Sunday, November 27, 2016

The 1933 Germany Scenario is No Longer Hypothetical


In 1933 Germany I suspect that few Germans - even those in Hitler's inner circle - truly appreciated what had happened to that nation or had any comprehension of the horrors and shame that would be the results.  Too many Germans simple went on trying to live their lives and deny what was happening as events unfolded. By the time that those who found Hitler and the Nazi regime abhorrent full realized the extent of the damage, it was too late.  I believe, as the author of a piece in Salon argues - that America is now at a point similar to Germany in 1933.  The question is whether people will see the danger and seek to stop it before the cancer spreads or not.  Frighteningly, too many do not seem to see the danger or, if they do, they don't care because they are part of the white, heterosexual Christian population that foolishly believes that they they will benefit from Trump's toxic policies and empowerment of right wing extremists.  I, in contrast, will be on the side of never ending resistance. Here are article highlights that are a must read:
We have crossed the river of history into a new country, and there’s no way back. Now we are stumbling around, amid the gathering darkness, and trying to figure out whether anything in this alien landscape is recognizable. Will the presidency of Donald Trump — an eventuality unforeseen by anyone, including Trump himself — resemble things that have happened before? Or is it a trip to an unknown planet, where all the things we thought we understood about reality and democracy and the nature of America no longer apply?
Karl Marx’s famous maxim that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce, has itself been repeated too often, both in contexts where it fits and ones where it doesn’t. This time around, we damn well better hope it’s true. Farce, failure and incompetence are among the better possible outcomes of a Trump administration. The worse outcomes — which come more clearly into focus with every noxious new appointment, and every new report of a hate crime that the president-elect hasn’t heard about or blandly disavows — are almost too much to think about.
It’s time to think about them. Those worst-case scenarios have been nestled in their eggs feeding on ignorance and hatred for a long time, like the face-huggers of “Alien.” Now they’re hatching, and they’re hungry.
It’s bad, but the badness goes well beyond vulgarity, greed and bad hair. . . . . . We don’t know whether the Trump election marks a fatal tipping point for the American experiment in popular self-government, . . . . But history demands that we take that possibility seriously. Indeed, I think we have to behave as if it were true — as if our democracy has been irreparably damaged and must now be renewed and rebuilt, pretty much from scratch — because that may be the only way of preventing it from coming true.
We don’t know whether the election of Trump is an American echo of the winter of 1932-33 in Germany, when a fragile democracy collapsed into tyranny and an infamous demagogue rose to power on a promise of economic renewal and restored national pride, with an unmistakable racial subtext. It’s an inflated comparison in many ways: Trump is too lazy and stupid to be a good F├╝hrer, . . .
A reality TV star and real estate salesman with the demeanor and intellect of a petulant child has been elected president with a minority of the vote, thanks to a flukey electoral system, a severely divided and demoralized electorate, a beleaguered and overconfident opponent and a concatenation of other circumstances too strange for fiction.
Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote is now more than 2.1 million votes, in itself a radical departure from anything that has ever happened before in American history.
That’s before we get to all the vile things Trump has said and done to galvanize the most ignorant and jingoistic tendencies in the American public, and the incoherent and/or vile list of things he has said he will do in the future. Those are also aspects of the emergency.
Then there’s the fact that President-elect Trump has so far served as a channel for the most retrograde elements of the hard right: He has appointed an old-line white Southerner with clear links to Jim Crow-style racism as his attorney general (Jeff Sessions), a defrocked general given to paranoid anti-Islamic tirades as his national security adviser (Michael Flynn), and a millionaire zealot who wants to defund public schools as his secretary of education (Betsy DeVos) . . . . Mike Pence or Steve Bannon or whoever is orchestrating things behind the scenes is installing a right-wing dream team that would have been too extreme for Dick Cheney.
Those who try to assure us that the emergency is not an emergency, or to insist that the enduring institutions of democracy will surely triumph over this mass hallucination, are either cowardly or stupid or have their heads buried somewhere that isn’t the sand. . . . . At some point, clinging to your broken idols while barbarians ransack the temple just becomes pathetic.
To be more charitable, the “normalizers” are just afraid. Which is understandable; we should all be afraid. We have good reason to be afraid if we are Muslim, if we are gay or lesbian or trans, if we are black, if we are recent immigrants with or without papers. We have good reason to be afraid if people in those communities are our neighbors, our family members, our friends, our loved ones. We have reason to be afraid if we are Americans who do not define that nationality by looking backward to an imaginary past. The question now is how we respond to that fear. What we do with it.
Resistance and renewal and rebuilding will take many forms, and will take a long time. They may not work; the damage is significant. We will have to get past seeking a unitary explanation for what went wrong: It wasn’t the fault of the Russians or racist white people or identity politics or Hillary Clinton or the Electoral College or the Republican Party. (OK, it was some of those things, and a lot of it was the Republican Party. But even that is a long and complicated story.)
It took years for American politics to deteriorate badly enough that Donald Trump could be elected dogcatcher, let alone president. There’s plenty of blame to go around. None of us did enough to stop it from happening, quite obviously. So now we confront a national emergency that must not be denied and an old question out of the history textbooks that cannot be avoided: Whose side are you on?

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