Saturday, November 10, 2012

That Nazi thing

I generally try not to post much of anything political here, but today, it is different.

I was so angry today, and it takes a lot to get me angry. There was a stand outside Costco, and the people at the stand had "impeach Obama" signs there. This normally wouldn't have got me angry, because everyone is entitled to free speech, and I'm fine with that.  What got me so awfully angry was that they had put a Hitler mustache on Obama's picture, making him out to be no better than that dictator.  It immediately brought to mind my experience at Belgium's Breendonk concentration camp--the horror and the unspeakable acts that occurred there.

I suppose I shouldn't have done it, but it is one thing to see such things on line, and another right there in front of you in public. I got out of my car and went to that young man and said, "Don't.  Don't do this Nazi thing.  Feel free to address the issues and your concerns, but don't make anyone--I don't care who it is--out to be a Nazi like this, because you have no clue about what you're talking about."

He spouted about how it was The Truth and how Obama was taking us down the road to thermonuclear war and all the rest.  And I said, "No.  Even that does not qualify anyone for being the next Hitler.  Have you ever been to a concentration camp?  Seen one in person?"  He acknowledged that he didn't.  And I said, "I have.  I have seen what real Nazis and what Hitler actually put into place and did. What you are doing here is cheapening the Holocaust.  You are cheapening the sacrifices of our veterans to save us from those horrors."

This didn't convince him.  He looked to be in his twenties, younger perhaps than my own son, and I am sure this world is frightening to him, what with the economic problems we--and especially his generation, my son's generation--have to face.  I will give that young man the benefit of youth, inexperience, ignorance, as well as a directionless passion.

But after I left, I confess I was so much in despair for this young man I wept.  I realized, this boy--I don't even think I can call him a man because of his youth and what I see as hopelessness--has no faith in America.  He has no faith in the deep-down spirit of the American people to do, eventually, what is right and good.  He does not have the perspective of history or of a life of observation as I have had.

John saw me return in tears, and of course he asked me what was wrong.  I told him. After a hug, he said these most wise words: "He--and people like him, regardless of whether they say that Obama is Hitler, or Romney, or Bush, or anyone else is Hitler--is projecting what he has become himself.  They are brownshirts themselves looking for another brownshirt to lead them."

It was a hard truth to hear, but I think John may be right.  Tonight, I am going to pray for this young man, and others like him who project demon-like qualities on others because they themselves may be fighting their own inner demons.


  1. WOW--excellent post, Karen! And I know how upset you must've been to even talk politics because (unlike me) you are so naturally kind and aware of the feelings of everyone around you. And yet I don't know if I would've challenged that boy, tried to educate him. Just because he didn't hear your words this afternoon doesn't mean they won't at some point get through.

    John's absolutely right, though I'd never thought of it that way. Taking the argument to Hitler (Hitler! I've been to a concentration camp too) is, for our culture, the ultimate in demonizing another person/people. And that's one of the tools that Hitler used to start that horrible tragedy.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Von. You know, I hate that Hitler analogy, regardless of who says it and of whom. As you know, having seen a concentration camp, it is the utmost evil that Hitler put in place. There is nothing that George Bush, Obama, Romney, or any American politician today has done that has even come one tenth close to that kind of horror. I truly feel that it trivializes those who suffered through those dreadful years, and trivializes the heroic sacrifices that my father's generation went through to defeat that horrific regime. And this, on Veteran's Day weekend!

  3. Wow, Karen - your bravery (yes, I will use that term) in trying to talk to the young man and help him understand what Hitler and the Nazis were really about is a shining example to me of what rational, caring approaches can do for our nation. You could have just walked away, or seethed in quiet - I'm not sure which I would have done. But you rose higher and tried to educate, and knowing you, it was in a non-threatening manner. I will join you in praying for him, and for all like him, who bandy such terms about without truly understanding their meaning and history. And hugs to John; he's very wise.

  4. God bless you, Karen. You are a brave woman, and you have a very wise husband. I will also pray for that misguided young man and others like him.

  5. This is the consequence of low level of education at the schools and at home. We do not teach our children how to determine if they repeating truth and data or just repeating propaganda. They do not acquire tools for analysis and can not exercise critical judgement. So what we'll end up with is a mob mentality. that is the frightening consequence.

  6. dawn s12:17 AM

    Obama has not instituted concentration camps but his economic and political policies are of the National Socialist flavor. The young man might not have been able to verbalize that for you but you might want to take a better look at Nazi Germany besides the camps. I assume that if there were no concentration camps, you would still have a problem with Nazis, right? And BTW, I am a 40 year old with a BA in history and a JD so don't bother trying to discount me as an ignorant kid.

  7. Dawn, I would not dream of discounting you, because this is the Pollyanna Files, and I try to think the best of people rather than the worst. Besides, though I am a bit left of center, a person doesn't have a 27-year-old marriage to a decided conservative without considerable tolerance and actual enjoyment of opinions that are different from one's own. :-) So I don't know why you would assume I would discount you or your opinions. Have you had people automatically discount you for any reason? People who don't even know you? It seems like a silly thing for them to do, make snap judgments like that.

    That said, I have indeed looked at and read a great deal about Nazi Germany, and I have to say that while Obama is closer to socialism than I feel comfortable with (and I am a decided capitalist), his is a socialism that is more toward, say, Sweden or the Netherlands than Nazi Germany. Why? Because Nazi Germany was National Socialism, which is focused on boosting one's own nation at the expense of others, and if the talk show conservatives are correct, Obama is doing quite the opposite--boosting other countries at the expense of the U.S. If he is indeed doing that then I would have to say that he is not at all going in the direction of National Socialism. To say otherwise is just not logical.

    And if he is moving to the kind of socialism that, the Netherlands has, then he is not going down the road that Nazi Germany went down, because believe you me, the Dutch still have some serious issues about Germans because of their experience of WWII.

    The bailout of the car companies and Wall Street IMHO is no better than having the government own those companies and puts those actions directly into the socialist mod. However, both Republicans and Democrats voted overwhelmingly to do this, and did it during the Bush administration, continuing into Obama’s. As a result, I consider both administrations and Congress as it was then and as it is now to be complicit in that movement toward socialism. And who voted those folks in? We all did, conservatives and liberals alike. We are to blame, because we voted out of fear, rather than from a calm, logical, informed foundation.
    As far as socialism goes, it seems to work for some countries and not for others, and for those European countries that seem to have embraced socialism, there is a very strong--as far as I have observed personally from living there--unofficial capitalism working on an every-day basis, more so than there is here in the U.S. Not many outdoor markets would discount their vegetables and other goods by the end of the market day in the U.S. (responding to supply and demand), but the European ones definitely do, which is more purely capitalist than what we have in our grocery stores in the US. But this began way before the Obama administration.
    By nature, I think Americans are unruly by nature, so we may go a bit into socialism, but not far. I believe we as a nation are bound and determined not to color within the lines, and socialism tries to make people do just that from the simple fact of the bureaucracy that is needed to run a socialist government. It's our nature to kick against those kinds of restrictions. Socialism may work for more obedient cultures, but we simply are not an obedient culture.
    We are so rebellious a people that we will go to go right back to our chaotic form of capitalism as soon as someone says "profit" or "creative freedom." I’m already seeing that happening in the book publishing world.

    And yeah, the concentration camps make a huge difference. Until you've seen one, You. Have. No. Idea. Americans by nature are not Germans with a dominant Prussian mind-set. Seriously.

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