Monday, October 11, 2004

Berchdesgarten in Autumn

When my mom used to tell me about growing up in Nazi Germany I was incredulous. "Why did people let Hitler come to power?" I would ask her. "Didn't they know he was a dictator?"

And she explained the situation in Germany at the time just before Hitler took over. A once-mighty power was brought to its knees after World War 1. Having to pay reparations to the Allies, having to absorb the entire cost of the war, the German economy was shot. Inflation ran rampant; a 50,000 Mark note would only buy a loaf of bread, and people were unemployed and starving. Hitler gave the people someone to blame for their predicament. Not the Allied nations, for publicly decrying them would have brought too much attention on Germany, a poor, defenseless Germany. Instead he blamed the Jews.

The Jews were taking over the economy, the Jews were swindling the German people of their meager savings, and a whole host of other sins. Not true, of course, but when people are desperate, they will believe anything. (Why do you think the Islamic Fundamentalists are so popular today? When people are hopless, they will follow anyone who gives them the promise of better.) Eventually, the blame was placed on anyone who was not a 'true German'. Auslander they were called, anyone who was not of pure German parentage.

As I say repeatedly, things here are very similar. George Bush and his Brownshirts have identified the people to blame. Liberals, gays, people with a world view who see America's place as a part of the whole, not the rulers of the world. No, I am not over the top when I call the Right a bunch of Fascists and Nazis.

The reason I am back on this subject once again is because I found this on AlterNet via Ornicus. An interview with Bruce J. Miller, author of Take Them At Their Words: Shocking, Amusing and Baffling Quotations from the G.O.P. and Their Friends, 1994-2004 (Academy Chicago)

[. . .]

Q:Then here you have the now governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, who was a big Republican lobbyist and made tons of money cutting deals, being a rainmaker, saying that Head Start is good for his state, "Because some of those kids would be better off sitting up on a piano bench at a whorehouse than where they are now." What's the difference between him and radio host Bob Grant? I don't know.

A:Right, that's a good point. We put quotes like that in a chapter called "Cracks in the Melting Pot," because there are a lot of cracks.

Here's one from '94 in the chapter called "Compassionate Conservatism." A talk radio host at a major station in L.A. says, "I believe that the homeless people should essentially be put to sleep. They should. I don't see any reason for them to exist. They're more of a burden than anything else. And as a matter of fact, those who can survive are the only ones worth surviving. These homeless people, for some reason, cannot survive anymore. Not only they're a burden, but it's a waste of space. It's a waste of human life, and I just don't see any other solution that's out there that works. They should just be -- the homeless should just be put out of their misery. It's as simple as that."

That's pretty startling, I think.

[. . .]

Q:I think Blumenthal goes on to say -- he quotes Richard Hofstader, "Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content." That seems to me almost a Rosetta Stone for what you have here. It's the way in which the ideas are believed, so the demagoguery can be piled on without anyone really questioning its validity because the basic assumption is that the other side is evil. So Ann Coulter can say, "Liberals have a preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason." Do you have any idea what she's talking about?

A:I don't really know what it means, but I know that it means that they want liberals to disappear. As Rush Limbaugh once said, "Don't kill all the liberals; we want to have some around" -- I've got the exact wording here somewhere -- "so that we can have them like fossils."

[. . .]

Q:You have quotes here even from November, December of 2003. You've got Tom DeLay accusing Kennedy of hateful speech, which has got to be the laugh-out-loud accusation of the decade, if not the century. The chairman of the RNC went after because a couple of videos among the 1,500 that people submitted to the Bush In 30 Seconds contest depicted Bush morphing into Hitler. He said that this was the most vile thing that ever occurred, though their chief radio spokesman, Rush Limbaugh, calls liberals and feminists feminazis all the time, and you never hear a word from them.

A:Or when they say things that are sort of Nazi-like, which many of them do. When Limbaugh says, for example, don't kill all the liberals so we can have some around for display, you can't help but think of the Nazis, where they wanted to kill all the Jews and then have a Jewish Museum that people could go and look at.

Q:And that was Hitler's particular interest.

A:That's what I thought of right away when I read that. There are a lot of instances where their rhetoric reminds you of Nazi rhetoric.

[. . .]

It's a long interview but there is a startling similarity between the rhetoric of Josef Goebbels and Karl Rove. If Bush is reelected, the similarities will only become more obvious. I mean, just look at how Bush's people use local law enforcement like their own Gestapo, having them arrest anyone who so much as wears a T-shirt proclaiming an opposing point of view to their rallies. Loyalty oaths? Come on. If Bush is reelected, you might not be permitted to criticize the President at all.

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