How did so many Germans, members of an advanced civilization, accept the rise of Hitler and live with the evil he embodied? It’s a question that gets asked almost ad nauseam – perhaps because it’s never answered to anyone’s satisfaction.
Instead, we treat it as some kind of eternal mystery, tracing it back to a vaguely defined dysfunction in the German psyche, beginning perhaps with the famous image of a wheelbarrow full of money to pay for a loaf of bread due to hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic.
We think they should have seen it coming, made all this fascist madness possible.
But we have the enormous advantage that we know how everything turned out, which makes it easier for us to form an opinion than it was for the Germans in the 1930s when they were in the middle of it.
Anyway, we can stop asking that old question now because we’re getting answers to it all the time – not through our awareness of 1930’s history, but through understanding of what’s happening now in the 2020’s. And really, it’s not difficult to understand.
Last week, Hungarian nationalist dictator Viktor Orban made remarks about “mixed races” (he opposes) which were described as “pure Nazi text worthy of Goebbels” – not by our friends in the “Awakened” Brigade, but from one of his old advisers.
Aside from the slight confusion as to why his adviser would suddenly turn against him now that he was always going in that direction, we also note criticism from the International Auschwitz Committee, which denounced Orban for a joke he made about gas chambers in Nazis had made Germany.
That didn’t happen in the 1930s, but a few days ago.
But here’s something that didn’t happen – Ursula von der Leyen didn’t call a meeting of the leaders of all other EU member states to announce that Hungary’s membership of the EU was no longer acceptable due to the apparent fascist nature of Orban’s leadership and that formal procedures will now be launched with a view to expelling Hungary from the EU as soon as possible.
No, that didn’t happen. Apart from the backlash from someone who liked him enough to support him until last week and from the International Auschwitz Committee, nothing bad happened to Viktor Orban.
Actually, something good is happening to him — he’s one of the keynote speakers next week in Dallas, Texas, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a major Republican gathering that also includes contributions from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Steve Bannon.
These guys love Orban. He is on board with their Great Replacement Theory and other notions of an under attack white civilization formerly associated with the Ku Klux Klan before becoming a mainstream position by many US Republicans.
This CPAC will in fact be an international fascist gathering – yet most media reports do not describe it as such. It will be called conservative, maybe right.
There is a phobia among people who take themselves very seriously to use the word “fascist” in connection with any activity except real SS officers in booties who speak with a German accent – just like in the film.
I understand that we mustn’t belittle the badness of this fascism by using the word for something less than real – but then again, the stars of CPAC openly despise democracy.
At least one of them actually organized a coup last year, and one of them was rightly compared to Goebbels last week. Enough boxes ticked, at least for some of us.
And we don’t even get close to the box they all tick – the one where they have more than a secret appreciation for Putin.
These guys openly connect the dots that connect them – they happily mark our cards. The last time fascists were allowed to roam free on such a scale, America eventually had to send an army to the beaches of Normandy and on to Europe, essentially to kill as many of the f***ers as they could find.
Last week, Trump was free to give a “political speech” in Washington. That was his description, accepted even by CNN, although it wasn’t a keynote address. It was an attempt to take control of a news cycle that eluded him. Trump has no politics apart from seizing power by any means necessary.
And so he will keep pushing it, just like Orban will keep pushing it and Erdogan and the fascists of Italy and of course Putin will keep pushing it to see what they can get away with – that is, how the man himself would do it, shall we say , a lot of.
Forget the Germans in the 1930s. Many of them were probably like us and our “respectable” leaders – they watched it happen and hoped it didn’t end too badly. But it does.
Half-timbering and Sunak spout are in perfect harmony
There was a moment in the BBC debate between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak that embarrassed them all. Of course, it was a shame for Truss and Sunak when asked to give a resounding yes or no to a question about whether the massive queues at Dover were caused by Brexit.
“No,” they both lied eagerly, almost happily.
But it’s also put the BBC out of favor, as here was a rare case of a TV channel dodging a question itself rather than letting the contestants play the game.
You can imagine the meeting in the BBC Towers when they reach that awful point in the process where they have to figure out how to deal with the whole Brexit thing – or rather, how not to deal with it.
So this ‘fun’ round of rapid fire questions was really inspired; a way to pretend the topic has been “covered”. And of course, when Truss and Sunak said “no,” there was no comeback to tell them the right answer was “yes.”
We have to understand that Brexit is no longer a political problem for the English. It’s a kind of mental and emotional disorder. And they just can’t handle it right now, so it’s easier for them to avoid the topic.
Most countries, including ourselves, have gone through such incredible embarrassment, and for a long time persuaded themselves that something was right, and knowing deep down that it was fundamentally wrong.
Usually it ends in very long and very sad reports and commissions and investigative tribunals and ideally certain individuals go to prison for long periods of time.
New Mitchell Principles Say: “Keep On”
And so to Joni Mitchell. If you’ve read this far, you’ll be wondering, “What the hell is she doing here?” After casting the characters we’ve been through, how can Jonis give such a radiantly beautiful performance of Both sides… now in the same category at the Newport Folk Festival?
It’s like this: Joni not only sang a captivating version of what is perhaps her greatest song, in all its profound simplicity and unfathomable complexity. That would be good enough for everyone else, but Joni Mitchell always goes the extra mile.
She basically came to Newport to try to save the world. I think in a thousand years they’ll say she made it.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/when-fascism-rears-its-ugly-head-thats-the-time-to-stamp-it-out-41879503.html When fascism rears its ugly head, it’s time to stamp it out