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View Diary: USA 2006/Germany 1933? (66 comments)

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  •  These comparisons pop up periodically at dKos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    epppie

    ... as diaries, comments, etc.

    I guess after today's shameful torture vote, along with all of the other sinister things that have happened since Bush took office in 2000, I wonder why the comparisons are necessary?

    I'm not saying they're valid or not.

    I'm just saying that things are very, very bad right now.

    Are they not quite bad enough that we have to throw in Nazi references and comparisons?

    Because I'm plenty scared as it is.  I don't need to have the issue and the news "sexed up" (as the British would say) for me on blogs by throwing in the word "Nazi".

    If you want drama, isn't it dramatic enough already?

    •  it's sad that the word Nazi has become so loaded (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fran1, epppie

      that you can't actually use it in a discussion when the relevance of the discussion is never more pressing that it is today or in our current historical moment.

      see my above long comment as to why arrive at that point.

      historical comparison is how we learn from the past -- otherwise, as Santayana is overly quoted as saying, we are doomed to repeat.

      and not on my watch.  not in the country.  not to my loved ones.  not now.  and not ever again.

      Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

      by m00nchild on Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 11:33:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am happy the word "Nazi" is so loaded. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        epppie

        It must be.  And comparisons to that uniquely cruel era must be few and far between.

        "How am I not myself?" -- I ♥ Huckabees

        by Joelarama on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:20:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  From where I am (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          epppie

          we are living in a uniquely cruel era again, and it is getting crueler by the day - most of it thanks to the Bush government. So I think some comparisions are legitimate. Yes, the US version will be different in its form, but the essence is the same.

          Read the European view at the European Tribune

          by fran1 on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:26:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I had relatives who died in the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            epppie

            death camps.  I believe comparisons to the Nazi regime should be used only where there is a true parallel, in scope and cruelty.  These comparisons whould be saved for real tyranny of the kind we are not even beginnning to glimpse in America.  Otherwise, the lesson is diminished.

            "How am I not myself?" -- I ♥ Huckabees

            by Joelarama on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:32:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, the present (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              epppie

              situation in Irak is taking on, more and more, the scope of that cruelty - and I am fearful that this is only the beginning if there is not soon a shift in the US government.

              Besides that dead-camps in Germany weren't there from the very beginning. The US does not yet have dead camps, at least non we know of, but it sure has concentration camps, one of them Gitmo. So I do think the comparison is needed, just to learn from it and to become aware of the mechanism and hopefully to be still able to turn the wheel around. What happend in Germany should never ever happen again - but I am not hopeful about that anymore.

              Read the European view at the European Tribune

              by fran1 on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:39:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think it is worth remembering as well (0+ / 0-)

                that the junta now controlling our country wasn't born in January 2001.  They've been around for decades, steadily increasing their control, despite setbacks under Carter and Clinton, and they have an extensive history of death squads, proxy armies, of support for brutality in the name of realpolitik, etc..  What they are capable of we should not underestimate, in terms of cruelty and scale and we shouldn't ignore their track record for cruelty and scope of cruelty.

                a hope that may come close to despair

                by epppie on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 02:26:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  The word "Nazi" is loaded for darn good reason. (0+ / 0-)

        It's loaded for the sorts of reasons that are intensely relevant today.  I am very, very fast losing my patience with people who decry the Nazi comparison.  At this point, their only  argument is that since we are not writing from prison, the comparison can't be meaningful or important.  That's an argument that doesn't even merit dismissal.

        The Nazis are not only the archetype for authoritarian takeover, their legalistic approach is particularly relevant to what has been going on in America.

        a hope that may come close to despair

        by epppie on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:31:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then one should use the comparison with great (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          epppie

          caution and with a damn good explanation of the parallel one seeks to draw.  I do not see this sort of caution in the discussion we are commenting on.

          The "Nazi" comparison should not be used as a mere rhetorical flourish unless one is damn sure we are approaching a fascist- or Nazi-type state.  I am gravely concerned about recent events.  But these do not even begin to approach the kind of tyranny created by the Nazis.  One can (and must) decry the disturbing developments of late without broad and unqualified comparisons to Nazi Germany.  

          "How am I not myself?" -- I ♥ Huckabees

          by Joelarama on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:40:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What the heck kind of "caution" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joelarama

            do you think you should be seeing?  I'll tell you what kind of caution I think we should be seeing.  I think we should be seeing the kind of caution that freaks out big time when it sees that our government looks and smells a lot more like Nazi Germany than it does like the founders.

            The Nazi comparison has not been used here as mere rhetorical flourish.  If you can't see that, then I would submit that you simply refuse to see it.   The fact that you apparently do not grasp the signifigance of what went down in the Congress today speaks, I think, to the need for you to hear the Nazi comparison and to think about it until you get it.

            Does not even begin to approach the kind of tyranny created by the Nazis?  On what do you base that?  On the fact that it is not exactly the same, I would guess.  Yes, I think we can all agree that America in 2006 and Germany in 1933 are not exactly the same.  They are different places.  They are different times.  There are different people involved.  Many of the historical and economic and social dynamics are different.  

            Now can we get back to comparing in a useful way?  Or do you prefer to carry on some more about how awful it is to compare two things that are not exactly the same?

            a hope that may come close to despair

            by epppie on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:47:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, we're going to have to agree to (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              epppie

              disagree, I think.  But I want to say two things:  (1) I had relatives in concentration camps, it has been a thing I have been reminded of by family all of my life, and I think I know how as well as anyone of my generation could know how different that era and regime was to our own -- I've made it a life study (informally) -- and I do not see the parallel in kind or degree; and (2) anyone who makes such a comparison will immediately lose credibility, because the comparison rightly causes skepticism (among Jews and non-Jews alike).

              We agree that what we are seeing lately is deeply disturbing.  But the comparison, in my view, is wrongheaded and does not serve to persuade those we need to persuade. There are better and more credible comparisons to be made.  

              "How am I not myself?" -- I ♥ Huckabees

              by Joelarama on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:59:56 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why should we agree to disagree? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joelarama

                Why don't we talk this out?   I'm willing to try.   This is an issue that I feel strongly about and obviously you do too.  Thankyou for giving me some background on why you feel strongly about it.  Now let me give you some background on how I feel about it.  My mother grew up in Nazi Germany.  She was a not a Jew.   But her family did oppose the regime.  So, you see, the Nazi comparison is not some cheap rhetorical flourish to me.  I also have made somewhat of a study of Nazi Germany, informally.   I see a lot of basis for comparison, which has to do with both scale and type.  I think that anyone who dismisses such comparisons immediately loses credibility.  I think that the comparison DOES serve to persuade, but it must be persisted in.  People don't want to see the comparison, because that is frightening.
                There are other comparisons that can be made, of course.  Better?  More credible?  Maybe in some ways.  My sense is that the Nazi comparison is the best one.  But I've seen other comparisons that I think have been enlightening in various ways.

                a hope that may come close to despair

                by epppie on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 01:20:48 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, I want to agree to disagree (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  epppie

                  because I cannot hope to do justice here to what I see as fundamental differences between America now and Germany 1930, 32, 36, or 38.  But let me offer what I think are better and more credible parallels:  the Alien and Sedition Acts, Dred Scott, Jim Crow, Korematsu (the Supreme Court decision blessing the detention of Japanese-Americans during WWII).

                  Korematsu and the issues presented therein are an excellent way to illustrate my point.  I would never, ever want to argue in a way to diminish the injustice and cruelty of our government in the detention of Japanese-Americans.  I would never want to suggest that unlimited detention and waterboarding of prisoners now is acceptable in a civilized society.  But these horrible offenses do not approach the heights of genocide and tyranny achieved in the Nazi state.  The portents in Germany of these coming events do not begin to equal what we are seeing in the U.S.

                  It is essential in my view that we keep a level head about these comparisons with Nazi Germany.  We have the example of Korematsu.  We must not overstate our case.  If, God forbid, the situation should become as dire here as it was in Germany in the early 30s, we must save the comparison for that situation.  We must not cry wolf now.

                  "How am I not myself?" -- I ♥ Huckabees

                  by Joelarama on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 01:31:33 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think the comparisons you mention are good ones (0+ / 0-)

                    I think that each sheds light on aspects of the Bush regime.  I do not think they are better or more credible, though, than the Nazi comparison.  Because they all take place within the US system, they are better fits in terms of details, but they do not parallel overall dynamics as well, I think.  They do not parallel the big picture as effectively.  

                    The Alien and Sedition acts are perhaps the closest parallel, because they sought to undue crucial Constitutional protections (as I remember my history).  They were not, however, nearly as far reaching as the numerous claims to power and the several undoings of Constitutional protections launched by Bush, in my opinion.  The changes Bush has attempted and largely achieved are sweeping, though couched carefully in obscuring legalese.

                    Also, I think we must remember that Adams was perhaps our most important Founding Father and was absolutely committed to the ideals of the young nation.  The Alien and Sedition acts were a mistake made by a man trying to do something that hadn't been done before and under tremendous pressures.   In fact, Adams was trying to reign in partisanship, something he ultimately realized he could not do, not exacerbate partisanship, as I think Bush is trying to do; and he was trying to prevent war, not trying to start war or justify war, as I think Bush is trying to do.  It is often forgotten that Jefferson made an equally disastrous mistake;  he tried to destroy the independence of the Supreme Court.  Thus, our second and third Presidents almost ran the very wagon they had helped build off the road!!!  

                    Dred Scott is a good comparison too, in that the various usurpations and underminings that Bush has undertaken depend on what he has done to the court system, especially the Supreme Court.  It is my understanding that the court system as a whole is now dominated by partisan Republican judges and the balance of the Supreme Court is on the finest of threads, if you can even say that.  If this were not the case, Bush' pretensions would be laughable.    But Dred Scott, I think,  pertains only to part of the dilemma we are facing now.  A crucial part, for sure, but only  a part.

                    Jim Crow is an excellent comparison, in my opinion, because the Republican Revolution could not have ocurred without election manipulation of all kinds.  The Dems reclaimed the South under Jim Crow by deploying utter ruthlessness in voter suppression and other forms of election manipulation, to the point where an entire class of human beings was effectively demoted to second class citizenship.  The Republicans have done the same to a massive chunk of the US population today in various ways, mostly targetted towards poor and largely black voting populations, towards Democratic voters.  But here again, Jim Crow parallels only a part of the dilemma that faces us today.

                    Korematsu is, again, a good comparison.  It set a precedent for war time right stripping.  Again, it is a partial parallel, though an important one.

                    a hope that may come close to despair

                    by epppie on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 02:14:19 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Well, I want to agree to disagree (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  epppie

                  because I cannot hope to do justice here to what I see as fundamental differences between America now and Germany 1930, 32, 36, or 38.  But let me offer what I think are better and more credible parallels:  the Alien and Sedition Acts, Dred Scott, Jim Crow, Korematsu (the Supreme Court decision blessing the detention of Japanese-Americans during WWII).

                  Korematsu and the issues presented therein are an excellent way to illustrate my point.  I would never, ever want to argue in a way to diminish the injustice and cruelty of our government in the detention of Japanese-Americans.  I would never want to suggest that unlimited detention and waterboarding of prisoners now is acceptable in a civilized society.  But these horrible offenses do not approach the heights of genocide and tyranny achieved in the Nazi state.  The portents in Germany of these coming events do not begin to equal what we are seeing in the U.S.

                  It is essential in my view that we keep a level head about these comparisons with Nazi Germany.  We have the example of Korematsu.  We must not overstate our case.  If, God forbid, the situation should become as dire here as it was in Germany in the early 30s, we must save the comparison for that situation.  We must not cry wolf now.

                  "How am I not myself?" -- I ♥ Huckabees

                  by Joelarama on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 01:35:56 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Well, I want to agree to disagree (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  epppie

                  because I cannot hope to do justice here to what I see as fundamental differences between America now and Germany 1930, 32, 36, or 38.  But let me offer what I think are better and more credible parallels:  the Alien and Sedition Acts, Dred Scott, Jim Crow, Korematsu (the Supreme Court decision blessing the detention of Japanese-Americans during WWII).

                  Korematsu and the issues presented therein are an excellent way to illustrate my point.  I would never, ever want to argue in a way to diminish the injustice and cruelty of our government in the detention of Japanese-Americans.  I would never want to suggest that unlimited detention and waterboarding of prisoners now is acceptable in a civilized society.  But these horrible offenses do not approach the heights of genocide and tyranny achieved in the Nazi state.  The portents in Germany of these coming events do not begin to equal what we are seeing in the U.S.

                  It is essential in my view that we keep a level head about these comparisons with Nazi Germany.  We have the example of Korematsu.  We must not overstate our case.  If, God forbid, the situation should become as dire here as it was in Germany in the early 30s, we must save the comparison for that situation.  We must not cry wolf now.

                  "How am I not myself?" -- I ♥ Huckabees

                  by Joelarama on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 01:36:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I'm going to try to make a start here. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joelarama

                  Bushco - Nazi comparison is a big and emotionally loaded bear of a topic, so it can be hard to sort through - which may be part of the trouble that folks have with it.  But I'm going to try to make a start.

                  Part of the reason that the comparison has a sense of inevitability for some is the simple fact that the Bush family was linked to the Nazi regime financially years ago.  Of course, this does not meant that Bush's forbears were Nazis or, even if they were, that he is.  I believe the Kennedy family was financially involved with the Nazis too, and the Kennedys are not typically associated with the Nazis.  But some degree of sympathy is suggested by the connection.

                  The argument has been put forward that the CIA absorbed some Nazis and some Nazi methods.  I do not think that this is as well documented as the Bush-Nazi financial connection, but I think it has been documented to some extent.  It too is suggestive, because H Bush's career was entwined with the CIA.

                  Thus an argument can be made for inherited sympathies and even for direct influence being passed down to W from the Nazis.  The argument is suggestive, though not substantiated, that I know of.

                  Now lets' recognize from the start that anti-Jewish notions seem to be entirely lacking from W's reign of terror, if I may call it that.  Anti Muslim?  That argument can be made, but it doesn't stand up too well in the light of Bush family coziness with the Saudis.  W. may harbor racial, religious and ethnic prejudices, but they do not seem to rise to the level that antiJewish prejudice did for Hitler.  

                  So that is one very big difference.  There is no sign that I know of that W is on a crusade to destroy any particular race, ethnic group or religion.

                  Another big difference is that the rise to power of the extremist Republicans does not seem to have involved a massive army of thugs, as Hitler's rise to power did.  The politics of the interwar years in Germany were very violent in a very open way.  Politics in the US may be violent, in covert ways, but not openly, most of the time.  

                  Now, one of the biggest similarities, mentioned several times above, is that Hitler used legalistic means to establish power, legalistic means justified and cemented by national tragedy.  In Nazi Germany, of course, the key event was the Reichstag fire.  In the US, the key event was 911.  Once legalistic means had given Hitler dictatorial power, he  used  thinly disguised wars of aggression to establish his legalistic powergrabbing on a permanent basis, as the new political reality.  Bush has done the same, I would argue,  with Iraq and seems poised to continue deeper into the process with Iran.  

                  Both Hitler and Bush were inspired by dreams of unchallenged global hegemony (remember the neocons) and forsaw for their nations wars that would not end until such hegemony was achieved.   Both achieved stunning successes in the early going, both in the realms of domestic and international politics and war, because of their sheer ruthlessness and duplicity.  It was impossible for their opponents to fully understand how far they were willing to go and they were consistently underestimated because of this, developing auras of invincibility and inevitability.  Both began to stumble as war costs mounted and the economy soured and as military campaigns became more difficult as opponents adjusted.   I think that Iran will be Bush's Russia.  

                  I do not think that Bush will ever create formal death camps in America, though I would not put it past him.  Concentration camps?  Those I think we likely will see.  Of course, in a sense, they already exist in Iraq and at Gitmo.

                  In some ways, as teacherken has pointed out in his diary, Bush is more dangerous than Hitler.  As powerful as Hitler's army was, it did not have the nuclear arsenal that Bush has at his command.  In that sense, the Nazi comparison is simply not strident enough.

                  a hope that may come close to despair

                  by epppie on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 01:50:34 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I can't begin to address this well right now, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    epppie

                    though I again disagree.  Too tired.  I'll meet you back at this thread and try to answer your well-stated arguments tomorrow.  Okay? Cheers.

                    "How am I not myself?" -- I ♥ Huckabees

                    by Joelarama on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 01:58:10 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

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