"NEVER AGAIN", DEPENDING ON WHAT IT WAS

This week in one of my courses we're doing Maus. It was something I added to the syllabus at the last minute, after the election in November and before the January deadlines for book orders. I felt that, under present circumstances, it would be…fitting.

Everyone knows about the Holocaust. If you managed to miss it in school, you couldn't help but encounter it in literal thousands of books, movies, TV shows, comics, video games, and more. The question of what we can learn from it is often reduced – not surprisingly – to the simplest, narrowest possible lessons. For all the talk in the United States of World War II (the topic that dwarfs all others in our media, both fiction and non-fiction) and our nation's heroic role in bringing the Nazi menace to a halt, Americans seem to lack a grasp of lessons from the Holocaust beyond "Don't vote for guys with toothbrush mustaches" and "The people waving American flags are good; bad guys have swastikas." In other words, we learn it as a lesson that applies to others but not to ourselves. We could never be the bad guys, because we are the good guys. If nobody's being gassed and thrown in ovens, we're not like the Nazis. QED.

The lesson a sentient being takes away from the Holocaust, and one that this book does an unusually good job of illustrating, is that organized evil unfolds slowly in complex societies. It develops in stages. The Nazis didn't come to power, wake up the next morning, and announce to the country, "Time to kill all the Jews." Like the master propagandists and populists they were, they took a more gradual (and ultimately, for their purposes, more effective) approach. Start with rhetoric separating Real Germans from The Other. Encourage by example stigmatizing The Other. Normalize verbal abuse, prejudice, and petty mistreatment. Ramp up to abusive acts of a more serious nature. Start passing laws – again, small ones initially – to institutionalize separate and unequal treatment. Explicitly legalize violence against the person and property of The Other. Eject Them from positions of social and economic power, to be replaced with Real citizens. Begin physically segregating Them under the pretense of public safety, necessity (especially wartime necessity), or for Their own good. Direct citizens to focus their anger for any privations – economic, military, or social – the nation faces on The Other. Turn a blind eye to public outbreaks of vandalism, assault, and even the occasional dead body. Dehumanize; compare Them to insects, viruses, animals, and so on. By this point the dumber, more obedient, authoritarian-follower types who make up the bottom third of the population will be more than happy to don a uniform and get a paycheck for rounding up and policing the internal "threat."

At this point you're not yet engaged in state-sanctioned ethnic cleansing, but you're certainly within hailing distance of it. You can see it without binoculars. The public as a whole is unlikely to accept that final step, which is why you've carefully segregated the public as a whole from it. You've condensed and defined The Problem, and you've put the borderline intellects and sadists – the kind of people who know how to follow an order, and what how – in charge of carrying out the gruesome parts. Voila. Just say when, Mein Fuhrer. By this point it is too late; having condoned and made excuses for the first 49 steps of the process, any part of the population that wakes up now will find itself powerless to stop Step 50.

That's what people don't get – that a valid analogy can be made to Nazi Germany without extermination camps bellowing human ash into the sky. "Don't be so dramatic" and "You're exaggerating" are appropriate responses if we focus only on the "Final Solution" and ignore the 100 steps that led to it. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and societies never go from placid to monstrous acts of evil overnight. Getting ordinary people to condone genocide, fostering the banality of evil, requires the careful laying of groundwork. It begins with normalizing social deviance toward an Other that is responsible for every aspect of your life that leaves you dissatisfied. It begins when a population is conditioned to read a news story about one of Them being gunned down by someone in a uniform and to react not with human empathy but with satisfaction. It begins when people become convinced that there are Good People like themselves and Bad People like everyone who looks, thinks, or acts differently than themselves. It begins when the oppression of a minority to satisfy the histrionics of a majority (rule of law be damned because I want to feel safe at any cost) is not only tolerated by the political process but becomes one of the products it is most eager to deliver.

Every crime against humanity has humble beginnings. And the kind of people who want to perpetrate them know that they don't grow like weeds. They have to be nurtured, slowly, until the process is so far along that no group, individual, or institution in society can stop it.

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110 Responses to “"NEVER AGAIN", DEPENDING ON WHAT IT WAS”

  1. Big R Says:

    Ed,

    What class did you use this in? I might do the same in something.

    MRK

  2. Emerson Dameron Says:

    When you fail to Bring Back Coal but your followers still want fireworks…

  3. LK Says:

    I remember reading Maus as a child (Israel, Holocaust-surviving family, the whole nine yards), and having a weird feeling deep in my gut that something is very, very wrong but I just can't put my finger on it. While it's frightening and sad to see how fast Mr. T is going down the Godwin checklist, here in Israel there are people who've been following our own journey on this path for years. For those who read Hebrew (or can tolerate Google Translate), the blog http://www.o139.org has been doing a pretty darn good job of it, until sometime last year its author was taken for several hours of intrusive questioning by "the police" (probably our FBI counterpart, but they never disclosed their identity). The name of the blog, by the way, refers to a certain date in the past, which you might recognize if you knew that the English letter O is very similar in shape to the Hebrew letter "Samekh", our equivalent of S.

  4. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    Sorry, but I have to say it: don't be so dramatic. At least, if you want to teach Americans about what happens when Us vs. Them authoritarianism hits its stride, there are more appropriate, and less dramatic, examples than the Holocaust. Although, admittedly, probably not many better known ones.

    The Holocaust is kind of weird. It's difficult for Americans to wrap their heads around. I read all ~1150 pages of William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (and a decent portion of his Berlin Diary too) and still didn't really understand how Germany turned into Nazi Germany. I understood that it involved the fallout from WWI. I understood that the Great Depression helped. I understood that in the Weimar Republic fear of encroaching Bolshevism was, unlike in this country, quite legitimate.

    What I didn't understand was the anti-Semitism. I didn't understand it because I'm American–because anti-Semitism has never been a real political force in this country. I had to read Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism to understand that the Final Solution was a solution to a century-old problem—the so-called "Jewish question" of continental Europe—and to understand its integral link to the pan-Germanic ideology that the Nazis espoused. It was this ideology, not the generic "Othering" mechanism in the Germans' minds, that resulted in the Holocaust. As tempting as the analogy is to American xenophobia, I don't think it's a good one.

  5. Talisker Says:

    Very well put, Ed.

    @ConcernedCitizen:

    anti-Semitism has never been a real political force in this country

    You have got to be fucking kidding me. Yeah, nobody much is goose-stepping down American streets chanting "Death to the Jews". As Ed has so eloquently pointed out, that's not what happened in 1930s Germany either. American anti-Semitism is a real thing, and Trump is happy to make common cause with those who practice it.

    Yes, I know Trump's daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. So what? I judge Trump by his actions, not the "some of my best friends" defense. When asked, calmly and respectfully, about a worrying rise in anti-Semitic incidents, his response was to verbally attack the reporter and boast about the size of his election victory: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/02/16/trump-anti-semitism-question–president/98012216/

    That said, Jews are not the only ones in the firing line under Trump. The Other People in America can be black, or Hispanic, or Muslim. Does Ed's line:

    when a population is conditioned to read a news story about one of Them being gunned down by someone in a uniform and to react not with human empathy but with satisfaction

    ring any bells, in the context of Black Lives Matter? Does America maybe have a deep-rooted tradition of inhumanity towards black people? What about Muslims?

    It may be reassuring to think the Germans were Bad People, Americans are Good People, and It Couldn't Possibly Happen Here; but it would also be wrong. America has its own boogeymen.

    One thing Ed didn't mention: Crimes against humanity don't necessarily have a plan. It doesn't require some freak who spends decades harbouring an ambition to commit genocide. It can happen with a nationalist politician going a little bit further to satisfy the crowds, and then a little bit more, until somehow the process reaches barbed wire and mass graves. Consider Yugoslavia, which went from a being a peaceful European country to the Srebinica massacre in less than five years. Of course there are meaningful points of difference between the Yugoslavian regime and the Nazis; but it's the similarities which concern us here, some of which also apply to present-day America.

  6. Major Kong Says:

    Anti-Semitism has never been a real political force in this country?

    I'd suggest you google "Ford, Henry" for starters.

  7. NickT Says:

    "Yeah, nobody much is goose-stepping down American streets chanting "Death to the Jews"."

    Well, given that those people get more enjoyment out of attacking synagogues and mosques, not to mention desecrating burial grounds, it's hardly surprising that the early stages of the phenomenon are relatively inconspicuous, despite the best efforts of Richard "absolutely punchable" Spencer. I watch clever fools like JarJar Kushner with amazement. Does he really think that his relationship with Donnie Putinobitch will save him when Steve Bannon's buddies emerge from the night and mist?

  8. ronzie Says:

    What I didn't understand was the anti-Semitism. I didn't understand it because I'm American–because anti-Semitism has never been a real political force in this country.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/anti-semitism-in-the-united-states

  9. Wim Says:

    @NickT–

    If you're referencing Nacht und Nebel, you've gotten it exactly reversed. That Nazis don't emerge from the night and mist: it's where they conceal their victims.

  10. postcaroline Says:

    I want someone to invent an app or browser extension that automatically populates newspaper comments sections with G&T posts such as this.

  11. Breezeblock Says:

    There's a movie called "Gentleman's Agreement" and another one called "Crossfire", though that story originally was about homophobia.

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    t-RUMPLE-Thin-Skin is an Orange-American version of Othello.
    And Bannon, is his Iago.

    t-RUMP is just a willing participant in whatever strokes his ego today – and tomorrow.
    Bannon, and the others sorrounding t-RUMP, will be the ones who determine how far down the path to FASCISM we go.
    Considering most of the the steps along that path towards Fascism are already covered…
    What?
    You don't believe me?
    Here, read this, and tell me where we're not already a (borderline, at least) Fascist state:
    http://rense.com/general37/char.htm

    We've been creeping towards Fascism a long time.
    Our conservatives prefer creeping Fascism – and even outright Fascism – to creeping Communism/Socialism.
    Read up on the bigoted John Birch Society, and see how many of the decendants of the original disciples are still around.
    You can start by looking up the Koch Brothers. Their father was a founding member of the JBS.
    Proving once again, that the turd doesn't fall far from the sphincter!

    Jonah Goldberg claims that liberals veer towards Fascism.
    As usual, and, like most conservatives, he's projecting his own and his group's beliefs onto others.
    Fascism is inherently conservative.
    And to call Jonah a fucking idiot, would be an insult to all of the real fucking idiots in this country!
    He's a malignant loon.

    I hope these protests continue.
    Peaceful ones.
    And increase.
    Sheer numbers of protests and protesters will slow these cowardly Authoritarian assholes down.

    And if you slow them down – that'll give the rest of the normal people in this country some time to re-orient themselves to where we are, where these evil assclowns want to lead us, and what kind of people we really want to known/remembered as – that'll buy time for the powers of decency and good to conquor ammoral bigotry, hate, and fear.

  13. Safety Man! Says:

    @Major Kong
    Best post of the morning

    The first step(s) I noticed were the people gushing about how much they loved Putin because he was "strong", and they wished he were "President" (quotation marks added by me, read: Dictator). I asked one guy why he felt that way, and he said because he wasn't Obama…

  14. Deggjr Says:

    Anti-semitism, possibly the source of the increased attacks on George Soros.

  15. Michael Says:

    It's also true that every step down this path can be continued for a very long time. The antebellum South and then the Jim Crow South were basically vast prison camps, where the white population was all recruited as gaolers and patrollers for deviance, encouraged (and sometimes demanded) to brutalize people of color to keep them "in their place".

    That has always seemed (with a Handmaid's Tale twist) like what our conservative fellow citizens viewed as their ideal.

  16. Bob Killian Says:

    What was the student takeaway? We need a second installment.

  17. fastEddie Says:

    Sorry, but I have to say it: don't be so dramatic. – who wants to bet this guy is a straight white christian male? ICE raids are CURRENTLY rounding up people for LOOKING like they MIGHT be undocumented. Plans to activate 100,000 national guard ( who normally HELP people ) to assist in this task are being looked into. Even though anti-semites are certainly emboldened by events, I doubt the government will be rounding up Jews anytime soon. But brown and black people are very under attack, even more than before. And as Ed says – "normalizing" it is the vital first step – that we need to push back on.

  18. RosiesDad Says:

    Ed: Thanks for this. A truly thought provoking column for an American Jew who is old enough to be well versed in how the Holocaust happened.

    @ConcernedCitizen: I would take your ridiculous comments to task but @Talisker did it for me. Thank you, Talisker.

    The Trump presidency is a threat to America as we know it.

  19. democommie Says:

    http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html

    It's Milgram, all the way down.

    RWAADMP* are easy to recruit into any organization that promises them a chance to hurt people who are unable to defend themselves.

    The "Othering" is necessary to convince less jealous, frightened, greedy proles into going along with it (see "Good–I vas not a Nazi!–Germans).

    Then, once the propaganda machine is fully cranked and has a party base of, oh, I dunno, 26% of the electorate, give or take? Well, then for the rest of that society, the choice is get on the tumbrel or get run over by it.

    And whether it's ein nettes, echtes deutsches Bier after a hard day's work terrorizing the ghettoes, or a bowl of banana beer to soothe the harsh after lopping off some of your neighbors limbs with a machete, a fella (or gal) deserves a little relaxation.

    * Right Wing Authoritarian Asshole Dickhead Motherfucking Pieces-of-shit

  20. jharp Says:

    The fact that we have an incompetent dumbshit like Trump leading the way is going to be our savior.

    That said. Trump and his ilk need to be taken very seriously.

  21. SeaTea Says:

    One of your best. Bravo.

  22. J. Dryden Says:

    But why stop at antisemitism? America has a long–and terrifyingly proud–tradition of creating and exploiting Otherness.

    Witness the consistent use of Confederate flags–which not only "Other" the descendants of slaves, but also–double duty!–"Other" the goddamned Yankee sumbitches who dared to interfere with that time-honored 'peculiar Southern institution.'

    Witness the, shall we say, inconsistent enforcement of sodomy laws against gays (and not on, say, married straight couples committing the very same forbidden act.)

    Witness the different penalties for crack and powder cocaine.

    Witness the indifference to the proliferation of AIDS (or, as the Reaganites considered it, "A Problem Sorting Itself Out Nicely.")

    Witness the Native Ameri–Oh, wait, you can't, they're way far away and trapped in a cycle of unemployment and addiction, but fuck it, they're not white folks from the Rust Belt doing the exact same thing, so who cares?

    Plus, yeah, Jews and No You Can't Get Off That Boat Back To Nazi Germany With The Lot Of You.

    Plus Japanese Internment, which is currently being used as a "See? It Works!" justification for the "We're Just Floating The Idea" people pushing anti-Muslim acts of legislative terror. (See also: Hispanics and "Operation Wetback.")

    Oh, but we could go on.

    Even if antisemitism wasn't a factor in American culture (and it fucking well is–I would firmly posit that you cannot proudly declare yourself a Christian nation without immediately giving the stink-eye to those who are rendered Christ-Deniers by that narrative), we still have plenty of candidates for the position of the Other.

    What's of essence to recall is that, while our focus is on the victims of the suffering, we must not forget that the victimizers are always the SAME FUCKING GUYS: older, white, entitled, shabby-souled fuckers who invariably directly benefit from the victimization. Steve Bannon is "Early Nazi." Sean Miller–holy shit, he's close to "LATE Nazi." The comparison holds up because if you look at what the leaders of the Third Reich declared as their intentions AND what they were doing at THIS stage of their new government–well, there's a lot of overlap.

    So, yeah, just because "We've only JUST pulled the pin on the grenade, it's not like it's going to explode RIGHT NOW"–that doesn't make a loud and forceful response an overreaction.

    And whenever anyone says "Don't overreact," please note that it always means "Don't react at all."

    Fuck. That.

  23. democommie Says:

    "–I would firmly posit that you cannot proudly declare yourself a Christian nation without immediately giving the stink-eye to those who are rendered Christ-Deniers"

    Deniers, you say, DENIERS!

    They were CHRISTKILLERZ, man, the lot of them!!–along with the mooslims!!!

  24. J. Dryden Says:

    Yeah, I admit that was my first thought as well. But I chose to go with the more measured expression because I know several proudly Christian people who pat themselves on the back for not blaming the Jews for killing Christ.

    But they're always clearly adding (sometimes just in their heads, and sometimes out loud), "Of course, since they don't accept him, they're still going to Hell."

    If you consider someone hell-bound, for whatever reason, you're likely to be less than concerned about how soon they get there, and what methods are used to expedite the journey.

  25. Skipper Says:

    Great piece, Ed!!!

    Antisemitism in Germany, as an official policy, wasn't a thing — until it was. Jews were very well integrated into society. There were doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and university professors in prestigious posts. There were Jews among the upper middle class. Many of them thought that the original manifestations of antisemitism were a passing thing and that their "friends" would never let anything happen to them. A few, very few, saw the danger signs and left. For the rest, by the time they realized it wasn't a passing thing, it was too late.

    Trump scares me to the extent that he is ignorant and unpredictable — and has incredible power. He can't or won't read. Even his television-watching comprehension is seriously faulty, as we saw this past weekend when he watched a story on Fox News about immigration in Sweden and, in his mind, translated it into a terrorist attack the night before. He didn't even understand what he watched on the TV.

    From all accounts, he's pretty isolated, eating his dinner alone at night and wandering the halls of the White House in his bathrobe and watching TV. He has no grand plan, no other agenda. His only agenda is polishing the brass on his nameplate, and grinning for the camera when he signs something — not even knowing what's really in it. He is a consummate narcissist.

    Michael Brenner at Counterpunch write an excellent piece on Trump the Narcissist. It describes him to a T.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/20/the-narcissism-of-donald-trump/

    The ghost writer for Trump's autobiography says he has an attention span of 2-3 minutes. He has no knowledge of history, economics, law, or geopolitics. He did not, as many think, go to the Wharton MBA program. He attended a Wharton undergraduate course on real-estate speculation. He tweets inanities during security briefings.

    But while Trump is no Hitler, not even close, Bannon, the power behind the throne IS a potential Hitler. He has a demented world view. He has an agenda. He has a plan. And it's a pretty scary one. He's the one writing the orders that Trump signs while displaying his silly grin. As long as Bannon is in charge, I am afraid.

    And Pence is no Hitler either, but he IS Eichmann. He has no stage presence, he's a crappy speaker, but he also has an agenda — and he knows how to bring it into effect very efficiently.

    So, is the US today like Weimar Germany? Not exactly. There are a lot of differences, but the similarities are chilling, and we ignore them at our peril. The demonized group has been identified. Actually, more than one.

    I am aghast at (former) friends who are thrilled by Trump's rounding up Mexicans and deporting them. I ask these people how they benefit from the misery of other people. Families are being torn apart, homes wrecked, people's lives being turned upside down, mothers separated from children, young people being sent to a country they never lived in. "What has this added to your life? How is your life better today than it was yesterday?" I ask them. They have no answer beyond a few talking points. I have no place in my life for people who take pleasure in the misery of other people — especially when it benefits them in no possible way.

  26. Ursula Says:

    Your comparison assumes that there was a time in the US when those in power were not actively oppressing a group of The Other. This country was founded on the dead bodies of Native Americans, with the labor of Africans. Forced migrations and passes to be off the plantation, children forcibly sent to boarding schools and lynching may not be common anymore. They are replaced by reservations with poor infrastructure and mass incarceration. We've always been villifying The Other, always been segregating them, and always been killing them.

  27. anotherbozo Says:

    @Skipper, and anyone else who wants to respond:

    As to solving the "illegal" problem, aka Build the Wall, I never saw a critique of the following solution: punish those who hire illegals. That should stop the problem—or should HAVE stopped the problem— as well as curtail any illegal immigration problem (or hasten voluntary returns, something that's already occurring, I guess).

    For every potential hire, there should be a social security card presented (or green card?), a check run through the appropriate government agency, with any fraudulent numbers identified or, if not, the responsibility placed on the government for erroneous clearance.

    My suspicion is that employers, especially corporate employers, being the ones with political clout, naturally deflect the responsibility. The onus must be placed elsewhere. But nowhere, even among progressives, have I heard the argument even theoretically being advanced for what seems to me to be the sensible solution. Admittedly I haven't read everything on the subject.

    Meanwhile, at first I thought that Trump's demonizing Muslims, "Mexicans," (probably Central Americans too, though he doesn't discriminate), and "inner city" type Blacks diffused the focus of hate too widely for maximum effect. But then I realized that Nazis also demonized gays, the mentally subnormal and abnormal, the genetically disabled and "Gypsies" in addition to Jews. Didn't hurt the lethal effectiveness of their campaign at all.

  28. ToddBC Says:

    I'm finishing up Timothy Snyder's "Black Earth: the Holocaust as History and Warning." An excellent book on the Nazi program in Europe. I also read "Bloodlands" a few years ago. Ed's list of Fascist things that occur is comprehensive but, like every thing, it's more complicated than that. One aspect that guaranteed death for Jews and other victims was the destruction of the state apparatus in the invaded east European lands. The double occupation states (Nazi and Soviet, post Molotov-Ribbentrop) saw 90-plus percent murder rates of Jews. European states that maintained some semblance of formal government cadres (Bulgaria, Romania) fared somewhat better. (Better may not be the right word.) The real killing started in wartime. Despite the never-ending war on terror, we're not in that context yet. Frustration over a lack of clear victory is adding to the pressure, but still nothing like defeat at Moscow and Stalingrad.

    Also, never underestimate a motivated totalitarian government. The Nazis went from small-scale village shootings to execution pits to gas vans to Treblinka in 18-24 months. The Great Leap Forward took 18 months. The Hutu in Rwanda took 30 days with machetes. The Khmer Rouge purged the capital in a couple of weeks. But, as Ed noted, how long does a culture need to marinate in the Other swill before sparks ignite? I worry about the number of young, angry white dudes with guns in our country starting to realize that the meth and masturbation just isn't enough anymore. Now they have an authority figure, "the" authority figure, playing wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Hell, several of them are already calling more Jewish centers and mosques, over and above the low level Nazi drunk dialing.

    Nevertheless, I'm with the commenters dismissing this "wait and see" or "don't panic" attitude. There is nothing to gain for our Republic from that position. Donald Trump was violating numerous federal laws the second he took the oath of office. His Republican Party is not waiting and only their stupidity and their love of talking in front of cameras is slowing them down. Trump and his merry band of cut-rate Bolsheviks may be too stupid to pull it off, but the house has already taken us to the cleaners on that bet several times. We should heed Mencken.

    One thing to look for based on Snyder's volume: much of the shooting in Eastern Europe was done by policeman, current and former. The German Order Police along with local gendarmes did quite a bit of organizing and implementation with SS supervision. Trump sure does love the police. Deputization of the National Guard for ICE raids falls under that too. LTC Robert Bateman on Charlie Pierce's blog took apart Trumps ICE order. Basically, the states cannot afford and will not pay for it. However, he did note a section that appeared to deputize local yahoo militias, but dismissed it as unconstitutional. Unconstitutional, I'm sure, but why is it in there? We should worry because paramilitaries joined with police and the Army for domestic operations is "ballgame" for democracy. So, not there yet, maybe not even close, but there is a precedent to be aware of.

    There's more, there's always more, but I need to get back to work.

  29. Linda Says:

    Here's what really blows my mind: if Germany were not dumb enough to start a war with the rest of Europe and get thumped, and they kept their genocide inside their borders, they probably would have gotten away with it, and gotten away with seeing a tamped-down view of it from the rest of the world. They could have disputed all those ugly reports about mass murder, come up with their own liars and brazened it out, like the Turks have with Armenia. We would be he said/she saidding till this day.

  30. mothra Says:

    Skipper: the undocumented worker round-up is also deporting people who have jobs. Jobs that the white whiners aren't going to step up to fill. It is going to be very interesting to see what effect this has on businesses.

    Democommie: you know which agency is staffed mostly with RWAADMP? Customs and Border Control. I read just yesterday that their union president said that morale has never been higher in the agency. Know why? They now have unfettered power to be utter and complete assholes and yield their power in any way they see fit. This should cause a chill to run down everyone's spines.

  31. ToddBC Says:

    Closer than I thought. From Trump's leaked immigration order:

    "The directives would also instruct I.C.E., as well as Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, to begin reviving a program that recruits local police officers and sheriff’s deputies to help with deportation, effectively making them de facto immigration agents."

    Again, not there yet, and it's only for deportation, and of course not all or even most officers, and it may not get past the courts, but you need to be alert to the tendencies.

  32. democommie Says:

    I'm plaigarizing myself, again:

    "It was the Pilgrims. Then it was the Puritans. Then it was the Baptists. Then it was the rest of the polyfglot of protestant faiths. Then it was the catholics. Then it was slavery (well, it really had been about slavery for the entire history of European/aboriginal American interaction, but I digress), then it was Amerapartheid (Jim Crow), And all of the time it was some other group being the whipping boy; the squareheads, the wops, the kikes, the spics, the micks, the slavs, the bohunks, the wetbacks, etbloodyfuckingcetera.

    It's not JUST us, most places are sprinkled with (in some cases, completely covered) racist idiots. But the U.S. is a special case, because of two things.

    The first is that huge statue in NY Harbor. It's still there but the sentiment that erected it is long gone.

    The second is that WE"RE all the sons and daughters of immigrants. So are most people in most countries, if you go back far enough in time.

    But we're the only country that is wealthy, powerful and
    BIG that got there by allowing people to come here to make a better life for themselves and a better nation for all of us.

    We've gone from a society welcoming the "teeming refuse" to one so fearful of EVERYFUCKINGTHING that we want to close our borders–or at least limit entry to people who are as fucking closeminded and white as we are.

    Trans, CIS, gay, black, female and all of the other groups who are not white, KKKristian and KKKonservative are NOT welcome to come here and if they're already here they should just stay in the background and STFU.

    What a shitty way to live your life, hating to the point that it informs every decision you make."

    on a post over @ dispatches from the culture wars, here:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2017/02/19/can-please-stop-atheist-adoration-bill-maher-now/#disqus_thread

    I do this not to show what a concerned, committed human being I am. I do this to show that different ideas/forms of expression on things of a similar nature, being viewed by intelligent, open minded people are responded to very differently.

    I think it's safe to say that I am never going to be invited to any conferences on conciliation. I don't attempt to iron out problems or compromise with people who just fucking HATE people, for whatever reason. If your worldview is that only your interests, whatever they might be, are valid–fuck you.

    I was happy to see such a rapid and spirited response there was to the,

    "Nope, no jewhatin',baitin',beatin' or burnin' goin' on in this'y'ar neckathewoods–no, sir."

    I wish that all such posts received the same sort of response and that we all did more than talk.

    OT There has been talk of a "Day without women" event. T-shirt idea, Whether you're going to be involved at street level or thinking good thoughts from your office, etc.,…

    Another T-shirt idea. A white shirt with a pink bra printed on it and underneath the print of the bra:

    "I love boobies and the bodies, brains, hearts and minds that they're attached to."

    I'm open to suggestions, derision or whatever. If somebody can make it happen and generate some revenue for a worthy cause, go for it. I'll be sending it to a few people I know who are more "customer friendly" than I am and maybe it goes somewhere.

  33. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    @various (bizarrely angry) commenters

    Wow. Thanks for proving my point about Americans not understanding the nature of anti-Semitism in 19th century continental Europe.

    Please, calm down, read The Origins of Totalitarianism, and then calm down again.

  34. Breezeblock Says:

    @mothra Pretty much the "Who from your high school class went on to become a cop" scenario…

  35. Skipper Says:

    @ anotherbozo — mothra answered your question. The fact of the matter is that immigrants, even the undocumented ones, are vital to the economy.

    They are doing the jobs that no one else will do — even the displaced factory workers and especially the displaced high-tech workers. There are no busloads of Trump voters heading down from Wisconsin to southern California to pick lettuce and cucumbers in the hot sun. There are no "real Americans" willing to work grueling shifts doing scut work in restaurant kitchens for pennies.

    The immigrants, even the undocumented ones, do pay taxes, especially if they're here on false papers. The taxes are deducted from their wages. However, they get nothing in return because they don't have papers. They don't file taxes and they don't get Social Security or Medicare even though they pay into the system.

    @Concerned Citizen – the minute someone tells me to "calm down" or "breathe." I know they're about to try to feed me a shit sandwich. No thanks.

  36. Robert Walker-Smith Says:

    "anti-Semitism has never been a real political force in this country "

    You wrote this. You can argue convincingly that European anti-Semitism of the XIXth century was fundamentally different from USA anti-Semitism, but we haven't seen that argument yet.

  37. democommie Says:

    @ Skipper:

    All of your concerns are well founded, there is one significant difference between then and now. The intertoobz. Oh, also, all of the telecommunications stuff.

    Now, Trumpligula and his minions can MAYBE turn our internet into what China has (I sorta don't think that they want to–will negatively affect their profits) but until/unless it happens there is a YUUUUUUUUUUUGE amount of information flowing down the toobz and they ain't Pravda.

    This:

    “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”

    ‘Vőlkischer Beobachter" and "Der Angrif" were two of several newspapers set up by Hitler's cronies or simply stolen (by forcing Jews to sell them at fire sale prices or worse.

    FuckTheNews'sCorpse almost sounds better in its non original german:

    Vergewaltigen Sie die Nachrichten Leiche.

    I'm sure that BillyO'really would love being a Gauleiter. Actually he is one, of a sort; but, I'm sure he' DIE for the strappy, shiny boots and uni. And, when, it comes to the "Big Lie" they don't get a whole lot bigger than the ones he and his cohort tell on every show they air.

  38. democommie Says:

    I see now that I prolly took the second set my meds too soon after the first batch. I will likely be mostly sane by time for trivia this evening.

  39. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    @Robert Walker-Smith

    There's no argument to be had, unless you think Henry Ford and Walt Disney constituted a "political force." What do you think a political force is?

    The last time I got this kind of unhinged response on this site I was talking about violent Islamists. Apparently to mention that there are worse people in the world than American conservatives causes some cognitive dissonance here.

  40. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    A bit of elaboration: there were political parties in France, Germany, and Austria at the turn of the 20th century that had explicit anti-Semitism as part of their platform. What analogy is there to that in America? (And no, the KKK does not count as a political party).

  41. Skepticalist Says:

    Anti Semitism has never been a political force here? Really?

    We just called it by other names. Father Coughlin called Jews "International Bankers." People tuned in to Fr. Coughlin all the time and spineless radio stations ran disclaimers before every broadcast in later years. Ford and Lindbergh were more direct and more disgusting.

    60 years ago when I was a kid Jews were kikes, I rarely heard them call them Jews.

  42. Nate Says:

    Maus is incredible and I read it twice during my education. Once in high school and a second time in my college lit. course about racism and prejudice. Nice add to your syllabus!

  43. democommie Says:

    "What analogy is there to that in America? (And no, the KKK does not count as a political party)."

    Well since we really don't know who was in the KKK, it's sort of moot. It's not at all moot that anti-semitism was and is a current that runs through U.S. culture and politics.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_antisemitism_in_the_United_States

    skip past the synopses to the primary sources–there are plenty of them.

    then read this:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/interview/henryford-antisemitism/

    then this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Coughlin

    then this:

    https://www.algemeiner.com/2013/08/30/nixon-truman-and-fdr%E2%80%99s-private-thoughts-about-jews/

    I'm sure that others are also finding some reading materials for you to study.

  44. Skipper Says:

    Other possible reading material:

    It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis and They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer,

  45. democommie Says:

    It got held up in moderation, because it had three links. Lets see if it will go through with just one at a time.

    ""What analogy is there to that in America? (And no, the KKK does not count as a political party)."

    Well since we really don't know who was in the KKK, it's sort of moot. It's not at all moot that anti-semitism was and is a current that runs through U.S. culture and politics.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_antisemitism_in_the_United_States

  46. democommie Says:

    skip past the synopses to the primary sources–there are plenty of them.

    then read this:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/interview/henryfod-antisemitism/

  47. democommie Says:

    then this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Coughlin

  48. democommie Says:

    then this:

    https://www.algemeiner.com/2013/08/30/nixon-truman-and-fdr%E2%80%99s-private-thoughts-about-jews/

    I'm sure that others are also finding some reading materials for you to study.

    Sorry about all of the noise, folks.

  49. democommie Says:

    @ Skepticalist:

    I was raised in a household where EVERYONE that wasn't white, Cath-O-Lick and muttIrish was labeled with some derogatory name.

    Oh, to be sure I knew what a "mackeral snapper" or "mick" was and I knew the stereotypes about Irish drinking (my dad, who I still miss, near 45 years after his passing, was a nasty drunk). But we DIDN'T kill JESUS and we didn't start most wars by loaning money to honest, ordinary Russian, Spanish, German, British or other innocent parties who were onl trying to defend themselves.

    When I was in HS, beating up jews and queers was something like a "cliub sport". Guys I went to school with were convinced that jews and gays were weaklings and sissies and would try to start fights with the former and just ambush the latter. I never actually saw it happen but I knew cops and others who told me about it, most of them without a moue of disapproval for the violence or bigoted hatred of the attackers. Things did change a bit after the Six Day War wherein the Israelis–all jews in IDF, I think–used smarts, tech and courage to whip a numerically superior and very well equipped UAR.

    Anti-semitism is alive and well, where I live, right now.

  50. Kovpakistan Says:

    Let me say this to skeptics. In present-day Russia, it's nothing like Nazi Germany or even the USSR. Moscow is full of hipster cafes and craft beer bars.

    That being said, people are routinely prosecuted and jailed just for retweeting things or posting things on social media. One guy is currently in jail because he posted a photo of himself catching a Pokemon in a church (he didn't disrupt the service in anyway).

    The point of this is that it doesn't have to get to Nazi Germany and death camps or even say, Park Chung Hee's South Korea to suck, powerfully.

  51. Major Kong Says:

    The KKK may not have been a political party but they were certainly a political force in the 1920s, particularly in the Midwest. Largely as an anti-immigrant movement. Hey, where have I heard that before?

  52. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    What I wrote: "Anti-Semitism has never been a real political force in this country."

    What y'all read: "Anti-Semitism has never existed in this country." Queue self-righteous blathering.

    I'll refer back to the title of the post: "NEVER AGAIN," DEPENDING ON WHAT IT WAS. That "depending" is kind of important. When someone learns about the Holocaust and thinks, "That could never happen here," they're actually right, because of a number of historical and cultural differences between the two settings.

    I was making the (what I thought was a) mild point that, because of those cultural and historical differences, Americans might have trouble understanding the motivations of those who fomented the extermination of European Jewry. Not that they shouldn't learn about them. But if you want Americans to really grok authoritarianism, there are better domestic examples to draw upon.

    That's it.

  53. define and redefine Says:

    Every time we get the "calm down, it can't/won't happen here" song and dance, I'm forced to remind myself of the following:

    1. Not only can it happen here, it has happened here. Many times – slavery, trail of tears, Japanese internment, the Red Scare (which stands as somewhat of a rebuttal to the point of anti-semitism not being a strong political force in these United States – http://www.jpost.com/Blogs/The-Jewish-Problem—From-anti-Judaism-to-anti-Semitism/America-after-the-Holocaust-The-Jews-Red-Scare-and-a-congressional-witch-hunt-364763), Jim Crow, etc. (I'm sure I left out a bunch of stuff.)

    2. It is happening here – Guantanamo Bay.

    Also, a lot of this was put into place long before Trump & crew came onto the scene. Hopefully this will lead to people being more cognizant of this sort of thing going forward, no matter who's at the helm.

  54. Major Kong Says:

    "The point of this is that it doesn't have to get to Nazi Germany and death camps or even say, Park Chung Hee's South Korea to suck, powerfully"

    I've said basically the same thing before. The problem with the Nazis is they were so over the top that unless it looks like a scene from The Man in the High Castle* nobody thinks there's a problem.

    *great show by the way

  55. Reilly Says:

    "There's no argument to be had, unless you think Henry Ford and Walt Disney constituted a 'political force.' What do you think a political force is?"

    Well, it's at least open for argument that rich, influential people with access to the nationwide mic become "political forces" when they use that mic to advance political or ideological positions.

  56. Davis X. Machina Says:

    "We just called it by other names."

    Which is why I bristle whenever I hear the word 'populism'. It's been a code-word since forever.

    Who are 'the people'? Who are the 'not-people'?
    Which ones are the faceless bankers who run everything? Same folks they were when William Jennings Bryan was a thing….

  57. Brian M Says:

    Your "points" Concerned Citizen are basically moving goal posts. Who cares that there were no official political parties with anti-Semitism as an explicit platform. Anti-Semitism was inherent in culture political decisions and policies. As exemplified by the refusal of the United States to allow German Jews entry into the country (the Nazis tried deportation first but could not find any "democratic" country to take the refugees). Given that the United States was significantly a country of European immigrants, I am not sure why you think our culture or politics was all that unique.

    "They are doing the jobs that no one else will do — even the displaced factory workers and especially the displaced high-tech workers. There are no busloads of Trump voters heading down from Wisconsin to southern California to pick lettuce and cucumbers in the hot sun. There are no "real Americans" willing to work grueling shifts doing scut work in restaurant kitchens for pennies."

    -Skipper. This is a common meme that liberals and leftists should find very troubling. For one thing, Americans often DID do these kinds of jobs. Read about the meat packing industry and how it destroyed unions and replaced native workers with poorly paid immigrants.

    I certainly worked in a restaurant kitchen as a youth. And, in places not dominated by immigrant workers, one still finds native workers kin tbhe landscaping industries.

    To claim that Americans will not do these jobs ignores history and ignores the deliberate choice of our Owners to favor immigrant labor over their fellow citizens.

    Plus, one can ask the question why should our economy depend on immiserating a portion of the workforce? Why should these jobs be so miserable and poorly paid…why should we (I assume many (not all) of us are of the educated symbol manipulating class) get such work done at so little overall cost to us. Maybe the jobs will not be so nasty if The Owners cannot so easily import the entire Central American/Mexican peasant class (immiserated in their own way by NAFTA's destruction of peasant farming in central Mexico, by the way) or an entire workforce of cheap programmers from India?

    I remain highly skeptical of this blogger's concept of a "leftist anti-immigration movement" (Even after my comment, he seems to still downplay how oppressive and militarized such a system inevitably will be. He is also ignoring past nativisms and the nastiness inevitably resulting). But he does bring good points about the role of mass immigration in damaging the native working class.

    https://muricaderp.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/we-really-need-an-anti-immigration-left/

  58. Major Kong Says:

    Is immigration a net plus or a net minus to the economy?

    I don't claim to have the answer but at least some studies claim it's a plus because it increases demand due to more consumers.

  59. Brian M Says:

    I think it is definitely a net plus for the economy as a whole. Living in California, this is particularly evident, in part because many of Silicon Valley's creatives are immigrants. There is definitely fear in the Valley that Trump will cut off "talent". American engineers who are underemployed certainly resent the flood of cheaper H1B visa employees that the Owners bring in, but…

    But, of course, amazing wealth is also generated by a cheap workforce available to agribusiness in The Other Valley. Which Trump also threatens.

  60. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    @Brian M

    Your "points" Concerned Citizen are basically moving goal posts. Who cares that there were no official political parties with anti-Semitism as an explicit platform. Anti-Semitism was inherent in culture political decisions and policies.

    You don't think there's a significant difference between someone openly advocating the state take a stance on "the Jewish question" versus that someone just being anti-Semitic? There's no difference between laws and cultural mores?

    Speaking about laws, the first sentence from that article "define and redefine" linked is really something: "As described in an earlier article there was little difference in prevalence and intensity of antisemitism in the United States as compared to Germany before the Second World War."

    I read that earlier article. In it, he effectively equated the 1924 Immigration Restriction Act with the Nuremberg Laws. I don't even know…

  61. Skepticalist Says:

    "Make America America Again"

  62. Mo Says:

    Wondering if Concerned Citizen pulls off the face mask and turns out to be Gallstone…

  63. Brian M Says:

    Concerned Citizen: I think it is ultimately irrelevant. Jews still died because cultural prejudice and de facto discrimination prevented them from fleeing to the United States pre-Final Solution.

    I am guessing, given the reality that 25% of the American population was German, that cultural prevalence of anti-Semitism was not that much lower here. You seem to think that the United States was so culturally distinct. I am not sure that is true.

  64. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    @Brian M

    Then, no offense, you need to read more about Germany during that time.

    Did no one read past the first sentence of that third paragraph? In which I mentioned anti-Semitism's "integral link to the pan-Germanic ideology that the Nazis espoused"? I could entertain the point that anti-Semitism was as prevalent in the U.S., at an individual level, as it was in Germany (although that's hard to measure). That's not the point though. Its link to pan-Germanism is what took it to its murderous heights. That's the point. And no, American xenophobia towards immigrants (which is as old as the country itself) is not analogous to Hitler's pan-Germanism.

  65. Brian M Says:

    We are talking past each other. The reality was that America's innocent anti-immigrant culture led to the death of German Jews. That is pretty bad.

    And you also neglect the organized support for Naziism among elements of the elite in the United States. Including German immigrants.

  66. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    We're talking past each other because you (and everyone else) are hell-bent on emphasizing the iniquities of our society. Which, don't get me wrong, is always good fun. And I'm not denying them. I just happen to think the extermination of European Jews had a little more to do with German anti-Semitism than American anti-Semitism. Call me a national chauvinist.

  67. Brian M Says:

    No. We are pointing out (repeatedly and loudly) that your statement that the United States has no effective anti-Semitism is factually, historically, and politically incorrect.

    You are moving the goal posts yet again. Nobody here said that the extermination of the European Jews was the primary fault of American anti-Semitism. (Although, again, the denial of immigrant status to Jews fleeing Hitler was a pretty egregious sin. But that OFFICIAL POLICY AND ACTION OF THE U.S. government had NOTHING to do with American Anti-Semitism. Nothing at all.

  68. Major Kong Says:

    "he denial of immigrant status to Jews fleeing Hitler was a pretty egregious sin"

    Fortunately we learned our lesson and will never again deny asylum to those fleeing a murderous regime.

    Oh wait…..

  69. Skipper Says:

    What part of "Don't feed the troll" is everyone missing?

  70. Brian M Says:

    mea culpa, Skipper.

  71. jcdenton Says:

    @ConcernedCitizen

    Read Adam Tooze's Wages of Destruction. Hitler was pretty inspired by the US's ethnic cleansing of Native Americans and wondered why, if the US was allowed to have its bloody drive to the West, Germany couldn't have its own drive to the East. American and European antisemitism (and other crimes of ethnic cleansing) fed greatly into the normalization of anti-semitic brutality in Germany. It's also helpful to note that other countries not suffering from an infatuation with Pan-Germanic ideology (like Poland and Rumania) were only too happy to murder their own Jews the moment that the mask of civility had slipped. The ecstatic degree to which occupied East Europeans collaborated with the Nazis in murdering Jews should tell you that "Pan-Germanic ideology" is just a fig leaf. It could have started almost anywhere (certainly France was another contender at the time).

  72. quixote Says:

    Coming at the rise of lethal terrifying dictators from a completely different angle is Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!.

    It's a lighthearted romp, and it's not. It's a bit like finding Hannah Arendt translated to a Silver Surfer comic. The ideas are there, but you can miss them if you want.

    Anyway, a lot of the crucial elements are there, from the petty resentments of the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker that ultimately raise the dragon they thought they would control. The toadies who enable the tyrant's work. The solid citizens standing around saying that it might actually be rather good for trade to have a super-powerful leader who can just burn foreigners who don't pay up.

    And because it's all wrapped up in a story full of British humor, it sometimes gets in under the guard of people who think they're bored.

  73. Robert Walker-Smith Says:

    I recently read "Thank You, Mr. Moto", written and set in the mid '30s. In one scene, Moto (an Imperial Japanese intelligence agent) comments drily on the criticism Japan was facing from Western powers over its China expansion. While the USA has the third of Mexico it seized by warfare, Britain has India and France huge chunks of Africa, Japan is a bully because Manchukuo.

    One thing that strikes me about some pre-WWII fiction is how casually anti-Semitic imagery and dialogue occur. It's even in "The Picture of Dorian Gray". I believe that that is one of the motivations behind Holocaust denialism; the historical fact renders 'genteel' anti-Semitism untenable, so the fact must be stuffed down the memory hole.

  74. Signal Boost | herlander-walking Says:

    […] when this blogger tells you how fascism creeps like a fox into the sleeping hens? Listen!  History is not boring, it is depressingly predictable.  It really is time to pull out all the […]

  75. NickT Says:

    @wim

    You understand the allusion, but you miss the point. In the end, like most Democrats, you prefer to be a clever fool to winning the arguments that count. When Trump and Bannon succeed, it will be because people like you preferred to be snark-merchants rather than actually getting engaged and making a case for liberalism. And yes, I said "when", not "if". The GOP has played for all the marbles and won.

  76. democommie Says:

    I know people, a fair number of them, who are racist and blissfully aware of it. I also know people who are anti-semetic and quite aware of it. But, it's okay, 'cuz, JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS.

    It's not okay. It never was. It never will be. It's only done because of the eternal hunt for scapegoats.

    All of you people that are christian and hate on other people? Your GOD would vomit yout out his mouth or, failing that, shit you into the void.

    All of you people that are "rationalists" who seek to excuse bigotry by saying it wasn't that bad or it could be LOTS worse, you're not rational.

    Hating people never, ever has a positive outcome.

    If you want to be a dick, go for it.

    Nick T. appears to be going for it.

  77. Brian M Says:

    democommie: As (one of?) the virulent board misotheists, I would argue that they exercise their petty hatred INSPIRED by the Demiurge they worship. There isn't a bigger hater in the history of literature than Yahweh*

    * or Jesus. A few touchy feely things that are more typical of a standard cult leader than true love aside, it is Christianity that really ramped up the eternal fire for ever and ever thing.

  78. Brian M Says:

    Nick T: In what way did Trump make any case for "conservatism"? His entire campaign was based on group hatred and mythologizing a past that IS NOT COMING BACK. (It just ain't, sorry).

    (I would agree that focusing too much on group identity politics makes coalition building more challenging. I am not saying group rights are wrong. Just that making that the primary focus of one's party makes things more challenging.

  79. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    No. We are pointing out (repeatedly and loudly) that your statement that the United States has no effective anti-Semitism is factually, historically, and politically incorrect.

    Find me one—just one—instance of a mainstream American political movement stating that "if we do not either convert, deport, or exterminate all the Jews in our society, it will collapse."

    Until you do (I'll wait), please keep insisting that there was no effective difference between continental anti-Semitism and American anti-Semitism. In other words, keep displaying your ignorance of such differences.

  80. Aurora S Says:

    @anotherbozo— This is a thing I've been screaming about for YEARS. The "Mexicans are taking our jobs" trope is something conservatives have been barking about for decades, but I think you and I know exactly WHY that is an argument that no one is having. The guys who own, for example, large agribusinesses and need fruit pickers on the cheap are white, powerful, and have a lot of political clout. Mexican citizens are solicited by large agribusiness via adverts in Mexico to come to the US for the job. You hire the people who you can coerce into working for a pittance, and you don't have to be buggered with caring about labor laws. Blame them for their own exploitation, and toss a few of them out every now and then to make it look like this is a thing we actually object-to. The wheel turns, Big Business profits, and the unwashed get to feast on their meal of righteous-indignation.

    I absolutely LOATHE the "we need them! They do the jobs Americans won't!" argument from some on the Left. It's riddled with the same sort of colonialist/racist bullshit that the Republicans engage-in to argue against it, which is, that (esp. Hispanic) undocumented immigrants are not Americans and therefore not fully human, so this sort of exploitation is kosher—necessary, even. This should be framed in terms of human rights abuse. It's indentured servitude at best. The jobs themselves aren't glamorous, but not necessarily inherently crappy, given proper working conditions and pay. The point isn't that Americans "won't" do them as much as it is that it would be illegal to impose those working conditions on Americans. Corporations get away with it because "illegals" are undocumented and plausibly-deniable. They're also typically brown and speak Spanish (it should be noted that most of the population of Mexico, Central and South America is partially indigenous, Spaniards and Portuguese are white Europeans), so it fulfills our deep-seated need to enslave other cultures we find "barbaric" or "primitive".

    Remember when Mitt Romney lost the election and the GOP was talking about becoming more accommodating to a growing Latino population? Yeah, neither does anyone else. Apparently the complete opposite was a more politically expedient path to power.

  81. democommie Says:

    "In the end, like most Democrats, you prefer to be a clever fool to winning the arguments that count."

    I'm assuming that you're not democcrat–along with the vast majority of commenters on this blog.

    And if you mean by, "clever fool", telling the truth, fine. If that's not what you mean, explain, in detail. wtf you're talking about.

  82. Aurora S Says:

    What's the point of this whole 'US Anti-Semitism Is Not A Thing vs. Yes It Is A Fucking Thing' argument again?

  83. Aurora S Says:

    I'm thinking it boils down to 'US Anti-Semitism Is Not A Thing (And Therefore We Are Not Currently Falling Prey To An Authoritarian Regime)' vs. 'Yes It Is A Fucking Thing (And Therefore Get Your Head Out Of Your Ass, We Totally Are)'.

  84. democommie Says:

    @ Aurora S:

    Yes.

    Seriously, the anti-semetism thing is, has been and will be a factor in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, popular culture and every other facet of our post racial, post everything society.

    People who don't see racism or anti-semitism as major drivers in politics in the U.S. have led sheltered lives.

  85. mago Says:

    Thanks all you commentators.

    I taught "Maus" to a handful of international high school students six years ago in Costa Rica.

    They were like wtf? while I felt gut punched by inhumanity and all too human dicktitude. (Art's dad was nobody you'd want to know either.)

    As for the PC criticism of Spiegelman portraying Polish police as pigs, I agree. It gives swine a bad name.

  86. jcdenton Says:

    @ConcernedCitizen
    "effective difference between continental anti-Semitism and American anti-Semitism" So I guess instead of it being exclusively pan-Germanic anti-Semitism, its now evolved into an amorphous Continental anti-Semitism? But let me propose a different idea. Even if the US has never had political parties devoted to the "Jewish Question", it has had outwardly and stridently racist and pro-Eugenics parties. It's therefore more viable to see anti-Semitism on a sliding scale. Germany was at the far end, followed closely by Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and other parts of Eastern Europe, France further away and the US somewhat further away still. But is that really a useful metric of the current situation? Should we really wait until the US has slid all the way over to official parties and pogroms to declare it anti-Semitic? It makes more sense to measure rates of change, and right now the US is quickly moving towards embracing anti-Semitism right along with all the other horrid crap.

    @NickT
    I'm not sure why you're picking a fight here. Lots of Democrats are losing a lot of sleep over this shit as well. You're welcome to come out and help. The Centre Left isn't just a bunch of academic sophists… we're aware of how monumentally screwed we all are.

    @democommie
    I'm a Democrat in spirit. I even collaborate with some semi-official Dem orgs. When you only have two parties, might as well go with the least Trumpian one.

    @Aurora S.
    '"we need them! They do the jobs Americans won't!"' I don't think this argument is ever made in a straight sense. My understanding has been that it's usually a satirical rebuttal to the "they took our jerbs!" crowd. I mean, I think you get the subtext, but it's rarely if ever used to justify the kind of slave labour that goes on in the agribusiness. And to a certain extent, it's not entirely fallacious. As we saw during this last election, WWC voters are waiting for the coal and manufacturing jobs to come back. They won't settle for manual labor (not that I wish it on anyone).

    @Everyone
    But let's be honest with ourselves here for a sec. Muslims are the new Jews. We may not have a party that openly says that "if we do not either convert, deport, or exterminate all the Jews in our society, it will collapse", but we do have one that openly muses about deporting, converting or nuking all the Muslims. We *do* have a party obsessed with the "Muslim Question". Muslims are the Other, the unwanted the fifth column and the eternal enemy destroying America from without and from within. They're so much easier to scapegoat, and if anyone will be blamed for the next Reichstag fire, it will be them. Conservative America has perhaps used the words "Judeo-Christian values" far too often to start with the Jews… but they'll get around to it once they're done with the rest of us.

  87. democommie Says:

    @jcdenton:

    I'm an independent who votes straitd D on any ticket that doesnt' have a viable non-d/r candidate. I have never and prolly will never vote for a republican.

    I get the sense from reading this blog that its commenters are largely independents with various leanings.I urge people to vote, I do not urge them to vote for anyone (except, as much as I dislike her, Hilary in the most recent presidential run).

    If by manual labor you mean "stoop labor", I agree that the vast majority of people, never mind USians do NOT want to do that sort of work.

    I have a friend who called me one day about 20 years ago and said he had a job. I asked, "when, where?", and he said that I might want to look first, as it was a shitty job–literally. He had had a sewer back-up sometime previously and had caked fecal dirt on over a fairly large area of cellar floor in a commercial building. Suffice to say I did the job, well and with dispatch (one job that one doesn't want to "stretch out" the billable hours, imo).

    When I was done we toured the facility and agreed on the state of the work being substantially completed. He asked how many hours, I gave him a number and he pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket then handed it to me without counting it. I looked at it and said, "This is a lot more money per hour than we talked about.". He said, "It was a demeaning job.". I assured him that there was no such thing as a "demeaning job", only "demeaning pay".

    The garbage collectors in my hometown were black municipal workers, until the wages were raised in the mid-60's to a decent rate, then the workers became white. I think it was not a coincidence.

  88. Wim Says:

    I don't understand how knowing an allusion compels me to lose some other argument. It's no one's fault but your own when you talk shit, Nick. If the truth hurts, you must spend most of your time as sore as a boil.

  89. anotherbozo Says:

    @Aurora: Thanks for validating my suspicions, misunderstood by Skipper, perhaps, since it's much too late for that solution anyway. But confirming once again that so many of our problems come from the rich and powerful being able to frame the argument so that possible solutions leave them totally out of the picture.

    I could imagine our (corporate) need for seasonal agricultural labor being dealt with honestly, our laws altered to conform to reality, with improvements in workers' living conditions, laws that held child labor within humane limits, immigration laws liberalized accordingly or whatever needed to be done to acknowledge and control a situation in the clear light of day. And we'd pay 2¢ more per tomato.

    What was disheartening was that so-called progressives really dropped the ball on this one instead of hammering home the obvious hypocrisy, and obvious solution, at every opportunity. Ed's classic assertion that "The rich always get what they want. Always." still haunts me, and at least in some cases now, probably because of the growing morbidity of their greed, they are being called on it.

  90. Tim H. Says:

    Something to bear in mind, western culture tends to be a thin veneer of courtesy over a turbid cesspit, every so often someone sees advantage in stirring it up and anyone who discernibly departs from average can be a target. Have a lot of melanin? You can be a target. Practice non-standard physical intimacy? Ditto. Worship on the "Wrong" day?* Ditto.Don't worship at all? Ditto. Not a practicing "Ammosexual"? Likewise.
    It's just very important to maintain that veneer we call civilization, not just for the protection of those with a perceptible difference, but for the souls of the would-be minions of oppression.
    *Thinking of you, Ben Carson.

  91. democommie Says:

    Speaking of Uncle Ben's HUD, any bets on who will be getting some nice fat HUD contracts to build shit in areas where poor folks, expeshly poor BLACK folks don't live?

    Follow the money–if you can keep up.

  92. Tim H. Says:

    Funny how some churches display more attention to Mammon than their nominal deity…

  93. Brian M Says:

    Kudos to much of the discussion here (Concerned Citizens' continuous goal post moving and pointless pedantry aside).

    Thanks, Aurora, for amplifying my concern about the "Americans won't do the jobs so we need powerless servants" meme. This is an amazingly prevalent concept among many white Americans….especially yuppies like my friends who love hiring the guys from along the road next to Home Depot for $10 an hour plus a burrito. Not that I am saying the Mexican labor is totally victimized. Life (or at least, earning cash) is far tougher in rural Michoacán.

  94. democommie Says:

    @ Brian M.:

    There is some truth in your comment about Michoacán. However, one of the major problems in border areas is the drug business with all of its attendant problems.

    I watch a fair amount of PBS, including a bunch of cooking shows hosted by Pati Jinich and Rick Bayless. They visit a lot of areas in Mexico that look just fine. They can't all be Potemkin Pueblos. OTOH, there are very serious problems in Mexico, simmering along towards explosion.

  95. Brian M Says:

    Demo: I cannot deny the points you bring out.

    At least the Trump voters are not primarily responsible for these problems. Their drug of choice is ALL AMERICAN

  96. Brian M Says:

    Gawd. There I go again. Class sniping and sarcasm. Not a becoming thing.

    Heck, I come from pretty working class stock (although my siblings and I have all escaped that for various useless white collar professions (LOL). Still, I cannot really identify with the Children of Privilege. I still remember the snobby daughter of the "mayor's personal attorney" informing me that I didn't dress nicely enough.

  97. Brian M Says:

    As for Uncle Ben, I am guessing most (if not all) of the money will be going to JESUS-Based Grifting Operations*

    *Not saying that all religious-inspired special agencies are bad.

  98. Aero Says:

    ConcernedCitizen: You want an example of mainstream belief in superiority vs. inferiority and the damning of the entire civilization, do some research on American eugenics. Was it explicitly and only the Jews? No. But you know damn well they were included in it, and likely very prominently given the popular sentiments of the time. Dance around the subject all you like by saying it wasn't exclusive enough to meet your criteria, but the movement did exist, it was popular with elites and downwards, and it gained an alarming amount of traction here for decades, to the point even of legalized, compulsory sterilizations in 32 states for a period of 20 years of "inferiors," and in some cases underground right up until the 70's. To me, that's not a long gap to "well, might as well just kill them since this isn't vetting out the undesirables fast enough."

  99. Katydid Says:

    @Quixote; Terry Pratchett was a master of so many subtle points. His books dealing with the witches of Lancre and Tiffany Aching tell the story of psychology and mob mentality. The Sam Vimes books are a master of the easily-missed political statements. I've been on a Pratchett jag for a couple of months re-reading books that came out a decade ago, and it's amazing the things he has to say. Monstrous Regiment and Thud! both deal with politics, religion, and how the mixing of the two brings endless problems. Snuff deals with "othering" races. Going Postal (I think) has a direct reference to Trump.

  100. Redleg Says:

    Ed, I have been saying the same thing for weeks now, albeit much less articulately. It's nice to the phenomenon so clearly explained.

    I can't help but to think about psychological studies of obediance and authority (Milgram, Zimbardo) when I think about the current conservative mindset.

    Yesterday I watched a law enforcement official on CNN who spoke of Trump finally "unshackling" law enforcement to deport "illegals." He had a gleam in his eye and a smirk on his face even as Robert Reich pointed out that immigration into the U.S. has been decreasing over the last several years and that the violent crime rate has been decreasing fairly steadily as well. It was a chilling moment and I feared what might happen as some of these fuckers feel they are no longer constrained by law or norms of decency.

    I shudder when thinking about what dark future we Americans may have because so many people get hard-ons over Trump's words and other people keep telling us that we are hysterical when we dare mention the Nazis.

  101. Redleg Says:

    @democommie,
    I appreciate your example but disagree that there are no demeaning jobs. If by job you include the work itself and the work context, then I can cite many examples of demeaning jobs. Workers in a Tyson poultry plant were wearing adult diapers because they were not allowed to leave the line excepting for official breaks at designated times. While the work itself (processing chickens) may not be demeaning (I would argue strongly that it is not enriched work), the work conditions were demeaning.

    While work itself, even low-skill manual work, is not demeaning, the work context can certainly be demeaning and I don't think most workers separate the work from the context when they consider whether their job sucks or not.

  102. democommie Says:

    "while work itself, even low-skill manual work, is not demeaning, the work context can certainly be demeaning,"

    We'll have to agree to disagree. If someone is paid very well to do a vile, smelly job–think GI surgery, perforated colon, that sort of thing–they not only do it willingly–they brag about it.

    It really just boils down to money, afaic. If Tyson was paying the guys on the "adult diaper" line the same as they pay their executives…Of course that will never happen because a dozen chicken wings would be $719.51 but that's a different thing.

    I've done a lot of things in my life that others wouldn't do; I never had a problem with doing them if the compensation was right. YMMV.

  103. democommie Says:

    I had a thought, likely not original to me, but, when it comes to which group/groups we have to be willing to ignore/revile/bully or whatever, it seems to me that if all of us don't have the same intrinsic value as humans, then none of us has any value as humans.

  104. Brian M Says:

    Cracked, the online Listicle/Juvenile Humor website, actually has an interesting discussion of how the AltRight works in disseminating their poisons. Can't link it here because the website is blocked by our firewall, but if you google them and wade through the advertising and celebrity trivia, it should be there.

  105. jeneria Says:

    Next quarter I have four lit classes (2 sections of Science Fiction, Lit of the Developing World, and Intro to Literary Genres) and it's allowing me to teach Maus, Brave New World, 1984, Snow Crash, Faustus, A Clockwork Orange and a whole slew of military science fiction. I'm indulging my dystopic fantasies.

  106. democommie Says:

    @jeneria:

    They might not be fantasies, anymore.

  107. X-RWU Says:

    Did one of the above posters REALLY cite something from that Anti-Semitic A-hole Rense?

  108. Brian M Says:

    Not to engage in "Lookism", but that Rense dude is one KKKKRAZY looking mf'er. (Described as a "conspiracy monger" so I didn't really pursue any more of his activities).

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