“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana, philosopher, novelist, poet (1863-1952)
History repeats itself. But only because humans remain woefully ignorant.
It seems I can’t emphasize this enough.
First, the misconceptions: “The Holocaust is too horrifying to be repeated. The rise of another blood-thirsty tyrant on the world stage isn’t possible. A replication of the Cold War is too frighteningly near the edge of annihilation even to be imagined.”
These are simple assumptions of the so-called “educated”.
But what of the uneducated, AKA “the majority”?
Welcome to 21st Century America – at least welcome to USA’s direction, basing the trajectory on a big enough slice to determine the next President and Congress.
The reason I realize tragedies of the past will most likely be repeated is due to multiple-chats with local low-information voters. Striking up a conversation with a random neighbor is a shock. “What’s the Holocaust? Never heard of Himmler. Unions are communists. Trump is my man.” The dumbed-down predominate.
“Reagan is a god. Democrats are devils.” All information is filtered through FOX and the rightwing church. So, ignorance is bliss. Is there any wonder why Sarah Palin is a hero and Barack Obama is the Kenyan Muslim usurper?
On the other hand, it’s not just an “education” that prevents a repeat of horrors, but one’s world-view or what used to be called “disposition”.
A child must be taught racism to become an adult bigot and vice-versa. Diversity acceptance is a learned behavior. There’s no dispute – 1930s-40s Germans were well-educated. But what contributed to their “education” – Hitler Youth and a steady stream of Goebbels’ garbage?
America is being fed a continuous diet of hate and lies. It’s a long-held Republican Party strategy to incite hate while focusing on wedge issues to win elections. And now, in 2016, the effects are coming back to haunt them. They’re reaping what they’ve sown. Their establishment candidates get no traction; the disaffected and vengeful storm the gates to “take their country back”.
The resemblance to 1930s Germany is frightening, although the similarities are limited. A hate-filled plurality places a tyrant in power. His speeches are popular yet make little sense. He blames the 1% minority on all the country’s problems, a deliberate and total fabrication. The leader has riveting abhorrence for immigrants and “others” outside the homeland’s race.
Yet millions buy into his seductive rhetoric and act accordingly. The blatant demagoguery wins hearts and minds. Jews are the scapegoats to all evil that’s befallen the Fatherland. The common “folk” accept absurdities, so soon they commit atrocities – wantonly and without provocation. Germans’ righteous indignation is based on distorted world-views. What one believes does matter. And so the world faces near destruction while one race experiences near-extinction.
My eyes fill with tears when watching Holocaust videos. It’s so incredibly nauseating, yet true. How can humans be so evil? And most importantly – Will it happen again?
Fast-forward to this century. The road is paved by conservative voices to arrive at an American Reich. A totally ineffective government locked in endless gridlock because of whimsical competing political ideologies gives way to a deep hunger for strong leadership. The authoritarian candidate quickly floats to the top. His simple solutions to America’s “Weimar Republic” failures strike a chord. Americans want answers, not more of the empty promises where “compromise” is the crucial caveat. Enough “political correctness”! The nation demands swift answers – sweeping aside all encumbrances and obstructions. “Damn the establishment!”
Alarm bells ring loudly in the ears of the informed. It’s as understood and deafening as a tornado siren in an Oklahoma spring.
But who can argue history’s mirror? No one seems to want to hear the comparison. Not even the unvarnished truth nor warning can break the spell. It’s as if most are in a trance reinforced by religious conviction, the opiate of the people. Guns and religion are worshiped; the message of Jesus Christ is forgotten. Mexicans are first cast as the “enemy,” followed by Muslims, illegal aliens, and immigrants from war-torn regions. Demagogues must target an “enemy” to incite anger and harvest votes. Yet the vital “Evangelical base” remains loyal to the rising führer. No one can tell them any differently.
Rewind to the 30s. Could Germans have been persuaded to the realization their new national savior would lead them to hell? Yes, the informed tried. Jews were being persecuted, kicked out of their homes, robbed, beaten, stripped of their citizenship, and finally “deported” to concentration camps. Where were the “Christians”? Answer: Mostly following the führer. In fact, they were the führer’s “base”. Their national pride was far more important than their Lord’s sermons. They were in a hypnotic state, a trance of choice, yet so conflicting to Christ’s passion.
Conservative pundits claim evangelicals don’t support Trump. Hogwash! If it weren’t for them, he’d have no chance. In fact, they make up the majority of his backing. Hitler would have been defeated at the onset had Christians followed Christ. Ditto 2016.
My conversations with rightwing neighbors today resemble conversations nearly a century ago by political counterparts with rightwing neighbors of Nazi Germany. I only can imagine a liberal’s rejection then by my experiences now. Debate is a waste of time and energy.
Have you ever experienced a nightmare where no one could hear what you were saying? You screamed warnings, yet no one heeded. You were ignored, interrupted and isolated. They kept going down the wrong path until marching off the cliff.
This is how I sense today’s warnings about tomorrow’s perils.
The predictions were clear from iconic journalists and poets of their own race. Instead of accepting, they dismissed. Any piece of art or literature outside the approved was corrupting of racial purity and, thus, must be eliminated – just as they later exterminated people.
“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.” – Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (1797 –1856), German journalist and poet.
Goebbels organized book-burning rallies all over the country. Surely this was a sign of what would follow. And did.
What the current DNC fails to recognize is its weak, nuanced voice contributes to Trump’s appeal. Obama achieved much during his terms, but mostAmericans are blind to it. The political arm was weak; there was no salesman to tout successes. The Weimar Republic experienced similar lackluster responses to the emergent Nazis.
An exceptional truth spoken by Gauleiter Goebbels was thus:
“A good government can no more exist without propaganda than propaganda can exist without a good government.” – Joseph Goebbels, 1897-1945
Obama failed to see that his successful achievements must be retailed by good propaganda. Republicans understood this premise and established FOX, right radio, and innumerable slanted political outlets. Democrats dismissed the idea and left the President out to hang.
America is only dominated by the Republican Party (31 governorships, 34 state houses) because the DNC fails to do its job. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz remains in office despite cataclysmic defeats. Hillary Clinton’s Communications Director, Jennifer Palmieri, stays on her job despite not knowing how to communicate.
Hillary’s “Email Scandal” would have already been laid to rest had she hired a capable communications team. Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be a strong challenge had she hired the best and presented herself as a visionary. Why does the DNC promote the ineffective? The future looks like a slow-motion disaster.
Obamacare is repealed 62 times. All his successes are but failures in Republican eyes, even the auto industry rescue, the capture of Osama bin Laden, and release of Iranian hostages. Good is bad, evil is noble.
All evil is based on this one concept: “My kind is superior.” Whether it be religious belief, race, creed, color, looks, age, social/economic status, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or ideology – all lead to the same graveyard. The “all men are created equal” clause should repel tyranny. Only when it’s ignored does evil re-emerge.
I hope history doesn’t repeat itself in 2016. I’m not holding my breath.
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell