Friday, November 18, 2016

Stand Strong And Protect Those For Whom Trump Comes First . . .

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
About the author:
"Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps, despite his ardent nationalism. Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out...”

There are a lot of parallels to the rise of Trump and the rise of Hitler.  There are probably a lot of parallels between Trump's rise and other less notorious authoritarians which may be closer fits.   But it's the one comparison I know best.  And it's probably been better documented than others. And there are a lot of similarities    From History place:
"Adolf Hitler and the Nazis waged a modern whirlwind campaign in 1930 unlike anything ever seen in Germany. . . . Hitler offered something to everyone: work to the unemployed; prosperity to failed business people; profits to industry; expansion to the Army; social harmony and an end of class distinctions to idealistic young students; and restoration of German glory to those in despair. He promised to bring order amid chaos; a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again; end payment of war reparations to the Allies; tear up the treaty of Versailles; stamp out corruption; keep down Marxism; and deal harshly with the Jews."
One only has to substitute the date and the names - US for Germany, 2016 for 1930,  payments to NATO for war reparations to the Allies, NAFTA, TPP, and Climate Treaty for treaty of Versailles,  Muslims for Jews,  and this would read like a description of Trump.

But there are also differences.  One is that Hitler's Germany had a centralized government.  American   states have a lot of independence from Washington and states' rights has been a traditional Republican value.

Another difference is that we know what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.  There are still some people alive who experienced it.  The example is still in our memories.   And we have lots of documentary evidence of what happened and how.

Americans would do well to reflect on the Niemöller quote.

The campaign has already targeted Muslims and immigrants, and people close to Trump are associated with white nationalism.  Trump's grandfather was arrested at a KKK and Fascist rally in 1927.  So these values aren't alien to the Trump family.

Those of us who believe in the rule of law, in decency and tolerance for human beings of all races and religions, have good reason to stand up for those targeted by the Trump administration.  If not for altruistic purposes, then to protect yourself and your family when the first targets - it would appear they'll be Muslims and immigrants -  have been dispatched.   We need to reach out and embrace these groups and resist Trump's attempts to target groups of people based not on what individuals have done, but based on assumptions about the guilt of the groups.

One immediate effort Americans can make is to invite Muslims and immigrant families to their Thanksgiving dinner.  Or find out where there will be community dinners where you can help out. Show them your support.  Get to know them and let them know you.  Connect so that if and when Trump moves to disrupt their lives, you will know and you will support them, and resist the kind of things that happened not only in Germany, but in the US with the internment camps for the Japanese.

It's time for good, loyal Americans to speak up.

I hope that those of us who fear the worst are totally wrong.  But Hitler's rise to power was as surprising in its time as Trump's rise is now.  People dismissed his most extreme views and focused on the positive things he promised - the jobs, the renewed glory of German people.  We have that example relatively fresh in our history.  Let's not let it repeat itself today.  When Germany was eventually defeated in WW II, the United States assumed the role of the leading country in the world.   Today, the most powerful countries in the world ready to take the place of the US on the world stage are Russia and China.


  1. First of all, great Niemöller quote. I've used it myself at times. As for the supposed parallel between Trump and Hitler, I suppose time will tell, but my initial reaction is that you're overstating it. I say this with the authority of personal experience: paranoia makes all the pieces seem to fall into place, and we completely convince ourselves based on our impeccable reasoning that we are right about something...even when we're not.

    1. Paul, not sure why you say 'supposed' parallel. The parallels are clearly there. But as i said, there are other ones as well, some of which may prove more fitting. The Guardian and others have likened him to Berlusconi. I'm not convinced that Trump the man is anything like Hitler the man, but there are some similarities worth noting. This isn't being paranoid, it's being careful. Trump's holocaust might come to be through destroying the Paris accords on climate change. There's also a chance he'll get bored and irritated with the presidency and resign. Lots of possibilities. The one sure thing is that Donald Trump's interests take precedence in a way we've never seen in the White House before. There is no humility in this man. That's never the kind of person you want in a position of power.
      However this plays out, I'd like to see people standing ready to resist inroads against what democracy we still have.

  2. The Thanksgiving dinner reminded me of and old Stan Freberg song, my dad was a big fan of his in the 60's.

    Take an Indian to lunch this week
    Show him we're a regular bunch this week
    Show him we're as liberal as can be
    Let him know he's almost as good as we
    Make a feathered friend feel fed this week
    Overlook the fact he's red this week
    Let him share out Quaker Oats
    'Cause he's useful when he votes
    Take an Indian to lunch
    Pilgrim Chorus:
    Two, four, six, eight, who do we tolerate?
    Indians, Indians, rah, rah, rah
    Take an Indian to lunch this week

    Let him sit right down and munch this week

    Let's give in and all do the brotherhood bit
    Just make sure we don't make a habit of it
    Take an Indian to dine this week
    Show him we don't draw the line this week
    We know everyone can't be
    As American as we
    After all, we came over on the Mayflower
    Take an Indian
    Not a wooden Indian
    But a real, live Indian
    To lunch

    1. Stan Freberg was a childhood hero of mine and I think I still have an album someone in the house. His wit was cutting. But not every invitation to conversation has to be cynical and duplicitous.

  3. I won't argue the point raised earlier that the comparisons might be overblown. They might or might not. But I think the piece by Liel Leibovitz in Tablet Magazine (What to do about Trump? The Same Thing My Grandfather Did) is quite apt here.

    Forgive me for quoting Mr. Leibovitz:

    Treat every poisoned word as a promise. When a bigoted blusterer tells you he intends to force members of a religious minority to register with the authorities ... believe him. Don’t try to be clever. Don’t lean on political intricacies or legislative minutia or historical precedents for comfort. Don’t write it off as propaganda, or explain it away as just an empty proclamation meant simply to pave the path to power. Take the haters at their word, and assume the worst is imminent.

    1. Quote away. I pretty much agree. Being polite or fearful or getting mired in procedural detail is not the proper response. Here's the link to the Leibovitz piece.
      Leibovitz writes "to compare Donald Trump to the Fuhrer or his ascent to the rise of the Third Reich is an absurd and reprehensible proposition." As I've said above Trump is not the equivalent of Hitler, but we can learn from dealing with Hitler, just as Leibovitz takes strategies from his grandfather's experiences, as he imagines them. Thanks for the reference.


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