The iconic photograph was taken by Mrs. Rachel Posner in 1931, from her window in Kiel, Germany. Rachel Posner was the wife of the town’s Rabbi, Akiva Boruch Posner. From the Posner’s grandson(1):
“It was on a Friday afternoon right before Shabbat that this photo was taken. My grandmother realized that this was a historic photo, and she wrote on the back of the photo that ‘their flag wishes to see the death of Judah, but Judah will always survive, and our light will outlast their flag.’ My grandfather, the rabbi of the Kiel community, was making many speeches, both to Jews and Germans. To the Germans he warned that the road they were embarking on was not good for Jews or Germans, and to the Jews he warned that something terrible was brewing, and they would do well to leave Germany. My grandfather fled Germany in 1933, and … and before [he] departed he urged his people to flee Germany while there’s still time.”
The menorah and the original photograph survived World War II, and both now reside in the Yad Vashem, except during the festival of Hanukah, when they are returned to the descendants of the Posners who live, to this day, in Haifa, Israel.
Tonight(0) marks the eighth night of the festival of Hanukah 5777 and thus the 85th Anniversary of the photograph. Thanks to the Internet, the photo’s spawned numerous inane “resist Tyranny” memes. But it’s not saying ‘resist’ -- it’s telling us to ‘respond’.
On Tuesday, the outstanding Greg Sargent at the Washington Post had an article on Coal Country Voters backing Trump... yet terrified about losing their Obamacare. For many, this loss will be a death sentence. Greg’s was the latest in a series of buyer’s remorse articles. Sarah Kliff noted days before that 82% of Whitley County, KY voted for Trump, despite the uninsured rate there dropping 60%.
And it wasn’t just the prospect of dying from lack of Obamacare that didn’t deter Trump voters. Michelle Goldberg wonders why did so many Planned Parenthood backers vote for Trump while professing outrage at anyone who plans to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Defunding Planned Parenthood would put 900,000 women’s lives at risk. And Evan Urquhart talked to the 22% of the LGBTQ voters who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, but were nonetheless undeterred by losing their basic human rights when handing the Presidency to Trump by throwing their vote away on Jill Stein.
To which Markos responded that all these people are getting exactly what they voted for. After all, it’s not like the Republican desire to abolish Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, and eliminate equal rights are any secret. Why do you think they took all those pointless votes during the Obama Administration? To tell everyone precisely where they stood on these issues.
Markos’ diary caused quite a reaction, here as put by TomP, and elsewhere(2):
Yes, people are going to die. The hammer will fall the hardest on those that swung to Trump most fervently. That’s not hyperbole. It’s based on the actual Republican platform and campaign promises of Republican elected officials.
So how should we respond to these people who voted for death and the death of their neighbors?
Our Very Serious Betters at the New York Times stunningly insist an apology is in order. Liberals have wronged rural white Christian America by being accepting of all identities, according to Mark Lilla.
...the whitelash thesis is convenient because it absolves liberals of not recognizing how their own obsession with diversity has encouraged white, rural, religious Americans to think of themselves as a disadvantaged group whose identity is being threatened or ignored. Such people are not actually reacting against the reality of our diverse America (they tend, after all, to live in homogeneous areas of the country). But they are reacting against the omnipresent rhetoric of identity, which is what they mean by “political correctness.”
If we could just get back to pretending this is a white Christian country, Mark Lilla could spend his columns letting us know how his sabbatical in France went.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, in a more forceful op-ed, demanded that liberal stop shaming Trump supporters as racist, sexist, and xenophobic (for supporting racism, sexism, and xenophobia). White people, despite their white privilege, are ground down by unfettered capitalism, and being told the reality that we to this day benefit from slavery (we do) and the genocide of Native Americans (we do) is just too much to bear.
“The left needs to stop ignoring people’s inner pain and fear. The racism, sexism and xenophobia used by Mr. Trump to advance his candidacy does not reveal an inherent malice in the majority of Americans...”
Our third gilded DC-centric liberal castigation in as many weeks comes from David Paul Khun, who creates an elaborate straw man argument on the pages of (you guessed it) The New York Times that liberals are blaming bigotry for Clinton’s loss rather than donning the necessary sackcloth and ashes that come from electoral “defeat”.
“Bluntly put, much of the white working class decided that Mr. Trump could be a jerk. Absent any other champion, they supported the jerk they thought was more on their side — that is, on the issues that most concerned them.”
Trump’s white working class base have suffered economically far less than the rest of America. They are far less likely to be murdered by the police. They are far less likely to encounter an immigrant, let alone be affected by one. From Shawn Hamilton:
“So, why the rush to defend Trump’s supporters? Why the self-recriminations? Why the willingness to stretch the bounds of legitimacy to accommodate Trump’s antics? Much has been written about Trump’s demagoguery and its similarity to totalitarian leaders of the past, but what about Trump’s opponents? Are many of us borrowing a page from totalitarianism without realizing it?”
(Spoiler alert: yes)
And pointing out similarities between Trumpism and early Nazism is not out of bounds on a Godwin Point of Order. Trumpism has:
Please, stop me if I’ve gone too far here. More from Shawn Hamilton:
“So, in the last year, Trump has flirted with ... totalitarianism, yet the advice from many is to “give him a chance” ...”
So how do we respond to the calls for tolerance of the intolerable? The calls for empathy to the unsympathetic? The calls to just give him a chance?
Not as per our media elite have done, says Shawn Hamilton, quoting Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt:
...Many intellectuals of [the] time [of the rise of the Nazis] were ‘trapped by their own ideas.’...
The new paradigm of authoritarianism was so disorienting that they simply could not see it for what it was, let alone confront it...
Many continue to conflate Trumpism and the historic Republican Party, even though the former completely co-opted the latter(4) when Donald Trump was still doing pornos. They don’t see that an authoritarian illiberal regime has succeeded to power over both the (late) Republican Party and now the Democratic Party, in that order.
When trapped in the expired paradigm of a two-party constitutional liberal democracy, it only makes sense for the losing party to prostrate before the victors in order to garner their support. It only makes political sense to blame the losing candidate’s campaign. It only makes political sense to believe buyer’s remorse stories, like clever graphs, will shift public opinion and deliver victory. But all these outdated yet perfectly natural political responses do now is aid totalitarianism.
Instead, respond as per the menorah in the Posners’ picture. From Shawn Hamilton one last time:
“We should not waste our time or imaginations trying to reconfigure Trumpism to explain why all of the ‘good people’ supported him. It is more important to see it for what it is and resist. Hopefully, they will join us. If not, it will not be necessary to call them names, they will have named themselves.”
- Thank you for the Rec List.
- Many in the comments have asked, now that the problem is so clearly recognized, what should we do? Beyond cancelling your subscription to the New York Times, the answers aren’t that simple, and will hopefully be the topics of subsequent diaries on tyranny, and their prehistories. In the mean time, I would say, never normalize, compromise, or sympathize with Trumpism.
(0) December 31, 2016.
(1) Via Rare Historical Photos. The Posners warning saved almost the entire community of Kiel. Only eight of the five hundred Jews perished in the Holocaust, with the rest fleeing before the systematic slaughter began.
(2) Sarah Jones is the social media editor at the New Republic.
(3) It is also important to note many differences. If anything, Trumpism most resembles Falangist Spain, which certainly left hundreds of thousands dead.
(4) 1994, if you ask me.