I’m going to start with the misogyny of my brother and work backwards to both affirm the essential truth of your essay, but to also argue against the dangers of its cynicism.
First, I have started to notice in essays by blacks, women, gays, a theme. Things are openly awful now because they were always awful. These people are all right.
Things have always been worse than the majority group was willing to acknowledge. That is undeniable.
But they can regress and get worse. Knowing the history of Germany is important for the ability to not repeat it.
Here’s the lesson I took from my professor, my elder, a German man raised to pray to Hitler.
He came to the United States because he was so grateful to our country. A black soldier who liberated his city, gave him, a German boy, a piece of gum when he was ten. It made a huge impression.
But aside from the power of kindness to enemies, he taught us about the slow creep of sexism, racism, and general authoritarianism into society. It ramped up by a matter of degrees, ratcheted as a perverted slippery slope on Nazis pushing the envelope. Normalization is a real process. It is not something left wing radicals invented.
My German professor taught German classes at a small Lutheran college in Iowa named Luther College. He was no politics professor. Except for one class. The History of the Nazis — which he taught to us in Germany.
He took us to Dachau to see a concentration camp first hand. He taught us about how the Nazis criticized modern art and architecture, because Jews liked it.
He taught us about how Nazis infiltrated youth groups because they wanted to get young people a generation early. He taught us about how the Nazis infiltrated law enforcement and the military,
He taught us about how the Nazis made alliances with powerful allies like Americans Henry Ford or Walt Disney, and a treaty with the Pope, to head off church criticism.
In other words, we went through Germany’s history in intricate detail. Normalization as a process is shown particularly well in the book, Friedrich, by Hans Peter Richter, where we go from yes, Germans are anti-Semitic to now we are gassing them by millions.