My answer to questions about Friday’s post
I’ve received some questions about the speech comparison I made. I came across as callous, perhaps. Perhaps it’s necessary… or maybe it’s over the top. Maybe people focus so much on the horrific outcome of the concentration camps, they don’t realize how Hitler managed to rise to power with the support of a nation in the first place. How policies to ethnically cleanse were instated. How present-day policies echo some of history’s most uncomfortable truths. Here’s my answer.
The time frame of the referenced speech I used this week, was prior to those horrific murders which took place at Hitler’s direction.
Concentration camps had not yet been built. The Holocaust hadn’t happened yet.
The speech referenced was in February of 1933, when the President of Germany, Von Hindenburg had appointed the manipulative and charismatic Hitler as Chancellor of Germany, if for no other reason, than for his popularity. Though certainly Hitler was anti-Semitic, at that moment there had been no government or military efforts supporting the deaths of 6 million Jews, or remember, the 11 million other ethnicities that were killed including Slovs, Poles, Soviets, Romanies, Orthodox Christians, and Catholics, including their clergy. That slaughter came after Von Hindenburg’s death, and after Hitler’s instillation as Feuer.
Nationalism is not a disease singular to Hitler
Would people be as offended if I’d used Ghengis Kahn, Stalin, Hussein, Sung, Pol Pot, Mussolini, or Hirhito, all of whom are responsible for, by the end of their reigns, the deaths of millions for the sake of nationalism, too?
We don’t cringe when we discuss the colonization of America, which involved the slaughter of millions of Native Americans in the name of Christ and Country. I’d argue that Columbus was single-handedly responsible for the genocide of millions (estimated 9M) of indigenous peoples, yet we celebrate him every year, to my utter confusion, and glorify him as a great explorer, as he enslaved, raped and pillaged, virtually wiping out nations.
Maybe we just haven’t learned enough about them. Maybe we just have selective memory. Maybe it was just too long ago and those generations left behind don’t have the benefit of first-hand accounts anymore.
Hitler is the main evil empire character that we hold in our minds, and that our culture focuses on as the primary representation of government gone wrong. Time proximity and organizations that memorialize the atrocities ensure that we cannot forget, nor should we. Hollywood has failed to address the other characters in history that have made similar efforts to wipe out races for the sake of greed, genetics, government, religion, and nationalism to such an extent. So has our US education system and (core) curriculum failed to educate our children on nationalism and it’s baggage.
My post was short. It was a snippet.
It’s a very small speech comparison, showing just one excerpt, and at the moment of that speech, no one was dead by Hitlers hands (yet). Von Hindenburg was still President. Hitler was supported, even if reluctantly, by Catholics and Protestants alike, who would soon learn that they too, we’re unfit for Hitler’s sick idealism of racial purity. No one has died from the Affordable Care Act yet, either. We will have to wait that out.
Hitler’s reasoning for the Holocaust was based on Nationalism… and so are our President’s progressive idealisms.
Eugenics, the exceptionally BAD scientific theory upon which Hitler rationalized his ethnic cleansing, was fully supported by other governments. Sweden, for instance, had been using it as a matter of law, “democratically” sterilizing its citizens for over 2 decades. Mussolini outrightly supported it, albeit based more on on a cultural and societal means of correcting a nation, rather then ethnic, and then wiped out the Slovenis. So did Winston Churchill.
In the US we had laws upheld by the Supreme Court that permitted this medical form of ethnic or genetic cleansing. The states of Indiana, California, Virginia, why… we federally upheld these genetic cleansing laws until the 1960’s under the guise of humane sterilization and liberal progressivism.
Our US laws written to instate the eugenics program were literally used as Hitler’s legal outline of his ethnic cleansing, for God’s sake. All for the sake of nationalism.
Hitler implemented the sterilization program, not first on Jews, but his own race. In Mein Kampf, Hitler was clear about his belief, along with that of a number of so-called civilized countries including the US, France, Poland (irony), and others, that eugenics was a benefit to society: “The demand that defective people be prevented from propagating equally defective offspring is a demand of clearest reason and, if systematically executed, represents the most humane act of mankind. It will spare millions of unfortunates undeserved sufferings, and consequently will lead to a rising improvement of health as a whole.” Over 400,000 sterilizations through their national healthcare program took place between July 1933 and 1945. Furthermore, the implementation of the program was also first with the sterilization thousands of German children that were half-German/half- Franco African.
There’s more to learn in addition to the Holocaust
I’m not downplaying the Holocaust or deaths of the millions of people at all. But Hitler had a philosophy that has been commonplace for centuries, going back to the Ancient Greeks, and well-supported by our country’s judicial system until three decades after hose rise to power. He received some level of support in these efforts, if only quietly, by the countries that were fighting against him.
What I am doing is making clear that the Holocaust is not the only historically relevant talking point about Adolf Hitler. There is a lot to be learned from this historical character. A massive amount of understanding of how nationalism takes hold and how the citizens fall victim to it comes from studying post WWI Germany and Poland, and concurrent socio-economic policies in other countries.
Then, making a present day comparison shows us that Karl Marx was right about history repeating. It does.
Obama and Hitler share more than a line in a speech or broken promises. They’re both Keynesians.
I often laugh when I hear people call themselves Keynesian (or New Keynesian) economists, even. Keynes was a HUGE supporter of eugenics, and was the British Eugenics Society Director. So much for Krugman (NY Times economist writer and Ivy League professor) touting Obama’s fiscal policies. What a joke. An economist that claimed that the implementation of state-run eugenics was more important than the economic theory he devised is the father and foundation of our administration’s economic policies, and Hitler’s as well.
In his 1936 book entitled The General Theory Keynes wrote, “But above all, individualism if it can be purged of its defects and it’s abuses, is the best safeguard of personal liberty in the sense that, compared with any other system, it greatly widens the field for the exercise of personal choice.” In other words, if the state can weed out the not-good-enough citizens out of the gene pool, we can then be individuals.
Our current President’s entire social and economic policies (especially the Affordable Care Act, TANF, EPA policy and the Trade Adjustment Act) are based on Keynesian theory and the Keynes school of economics. So was Hitler’s recovery program. More power and reliance on government.
Nationalism: There is a reason I chose the comparison between Obama’s and Hitler’s speeches
Promises that are made and broken are commonplace with our politicians and leaders. So is our collective, selective memory.
We all clap our hands in excitement and practically begging for more welfare, and cheap or free, national healthcare (yippee!)… all of which are systems and programs designed by men who whole-heartedly believed in cleansing the gene pool. We must be dumb. I’d wager a bet that won’t be included in the core curriculum.
History has a tendency to make people feel angry and offended when their frame of reference is shaken up. Using Marx’s quote that “history repeats itself first as a tragedy, second as a farce” I must say I agree with him. We have become so focused on the final curtain of a historical event, we don’t look at the theory used by men like Hitler (or Obama) as support for those efforts.
Studying these individuals, I find myself looking at their motivations and the small moments that lead up to, and extent of control they were able to acquire, rather than only the final count of the atrocities. I look at the precursor conditions. Underlying reasons. There’s always a chain of events leading up to these occurrences.
Nazis, and other regimes similar throughout history, received at some point some level of support. Jews in Germany TRUSTED Von Hindenburg… yet the betrayal of his appointing Hitler (though mostly forced) and then his sudden death shortly thereafter, paved the way for Hitler’s genocidal plans. It wasn’t until the that the Enabling Act of 1933 was signed, and Hitler’s powers were actually instated, that the cleansing efforts began in earnest.
In order for Hitler to gain support, he had to take advantage of the fact that the people of Germany had been oppressed by terrible social and economic conditions resulting from the post WWI Versailles Treaty. 6 million unemployed and living on welfare, jobless and with total dependency on the state made Nazism easier to swallow. They were failing in industry, from lost territory and war efforts, and needed the government to take care of them. He seized the opportunity and took hold of a people disenfranchised by circumstances beyond their control. They needed hope.
The familiar ring of Nationalism
Sound familiar? It should. In many nations, harsh circumstances lead to unprecedented government control and power. We are proving no different, whether you find that statement offensive or not.
Hitler’s, and the leaders I’ve mentioned, purpose of killing was for the sake of nationalism. His irrational focus on Jews and many other races and religions was his method of achieving that nationalism, which ultimately failed because he was insane, out of support and resources, and lost his ability to manipulate. Sick? Yes. But nationalism has many forms and many characters and the people almost always fall prey to it because we want our country to take care of us.
The US has a history of similar, though less obvious, behavior as we make our way into nationalism. National healthcare. National education. National gun control. National unemployment insurance. National payments for trade. National marriage acts. National banking system…? Check. I’d say we are well on our way, if not already there.
Our kids won’t learn that we are removing individual rights for the sake of national cohesiveness in school. We trust our government for the most part and focus history lessons on the pain of slavery and the Holocaust, and reject that we have policies of imperialism and laws that paved the way for ethnic genocides. We glaze over the underlying reasoning for past and present day policies, perhaps because we just don’t know who the developers of those policies really were. It’s a lot to read, a lot to absorb, and difficult to accept. It’s a fine line to walk between self-awareness and self-loathing.
So, though I cannot possibly understand your family’s pain and loss if you lost family in the Holocaust at the hands of Hitler’s regime, I can say that we are all real and/or potential victims, or are related to those that have sustained loss, at the hands of government. My family with Mussolini. My best friend’s ancestors with the colonists and still today with the US government as we continue wiping out Native Americans with friendly fire.
Hitler was simply more blatant about how he went about it. It was more publicized and recent. He and his cohorts had militaristic and economic support from the citizens that needed the government to take care of them after years of social and economic failure. Our laws helped him reconcile his eugenics program. In Nuremberg trials, it’s said our country was their inspiration and was considered a humane way to cleanse the race.
How sad. Our US laws didn’t change until the mid-sixties, and we point our fingers at them? The hypocrisy is overwhelming
Our present day leaders have simply learned that in order to accomplish their end goal of nationalism, they need to be more subversive. More pleasant.
When we go online, and sign up for that awesome healthcare plan that was improperly supported by a SCOTUS judge whom legislated from the bench and changed the words in the documents because he felt he knew what Obama was really trying to say… well, that “tax” may end up being one of the greatest penalties of all. Then we can all sit back and wonder how Fascism, or Socialism, made its way into our country. I’d argue, though, that it already has… well before now. Obama has simply made liberal fascism easier to digest: with a handout and a smile.
Kennedy wasn’t kidding when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you…” Seriously, you don’t want what it can, and will, do.