What most shocks me about the 1930s in Germany is not that a bunch of deranged criminals took power but that the average German citizen for years stood by and watched their fellow citizens ostracized, persecuted and eventually rounded up in clear sight, carted off to be tortured and executed.
I have never really understood how in a very civilized and cultured society like Germany the average citizen watched this happen right under their noses with such complete denial.
However in recent years I am afraid I am starting to understand how it can happen by living it. I see this happening here in the United States. Yes of course moderate politicians, the press, and most people of polite society will deny it is happening here but so did most of the German press, moderate politicians and polite society in Germany deny it.
Let’s look at what is happening right under our own noses in the US today. Over 2,000,000 black and poor people are being jailed in mass prisons around the country in many cases for minor drug offences. We are putting insane and retarded people to death. Now we hear of killing poor black children by policeman without accountability. International laws are being broken by top US officials at all levels of our government with impunity such as torture, targeted killings without due process, rendition and sending arms to countries that are breaking international laws and many more.
True we have not recently annexed another country but our annexation is more nuisanced. We threaten other countries that displease us with withdrawing military protection because we have encouraged them not to have armies of their own. We intimidate them into submission and without threating them with invasion we threaten them with economic sanctions and economic ruin. I don’t know if we still send in CIA mobsters and thugs to threaten and assassinate leaders in South America and the middle east who don’t carry out policies that favor US interests even over the interest of its own people –but how do we know?
We are invading too, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Granada, Panama, now possibly Syria and Iran. Weren’t these the same step-by-step crimes the Nazis committed in the 1930s while every nation in Europe just watched?
If Hitler had not been so totally and absolutely insane and didn’t declare war on the USA but preformed empire building American style just think what he could have gotten away with –just Imagine.
It is incremental criminality, which is insidious because it creeps up on you before you know you are committing crimes that are so egregious that only someone looking in from the outside can see how bad it is. This is where I believe we find ourselves today. Anyone that travels to countries of friends or foe will discover that people on the outside of the US seem to know what we deny.
At all level of our society we seem to be slowly accepting this slippery slope trajectory to our own extreme criminality but because it is so incremental we don’t see it, feel it, smell it or taste it. Even our press is all too happy to comply with our wishes to deny.
Now I see how this could have happened in Germany. When I was a college student in the early 1970s studying a summer in Salzburg, Austria I asked the hausfrau I rented a room from how could people who loved flowers, opera, Mozart and Beethoven have allowed the Nazis to do what they did. She could only say “ We just didn’t know. It was too unbelievable or it was inconceivable” Maybe that is where we are now in the US. It is just too unbelievable and inconceivable to know. Because denying it makes it go away so we don’t have to deal with it. This is how it sounds when I confront friends, family, my senators aides, the press, and just about anyone I can bring it up too here in the US.
I will submit this opinion piece to the NYT opinion editor. I will assume that he or she will promptly discard it as not up to NYT writing standards or to controversial to print. He or she will say that you can’t compare German incremental criminality and US Incremental criminality. Did the German press in the 1930s allow people who were pointing out crimes in Germany to be printed –Of course not? They didn’t have a free press. But we do. So why do we not know what everyone around the world knows about us? Oh, we will argue that we are not genocidal criminals like the Germans were. But how much death, just as gruesome as the Nazi camps has the USA been responsible for in the last 70 years. After all, death is death whether you are innocent Jews that died in the Nazi gas chambers or obliterated by an atomic fireball or blown up by a laser guided missile or tortured to death in the US or US proxy torture camps or having your eyes plucked out in a Syrian torture chamber to which you were rendered by the CIA. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of unintentional deaths and displacements of people with children where we invaded or instigated into wars. It still is death and full of suffering that we in the US have become all too immune to feel. We have done this under the radar screen and very incrementally –American style with good intentions. So it is very easy for us to deflect ownership of it. How could this happen in such a civilized and cultured nation right under our noses?
Steven Delco, Southport, CT December 13, 2014