Some things in modern life are not hard to figure out. You don’t have to be progressive—and it shouldn’t be partisan—to grasp that Nazis are bad and so is Nazism. Anyone who has a memory or taken a history class knows that millions of Americans fought to defend American principles and democracy itself against the Nazi march across the world. To be more specific, over 16 million Americans fought in WWII, over 400,000 sacrificed their lives and nearly 700,000 were wounded to defend America’s allies and democracy.
More than normalizing, he has made it acceptable to an unacceptably large segment of people. This cannot be allowed to stand.
Are we that far removed from Germany’s Nazi era, either in time or national character? Is Trump just saying what a loud minority thinks? I wish that were true, but a skim across our history suggests otherwise.
For example: the “Indian Wars” that were fueled by the desire of white Americans for more and more land and its resources, land which had been part of Native American nations from before Christopher Columbus ever stumbled upon the western hemisphere. (Perhaps not land ownership in the European sense, but certainly land occupation.)
Then slavery of Africans. The prejudice against the Irish. The Catholics. The Poles. The Hungarians. The Jews – always the Jews. And on and on.
Not to minimize it, but the buffoon Trump is but a face on centuries of prejudice, crippling our potential -- your aptly described “antisemitic, white Christian nationalist strain.”
The most worrisome part of your column today is this: “We risk this hateful mentality becoming increasingly mainstream.”
There might be an answer, as pie-in-the-sky as it might be. Here are two. What do you and your readers suggest? Griping only goes so far. We need viable goals.
First, require all schools receiving federal money to require their students to take civics classes, starting in elementary school through 12th grade. Also require at the high school level a year’s worth of classes in critical think9ng.
Second, impose a new “Fairness Doctrine/Equal Time” law on radio and television stations -- plus internet platforms like Twitter. A secondary goal might be to break up ownership of radio and television stations.
Thank you for the Monday morning political therapy. I really needed it !!! Although tempted to go on twitter when I see from my email feed that there were tweets by you and @tribelaw and others whose statements and opinions I like to follow, I have decided that I must take a stand and stay off twitter because Elon Musk gave the former president his platform back, a platform on which he can reach millions with his tweets of hate and misinformation and acceptance of neo-Nazism and election denialism, all of which can ruin our America. So, I am especially glad that I have this forum in which to discuss these important issues. I was aghast that Ye and his new-Nazi friend were at Mar-A-Lago for dinner. Though I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised. In Charlottesville a number of yers ago the former president said that there were good people on both sides. We all know where Ye stands; and still the former president was more than happy to have him to dinner when he requested it. First bad sign. Then Ye shows up with a true and verified Neo_Nazi, and the former president lets him in to dine with him at Mar-A-Lago also. He could have said no to Ye. And then when Ye showed up with the extremist he could have said no to both. But of course he didn't do that. He had them both come into the club and diner with him; and, as you said, the former president seemed to find some compatibility with the extremist. He likes when anyone likes him. Just like he liked the love letter from China and just like he liked Putin and in Helsinki through our national intelligence team under the bus and said hje believed Putin when he said that Russia didn't interfere with out elections. That was several years ago. We have a lot of time to learn who this former president really is and what he really believes. He likes despots and autocrats; and he likes people who spew hate. And I think we are in a very dangerous situation in this country. My Dad took a hiatus from college to find the Nazois in Europe so that the Nazi hatred wouldn't come to our shores and so that we could free Europe from the Nazi attempt to take over that continent. That was so important to the greatest generation. We can't forget about that mission to keep our country free and to keep the world free from hate. So, how do we defend our country now when the former president seems more than willing to lift up people who spew that same hate today in our country??? That is my question to you Steven Beschloss, our wonderful leader, and to the others in this great group. Your points are well taken. The GOP isn't going to stop the former president, or even speak out against him, because they are spineless, because McCarthy will do anything to win the speakership of the House. He will continue to appease the haters and deniers in his caucus, e.g. MTG and the like. And together by not stopping the former president, and allowing him to continue to speak hate and stir up his cult people, this becomes a bigger and bigger problem. I am scared what will happen when the new Congress takes over in January 2023. We voted and owe were able to allow them only a small majority ion the House, and we won the Senate, and I thought they would take a message form that. But the GOP are spineless; and I worry what will happen to our country under their radical approach to governing. I don't have any direct descendants. So, I can't talk about what kind of country I will leave to children and grandchildren. However, I am an American; and I want to leave the country to future generations in a good, upstanding state of affairs, with all of its values in tact. My Dad and many others fought to keep our country free and keep hate from our borders. We can't forget that. We can't let that mission be something for just the 1940's. That must be our mission always. We must speak out. Our Democracy of the people, by the people and for the people can not swirl into an abyss of hate and intolerance. We must defend what is free and fair. God Bless America. May it always be the beacon of freedom and Democracy that it was when I was growing up. Let our voices be heard. If we must protest and demonstrate as we ddi doing my college years (regarding poverty, Viet Nam and racial injustice) we must do that. We can start by writing to our Senators, if we are lucky enough to have Senators as I do who are on the correct side of this issue. We can write to our Representatives in the House, if we are lucky enough to have a great Representative as I do who are on the correct side of this issue . And I even challenge those of you are un fortunate enough to have Senators and Representatives who are not on the correct side of this issue. Our elected officials need to know how important this is for us and for our country. And we need to urge them to take the appropriate action. Thank you for listening to my M<onday morning soapbox.
A related publication from 1940 has a different solution. It worked. It explained what a democracy was and that lack of public education was a principle deficit. The media got on board as did both parties. Here it is that brochure. https://medium.com/liecatcher/why-democracy-928725232ba1
To Douglas Caldwell’s point, Rachel Maddow’s Ultra podcast reminds us of shocking parallels in anti democratic forces approaching and during WWII and what we’ve been seeing for the last several years.
I was shocked and embarrassed how little I knew of those stories. Let our collective memories remind us that America is not immune--we must constantly work against propaganda and lies that weaken democracy.
So the Nazi is threatening Jews; how quaint and unusual. The antisemitism that has always been here , like the racism that has always been here rears its ugly head. Every Jew and every African-American needs to realize that voting Republicans into office increases the odds that our lives are in danger. It is more than obvious that the Orange Nazi will use anyone and anything to stay in power and in the public eye and doesn’t care who or what is collateral damage. The GOP has ABSOLUTELY NO MORALS. They can’t condemn January 6th and can’t condemn a Nazi consorting with a candidate for president from their party. And Kanye is there too with a Nazi who hates Jews and Blacks. Will someone please tell him he’ll be dead too if they get their way? And his children?
Well said Steven all of it..
A couple things if I may..
“Trump remains at large” This is a problem that is not being addressed properly..there are the obvious solutions, then there are less obvious ones..One only need use the imagination..
While reading through your well written piece I could not help being reminded of other pertinent offerings that we all should hear and read. “Ultra” a podcast by Rachel Maddow on the very subject of Nazism in America in the ‘40s and a couple of pieces from one of your Substack colleagues Steve Schmidt in “The Warning” first his “Reflections on antisemitism and indifference” and second his piece “Christian nationalism”
What the three of you are offering up on these subjects are not just important, but mandatory that they be addressed and discussed, called out to put a finer point on it by the country..loud over and over again, printed in every newspaper and broadcast on every outlet..
These need to be shared far and wide everywhere it can be shared..
They who traffic in this vile bigotry and hate must be crushed, and it is looking like We The People are going to be the ones to do it..
It is staggering to me that I’m reminded by the former president of the United States and his dinner guests that at 9 yrs old the next door neighbor squirted me with a garden hose while calling me a little dirty Jew..
Having just read a history of the Fairness Doctrine on Wikipedia, my feeling is anything remotely resembling it won’t be passed by Congress any time soon. However, I still believe there’s a way to take Foxnews off the air. Other than Donald Trump, Foxnews is the most divisive, outrageous and virulent source of hate in America. As long as they’re allowed to violate the First Amendment, which they do on a daily basis, we won’t be able to rid ourselves of the lunacy and violence that threatens us and our way of life.
I keep wondering when the good people of this country will finally say enough! Until that happens we are offering ourselves up as innocent bystanders playing Russian Roulette with our lives and our loved ones lives, hoping and praying we aren’t targeted by yet another lunatic just because we go to the grocery store. What’s astonishing is the fact that we are allowing ourselves to be randomly targeted by any jerk with a gun who’s having a bad day.
The reason so many maladjusted, sociopathic, whiney, idiots are having a love affair with Nazism is because it provides a tried and true blueprint on how to terrorize a population. They’re getting away with it because most of the people who lived through WWII have passed away. But lest you write the nouveau nazis off as merely a poorly adjusted adolescent-like flirtation with evil, you should understand that they are part of a much bigger conspiracy(yup, I said conspiracy) of manipulative demagogues with the money and the means to keep terrorizing peaceful communities for a long time.
I realize I risk sounding as unhinged as they are by even saying this, but I’m saying it because there aren’t enough people talking about it. The big picture, as nearly as I’ve been able to figure out, includes Putin partnering with Trump and MBS to destabilize Western Europe, America & Canada.
Putin has been using tried and true KGB-style techniques using Russian operatives living in America, involving themselves in our American lives while quietly urging and manipulating various groups to be unhappy, extreme and demanding and they’ve been doing it for years.
The most obvious example is the NRA. You might remember Maria Butina, a Russian operative living in America for several years, who became involved in the NRA. We saw a lot of pictures of her on the news posing with various men who were part of NRA leadership after she was finally arrested.
“Mariya Butina is a Russian politician, political activist and former entrepreneur who was convicted in 2018 of acting as an un-registered foreign agent of Russia within the
U.S. She was an assistant for Aleksandr Torshin, a former member of the Federation Council, a member of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, and a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia.In this role, she worked to infiltrate conservative groups in the US, including the National Rifle Association, as part of an effort
to promote Russian interests in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.The Senate Intelligence Committee later concluded that she attempted to persuade the Trump campaign to establish a secret communications back channel with Russia.” She was convicted of 18 U.S.C. § 951 (Conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent of the Russian state.) Source: Wikipedia
She’s just one of many Russian operatives here in the U.S. quietly manipulating Americans to act out in anger. In addition there are Russian bots and operatives all over our social media all of the time criticizing President Biden specifically and bullying Democrats generally.
I’m saying most, if not all GOP are sympathetic to Russia. All you have to do is note the republican politicians who went to Russia over the July 4, holiday a few years ago and before that the photos of republicans who attended a celebratory dinner in Russia. Most recently the Republican party invited Victor Orban, the Hungarian Dictator, to speak at CPAC this year.
“Orban’s nationalist rhetoric and embrace of culture wars has long made him the black sheep of Europe. But what isolates him among his European contemporaries has endeared him to the American right, and he was welcomed in Dallas, Texas.” (NPR, 8/5/22, by Laura Barrón-López)
Republicans are embracing the worst of the worst heads of state in the world. The leaders who deliberately terrorize & torture their own citizens for whatever reason their tiny little brains can come up with to “justify” it.
Republicans in Congress have taken a lot of Russian money in the form of campaign donations for years, which is another reason why we MUST make all campaign donations illegal. There are probably Dems who’ve taken Russian campaign donations as well, but hopefully not as many and definitely not for the same reasons.
The point is, we regular people need to pay a lot more attention to what the Republican party is doing and start broadcasting it to all Americans before it’s too late. These attempts to sew discontent will ramp up again.
For example, the issue with Critical Race Theory that isn’t a real issue, the criticism of teachers that has resulted in many teachers leaving the profession, the issue of private prisons that are laundering our tax dollars and turning them into big money donations to the republican party, not to mention that private prisons have no incentive to ever release prisoners as they should be when they’ve served their time. Their incentive is to create an environment that keeps prisoners in prison indefinitely.
Our entire society is being rigged to favor republican “causes” from the Supreme Court creating havoc over abortion to inviting murderous foreign dictators to speak at national political conventions, to what our children learn or don’t learn in school. We’ve essentially allowed these things to happen because we didn’t understand they’re all part of a plan to disrupt and destroy American democracy. It’s past time to wise-up and rise-up to put a stop to it.
A useful reminder of our history that is not pretty. Let us not forget the Klan control of all of Indiana state government in the 1920s and persecuted anybody who did not fit their ideal of skin color or ideology. It is unfortunately a stream of belief and thinking that has pervaded the scene throughout our history.
Let them rant and be obviously insane. The great majority of Americans do not and will not accept this, and the reason that we have the current situation in the House is that we have allowed Republicans to gerrymander House districts and state legislatures to the point that opposition is almost impossible to mount an effective political opposition. But this is going to change in the next election (again, I am an optimist) because the current MAGA leadership is so far off base that even the worst of them will recognize that they are going to lose. Trump is history, and if the major news outlets would just stop fawning over him, he would go away, and sensible Republicans could regain their party and their sensibilities.
Thanks. I do so appreciate concise prose!
OK but what about Democrats? This should be the talking point of the day. And name names. As in, Senator Schumer, what about inflation? Inflation is bad and cozying up to Nazis like Trump does all day every day. Why are Republicans like Mitch McConnell cozying up to Nazis?
No need to repeat everything we already know. So........it comes down to the DOJ, doesn't it??
When teaching Man’s Inhumanity to Man, my students would always ask if hate could rear its ugly head again. Hard for me to answer, but I said, yes, and asked them to imagine situations where hate could flourish. Students are smarter than we think, and they described events that could be the beginning of a hate fest.