and can help each other to understand why it is vital to keep alive the memories. It is not a case of coming to terms with the past. That is not possible. It cannot be subsequently modified or made undone. However, anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present. Whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to new risks of infection.

Too many American voters either refused to remember, or have decided they’re okay with repeating mistakes that led to a horrific world war, genocide, and atrocities on a massive scale. Maybe they believe it can’t happen here, but it can. Maybe they believe their atrocities will be just, but they won’t be.

We need to stop whitewashing our own past, too, because in doing so, we’ve created fertile soil for white supremacy to grow. This time, we have to remove it root and branch, and never forget that when it appears, it seeks to choke everything else out.

The concept of a leader, a fuhrer, must never be accepted.  Blind obedience to a leader can never be adopted as a defining identity.  Everyone must accept responsibility for whatever he does.  Even in critical situations.  This is something that still applies today.

Hermann Langbein

Years ago, I was watching a documentary on Auschwitz or some such on the History Channel – I can’t remember what it was, alas.  I just remember having it on, nominally paying attention, and being pulled to full awareness by the quiet, intense voice of a very intense old man.  His words hit me like a thunderbolt.  So I paused the program and wrote them down.

Listening to the survivors of death camps like Auschwitz is harrowing.  But they are memories we must not forget, and words we must heed.  There are some pieces of history that must never be allowed to repeat themselves.  Not if it’s within our power to stop it.

This is one of those moments. This is one of those defining times. What we do now will determine if America comes out of this with its commitment to freedom, democracy, and justice renewed, or if it ends up being robbed by a narcissistic bully, while his white supremacist friends do their best to destroy everyone who isn’t a straight white cis male (with a few submissive women given praise, but not respect).

Which side of the line will you stand on? Which side of history do you choose?

Image shows the silhouette of a woman delivering a karate kick to a swastika, which has been broken by her foot.

Two Quotes that America Needs to Take to Heart Right Now

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