So. America. Beacon of freedom and example to the world. Nazis must’ve hated us, amirite?
When responding to critics, Nazi racial experts muted the distinctiveness of their aims by noting analogues elsewhere…. While rabid antisemites praised the lynch mobs that kept African American’s “in their place,” more sober but equally determined racial policy makers expressed the hope that one day Nazi racial codes would be as widely accepted as U.S. immigration quotas, anti-miscegenation laws, involuntary sterilization programs in twenty-eight states, and segregation in the Jim Crow South.
We inspired the very monster we later fought. And we as a nation have a terrible time admitting our faults, much less fixing them. We see the outcome of that denial. Nazis do as we do, not what we say. A toxic stew of racism and bigotry simmers as we play the great white knights. And now we find tens of millions of our fellow citizens looking fascism in the face and deciding to hand the keys to the country over to it. We were never as good as we claimed. We never lived up to our aspirations. We never really tried. And now we’re perilously close to repeating a part of Western history that never should have been allowed to repeat.
We knew better. We refused to do better. We refuse to be better.
The Nazi’s bigotry got turned against “fellow citizens who bore no physical or cultural markers of their difference.” Remember that, if you’re comfortable with Trump and his merry band of fuckheads targeting people who aren’t quite like you. Trump’s already attacked the disabled and the dissenters. You are not as safe from his predations as you may think.
And here’s the scary part: Germany had been tolerant before the Nazis. The Jews were part of elite civic life. They intermarried with Christian Germans, and it wasn’t remarked. They were more tolerated in Germany than they were in Great Britain. If they weren’t religiously observant Jews, they blended completely.
The Nazis had an uphill battle in demonizing those friends, family, and fellow citizens. But they managed it in a remarkably short time.
It could easily be managed here. Don’t ever think it couldn’t.
It starts with people deciding to ignore the dangerous bigotry at the heart of a political party. Ordinary Germans were living under a dysfunctional political structure (as are we). They were frightened by an outside force that seemed poised to wreak havoc on the values of their nation (communism, in their case; Islamic terrorism, in ours). They, like us, were suffering economically (although to a greater degree). And so a plurality of them, like so many Trump voters, were attracted to someone who promised solutions, who was a brash outsider, who made them feel good about themselves.
Do you see? Do you see how it begins? Do you see, now, how people can vote for hate and still believe they are loving? How they can vote to empower bigots while claiming themselves bigotry-free? Who cluck their tongues and say they didn’t vote for that when confronted with their politician’s violence and plans to discriminate against entire classes of people?
Next, we’ll begin to see how those voters with their clucking tongues were gradually persuaded that harsh discrimination, imprisonment, and eventually mass murder were reasonable solutions to a problem even they knew didn’t exist.
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!