I was particularly triggered by the racist rant masquerading as a “carefully researched” essay that appeared (yesterday?). I know there is a lot of racism in the country, the world, but I wasn’t expecting such blatant, primitive old school racism on a site for wordsmiths. Now, I won’t be making that mistake. Medium has the cancerous infection, too.
It’s also a particularly triggering time in the country. A wild-eyed, red-faced racist, sexist, xenophobe is riling up people of the same kind in arenas across the country. The news shows clips of his unbearable statements followed by roars of approval. And I panic. This is the result of my education. When I was a junior in college, I had the privilege of studying in Germany. The professor for the class on German History was a man named Herr Liermann. Professor Liermann had grown up in Nazi Germany as a child praying for Hitler’s well-being and success. He did this, because his parents made him. They were actually part of the underground resistance, but they were terrified their ten-year old son would give them away if they didn’t have him go along with all of the youth programming the state was requiring Germans to do.
One of the things Professor Liermann remembered most was the Kristalnacht, or Crystal Night. It was a day when Germans went through their cities destroying Jewish businesses and homes. Smashing windows, breaking or stealing merchandise, beating up Jewish citizens. So, he had us read a book called, Damal Wer Is Friedrich. It is the story of a young Jewish boy growing up without a care in the world playing with his best friend, a Lutheran boy, day after day. Until the Kristalnacht. He saw his friend hesitate to participate in the festive atmosphere in the streets. Everyone was having so much fun tearing apart everything Jewish. Then, his friend picks up a rock and hurls it at the window of his best friend’s house.
The most frightening part of the book and the class Herr Liermann taught was how the history unfolded in Germany. From a small brew pub in Munich with ten angry anti-Semites provoking each other’s hatred for Jews the movement spread to just under a half of the nation. Many people may not realize that the Nazis never gained the majority vote in Germany. In their parliamentary system, they had a plurality of votes (meaning they had the greatest percentage, if I remember right, 38% of the vote). But as the ruling party, they had the say over the Reichstag (Parliament).
What did the Nazis cleverly do?
They either planted a bomb, or took advantage of someone else doing it, in the Reichstag building. After that, they declared a state of emergency due to TERRORISM. Normal government processes were suspended. They started their march to complete domination of the world. Most of the world knows the rest of the story.
The way it unfolded was so normal. So part of everyday life. There was no armed takeover. There was no coup. No battle. They just used the system as it was. Today, we have a country where a large mass of people could be guided to either use their worst attributes or to bring out their best angels. That mass is being egged on to inflame the worst of their worst. The passion of their hatred yelled in cheers after something horrendous Trump says. The polls showing the race is a clear toss-up in battle ground states. The national polls mean nothing. It is the battleground states that matter. Anyone with their eyes on those can see, this political race is too close to call.
Over the past twenty-four hours,
The following has occurred, a former speaker of the House, a man who was third in line to the Presidency, jumped on the bandwagon and said this:
On Fox, Newt Gingrich Calls For Testing And Deportation Of All Muslims In US If They Believe In…
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I don't want to really tie this into politics, but every issue America is now dealing with, every…
This isn’t a case of Godwin’s Law; this is a case of evidence of authoritarianism. Trying to deny the parallels between the incitement of hatred then and now is an exercise in lack of knowledge of the time.
So, rather than try to engage with the people who are howling and clapping at racism, sexism, and nationalism — including on Medium — I will just watch it all go by on the sidelines. Because there is no reasoning with this mindset. It festers in a nation, sometimes underground, and sometimes, like right now, it raises its head high to demand domination of the government and codification into our way of life.