Monday, February 14, 2005

Approaching the Tipping Point

(originally posted at Daily Kos on Sun Jan 30th, 2005)

We need to prevent the tipping point at which the current US administration realizes they can get away with "it" - whatever their "it" is.

In Germany, many believe the tipping point was Kristallnacht, a couple of nights on which Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebels (the Karl Rove of his day) orchestrated "spontaneous" uprisings against the Jews, destroying businesses and synagogues, and beating thousands, in many cases to death.

Here's one example from the Jewish Virtual Library:
In Germany, Kristallnacht turns out to be a crucial turning point in German policy regarding the Jews and may be considered as the actual beginning of what is now called the Holocaust.

The propaganda spun the destruction and mayhem as the fault of the Jews - as if it was something they had brought on themselves.

They even minimized it with framing, calling it Kristallnacht - or chrystal night, a shiny, glittery thing. The term was devised to belittle the situation. It was also called the night of broken glass, as if the devastation of many of the Jewish cultural centers in the country was nothing more than a nuisance to be swept up.

In the article cited above is a list of the reasons why Kristallnacht is believed to have been the turning point.  I list them below, and follow each with one parallel from the current US administration:

1. By now it is clear to Hitler and his top advisors that forced immigration of Jews out of the Reich is not a feasible option.

The administration is currently in the forced deportation of immigrants stage, particularly Arabs.

The administration has not reached the point of imprisoning them after they reach the other country. Nor have they reached the mass murder stage.

With "extraordinary rendition," it turns out we have not only been imprisoning them, we've been viciously torturing them.]

2. Hitler is already considering the invasion of Poland.


The administration is already considering the invasion of Iran, North Korea, and others. There is evidence that the administration had planned to invade Iraq before the President even took office.

3. Numerous concentration camps and forced labor camps are already in operation.


The administration has Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and is working on a series of prisons in other locations in the world.

Remember the parallel in #1 above?
The administration has started working on a program of permanently imprisoning detainees in prisons in other countries, which would be the logical first step.

Even the Nazis did not start mass detentions and murder right out of the gate. First they started deportations. Then they began filling prison camps outside the country, then they kicked the killing machine into high gear. It was 11 years from the beginning of Hitler's reign to the time the full-bore slaughter took place in the gas chambers and ovens in camps such as Auschwitz. The Reich walked the path in baby steps.

Once retention of prisoners becomes too much of a financial burden, there will come a decision point - eat the cost and keep paying to keep them alive in prison, reduce costs by letting them go, or reduce costs by killing them off. If the decision to hold them for life was made because they were deemed too dangerous to be allowed free, which decision is more likely?

4. The Nuremberg Laws are in place.


The Nuremberg Laws are NOT the sames as the Nuremberg Trials. The trials followed World War II, and were arguably necessitated by the implementation of the Nuremberg Laws.

The Nuremberg Laws focused mostly on defining Jews and redefining German citizenship to exclude Jews.

A frightening parallel in the current administration's behavior is the redefinition of "prisoner" as "enemy combatant." Under the Nuremberg Laws, non-citizens (aka, Jews), like the administration's "enemy combatants," ceased to be covered by the laws and rights that applied to citizens:
(3) Only the citizen of the Reich may enjoy full political rights in consonance with the provisions of the laws.

5. The doctrine of lebensraum has emerged as a guiding principle of Hitler's ideology.

Lebensraum, or 'living space' was the concept of adding space to Germany by annexing other lands.  One of the influences on the decision to move ahead with lebensraum was a lack of natural resources in Germany. In parallel, one of the influences for the current US administration's empiricism in the Middle East appears to be the lack of one particularly crucial natural resource - oil.

6. The passivity of the German people in the face of the events of Kristallnacht made it clear that the Nazis would encounter little opposition--even from the German churches.


We haven't had a similar outwardly brutal demonstration toward a scape-goated group inside the United States. Yet. However, it could be argued that the war in Iraq is exactly that.

  • Kristallnacht was a propaganda-driven attack against a group of innocent people. The trumped up excuse for the attack was the shooting of a low-level German politician in France by the son of a Polish family who had been deported from Germany.
  • Iraq is a propaganda-driven attack on a group of innocent people. The first trumped up excuse for the attack in the innocent Iraqis was the unrelated destruction of several buildings in the US by a group from Saudi Arabia. Other trumped up excuses followed, none of which hold water.

I worry that the willingness to allow the Iraq war to happen, combined with the apathy of many in light of the disenfranchisement of thousands of their fellow citizens in November signals that a Kristallnacht can happen here, and that the outcry will be similarly muted.

We cannot allow a new Kristallnacht to happen.

The way I see it, if there had been sufficient serious opposition to the ordinary cruelties of the Nazi regime, the descent into the hell of the so-called 'final solution' might have been deferred, lessened, or prevented.

We are at a point in history where we must decide whether what is happening in our own country is the beginning of something very sinister.

If, based on the evidence before us, we determine that to be the case, we must choose either to stand up and speak out to prevent this administration from implementing their equivalent, or to stand aside, and by our inaction become complicit in the evil that is to come.

Some have suggested that a comparison between the current US Administration and the Nazi rise to power is an insult to those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

I argue that the only way to dishonor those who were murdered by the thugs of Hitler's killing machine is to fail to learn the lessons of history - and to do nothing because in year 4 of the current regime, things aren't as bad as they were in year 11 of Hitler's regime.

The parallels are many, and they are sobering, with more and more arising:
week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week
[UPDATE: Added link to TeacherKen's Fascism post at:]2/14/05 12:34 PM


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