“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.”
— THOMAS PAINE
July 2022

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Just how stupid are we?

The news of the week is several-fold. Republican voters, nearly half of them, would again vote for Trump for president. Also, some of the Capitol police and elements of the US Secret Service are Trump fans. Still? Not sure, but maybe. And Thursday night we’ll hear live testimony of what President Bone Spur was doing while the Capitol was being attacked.

Once again, Trump is best understood in the original German, perhaps the language of his play book. In 1990 Ivana told her lawyer that Donald had a copy of The New Order, a collection of Hitler speeches, in his bedside cabinet. Of course he denies having read it, he may even deny that he has a bedside cabinet. But the huge news about the Secret Service destroying records despite the Inspector General having asked about them does bring to mind the satanic Austrian-born German monster. Hitler was a master of propaganda, as is Trump. Hitler boasted of the Big Lie: “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.” And we may well learn of Trump’s glee as he watched the January 6 attack. Said Hitler, “The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence.” You may recall Steve Bannon’s promise in the Willard Hotel Trump war room that they would kill the Biden Administration in its crib.

But we can’t let ourselves off the hook so easily. Trump was the perfect spokesman of something broader and angrier than we thought, and we have watched it happen. So too the Weimar intelligentsia. Except for the Munich Post, a newspaper that figured Hitler out early and warned from the rooftops, Weimar Germany wanted to believe it couldn’t happen there and “normalized” Hitler and his party. In this way democracy was its own undoing. Hitler tried to grab power early, on November 8, 1923, in what has come to be called the Beer Hall Putsch. He stood up, fired a pistol in the air, and announced that his militia (no, not the Proud Boys at least not yet) had captured the three top leaders of Bavaria and had them handcuffed in a back room. He further said his militia would capture the capitol buildings of the province and then proceed to Berlin. Fighting broke out the next day, Hitler’s insurrection was defeated, and its leader was imprisoned. But Hitler didn’t stop, and upon release after only nine months in prison, the process resumed.

Consider the parallels. Trump began to lie about a stolen election even before it was held, and he’s never stopped. He embellishes his lie and engages in now well-documented seditious conduct. He attacks and attacks, daring anyone inside or outside the GOP to challenge him. Said Der Fuhrer, “All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”  And an embarrassingly large segment of our population “buys” it.

Trump and Bannon have lined up the key elements of their scheme: disparagement and intimidation of their enemy (“RINOs”), their own loyal information machine (Fox News), a power base in government as well as the masses (Congress, Capitol Police, Secret Service, Supreme Court), and funding (oodles, much of it but not all in small bills), and state politics (state houses, legislatures, and voter suppression.) He’s most of the way to his goal, maybe one election from now.

Is there any other nation of the world that would sit there as lame as we are? And allow him to do all this?

How stupid are we?

 

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