A week from today is Minnesota Precinct Caucus day. Here’s the pertinent information from Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. Attending your caucus is the crucial first step in getting politically engaged.
Tonight is the State of the Union.
Typically, I write before such events, as I am, here. Tonight I will tune in, and watch the President, the reaction in the House, and the response following. I expect to see the inauthentic President at the podium, as opposed to the authentic smoke and mirrors twitter or campaign bombast and very dangerous President.
We shall see, in a few hours.
Then, in following months, and years, we’ll see what is really happening behind the scenes.
Last night we had dinner with our friend, Annelee, the lady who wrote “War Child. Growing Up In Adolf Hitler’s Germany.” She was six years old when Hitler and the Nazis achieved political power.
I met Annelee when I read about and purchased War Child in 2003. We’ve gotten to know each other well over these many years. She lived how it was. At 92, she remembers.
This night I asked her to tell again of how Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933. It is really a very simple story: they came to power in a time of overwhelming poverty, humiliated by defeat in WWI.
Hitler and his Nazis promised a better day.
Their party got the largest number, but still a minority, of the votes in 1933, but was successful in achieving power and then control in Germany’s political system. They rapidly consolidated their political power, especially elections; as soon as possible made control of the public communications a key instrument of taking over minds. They promised and delivered on jobs, jobs, jobs: Constructing the autobahn, houses for the workers, and on and on. It became risky to exercise free political speech; essential to join the Party. Fatal to dissent.
It only took a few years, but by then it was too late for the Germans. It took many years to recover.
Long ago, I asked Annelee when the Germans realized it was all over. She said “1943” with no hesitation. The 1,000 year Third Reich was dead, in its early youth.
Reichmarshall Hermann Goering summed it up pretty well (photo above, click twice for detail). It speaks powerfully for itself. He was awaiting death at the Nuremberg trials when he expressed his opinion to American psychologist Gustave Gilbert. He was only 53 when he killed himself in his cell. (We tend to forget that our leaders are most often young.)
I first saw the Goering quotation in some e-mail or other after we invaded Iraq in 2003. I was skeptical about its authenticity, so skeptical that I went to the University of Minnesota Library, found the actual book, read it through till I found the quotation, then photocopied the actual page which I present above.
Is the U.S. in 2018 different than 1933 Germany? Yes, but barely. There are parallels to what happened then, in Germany, to what is happening now, in our own country. Our malignancy may even be worse…as we destroy ourselves from within. We are very easily played for fools by manipulation through media of all sorts.
“It can’t happen here”, as it happened in WWII Germany? It certainly can. And it will if we allow it to happen. What we’re seeing now is simply a variation on an old and failed playbook.
Overnight and relevant: Capturing the Flag
COMMENTS FOLLOW THE PHOTO
from Fred: Very insightful quote from Goering. I am impressed and grateful that you personally took the time track it to the original source. This particular statement was new to me. Its basic assumption is correct. I’m not knocking “the masses” anywhere in the world when saying individuals in great numbers can be convinced to take action that could threaten their lives. This has happened even in the more recent Good Wars—winners of conflicts are the only ones describing them this way—when a fairly well informed warrior class sallies forth into the valley of death and conquers.
People make decisions based on what they know to be true—how they come to that knowledge is, of course, the real issue.
from Mert: I have read Sinclair Lewis’ book and it seems very prophetic. It can happen here, and I wonder if we have gone too far down that road already to ever find our way back.
from Dick: I thought a while before adding this paragraph, above: “Is the U.S. in 2018 different than 1933 Germany? Yes, but barely. There are parallels to what happened then, in Germany, to what is happening now, in our own country. Our malignancy may even be worse…as we destroy ourselves from within. We are very easily played for fools by manipulation through media of all sorts.”
If one searches my writings at this space, and elsewhere, I’d mostly identify with two themes concerning politics and people generally: “Two Wolves”, and “Gratitude”. I caught them both in my Christmas blog on Dec. 22, 2017 (here).
We are ALL responsible for the manner and tone of our government at the federal, state and local level, and this includes who we select to make decisions which impact on our own lives, and the lives of everyone else.
This week, in my own Twin Cities, comes the ultimate in excess in our society: The Super Bowl, a celebration of by and for the Richest among us. And at the end there will be a “winner”, for an instant, and a celebration. The world that is the U.S. will virtually come to a standstill for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. The life of everyone whose life includes downtown Minneapolis is already interfered with.
64,000 fit in the U.S. Bank Stadium (everything seems to be an advertisement for Big Business these days). They say that there will be a million visitors to our town of 3 million – not plausible, but stated frequently. A troubled motel in our town, where there are occasional acts of violence, including a murder or two, is advertising rooms starting at $399 a night.
For the rest of us, life goes on. And we all are basically good people. But there is a hole in our lives, and that is how little attention we pay to maintaining our Democracy in this Republic called the United States of America.