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Sunday, June 12, 2016

It CAN Happen Here

Progressive Organizations and Press Still Not Taking Trump Seriously Enough

While today is, of course not 1930s Germany, and many things are different, there is something in common.  

My latest "read" is  Flight from the Reich by Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan Van Pelt (W. W. Norton, 2009).  This excellently-written book tells in vivid terms how ordinary Germans, mostly Jewish, but some not, were forced to flee Germany in the very first days and weeks of the Nazi regime in that hapless nation of the 1930s.

As the Introduction has stated, a great deal has been written about the Holocaust, and certainly this attention is aply deserved.  However, relatively less has been written about those Jews who escaped, often narrowly.

The value of this book is in the showing of the chronology of events as Hitler assumed the Chancellorship.  What is ever so clear is how quickly he moved to consolidate power.  A big part of this power grab was the scape-goating of the Jews.  Over a very few months this became a very effective tool for the German fascists to control society -- and thus cement their hold -- by fostering an us-vs.-them mentality.

And this modus operandi was indeed very successful.  Unknown to most Americans this technique was also used by power brokers as early as the late seventeenth century in the United States.*  Indeed this is a method used by countless dictatorships over centuries of world history.

But the greatest value of this book is its opening the door to understanding Trumpism in the America of now.  While today is, of course, not 1930s Germany, and many things are different, there is something in common.  Importantly -- people consistently underestimated Hitler. In both instances an aggrieved group of people -- those with out jobs and without hope -- seeks a solution, almost any solution.  This makes them prime prey for demagoguery.

Donald Trump knows this.  And he knows how to use this political dynamic to his advantage.  The question remains whether Americans at large will stand up to him successfully.

My e-mail in-box is filling up with appeals, essentially for money, from various Democratic and progressive groups.  Most, if not all, mention Trump.  They reference his intolerance and bigotry.  But with all due respect, in almost every case, their appeal is too narrowly focused.  For what is not needed as much as a political opposition to Trump, is a social one -- one based on basic ethics, morality and simple decency.  In short, these e-letters are not tough enough.  And for the most part there is no real plan to mount a civic, coherent, and cohesive movement which is broadly-based enough to stop the Trump candidacy at its basis point.

As a start I suggest searching for Hitler, fascism, and Nazism on this blog.  There are many resources given here which can be used to get a clearer picture of the vast seriousness of our current situation.  It will be much easier for one to mount the correct level of effort needed after doing this kind of reading and research.

All best wishes as you seek and learn.

Coming -- more on this story

*See A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn.

N. B.:  Remember, one of the most effective tools of propaganda is the oft-repeated lie.  Trump's repeated lies do have a cumulative effect.  They must be effectively opposed now.


  1. From the Washington Post online: “Get used to it,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, a Trump critic. “This is your life for the next five months.”

    With respect, and in brief, No, no, no! This is not necessary. I for one am not prepared to accept that America has come to this. Our situation is caused by a combination of economic insecurity, the media celebrity mentality, and, of course, the Trump attitude and mode. But we really do not have to -- and should not -- put up with this. I am almost literally sick of the Trump Show. I will try to be as complete and detailed as possible in future posts, within the confines of the blog format.

  2. More from the same Washington Post article: a sign of how jittery GOP leaders are still trying to find their comfort level with his rhetoric.

    “Oh, I think it’s done in good humor,” said Sen. Roger Wicker...


    Just asking: Finding a "comfort level" with intolerance and vitriol? A *comfort level*? Are they serious?

    And the statement that Trump's comments are in good humor would itself be humorous were it not so serious -- and wrong.


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