February 13, 2017

By Arthur Henry Gunther III

Some say all Americans should declare they are Muslims, so that the re-energized prejudice, meanness and even hatred of 2017 can be nipped before there is horror. If enough Germans had stood with fellow but Jewish citizens, millions would have lived. There is a time for extra courage, and it may be now.
The first step is to address ignorance. The second is to recognize legitimate hurting.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the ordinary German who felt ignored by a post-World War I government unable to halt inflation, who could no longer see pride in rich history under the weight and judgment of over-bearing Allied reparations, was ripe for a mesmerizing huckster who promised comfort and glory. Such salesmen need a hook, and for Hitler it was the Jew and sufficient but not majority historical anti-Semitism. With that, he captured about 43 percent of the 1933 national vote. Not enough, but Hitler further inflamed through orchestrated prejudice and nationalism and worked a governing deal with a second party. After that, claiming “national security,” he quickly secured passing of an Enabling Act that gave him dictatorial powers.
So, the people, with legitimate concern about their welfare, found themselves tied in destiny to a crazy person. They got more than they bargained for.
The lesson in this for citizens of any county this is that you must beware false messiahs. The lesson for government is that you cannot ignore people’s welfare. Truly principled leaders like the Roosevelts, Eisenhower, JFK and, to an extent Reagan, knew that.
This past American election revealed the ignored hardship of unemployed coal miners and factory workers, of a declining middle class, of the ever-richer 1 percent. Americans are hurting, and they have been cast aside by both major parties. As such, they are ripe for renewed bigotry, fueled by false leaders who will redirect blame onto scapecoats.
As with the Nazified Germans, good people will do wrong, be complicit in inhumanity. Unless there is commonsense, massive opposition. But has the German lesson been learned?

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@hotmail.com

4 thoughts on “HISTORY LESSON

  1. Thomas F. O'Connell

    Agreed Arthur,
    Neither party as you state has been sensitive to the needs of the working classes whether middle class white collar worker, factory worker or coal miner in their fevered drive to gather the rewards of globalization and automation for their corporate clients and for their executives
    Frustrating it was so see the Democratic Party’s Leadership lose is bearings beginning with the Clinton administration ( bailout of banks during the Mexican Bond Crisis) and continuing through the final days of the Imperial Obama administration.
    Democratic leaders became infatuated with mere statistical economic growth without any attempt to ensure the sharing the fruit of that growth by the few who enjoyed it.
    Would Harry Truman or Jimmy Carter would have allowed this to happen?
    Clinton and Obama ignored their traditional base and seemed to be more connected to the comings and goings of folks in the Hamptons and the Vineyard than in the pain of the commoner’s of South Chicago or Flint Michigan.
    Carried away by the perceived glamour of the presidency and disconnected as he became from his traditional Democratic base it is no wonder that Obama refused to even attempt to hold individual wall street executives accountable and bring criminal charges against those responsible for the financial crisis as even the Republican George Bush had done in the 1980″s after the Saving and Loan Scandal.
    The corrupted Attorney General Holden and his underlings, not capable of waiting until after the election, then left for law firms representing those same banks and executives. Blindly Hillary, having forgotten “occupy wall street” and the general popular discontent with wall street bailouts accepted unneeded money from those same beneficiaries of public money for secret speeches.
    And so it went.

    Tom O’Connell

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