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December 7, 2004

We never knew
Posted by Teresa at 06:00 AM * 101 comments

Allow me to direct your attention to the We Never Knew website, a documentary project (with accompanying poster) of the Georgetown Book Shop, Bethesda, MD:

How much was known about Hitler before he came into power? How much was on the record about the nature of the Nazi regime in its early days? How pervasive was its anti-Semitism, and how much of that was documented long before the outbreak of the war? What was known about Hitler’s dreams of conquest? Was the Holocaust foreseeable?

A common answer to all these questions has often been “We never knew….,” as if somehow the entire history of the Third Reich took place on a distant planet, unknown and unknowable.

Our aim is simple: To puncture this myth.

Our target audience: Anyone with curiosity about an unspeakable time.

The object of “We Never Knew” is to present a chronological account, in graphic form, of what we knew, and when we knew it. For illustration, we have chosen images off of book jackets from 1932 to 1943, taken from our own private collection. These are supplemented by a few posters and pamphlet covers from the same time frame. Most of the books were by widely respected (or at least widely known) authors, and were readily available to the English-speaking public at least. Some were international best sellers with a distribution of a million or more. Most of them were widely reviewed in the mainstream press. Just look at the sheer number of these images, and the steady, year-by-year drumbeat of warnings and exaltations: Three from 1932; three from 1933; five from 1934; three from 1935; three from 1936; one from 1937; six from 1938; six from 1939; one from 1940; one from 1941; one from 1942; and two from 1943. Only space considerations prevent us from showing many more. We did know what was going on.

Now take a closer look at some of the individual images. The Dorothy Thompson book, I Saw Hitler, for example. Thompson, perhaps the most widely read American columnist of the 1930’s, interviewed Hitler before his ascension to power, and here is what the future Fuehrer proclaimed to the world in a book published in 1932: “The world belongs to the nordics…all that is not race, is dross.” No weasel words there. Or consider the documentary book, The Yellow Spot, whose jacket fairly screamed, “The Extermination of the Jews in Germany. The First Complete Documentary Study.” This in 1936, when Hitler’s dreams of conquest could have been aborted with relative ease. Or to take one of the Nazi images, look at the terror on the faces which are depicted on the 1938 post-Anchluss Austrian poster, Time to Get Out, which was part of the infamous, blood libelous exhibition, “The Eternal Jew.” Seen by millions of “good” Austrians and Germans. And also written up in the western press, including Life magazine, with a circulation of well over a million. No, we couldn’t have known.
In all of us, there’s a tendency to believe that people would see things differently if only they knew the truth. This is an error. Following the news and sorting out the issues may be a requirement for responsible, ballot-casting citizenship; but it’s also a lot of work. For many people, the basic calculation is What are the odds that this is going to affect me personally? vs. How much trouble is it going to be for me to pay attention to this?

For instance, in the areas actually attacked on 9/11, Manhattan and Washington D.C., Bush polled 16% and 11%. We’re natural targets, so we have to pay attention to this stuff. And since we do, we notice that when it comes to real homeland security, Bush has been the worst Preznit in American history. He used 9/11 as an excuse to go after someone who didn’t attack us. He welshed on his promises to the FDNY and NYPD. He fought and rejected all the post-event analyses and criticisms of how we went wrong and where we need to improve. He’s made the U.S. odious in the eyes of former friends all over the world. Overall, his performance on this issue has ranged from “completely ineffectual” to “appallingly counterproductive.”

When you live in NYC, you think about these things. However, I believe that a lot of American citizens who don’t live here have privately decided that the odds that they personally will get nailed by terrorists are low enough to ignore. What would a responsible take on the issues get them? Only the unpleasant realization that we live in a complex and dangerous world, and the obligation to pay attention to serious political analysis and news, and other troublesome things of that nature. It’s all very tiresome.

But if they’ve calculated that they themselves are unlikely to get crushed, fried, poisoned, etc., then the only real harm they took on 9/11 was that it scared the bejeezus out of them. The length of the period of universal sympathy for NYC which followed 9/11 is the length of time it took them to decide that they weren’t in line for their own catastrophes. After that, they reacted exactly like someone who’s just been badly frightened—all indignant self-righteous blustering anger, demanding that someone Do Something so they’ll never be frightened like that again, and blaming the victims for whatever it was they did to bring this on themselves.*

That’s a lot more fun than being scared. It’s a lot less trouble than doing something about it. Let reality try to stick you with the bill if it can.

Comments on We never knew:
#1 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 09:00 AM:

"Bad news, web surfer. . ."

#2 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 09:01 AM:

Re: your asterix--the moral values storyline has been pretty strongly debunked (IMO) in the Washington Post, for one example.

Also, the link for We Never Knew is broken.

Personally, I've always thought it was the film of the liberation of the concentration camps that turned anti-semites into cultural villains. Like Abu Graib, people's minds weren't changed until they saw the pictures.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 09:06 AM:

I think it's fixed. Try it now.

#4 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 09:07 AM:
the basic calculation is What are the odds that this is going to affect me personally? vs. How much trouble is it going to be for me to pay attention to this?

This has been bugging me with respect to how I am reacting to news about the decline of the US dollar. As I read The Economist's piece this morning I was thinking, what impact is this going to have on my life? Am I going to go broke? What would that be like for me and my family?

I would like to break out of this mindset.

#5 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 09:08 AM:

Yep. It works nicely now.

#6 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 09:26 AM:

When I was seventeen I read W.H. Auden's "In Time of War" sonnet sequence, which he wrote in China in 1938, which includes XVI, on how things don't go the way they are planned but nevertheless planning is a requirement:

Here war is simple, like a monument:
A telephone is speaking to a man;
Flags on a map assert that troops were sent;
A boy brings milk in bowls. There is a plan

For living men in terror of their lives
Who thirst at nine who were to thirst at noon,
And can be lost, and are, and miss their wives,
And, unlike an idea, can die too soon.

But ideas can be true although men die,
And we can watch a thousand faces
Made active by one lie.

And maps can really point to places
Where life is evil now:
Nanking; Dachau.

That last word knocked me flat, because I'd believed until then that they hadn't known, but that was absolute and rhyming evidence that they had known. What weight would it have had if they hadn't -- not just Auden, but his implied readers knew.

In this context, I suppose it can be seen as heartening to consider how much effort goes into suppressing, minimising and spinning news events these days. At least they imagine people would care, and that caring matters. Back in the Cold War I used to think that the real difference between East and West was that in the West public opinion did count for something.

#7 ::: Lisa Hertel ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 10:11 AM:

Anti-semitism was accepted, both here and abroad, in the 30's and 40's. Nobody really minded that the Nazis were killing Jews. Even the Jews in America, who well knew what was going on, shrugged--after all, they have been persecuted for centuries, and saw themselves as powerless.

#8 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 10:14 AM:

Anti-semitism was accepted, both here and abroad, in the 30's and 40's. Nobody really minded that the Nazis were killing Jews.

And nobody minded, or even talked about, that the Nazis were killing gay men. (A recent memorial publication for Holocaust Day in Edinburgh, supposedly to commemorate "forgotten victims", omitted to so much as mention either gypsies or gays: the city council seemed to feel that some victims are deservedly forgotten.)

#9 ::: Bill Altreuter ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 10:17 AM:

I disagree, I think. Red State America is neither ignorant nor living in denial: like a lot of Germans in the Thirties they believe that their leader is right. They've even thought about it. I put a lot of it on the religiosity of Americans-- a lot of people look to religion for answers, rather than for mystery, and such folk are, I think, most comfortable when their leaders tell them that there are answers, rather than uncertainty. This was, in a way, part of the reason that Kerry failed to connect with a number of people whose interests should have led them to support him. They don't want to hear about how it's a complicated world: they want to know what's going to be done. Even though it is plain to anyone who values nuanced thought that Bush is the worst President in US history-- and perhaps the most dangerous man in the world-- nuanced thought is not something that most people put a lot of stock in. Not even, I hate to say it, New Yorkers.

Of course, we all view the world through the scrim of our professional experience, so let me just say that as a trial lawyer it has been my experience that it is exactly when I rely upon the most clichéd stereotypes about how people behave that I am the best at predicting how people will respond to a particular presentation. I talk to these people, and they seem reasonable, they seem fair, and some even seem intelligent, and then they go and act just like typecast African Americans or Irishmen or Hispanic women or Southerners would behave in a sitcom or something. It is impossible to predict what they will do based on what they say, but when you look at what they are, you can get it right better than 80% of the time. I hate that, and the fact that I hate it sometimes gets in the way of my advocacy, but I've learned the hard way that it is the only way to understand people and the things that they do.

Americans believe what Bush is putting out, but it is not because they are deluded; it is because they are in the habit of belief. From the early days of these dark times I've been saying, "There must have been Germans who felt like this". They were a minority, too.

#10 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 10:54 AM:

My question is would believing that they themselves were a likely target of terrorism have any effect on creating a responsible take on the issues? "Responsible take" seems, as far as I can untangle the threads, to be an amalgam of common sense, compassion, historical perspective, willingness to step outside ego, and access to a wide variety of information.

Our current situation is so not parallel with Germany in the 1930s because then in fact there was one regime which was causing the core horror, and overthrowing it did change the world. Now, a lot of the people that you (and I) would say do not have a "responsible take" are trying to make this situation into that one.

As for seeing the pictures, I agree about 1945, but seeing the Abu Ghraib pictures demonstrably did not change the minds of enough U.S. citizens to matter.
That could be the TV generation, the fact that no images are shocking any more, or simply the difference between seeing the images in an ongoing war and after a victory.

(While I'm here, a special bouquet to Teresa for astonishingly good posts recently, even set against your usual extraordinary standard.)

#11 ::: Chloe ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 11:27 AM:

I will be terribly, and perhaps shamefully, honest and say that in the moments, and hours, after I first heard about the attack on the WTC (mind you, I was at work, and was not privy to any video at the time)... My first reaction to it was... This is one of the reasons I do not live in NYC, nor would I want to.

Yes, most of us do live under the notion that where we live is not as likely a target to "enemies" (terrorists or other nations), and act "accordingly".
However, I perfectly realize that under a number of different circumstances, my home, where I have many reasons to stay, could easily have been, or become, a major target, through no fault of my own.
(I'm defending myself against the innuendo accusation that I think NYC dwellers somehow all brought this on themselves, because I don't.)

I think the issue is not that a lot of people don't have to think about terrorism. It's that a lot of people can use it, the same way you say GWB used it. And that's especially true if it's not felt as a real possibility it will effect their lives personally.
Though considering it DOES (or at least SHOULD) effect GWB's life personally, considering his cultural/societal position, I'm not sure what his deal is. But then I don't understand a lot of his positions, personally.

#12 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 11:32 AM:

Jeremy, there's no shame in thinking like that at times. I know I do, as I am the sole support of my parents, who lost everything during one of those economic debacles of the 1990s and live on social security. So the questions you pose are important to me, too.
But having just returned from a trip to the hinterlands of the Bible Belt, I can tell you that Theresa's read is right on. There is a subset of the American people who truly believe that all the problems of the world will go away if we just kick enough asses abroad and institute a patriarchal theocracy at home; that way, Daddy Here and Daddy in the Sky will take care of everything and they can stop worrying.
They scare me more than AlQaeda does, sometimes.

#13 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Thank you so much for the link.
This is something that has been bugging me ever since I read in a compilation of Koestler essais that countries, yes, including the US, but they were far from alone in it, had before and during the war refused to change their immigration quota laws because of public opinion, effectively preventing people from escaping death and torture. At the time I remember trying to decipher how much people had known, and ended up quite shocked by finding out how much they did, or at least could have, had they kept their eyes opened.

I think people don't want to know; they don't wan't to be, or even feel, responsible for what is happening around them. What they want is the feeling of freedom, without the actual implications and duties of actually being free. It's as if they longed for a childlike state in which everything was explained and taken care of by a superior entity, whether it's God or the State or yet another entry in the book doesn't really matter.
And, yes, as displeasing as it may be, I'm not forgetting I'm part of the people, too.

Of intellectual laziness as a perfect mediocratic survival tool.

#14 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 11:50 AM:

And on NPR this morning, they carried the story of the son of Admiral Kimmel, trying to clear his father of the arbitrary blame that was pinned to him for the Pearl Harbor attacks.

My first thought was: "Wow, Roosevelt sure was slicker than Bush. Instead of stalling an investigation, he finished one as quickly as he could, and found the wrong guys to blame immediately. That way it was years before anyone got to asking the awkward questions about him."

Perhaps the relative incompetence of our president is something we should value more.

#15 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 12:07 PM:

A further, potentially relevant (for a change) comment:

Isn't they aren't threatened and therefore won't bother to see the real complexity and real issues that comprise a responsible take (note: that's meant to be a paraphrase, not a quote--please let me know if it's inaccurate) just another species of if only they knew the truth? To me, the difference appears to be in the ascribed motivation. Instead of a value-neutral They lack information, you have They lack information because they don't really care.

I know a lot of conservatives who are very interested in politics and political nuance. The problem is that 40-odd years of "liberal media" accusations has convinced conservatives that they simply don't have to accept information they don't like. Big Media is against them, they think, and every negative report about Bush or the military or the war can be simply dismissed as lies by their political enemies.

It's not that they don't feel threatened or don't care enough to look into the facts. It's that they have been conditioned to reject facts they don't like.

Frankly, I wish liberals had done this years ago. It might be a deluded way of looking at the world, but it seems to be pretty comforting.

But images still retain their power. How many people would still support the war if they saw pictures like these? Warning! The pictures at the link are very disturbing. They're not for the faint of heart (myself included).

#16 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 12:41 PM:

Harry wrote:
It's not that they don't feel threatened or don't care enough to look into the facts. It's that they have been conditioned to reject facts they don't like.

That happens on all sides, Harry. Nobody's got a lock on The Truth, and nobody's entirely objective about how they select and interpret the facts at hand.

#17 ::: Elusis ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 12:43 PM:

if they’ve calculated that they themselves are unlikely to get crushed, fried, poisoned, etc.

After spending Thanksgiving at Fort Hood, where my mother's husband is a Guardsman on active duty, what I can't wrap my head around is this: The Bush voters are unlikely to have a plane crashed into them based on their geography, true. But it's disproportionately their children who are being sent overseas to be crushed, fried, poisoned, etc. not to mention SHOT. So either the "this doesn't directly affect them, therefore they walk away from the work of thinking about it" explanation breaks down, or there's something even more subtle and insidious going on that is beyond my ken.

#18 ::: scott h andrews ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 12:53 PM:

hi teresa. while i do agree with your general sentiment, i see that you've made the same mistake that many blue-state folks have made when generalizing about the political leanings of the 9/11 attack sites. as a twelfth-generation Virginian myself, i must point out that the Pentagon is located in Virginia, not in Washington DC. Virginia has been a red state since LBJ, but Arlington Co. and most of the northern VA suburb counties vote blue.

#19 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:00 PM:

Should have been "I fear people don't want to know" up there, not "I think people don't want to know".
Revealing lapsus, I guess.

Also, Moby's take on the situation might be interesting to some.

#20 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:07 PM:

Steve, of course both sides filter and interpret, But both sides do not filter and interpret to the same degree. But the filtering on the right is epidemic and institutionalized.

#21 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:14 PM:

Thank you for the link, Harry.

The next time my comfortable, conservative, close-minded great aunt sends out a "pray for our president" chain letter, she's getting one back with those pictures suggesting she pray for those kids.

#22 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:19 PM:

Thanks for the great post, Theresa.

It's always been puzzling to me how many people dismiss Nazi Germany with, "They were monsters." As if the architects of the Holocaust did not have thousands of people working for them who got up in the morning, ate breakfast, kissed their spouses and children, and went off to put in eight hours of industrialized murder. Day after day. The sheer success of the societal control in Nazi Germany is awesome--in the original definition of the word, where 'awe' means something more frightening then 'cool'.

Now, some of my own interest and concern undoubtedly comes from the fact that relatives of mine didn't make it out of the country in time. But it drives me crazy that so few people are interested in the causes and process of totalitarianism. I fear that most of the population of this country wouldn't even recognize it if it bit them on the leg. 'Facist' has become such an overused epithet that it's virtually lost all meaning. But when elected members of the government openly speak of legalizing torture, detainment without judicial review, and limiting the power of the Supreme Court, this should set off warning bells for more than just the few of us who hang out here, and it says a great deal about the indifference of many citizens, and the success of televised media in convincing said citizens that their proper role is to buy the things they see on the tube and nothing more.

As an aside: has anyone else got the feeling that there are people who seem to be perfectly willing to break the US economy in pieces? (I'm thinking of Grover Norquist here, though there are others.) I'm asking because the economic situation in Weimar Germany certainly facilitated Hitler's rise to power, and the prospect of a similar meltdown with massive unemployment and hyperinflation has been turned from a joke about banana republics to a real possiblity. It makes me very, very queasy to consider that Reconstructionists may be influencing policy in my own country instead of haunting the pages of dystopian speculative fiction.

One of my more interesting possessions is an envelope from my grandmother's stamp collection, which is entirely unremarkable except for the twelve million Reichmarks of postage stuck to it. It's one thing to read about hyperinflation or see pictures of bread lines. When you hold that thing in your hand, you can feel the thought run through your head, "I'd vote for Hitler too."

#23 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:33 PM:

At a reception for Benedikt Taschen, top publisher of Art books and Architecture books, who started by opening a comic book store on his 18th birthday, I spoke to a woman who had, as a child, sat across from Adolf Hitler at a dinner table.

"We knew," she said, "exactly what he was. We left Germany forever. Why can't Americans look at George W. Bush and see the same fascism? What's the matter with this country? Sometimes I wonder if we ever should have come here. But where can you run to? The whole world is a target."

I take her eyewitness account a little more seriously than most of the editorializing by Democrats and Republicans alike, which are mostly hearsay, double hearsay, triple hearsay.

Thank you very much to Teresa for this blog thread. This is very, very important.

#24 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:36 PM:

Debbie Notkin: As for seeing the pictures, I agree about 1945, but seeing the Abu Ghraib pictures demonstrably did not change the minds of enough U.S. citizens to matter. That could be the TV generation, the fact that no images are shocking any more, or simply the difference between seeing the images in an ongoing war and after a victory.

I was surprised by one thing about the Abu Ghraib photos: the extent to which people reacted to them by saying "America is not like that." It made me wonder what country they live in.

I believe that the reason outrage about Abu Ghraib is more mute than it might be is because so many Americans basically approve of what was done there.

#25 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:51 PM:

There's also a lot of pictures showing the human death toll of the war in Iraq at
Fallujah in pictures

has anyone else got the feeling that there are people who seem to be perfectly willing to break the US economy in pieces?
Sure. The truly rich already have their foreign investments, shares in multi-national companies, swiss and cayman island bank accounts. Even if the US economy falls they'll be ok -- in fact they'll probably have made a profit off it.

#26 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 01:53 PM:

Teresa,

The asterisk isn't working for me. I'm using IE on Windows XP.

#27 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 02:13 PM:

The asterisk text says:
Thus, perhaps, those 'moral issues': if we brought this on ourselves, there must be some.

Teresa, this may go better in that suggestions thread from the other day, but if footnotes are going to become a regular feature, I urge you to consider including an HREF to anchored text elsewhere on the page for browser compatibility. This will also make them useful if anyone prints the page for later reading, or reads things in a funky RSS reader, or does some other export that breaks your HTML.

#28 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 02:20 PM:

It seems to me that while "no one knew" how bad Hitler was, what "everybody knew" in the 1930s was that the real enemy was International Communism. That is, yes, most people had some idea that Hitler was up to no good, but at least he was fighting the communists. And although this was years before HUAC and blacklisting, to be overly critical of Hitler and Mussolini was to be left open to charges of communism or communist sympathy. So, even if you thought Hitler was the embodiment of pure evil, you learned to use measured terms to express your views.

Even today, when I read some Godwin-forsaken Nazi thread, there's always someone piping up with "But Stalin killed 20 million!" Because, you know, if you discuss pre-war U.S. knowledge of the goals of Nazism without condemning Stalin, you're no better than a damned dirty Bolshevik.

#29 ::: Pookel ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 02:20 PM:

But images still retain their power. How many people would still support the war if they saw pictures like these? Warning! The pictures at the link are very disturbing. They're not for the faint of heart (myself included).

Do you think there aren't images just as horrible from the Allied firebombing of Dresden? War inflicts a terrible toll on civilian populations, and it always has. People who support the war in Iraq aren't so naive that they don't understand that. If you want to convince them not to support the war, you have to convince them that the war's long-term goals are misguided; you can't just show them some bloody corpses and expect them to change their minds.

#30 ::: Chloe ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 02:25 PM:

Harry Connolly: "How many people would still support the war if they saw pictures like these?"

A lot more than you'd realize.
Particularly since there are no photos of white American children on that page. And most people who support the war, would continue to do so, after seeing these photos, by simply thinking of the images from 9/11. (Even though, yes, it had nothing to do with Iraq.)

People won't change their minds after seeing those images, because to do so would be to say "hey, that's not right" and by doing that, they'd be admitting that they were previously wrong. And haven't you ever noticed, that it's incredibly difficult for most people to admit when they've been wrong, even if they believe they were, at least on some level...

And then there are those who would say "yes, war is awful - but those deaths were necessary" - no matter how cruel.

I keep citing this link a lot since I first heard it. But that's because I think it's relevant.

#31 ::: ABM ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 02:48 PM:

Pookel: Though there may be horrific pictures from WWII or WWI or VietNam that's no excuse to ignore what's going on now. We are supposed to be an adaptive species i.e. learn from our past. There surely have to be better ways of changing the world without blowing up the people in it!

#32 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 03:27 PM:

Side note: Years ago I was told about a historian teaching in New York (I believe it was Walter Lacqeur at Columbia) who would try to bring home to his studens just how much we knew at the time about Hitler and his intentions. He restricted them to the New York Times on microfilm for researching the years in question. My understanding is that most of his students ended up believing not only that we had a rather good idea of what was coming before the war, but also a surprisingly good, if not completely detailed, picture of the extermination campaign during the war.

I do know that while the extermination camps may have been a surprise to some of the soliders that liberated them, they were not a surprise to Allied intelligence. We knew, and in many cases knew were, but never got complete agreement on a plan to interfere with the process by, say, bombing Auschwitz-Birkenau. In retropect . . .

#33 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 03:29 PM:

Strangely, the fact that I don't consider it likely I'm going to see my place of residence fall victim to a terrorist attack is the reason I think "Homeland Security", the colour alerts, the Patriot Act, etc. are stupid ideas.

Well, not the only reason, but it has a lot to do with it. "Stop scaring people and actually do something effective", more or less.

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 03:45 PM:

Oh. My. God.

Atrios spots this on the Fox News page:

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/atrios/bushuni.jpg

#35 ::: Derek Lowe ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 04:01 PM:

"For instance, in the areas actually attacked on 9/11, Manhattan and Washington D.C., Bush polled 16% and 11%. We’re natural targets, so we have to pay attention to this stuff."

There's a bit of post hoc, ergo propter hoc in that analysis. After all, it's not like DC and Manhattan have been Republican strongholds. I haven't been able to find earlier statistics for Manhattan (New York county) yet, but Bush polled 14% there in 2000, and Dole had 12.5% of the vote in 1996. (I don't regard these as significant differences, but if there is a difference, it's the other way around from what you seem to be suggesting.)

As for DC, data is available from the Clerk of the House Election Statistics Site. And a similar trend holds - here are the Republican percentages of the total vote, by year: 2000, 9%. 1996, 9.3%. 1992, 9.1%. 1988, 14.3%. 1984, 13.7%. 1980, 13.4%. 1976, 16.5%. 1972, 21.6%. 1968, 18.2%. Bush seems to have done no worse than in 2000, possibly a small bit better.

Now, I realize that you may be saying simply that Bush didn't manage to rack up any great increases in Manhattan or DC. But your argument seems to be that since Bush is so terrible, he did poorly in the areas hit by 9/11, and would have done poorly everywhere else if the people in such backwaters didn't find thinking about these things "tiresome." By those lights, shouldn't he have done worse in Manhattan and DC, instead of the same or marginally better?

#36 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 04:12 PM:

Hi, Emma! "[The radical right bunnies] scare me more than AlQaeda does, sometimes."

At this time, and for the next decade at least, they will most likely do more harm to the American people than any 20 Islamic radical organizations.

"has anyone else got the feeling that there are people who seem to be perfectly willing to break the US economy in pieces?" Sure. See Paul Krugman and Brad Delong, both economics professors, on this matter.

Returning to the original topic, "However, I believe that a lot of American citizens who don’t live here have privately decided that the odds that they personally will get nailed by terrorists are low enough to ignore." Yes. There is a failure of imagination, a failure to think beyond the immediate risks. Many people--sigh, I've been saying it for years--will only believe there is a problem when it comes home to them. And even then they often refuse to believe until it has arrived multiple times--some never will believe. Isn't that why the 9/11 attacks were successful, after all? The most basic of precautions would have prevented them. But we were so over-confident we had no defenses in place. It wasn't like we didn't know we were vulnerable--there was the European experience, going back decades. There was the attack in Kenya, and the first attack on the World Trade Center. And now that the attacks have occurred, there is an even more intense denial of risk.

Unfortunately, I see no way out but through; those of us who do see beyond the immediate risks, I think, are going to have to wait, until the risks and choices become real to most of the public. Which I believe they will. But it's going to be a hard wait. Jeremy, you may wish to move some of your assets into non-dollar denominated accounts while we wait. I note in particular that Alan Greenspan's term will end in 2006, and one of his likely replacements is R. Glenn Hubbard, Mr. "2 - 1 = 4" in person.

#37 ::: David Hungerford ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 04:14 PM:

For instance, in the areas actually attacked on 9/11, Manhattan and Washington D.C., Bush polled 16% and 11%. We’re natural targets, so we have to pay attention to this stuff. And since we do, we notice that when it comes to real homeland security, Bush has been the worst Preznit in American history.

Attempting to draw any conclusion from Bush not polling well in DC is, at a minimum, Rather Silly. Historically, Republicans poll very poorly in DC. Going back to 1964, the best a Republican has ever done was Nixon in 1972, getting 21.5% of the popular vote. No Republican has polled above 10% since Bush Sr. got 14.3% in '88, and W's 9.34% in the 2004 election is actually an increase over the 8.95% he got in 2000. In short, there's nothing there to draw any conclusions from. (Source for all numbers: Dave Leip's Atlas of US Presidential Elections.)

Disclaimers:
I don't have polling data for NYC so I make no statement about how meaningful that number is.
I make no statement as to the validity of the overall argument or how much I do or do not agree with the sentiments expressed.

Dav2.718

#38 ::: David Hungerford ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 04:18 PM:

I did check to make sure that no one had posted a comment saying what I was going to say...apparently just before Derek's comment hit.

*sigh*

Dav2.718

#39 ::: Michael Merriam ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 04:47 PM:

you know, I lived in Oklahoma City in 1995, and we didn't ever think we'd be attacked, and especially not by a home-grown bomber. And I talk to people who still live there, and they still have this sense of well, it couldn't possibly happen here again. People don't seem to learn. I suspect that's a lot of what happen with Nazi Germany. People just didn't think it could really happen.

#40 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 05:32 PM:

David, you and Derek both missed the fact that DC wasn't attacked, the Pentagon is solidly in Virginia. Virginia mostly votes Republican, but the closer to urban areas, the more likely to vote Democratic.

I've always assumed, since we were transferred to the Pentagon when I was 12, that I would be living at first strike places.

#41 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 07:06 PM:

David and Derek: Rove & Co. managed to dig up ~5,000,000 people who were enough impressed by Bush to vote for his second term after staying home (or even voting Democratic) for his first. Why were almost none of those in the areas actually hit by terrorism? There's plenty of NYC, DC, etc. left to hit, but no foreign terrorist is going to think it's a Neat Thing to take out Tulsa or Topeka or ...; the new votes for Bush have no idea what is most likely to hurt them -- starting with what happens when the rest of the world says it isn't going to buy the 2 trillion on bonds (on top of half a trillion/year currently) to finance the mangling of Social Security.

#42 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Marilee: I grew up right near a major Army/Air Force pairing of installations, including the regional NORAD HQ. I also had that "target zone" feeling.

#43 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 07:18 PM:

Nevertheless, both Admiral Kimmel and General Short were responsible for the debacle at Pearl Harbor. The former had, as his job description, defend the fleet. The later had, as his job description, defend Pearl Harbor. If they weren't responsible for carrying out their own duties, who was?

Now it is true that even if both gentlemen had carried out their duties to the utmost, and had access to the Magic intercepts, that the results might well have been the same. Admiral Yamamoto had planned on his counterparts being as effective as he was, and expected to face stiff resistance. He sent enough forces to shoot his way in and shoot his way out.

Still, that in no way absolves Kimmel and Short.

The fact that the current Bush didn't fire the entire top echelon responsible for failure to defend New York and Washington doesn't speak well of him. Why, at the very minimum, weren't the Director of Central Intelligence, the National Security Advisor, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs removed in the immediate aftermath?

All we've really seen is a shrug and "Shit happens!"

#44 ::: Jax ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 07:50 PM:

Regarding the "we never knew about the Holocaust" theory, I think if comparisons to America are being made, the full context of the situations would be good. A major consideration when comparing Nazi Germany and contemporary America is 1930s-40s Germany was not free; America--at least for now--still is. We still have individual and 1st Ammendment rights, most notably a free press.

So when we talk about what a human being would do in a given situation (such as participating in or denying the Holocaust, or evading or taking a stand against terrorism in a post 9/11 era) keeping the context of the era in mind is crucial.

Teresa said it's an error to believe people would see things differently if only they knew the truth. And I agree with this, but I'd like to qualify that. People can see the truth all day, but if they refuse to allow that truth to integrate into their lives in an honest way, they may as well be seeing whatever acid trip takes their fancy. But there's a difference between seeing the truth and experiencing it.

I experienced 9/11 like most Americans...from a distance. On 9/12 my country was still free, my house still standing, my loved ones still alive. My greatest fear on 9/12, in fact, was whether or not I'd be able to get married in the Bank of America building in San Francisco on 9/16, which I'd been told was closed due to its potential as a terrorist target. And, at the time, this was a huge consideration for me (think crazed bride). But my city hadn't been bombed and the only planes flying overhead were the American F-16s protecting our borders. It wasn't until I got on a transcontinental flight on 9/17 for my honeymoon that 9/11 really sank in for me. But still, the experience of that truth is probably much padded compared to how New Yorkers experienced the same truth.

1930s Germany, I think, experienced the truth of fascism at a much deeper level than most Americans experienced 9/11 because everywhere you went in Germany was a physical representation of loss of freedom, propaganda, fear tactics, and anti-semitism. You saw your neighbors getting carted away either for being Jewish or harboring Jews, or not being German enough. Your children were forced into Hitler Youth on their 10th birthday and no matter how much the parent objected, the child, now a willing and happy subject of the Furher, thought he was morally right by saving the country from the evils of Jews and Communism. As such, when the popular culture of Germany chose to ignore and/or participate in the Holocaust, they did it knowing full well what truth they were chosing to modify. The children and young adults were at a disadvantage because they'd been indoctrinated / brainwashed with nazism most of their lives. The adults aren't so easily forgiven.

There's a telling scene in the HBO series "Band of Brothers" when one of the American soldiers discovers a concentration camp near a German city. The soldier turns to a group of German city dwellers who claimed they had no idea and says, "couldn't you smell the burning flesh?" And the Germans are speechless.

An interesting book on the subject, Hitler's Willing Executioners, examines this subject.

So, my point, I guess is most Americans really don't know what it is to have their freedom threatened, but even when they do have the full knowledge and experience of it, people ultimately chose their own reaction. The more extreme the experience, the more extreme the reaction (i.e., Nazi Germany and her citizens). But Americans haven't had decades of fascist or [insert oppressive ideology here] to prepare us for the kind of group evasion required to foster a Holocaust.

Unfortunately, we're not immune to such an experience. Given enough terrorist attacks, we might all have the opportunity to experience a loss of freedom and the unfortunate and destructive reaction (closing borders, regulating press, loss of privacy and personal property) such an experience could breed.


#45 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 08:33 PM:

Marilee and Christopher: I grew up in a neighborhood overlooking Pearl Harbor, only a few miles away from the battleships and the nuclear subs. I too figured that I was close enough to ground zero so as not to make much of a difference in the event of Something Bad.

#46 ::: Andy Moursund ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 09:41 PM:

Teresa writes of the commentary which accompanies the "We Never Knew" poster, "In all of us, there’s a tendency to believe that people would see things differently if only they knew the truth."

As the writer of those words and the creator of the poster, I must admit I'm at a loss when I read this. Good God, the entire point of the poster is to show (a) that we DID know what was going on, and (b) that we chose NOT to act upon this knowledge.

That aside, I'm glad to find this site, which was sent to me by a reader who went onto the GBS site and ordered five different posters. Keep up the good work---lots of interesting observations here.

#47 ::: Pookel ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 11:28 PM:

Good God, the entire point of the poster is to show (a) that we DID know what was going on, and (b) that we chose NOT to act upon this knowledge.

I believe that was Teresa's point.

#48 ::: Jax ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 11:41 PM:

I believe that was Teresa's point.

Yeah, that was my read, too.

#49 ::: Andy Moursund ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 11:41 PM:

Nothing like being brought up short on my very first post here. With my purest instinct for getting it wrong, I read "In all of us" and somehow that translated in my eye to "In all of this." Don't ask me how, or why. I can only plead the lateness of the hour, and mea maxima culpa.

#50 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 12:10 AM:

Andy: an honest mistake is an honest mistake. The posters, and the project underlying them, are great, and I think we can cut you a little slack. Now get some rest.

#51 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 01:43 AM:

Hmmm....I see was a little too eliptical with my last post. What I should have asked is: Does anyone else have the feeling that an enormous economic crisis is being planned, nay encouraged, by parties who wish to create the conditions that would facilitate the formation of a totalitarian state?

I am perfectly willing to believe that such a crisis could be precipitated merely through stupidity, of which we have seen no shortage in this administration. But Occam's Razor indicates the simplest explanation--some organization working to dispose of the Constitution.

I hope I'm just being paranoid about that. Persons who wish to make themselves even more paranoid should visit Dave Neiwert's blog at http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/

To get back to the main point of this thread, though: Education isn't going to cut it. Nobody likes to admit they were wrong. The sort of personality that craves certainty and simple answers and easy-to-follow guidelines all written down in a single book will never, never, never change their mind based on your explanations, entreaties, pictures, or facts. You're a tool of Satan, or godless communists, or a dupe of the baby murderers, or a liberal. Back during the run-up to the election I heard a radio broadcast on the local NPR station covering a Kerry rally. In the background is an anti-Kerry demonstrator shouting, "American soldiers never commited war crimes in Vietnam!"

Think about that one for a minute, please. It's not like this country has tried to supress knowledge of My Lai, or dozens of other incidents. Everyone reading this knows this guy is certifiably nuts--in complete denial of reality. But to dismiss him out of hand would be a terrible mistake--he may just be a couple of years ahead of the crowd.

#52 ::: Jesurgislac ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 02:03 AM:

In terms of "we knew but we did nothing" I've found it endlessly interesting, in a terrible sort of way, that it's difficult to impossible to make most well-meaning, well-informed Americans acknowledge any one of the following:

1. The wipe-out of Native Americans in North America, from the early 17th century onwards, was in fact genocide, by any reasonable definition of the word.

2. The US military targets civilians. Targetting civilians is what cluster bombs are all about. As is deliberately bombing civilian TV stations, which the US has also done at least twice.

Nothing has really changed since 1945. People who are part of the winning side have the really vile crimes slide off them. Winning is what really matters.

#53 ::: David Hungerford ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 05:59 AM:

Marilee said:
David, you and Derek both missed the fact that DC wasn't attacked, the Pentagon is solidly in Virginia.

I wasn't the one who brought up DC as an example of an attacked area. (And, honestly, I think you could argue that the citizens of DC were well aware of where Flight 93 was likely headed.)


CHip said:
David and Derek: Rove & Co. managed to dig up ~5,000,000 people who were enough impressed by Bush to vote for his second term after staying home (or even voting Democratic) for his first. Why were almost none of those in the areas actually hit by terrorism?

Bush votes in DC in 2004 were up 17% from 2000. During roughly the same time period, (2000-2003; I cannot find any newer population data for DC proper), DC's population dropped by nearly 2%. Pardon me if I'm not seeing repudiation of Bush's policies and record in that.

Now, if you dig a little deeper, you see that that 17% increase represents a grand total of 3183 voters, and that the Kerry vote was 18% higher than the Gore vote...which means what? It means that voting patterns in DC in 2004 were pretty much exactly like voting patterns in DC in 2000, except that (as was the case nationwide) a significantly larger percentage of the population actually voted. Remember, I'm not trying to make a point with the numbers here; I'm saying that the numbers don't support point-making.

Things may be different in the NYC numbers; I'd be interested in seeing them.

Dav2.718

#54 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 07:28 AM:

People who are part of the winning side have the really vile crimes slide off them.

You could make the same comments about French people and what they did to Jewish throughout their country's history, or also Japan and Corean "comfort women"...
I often feel it has to do with the fact that, for some people, accepting your community commited a crime equals being guilty of it as well, which they can't accept. Or as one librarian once told me: "I can't wear that burden, I wasn't even born at the time..."

#55 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 08:34 AM:

You could make the same comments about French people and what they did to Jewish throughout their country's history, or also Japan and Corean "comfort women"...

...or the first genocide of the 20th century, which was committed by Belgium: or any of the vile crimes committed by the British Empire...

#56 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 10:39 AM:

Alex:
Hmmm....I see was a little too eliptical with my last post. What I should have asked is: Does anyone else have the feeling that an enormous economic crisis is being planned, nay encouraged, by parties who wish to create the conditions that would facilitate the formation of a totalitarian state?

No. Isn't it the first of the liberal 95 Theses that the country is being run by huge corporate interests? An enormous economic crisis would entail most of those corporations' stockholders losing most of their money. I don't see what direct benefits a totalitarian state would offer them that would compensate for such a sacrifice. (Evil overlordship's about making other people sacrifice for your cause, not yourself.)

I suppose if you're in the schism that believes it's the religious right running the country, not huge corporate interests, one could make a better sell for the benefits that a values-based totalitarianism would bring them. But the economy has never been their terrain of choice; they're digging their trenches in the media instead. Further, they believe more than anyone else does in the Strength of America(TM). I don't believe destroying the world so they could save it would seriously occur to those guys. (And if it did, they'd probably be smart enough to realize that, as booze, sex and gambling are some of the only recession-proof industries, an economic collapse would backfire on them. Prohibition in the midst of a depression is a tried experiment.)

Anyway, those are my immediate takes. I haven't followed all your sources, though, and I'm open to correction: whom do you think is trying to bring about a totalitarian state, and how do you think that group would balance the risk/benefit ratio of collapsing the economy?

#57 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 11:32 AM:

No. Isn't it the first of the liberal 95 Theses that the country is being run by huge corporate interests? An enormous economic crisis would entail most of those corporations' stockholders losing most of their money.

Well, seems like the really big corporations are spread over many countries. How badly would the CEO's and Boards of directors be hurting, really?

#58 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 01:03 PM:

Mayakda wrote:
Well, seems like the really big corporations are spread over many countries. How badly would the CEO's and Boards of directors be hurting, really?

If the number one consumer nation in the world collapsed? Quite bad. Lose the U.S., and you don't lose all your customers, but in most industries you'd lose most of the ones that count.

Further, there's the old adage about refraining from elimination in the proximity of one's dining. Most of those corporations were founded and are headquartered in the U.S. -- that's not just a paper hurt, they'd feel it where they live. (And if they're going to move somewhere else, what's their reason to create a totalitarian state here?)

#59 ::: Nell Lancaster ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 01:23 PM:

Teresa, thanks for the link to the 'We Never Knew' project. A related resource is Deborah Lipstadt's 1986 book _Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust 1933-1945_.

The book is very helpful in analyzing media response to atrocities of many kinds. The pattern of press treatment of massacres in El Salvador carried out by U.S.-supported and -trained military followed almost exactly the progression Lipstadt documents.

We knew. They knew. We knew they knew.

And now? We know enough about U.S. torture to be held responsible later. Please consider making one of your new year's resolutions a specific action to help further expose and end it. This site from Human Rights First is just one of many possibilities, but a good starting point.

#60 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 01:30 PM:

An article I would recommend highly is:

http://www.harpers.org/JesusPlusNothing.html

by Jeff Sharlet. You will recognize more than a few names in it, and there are a couple passages that may well make your skin crawl.

The people I am worried about are not the greedheads who want to steal all my money, or even the lazy corporations that want to do away with those pesky enviromental and labor regulations. These are base motives that most people can identify (eventually) and that can be suppressed, assuming a functional legislative process.

The ones to worry about are the Christian Reconstructionists, who are after bigger game: your soul. Everybody's. To save everybody, they need to control every aspect of everybody's life in order to eliminate sin. This can't be done in America as it currently stands. So: what is the best way to get rid of the American constitution and those pesky individual rights? Triple-digit inflation and forty percent unemployment will do wonders for voter turnout, and cold, hungry people are not poking around on page B17 of the Times to see what the details of your platform are. These people are willing to tip over the whole apple cart because they don't care. They don't want apples. They want the cart.

Please don't think I've eaten an double extra-large pepperoni pizza while reading A Handmaid's Tale. Margaret Atwood did not invent these people. I don't think that there are a lot of them, or that there's a huge conspiracy. But the ones that are there have patiently taken decades to work their way into power, and to all appearances their advice is being taken. When nearly every economist that isn't working for the administration is saying there is a small but nonzero chance of disaster, and the small chance is getting bigger all the time, one has to wonder if that's an accident.

I want to be wrong about this. I want to be a nutbar conspiracy theorist on this topic. I wish I could regard the whole idea as an entertaining plot device. But my faith that America was somehow immune to the virus of facism has taken a hike, and I haven't seen it for a couple years now. And I may be crying wolf--the administration may let the dollar gently slide to two-thirds it's current value, and we may cut the deficit and muddle our way to the next crisis. Maybe.

Now: who stands to benefit from the social and economic chaos following the uncontrolled collapse of the US economy? No, it isn't 99.99% of the Republican party. But that last .01% isn't wandering in the wilderness, it's living inside the beltway and shaking hands with people you watch on the news.

#61 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 01:51 PM:

"Does anyone else have the feeling that an enormous economic crisis is being planned, nay encouraged, by parties who wish to create the conditions that would facilitate the formation of a totalitarian state?"

Well, Grover ("a progressive income tax is equivalent to genocide") Norquist has, in fact, argued that it might be "good" to bankrupt one of the states as an object lesson. But I'd have to say no, that they don't seem to understand the economics or likely social and political impacts. I can't imagine they want to limit the US ability to field an army, for instance, or to shape world economic policy.

#62 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 03:01 PM:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me-- and there was no one left to speak out for me.

-- Martin Niemoeller

What can we do?

We can speak out.

#63 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 04:06 PM:

Alan Bostick:

I was surprised by one thing about the Abu Ghraib photos: the extent to which people reacted to them by saying "America is not like that."

We were able to react differently to the WWII concentration camp photos, because that was suffering inflicted on someone other than ourselves, by an Other we'd already been fighting. So it was much easier to condemn the camps, indeed the Germans as a whole, as evil when we were finally confronted with visual proof, because we had some psychological distance from it.

We are not at all prepared to do the same thing to ourselves. Most Americans are still deeply invested in the American Myth.

#64 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 04:25 PM:

No. Isn't it the first of the liberal 95 Theses that the country is being run by huge corporate interests? An enormous economic crisis would entail most of those corporations' stockholders losing most of their money. I don't see what direct benefits a totalitarian state would offer them that would compensate for such a sacrifice.

The economic crisis is for the workers, not for the corporations. Think "jobless recovery".

(Evil overlordship's about making other people sacrifice for your cause, not yourself.)

Exactly.

#65 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 04:50 PM:

David: your numbers argue against you. It's true that Bush's totals in the areas hit in 9/11 are less meaningful out of context; but the context you supply strongly suggests that the people who have seen terrorism directly rather than on TV do not feel that Bush has decreased the chance that they will see it again -- despite all the noise Ridge et al. have made about alleged terrorists caught and alleged terrorists plans thwarted in the last three years. If they did, would not his numbers have improved? Maybe they understand (as the heartland apparently does not) how unlikely terrorism is to hurt them, compared to the steps taken by Bush et al. in other areas.

#66 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 05:18 PM:

I don't want to say "America is not like that."

I will say "America should not be like that."

#67 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 05:22 PM:

alex, upthread (Dec 07 at 1:19):

It's always been puzzling to me how many people dismiss Nazi Germany with, "They were monsters." As if the architects of the Holocaust did not have thousands of people working for them who got up in the morning....

I work for a scientist who lived in Russia until quite recently. He tells me stories of what living in Soviet Russia was like, and his father's stories of living under Stalin, and then he says "You probably do not believe these stories." I told him I believe him, but he has a point: Americans about my age have real trouble comprehending those kinds of things. We learn them by reading books in school. As horrible as it sounds, when it comes to my experiential or emotional reality, the events I read about in Night or Diary of Anne Frank don't feel any more real than the events I read in 1984. Both are so removed from anything I have experienced. It's hard for me to believe these things could happen in my world. Intellectually I know it, but in my gut, I don't.

Which leads me to reply to Jonathon Vos Post, just below alex's comment:
My boyfriend's grandmother is from the Sudetenland. She saw Hitler from beginning to end, and she says Bush reminds her of the early days. This doesn't prove that Bush = Hitler. What it does do to me is make me realize that horrors like Nazi Germany happened in real time, in real life, day by day, by all kinds of people who for whatever reason thought it was okay, it was something they could accept. She didn't flee, although she always opposed Hitler; it must have seemed like just another power-hungry politician next door, but something they could live through, until he started taking over everything.

These things don't seem clear-cut at the time, especially if you are looking at them from far away. Reports of atrocities are easy to ignore("I don't pay attention to the news"), dismiss ("The liberal media only talks about this stuff, never what's good in Iraq!"), or excuse ("So what if we sexually abuse prisoners at Abu Ghraib? It doesn't compare to beheading!"). It can seem morally ambiguous, and even if the facts are reported, later on it's easy to say "We never knew it was as bad as all that. If we'd known, surely we would have stopped it." Because lost in the chaos of daily events and daily debates, it didn't seem as bad as all that.

Amnesty International letter-writing campaigns, here I come....(thanks, Nell Lancaster)

#68 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 05:30 PM:

TomB wrote:
The economic crisis is for the workers, not for the corporations. Think "jobless recovery".

Wait, now you're saying that our economic recovery is the nation-shattering disaster that's going to give rise to a totalitarian state? Somehow our nation's going to be plunged into chaos without any appreciable effect on corporate earnings or GDP?

At this point I'm too confused to argue any further. Whatever it is y'all are pointing at, I must not be wearing the right glasses to see it.

(And BTW, I did read that Harper's article. Mindbending stuff, and thanks for pointing it out; but I don't see anything in there about that Kool-Aid krowd pushing for calamity of any kind. Prayer and bobbling heads, yes. But if the article's to be taken at face value, they appear to be conspiring to keep each other ineffective.)

#69 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 06:35 PM:

Stefan, I saw video of this appearance:

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/atrios/bushuni.jpg

last night, and that's not a uniform. That's a light jacket with the LeJeune patch on one side, the name of the person and their position/company on the other side. Those are kinda "gimme" jackets for prominent people who visit bases. There's a good chance a couple of Bush's top aides got them, too.

I have a couple from when I (as a contractor) brought in projects early and under cost -- they were just "thank you" from the director of the project. Of course, mine have different patches, and my name, and under it SAIC.

#70 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 09:04 PM:

jax wrote:

1930s Germany, I think, experienced the truth of fascism at a much deeper level than most Americans experienced 9/11 because everywhere you went in Germany was a physical representation of loss of freedom, propaganda, fear tactics, and anti-semitism. You saw your neighbors getting carted away either for being Jewish or harboring Jews, or not being German enough. Your children were forced into Hitler Youth on their 10th birthday and no matter how much the parent objected, the child, now a willing and happy subject of the Furher, thought he was morally right by saving the country from the evils of Jews and Communism. As such, when the popular culture of Germany chose to ignore and/or participate in the Holocaust, they did it knowing full well what truth they were chosing to modify. The children and young adults were at a disadvantage because they'd been indoctrinated / brainwashed with nazism most of their lives. The adults aren't so easily forgiven.

... and this is different from being searched at airports and federal buildings, being pulled out of line for having the wrong colour skin, feeling the need to call friends when you enter a federal building, and tell them to make quiet enquiries if they don't hear back from you later that day, in what respect? What about the variety of people who've been held without charges or bail simply for having the wrong name - they've certainly been carted away, leaving their community in fear...

As Caroline says a bit upthread - it doesn't seem all that bad from the inside, in little bits and dribbles...

#71 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 11:05 PM:

That's a relief, Marilee!

#72 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2004, 11:54 PM:

Sinclair Lewis had a character wonder that fascism could come to America with the face of Will Rogers....

As for the main topic, I'd say that one of the problems is the power of an inaccurate but compelling narrative. People in the 'Thirties, for the most part, didn't believe that stuff like that could happen, that wasn't the type of story that animates the world, at least not in the white part of it.

Even the Germans didn't start at utter barabarity; they first tried to get Jew-free via expulsion...the earliest camps were very, very, unpleasant places that prominent opponents who weren't killed saw, hence:

Bitte Herr Gott macht mich stumm
Daß ich nicht am Dachau komm

('Please Lord God, make me mute so I don't end up in Dachau') but they weren't worse than (for one) the concentration camps the British used for the Boers. Later, death-camp guards seemed to have needed morale-boosting measures, at least at first, in order to do their jobs....

To a large extent, the world is ruled by stories, that is to say by magic---and what incantation seems to be better now than "9-11! 9-11!", it even has the same rhythm as "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" and one particular Godwinopathic incantation of former times....


#73 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 01:00 AM:

From p. 147 of William Shirer's The Nightmare Years (late 1934):

"...most Germans, so far as I could see, did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away...that their life and work were becoming regimented to a degree never before experienced...
...the Nazi terror in those early years ... affected the lives of relatively few Germans. The vast majority did not seem unduly concerned with what happened to a few Communists, Socialists, pacifists, defiant priests and pastors, and to the Jews."

#74 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 01:25 AM:

Caroline wrote:
She didn't flee, although she always opposed Hitler; it must have seemed like just another power-hungry politician next door, but something they could live through, until he started taking over everything.

That's one of the bits I'm struggling with: at what point do I choose to cut and run? Is it possible to see a national point of no return, from this close? I don't particularly want to leave the country of my birth. On the other hand, I don't much want to watch it turn into this America that I think shouldn't be, from within, either.

#75 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 02:50 AM:

That Harper's article reminded me a little of Ludlum's Inver Brass, although that crowd had no religious aspects to it. Just about as disturbing, too.

#76 ::: David Hungerford ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 03:09 AM:

CHip: if I understand you correctly, your argument is not (as Teresa's original argument was) that Bush's polling 9% in DC intrinsically means anything, it's that Bush's numbers in '04 did not increase at the same pace with his numbers in the rest of the country, thereby indicating that DC voters were, relatively speaking, less satisfied with Bush than were other areas of the country. (This would, if true, tend to support Teresa's larger contention that those in areas that had to pay attention to how Bush handled terrorism were Not Pleased with said handling.)

I went back and looked at Bush's percentage of the popular vote state-by-state in 2000 and 2004. I had Excel calculate both the simple change in popular vote percentage and what that change was as a percentage of his 2000 percentage. That's not a particularly clear sentence...let's try a (fictional) example. In the state of North Weeble in 2000, Bush got 31% of the popular vote. In 2004, he got 34% of the popular vote. The raw percentage change was 3%. The increase figured as a percentage of that 31% he got in 2000 is 9.7%. I hope that's clear....

Anyway, I generated numbers for all 50 states (plus DC) and for the nation as a whole. Nationally, Bush's popular vote percentage increased from 47.87% to 50.75%, a raw increase of 2.88% and an "adjusted" increase of 6.02%. Adjusted increases ranged from Vermont's -4.67% to Rhode Island's 21.22%. DC's adjusted increase was 4.36%, the 28th highest increase. It's significantly below the mean, but only a bit below the median.

I am not a statistician. Those numbers might mean something real about how relatively satisfied or dissatisfied DC voters were with Bush's handling of terrorism or they might not. It's also entirely possible that I've generated numbers that intrinsically lack any meaning and that there's some other operation I should have performed on the raw numbers. That said, there's nothing I've seen so far that leads me to believe there's anything significant there. I am, however, perfectly willing to be wrong.

Anyone?

Dav2.718

#77 ::: FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 03:27 AM:

As for Pearl Harbor...

Kimmel and Short were given every resource they asked for. Radar stations, additional battleships, fleets of aircraft. They had access to all but the very highest level ULTRA and MAGIC decrypts - they knew, for example, that the Japanese embassy in DC had started burning codebooks, that the Japanese carrier fleet had headed out to sea weeks earlier and had been observing complete radio silence ever since, and that every analysis showed that Japan was days if not hours away from launching a full military attack on US interests in the Pacific. They had full details of the 1940 Taranto attack (where a handful of torpedo bombers flying off a British carrier crippled several Italian battleships in port). And their response was to lock up the AA ammunition, let everyone sleep late, keep air and sea patrols at peacetime levels, ignore radar alerts and evidence of sub attacks, and line up all the airplanes in the open. Brilliant.

These people were given a huge chunk of what military hardware the US had in 1941, along with full freedom and authority to use it, more-than-adequate intelligence about enemy intentions, capabilities, and dispositions, and very clear instructions on what their mission was ("protect the fleet and the air force and don't let them be destroyed"). And they sat, immobile and paralyzed, while the IJN inflicted the worst defeat on US armed forces in the history of the nation.

Kimmel and Short got off very easy (Republicans in Congress ran interference for them), so they never faced a full court martial and were allowed to retire with their ranks and pensions mostly intact.

#78 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 08:19 AM:

Re 'allowing' the Pearl Harbour attack.

There is a school of thought (Gore Vidal tends towards it) that since Roosevelt wanted to go to war in Europe, but US public opinion was very agin it, that his administration encouraged the possibility of Japan starting a war with the USA, which would probably mean Hitler would have to come in, since sometime between Sep 1939 and Dec 1941 Japan and the European Fascists (it mayhave included Italy) formed an alliance. Hitler, as expected, declared war on America shortly after it declared war on the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere HQ (Nippon).

War also - as many people have noted recently - allows a government to arrogate a great deal of power to itself for legitimate purposes, but, as ever with power, there is a temptation to keep it, even "for their own good", or use it for less legitimate ones. It was one major point of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four. This motive is also sometimes imputed to that Administration. Along with the Reichstag Fire theory, this speculation & motive has, of course, formed the background to some of the "9-11 Conspiracy" theories.

One thing I admire about Australian politics is that the wartime Labor government did fairly cleanly give up their extra wartime powers.

PS: Note that both the UK and Australia changed leaders during World War II. Neville Chamberlain was replaced by Winston Spencer* Churchill (I think they were both Conservative Party - please correct this if wrong). Robert Menzies lost the election in 1941, bringing John Curtin's Labour government in some months before the Pacific War started. BTW, isn't that a great oxymoron of a name?

[*yes, they're related]

#79 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 01:55 PM:

Alex:

One of my more interesting possessions is an envelope from my grandmother's stamp collection, which is entirely unremarkable except for the twelve million Reichmarks of postage stuck to it.

For me, too, those stamps made the economic collapse of the period real. It wasn't just the denominations, though. All of the Weimar-era stamps I've handled were overstamped with new denominations, sometimes more than once.

One of them was printed was a face of 1 mark; the final overstamp was 1,000,000 marks.

Being paid twice a day to try to keep ahead of inflation no longer seemed like hyperbole after that.

#80 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 02:58 PM:

When to cut and run? I'm using Soros as a partial indicator: his background and politics are close enough to my own, and though he is a prominent critic and I'm not, you'd think his money would shield him---if it doesn't, then that would indicate to me that I soon may not be safe.

Remember, you don't have to either flee or stay. You can try to find a non-political reason to go to another country, most especially a job---that way, you don't have to wait until the push to leave is tremendously strong, you can also have a pull somewhere else. More simply, you can expatriate your money, if you ahve any left, since cutting off access to it is an early-stage totalitarian government tactic. I would (and may) choose France, since they can be depended-on to tweak the nose of the U.S. government if the U.S. attempt to use (say) a false terrorism charge against you to justify freezing your foreign assets.

And, as I've raved nearby in the "10Gdinar note" discussion, beside the possible benefit for you, it's the only vote the current They really care about.

#81 ::: FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 03:50 PM:

The problem with the "Roosevelt and Churchill arranged the Pearl Harbor attack" theories is that there is no acutal evidence that it is true, and a great deal of evidence that is is completely false - primarily, the fact that Japan's treaty with absolutely did not obligate Germany to declare war on the US if Japan attacked America (it was a purely defensive treaty, like NATO). The fact that Hitler did so a week after Pearl Harbor was wholly unexpected, a tremendous early Christmas present for Churchill and Roosevelt, and one of Hitler's greatest blunders. FDR was worried that the PH attack would focus America's attention on fighting Japan - Hitler's declaration of war allowed him to make the case that the US would have to fight all the Axis powers, and priority one was keeping Britain in the war.

Furthermore, if there was a conspiracy to hang PH out to dry, where's the evidence? Pearl was given every resource it needed to defend itself, including the very latest up-to-date intelligence on Japanese behaviour and intentions. EVERYBODY in the world knew that Japan was going to attack the US sometime in early December - everybody, it seems, except the two chumps in charge of defending the US's largest military base in the Pacific.

That Kimmel and Short were hung out to dry by a war-mongering FDR was a key Republican criticism during WWII, and they became a cause celebre among right wingers who buffed them up as brave, honorable soldiers who had their careers ruined by the war-maddened (and suspiciously Jew-friendly) Roosevelt. They launched multiple investigations into Pearl Harbor while the war was ongoing, hoping to turn up some scrap of evidence that FDR arranged for PH to be attacked the way it was*. They never found any, of course, but the investigations gave a great deal of impetus to the meme that Pearl Harbor was a set-up. So if you're peddling FDR/Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories, congratulations! You're uncritically helping to perpetuate a sixty-year-old right-wing smear!

Like most conspiracy theories, it's intellectual laziness and ignorance tring to pass itself off as sophistication.

* Compare this to the current Republican insistence that any attempt to investigate the 9-11 attacks or the Administration's pre-attack preparedness and responses, is unnecessary, a distraction from more urgent matters, and serves only to embolden our enemies.

#82 ::: Dave ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 04:03 PM:

There is no doubt whatsoever that your main thesis is correct. While people outside Germany may not have known that the Nazis would ultimately exterminate the Jews (and others they considered sub-human), it was clear that their intentions were horrible. The question, as always, was who who would bell the cat, and whether in fact belling the cat was worth the sacrifice it might entail. Had the West managed to overthrow Hitler in the late 30s, who can possibly know what the outcome would have been? Would Nazism have collapsed? Would anti-Semitism have been crushed? It seems unlikely, but only Harry Turtledove would know.

Your analogy of the 30s situation with Bush's administration would probably sound more cogent if you turned it around, however. Bush has chosen to deal with the danger posed by an ideology (and regimes) who consider Jews (and women, and gays, and "unbelievers") sub-human, and have demonstrated their willingness to kill innocents in service to that ideology. (And let me respond to the inevitable responder who will claim that the Republicans do the same in my Nelson Muntz voice: HA-HA!)

All analogies, especially historical ones, are suspect, but I think mine contains more close parallels than yours.

#83 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:06 PM:

OG: My Weimar stamps have been overstamped as well, and there are still seven or eight small-denomination (500 thousand!) stamps that total twelve million. Handling the artifact turns history from a dull classroom fact into a reality: This was there. It really happened.

Catie: The question of when to leave has come up in Brad DeLong's comments (I think) and someone also mentioned that when one's government restricts the transfer of funds overseas as a Very Bad Sign, as this restriction is usually presented as a 'vital national security measure' to prevent 'national resources' from being stolen by 'internal enemies'. Rounding up the internal enemies usually commences shortly thereafter...

Our best-documented example, of course, is Nazi Germany, and it's important to remember that most Germans made it through. (I will disregard war casualties for this post; I do have to get some work accomplished this afternoon so that I can continue to enjoy a high-bandwidth connection.) The internal victims of the Nazis were mainly communists, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and politically incorrect intellectuals--lots of ordinary people kept their heads down and survived. This may require moral compromise on your part that you are unwilling to make.

The most important thing to do if you're worrying about having to become a refugee is to make a plan for departure: what to take, what to leave, how to cross a border under possibly adverse conditions. Just doing this will prepare you mentally for action, should the situation deteriorate. You will have to pick your own criteria, but making the plan will force you to choose some.

#84 ::: Jax ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:20 PM:

xeger wrote:

... and this is different from being searched at airports and federal buildings, being pulled out of line for having the wrong colour skin, feeling the need to call friends when you enter a federal building, and tell them to make quiet enquiries if they don't hear back from you later that day, in what respect? What about the variety of people who've been held without charges or bail simply for having the wrong name - they've certainly been carted away, leaving their community in fear...

You'll excuse me as I type this. I'm still trying to pick my jaw up from the floor.

The short answer: Yes, the injustices and grand scale oppression of the Holocaust is different from the injustices in contemporary United States.

The other short answer: Differences: While "wrong-skinned" Americans (or visitors) are being pulled out of line at the airports, they are NOT being sent off in crowded trains to their deaths, their personal property is not being stolen and redistributed among the authorities, and they are not being forced to live in ghettos.

The fact that we can and are writing about such topics in a public forum without fear of ourselves being carted off to concentration camps is yet another proof of the difference. The fact that the press can report freely on such injustices, still more proof.

As I alluded in my first post, the United States could well end up like Germany, but a great many monumental things would have to happen first: mass censorhip, *true* totalitarian government, declared allegiance to the state over anyone else, a complete loss of individual rights, the elimination of any kind of free press, and most importantly, not just a 51% majority of people in favor of such oppression, but a near 100% sanctioning of such a thing, either by ignoring its existence or actively participating in it.

I understand the spirit of what you are trying to say when you compare the true injustices of the infringement of individual rights such that they are happening in the US now (and I'm just as disgusted with this as anyone), but to actually draw an equal comparison between the mass sanctioning of the slaughtering of a race and what is happening now is to cheapen and desecrate the meaning of the word, "Holocaust" as well as the victims who died in it and those who survived it.


#85 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 08:13 PM:

Dave wrote:

Your analogy of the 30s situation with Bush's administration would probably sound more cogent if you turned it around, however. Bush has chosen to deal with the danger posed by an ideology (and regimes) who consider Jews (and women, and gays, and "unbelievers") sub-human, and have demonstrated their willingness to kill innocents in service to that ideology. (And let me respond to the inevitable responder who will claim that the Republicans do the same in my Nelson Muntz voice: HA-HA!)

Actually I'm just wondering what ideology you're talking about. Your description matches far too many groups for me to make an accurate assessment.

#86 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 08:49 PM:

Jax, while attempting to retrieve a dropped jaw, wrote:

The other short answer: Differences: While "wrong-skinned" Americans (or visitors) are being pulled out of line at the airports, they are NOT being sent off in crowded trains to their deaths, their personal property is not being stolen and redistributed among the authorities, and they are not being forced to live in ghettos.

As you read this, thousands of Muslims sit in jail cells all over the country - lonely, afraid, and cut off from family, friends, and society. While none of those detained in the aftermath of 9/11 have been charged with terrorism-related crimes, immigration authorities continue to round up people, the vast majority of whom are Muslims of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, often with no evidence of any crime having been committed. They sit in jail cells for months at a time and are usually deported or, if lucky, released to try to pick up the pieces of their lives.

There is a widespread perception in the American Muslim community that many Muslims who were lawful permanent residents or even U.S. citizens were detained preemptively in order to investigate vague and unspecified suspicions against them.

Unfortunately it's a bit more than just being pulled out of the line at airports.

The fact that we can and are writing about such topics in a public forum without fear of ourselves being carted off to concentration camps is yet another proof of the difference. The fact that the press can report freely on such injustices, still more proof.

I'm glad that you're not in fear of being carted off to concentration camps - or put on a master list of "dissidents". On my optimistic days, I like to think that I'm just being paranoid and nervous. On my pessimistic days, I wonder how many lists I'm already on.

As far as "freedom of the press" is concerned, my experience with (particularly the mainstream) press in the US is that there is news that never makes it past the editors. Getting a feed from the BBC or ABC or CBC and comparing it with Fox news is an education in modern media management. I'd also like to point out that the mainstream media often -doesn't- report on the injustices - or the protests ... so unless you track alternate media sources, you'll never be aware that you've missed anything.

As I alluded in my first post, the United States could well end up like Germany, but a great many monumental things would have to happen first: mass censorhip, *true* totalitarian government, declared allegiance to the state over anyone else, a complete loss of individual rights, the elimination of any kind of free press, and most importantly, not just a 51% majority of people in favor of such oppression, but a near 100% sanctioning of such a thing, either by ignoring its existence or actively participating in it.

... and as I and several other people in this thread have pointed out, you don't notice the errosion when you're in the middle of it.

People are already cheerfully allowing incursions into their civil rights on the basis of "security" and "preventing terrorism". The news that you're getting out of the mainstream media doesn't always match with alternate channels, and media outlets out of US control. Legislated bias is showing up all over the place [gay marriage? gays at all? what about books that portray homosexual characters?]. A number of bills hitting congress have involved massive changes in the right of law enforcement and government agencies to invade your privacy - and you may recall the DNA sample bill that recently passed in California.

Taking your specific list:

Mass Censorship - Well, there's certainly manipulation of the media, stories not appearing, threats to journalists... but yes, of course there's also free flow of information, if it's the right sort of information.

*true* totalitarian government - I'd have to ask for a definition of what a "true" totalitarian government is. Merriam-Webster [the quickest to hand] says

b : of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation especially by coercive measures (as censorship and terrorism)

There's certainly a doctrine of "do your patriotic duty by not questioning the government" going around - as well as censorship and terrorism (specifically "fear of" being used to manipulate opinion).

declared allegiance to the state over anyone else - that's actually been in the US Citizenship oath for ages afaik:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

a complete loss of individual rights - Nope, not there yet, but there are certainly significant infringements... and it's hideous to see that people keep on saying "Well - it's our patriotic duty to do -foo- to protect us from terrorism" rather than "What the hell do you think you're doing?!?".

the elimination of any kind of free press - Nope, not eliminated, but certainly marginalized and discredited where possible.

not just a 51% majority of people in favour of such oppression - That's a red herring. You're talking about who voted for whom, not who's accepting or not noticing - or feeling that there's nothing they can do about - the various erosions to their rights and freedoms. It's like the "Have you stopped beating your wife" question.

Ugh. This is depressing.

#87 ::: Jax ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 10:02 PM:

Unfortunately it's a bit more than just being pulled out of the line at airports.

You're right. But this was the example you yourself gave, which I refuted. And, while they are being unlawfully detained, they are NOT being carted off to the gas chamber. I am not trying to minimize the injustice being committed here. But there are degrees of injustices and that is why we have a different penalty for murder than we do for burglary: both of these are gross violations of one's rights...one of them is irreversible, and they are certainly NOT the same.

...you don't notice the errosion when you're in the middle of it.

Well, that's not entirely true, is it? Obviously we notice it because we're talking about it. Obviously *you* notice it. And I notice it, too. I campaigned heavily in my neighborhood to vote against Prop 69 (the DNA prop). Everyone--when I told them that this meant even if you're wrongfully arrested and never charged with a felony you are subject to DNA testing--reacted positively by voting against 69, but it wasn't enough, unfortunately. But what this DID show was that in this particular case, the small sampling of strangers and neighbors I talked to were not of the "I don't care what rights are being eroded, I want to feel safe!" mentality. It's more unfortunate that most people who voted for 69 didn't understand what they were voting for because they only read this, "Should collection of DNA samples from all felons, and from others arrested for or charged with specified crimes be required with submission to state DNA database? Provides for funding." And they missed the part about only being arrested. Some people didn't even read that far. They saw DNA collection and voted for it.

There's certainly a doctrine of "do your patriotic duty by not questioning the government" going around - as well as censorship and terrorism (specifically "fear of" being used to manipulate opinion).

Agreed. But a doctrine does not a policy make. We should do everything we can to promote the alternate doctrine (i.e., yes, always question the government), but we are not being terrorized by our government (no matter how idiotic our president is) and the press is still free.

And, regarding the idea that there are hints of censorship in the press...if this were true, we'd only have one news channel and not the access to every single media organization in the world. The day my Satellite TV shows me a black screen of CNN with a statement that the government has blacked it out...that's the day I run to Canada.

not just a 51% majority of people in favour of such oppression...that's a red herring.

Actually, I wasn't referring to the election. I was referring to a bare majority compared to a near 100% mass evasion. And I didn't understand what you meant about the wife beating question, so you might need to clarify that if you want me to get your point.

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity...that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic...

Yes, and if the current Constitution (+ ammendments) and laws of the United States said anything about how free speech is illegal and how individuals don't have rights, I would agree with this, but you've actually proven my point by quoting the oath of allegiance: it pledges to protect freedom.

I am not proclaiming our country is blissfully strolling along the street of freedom and liberty and vigorously fighting any form of right infringement. I am saying we are NOT a police state, not even close. We are not a 99% majority of people willingly turning a blind eye to injustices. And the evidence for that is this very forum, the very fact that so many people protest, openly. With or without fear of being carted off somewhere, you haven't been paid a visit from the CIA yet and you haven't been *charged* with treason for simply expressing a view.

I'm not advising we all wait until we're in jail before acting. That's ridiculous. I'm saying we're not in jail. We're not Nazi Germany. When you take the Holocaust of one country and state the same thing is happening (not 'about to happen' or 'could happen') in another when clearly it isn't, you've lost the meaning of Holocaust.

#88 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 12:15 AM:

xeger: the citizenship (and military enlistment/commissioning oath) is to the Constitution, not the state (or King, or flag).

I find this hopeful, especially considering the "against all enemies, foreign and domestic" wording, and having several family members who have taken one form or another of that oath, and in some cases put their lives on the line for it.

#89 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 12:27 AM:

As for seeing the pictures, I agree about 1945, but seeing the Abu Ghraib pictures demonstrably did not change the minds of enough U.S. citizens to matter.
That could be the TV generation, the fact that no images are shocking any more, or simply the difference between seeing the images in an ongoing war and after a victory.

I think, based on my experience in talking to them, that they simply bought the "few bad apples" spin. That seems to be what a number of them tell me anyway. It was just a few bad apples and they've been caught and punished so everything's jake.

MKK

#90 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:03 AM:

I argued, in the Electrolite "Nice" thread, that facts about Abu Ghraib (and a bunch of other issues) may need much wider media distribution in Red States, with bylines and credits from respected authority figures. Greg London pooh-poohs this suggestion each time it comes up, asserting that matter-of-fact statements of the truth won't change people's minds.

I'm not convinced of this, yet. I want to know that factual reports on the actions (and inactions) of Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, Ricardo Sanchez, Alberto Gonzalez, Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, Halliburton, and KBC are easily accessible and crossing the paths of large numbers of Red State voters.

When someone produces evidence that this has been accomplished, I'll be more sympathetic to the idea that Red State voters have heard all that and either refuse to acknowledge it or don't care that it's true. (Or that they won't care if local business columnists explain how Bush plans for tax reform and social security will destroy a system that isn't really broken.)

#91 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 10:07 PM:

Jax says And, while they are being unlawfully detained, they are NOT being carted off to the gas chamber.

I was surprised by the date on the Auden piece quoted by jo above, and checked Wikipedia; I hadn't realized that Dachau opened in 1933. From what the Holocaust museum says, gas chambers didn't happen until well into World War II.

Is our situation today like the first stage Niemoller wrote of? xeger may be exaggerating -- but you should consider a sling for your jaw.

Meanwhile, Lenny speaks of getting the news out in the red states. The obvious question is how you bell that cat; the media the red states still believe aren't likely to carry it, and a new channel that starts with such stories is likely to be ignored.

On the other hand, we may have gotten a coupon good for one free one entering wedge: not just Rumsfeld's utterly idiotic and callous answers to questions about the inadequacy of the Humvee armor, but the manufacturer calling him a liar, saying they had plenty of spare armoring capacity that the Pentagon hadn't called on.

#92 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 05:57 PM:

Air America will be coming to the DC area soon, so there's some chance of getting news out to the local red states.

#93 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 08:22 PM:

Meanwhile, Lenny speaks of getting the news out in the red states.

Yeah. Until someone convinces me otherwise, I'm thinking this may be a problem that ranks ahead of "how can we reframe the Democratic message to be compatible with red state moral values?"

If I'm right about mass distribution of factual information being a real problem, I hope grassroots Democrat organizations can give some thought to brainstorming solutions to it.

I'm trying to spin ideas. I don't know how practical they are:

You know, we have real national FM Radio again, in a sneaky disguise. Check out Sirius Satellite Radio . The coffeehouse where I hang out has recently purchased one of their relatively inexpensive receiver systems, because the counterpeople and customers can't stand ordinary FM stations. Sirius has 50 channels, which include access to Air America as well as Rush Limbaugh on the "Talk and Interview" channels."

Might it be possible/profitable to set up a package of syndicated progressive national news for Sirius distribution? I've been listening to the music djs on this thing and they're *good.* Some of the channels intersperse musical cuts, "dj music history" and interview segments. I love the fact that this kind of radio programming is back.

Democrats infiltrating Sirius Radio is just one wild hair that comes to my mind -- because I've been a member, for more than half my life, of the true church of rock and roll.

I believe there may be pockets of cultural resistance to the radical right's version of "Pleasantville" dispersed all over the red states. Some other ideas I tossed out in the Electrolite "Nice" thread include:

Encourage grassroots Democrat organizations to prepare fact sheets and syndicate expert rebuttal of Republican talking points -- make this stuff visible to local journalists and freelance writers. Some of them may already be on the cusp of unsettlement over scarier items in the Bush agenda. Don't underestimate the power of business journalists to influence public opinion on flat tax and social security.

Encourage grassroots Democrat organizations to ally themselves with local teachers -- organize community political discussion groups, ice cream socials, high school debate team performances, sponsor speaker events.

Encourage "letters to the editor" campaigns for local newspapers. "Why didn't you print X?" "Shouldn't you have mentioned Y?" (("...You printed the White House statement that Bernard Kerik declined nomination as Homeland Security czar because of a nanny problem that might blemish his record -- do you think the arrest warrant issued against him in New Jersey might have had anything to do with it?"))

Reach out to any independent tv and radio stations that still exist in these areas.


#94 ::: Jax ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 09:06 PM:

CHip says: Is our situation today like the first stage Niemoller wrote of? xeger may be exaggerating -- but you should consider a sling for your jaw.

CHip, you're right. I do need a sling for my jaw, because it keeps dropping from posts like yours.

In Germany there were some pretty big red flags to indicate a complete loss of all individual rights preceeding the Holocaust:

"Chancellor Adolf Hitler...appeared...on February 28, 1933 in the Reichsgesetzblatt Nr. 17 (Legal Bulletin of the Reich No. 17). The Order included the following:

"§1

"Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the Constitution are invalid until further notice. Restrictions on the freedom of the individual, the right to free speech, including freedom of the press and the right of assembly and the right to form groups, infringements on the secrecy of post, telegraph and telephone communications, house searches, confiscation and limitation in property ownership over and above the previously legally specified limitations are now permissible."

This is a FAR cray from any executive order we have today.

And, in response to your theory that Dauchau didn't gas the prisoners until the 40's, well, perhaps you're right that they didn't use gas, but they did *murder* them (from the same site):

"By the first of May, 1933, there were 1200 inmates in the camp; mostly political prisoners from Munich. These were comprised by "...members of the Social Democratic and Communist parties, many Catholics and many Jewish doctors and lawyers." Guards began murdering inmates from the very first days of the camp's existence."

Gas, bullets, starvation, beating to death--different methods, same result: death. Do you really think this is happening now in Abu Ghraib?

As I've said I don't know how many times, I am not indifferent to the injustices being perpetuated by our American government. But this isn't even the beginnings of a Holocaust, for even in its infancy, the Holocaust differed by two really big points: no individual rights for *anyone* and murder.

What America has in common with the Holocaust is the way in which some of our people view these injustices: either they turn a blind eye or they claim they never knew, thus encouraging the very injustices they wish didn't exist by their inaction.

And this is terrible enough on its own without having to turn it into how it's somehow exactly what happened in the infancy of the Holocaust. I don't need this to be more tragic than it is. It's tragic enough.

#95 ::: Andy Moursund ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 08:21 AM:

Once again I'm impressed by both the passion and the range of opinions being expressed here. This is exactly the sort of dialogue I was hoping to encourage when I designed the "We Never Knew" poster and website.

I'm particularly drawn to Jax's post above, which properly recognizes the fundamental distinction between what transpired in the 1930's and what we are witnessing today, without in any way dismissing or diminishing the horrors of the present.

Anyone who goes through the individual descriptions of the images shown on the We Never Knew website--shown chronologically--will recognize the truth of Jax's post. News of both the pogroms and the concentration camps were on front pages all over the world from the first month of the Third Reich's rule.

But rather than try to force this discussion too much into one direction, I will just end by encouraging people here to go through the We Never Knew website in the order it is presented, and draw your own conclusions. And once again, I am delighted to discover Teresa's website.

#96 ::: LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 05:45 PM:

Gas, bullets, starvation, beating to death--different methods, same result: death. Do you really think this is happening now in Abu Ghraib?

I don't mean to say that the US is Nazi Germany, of course it isn't, but the above quoted sentence is an odd one. Don't you remember the picture of a prisoner beaten to death at Abu Ghraib? It came out at the same time as the rest of the Abu Ghraib pictures. There have been reports of more fatal beatings, but that one was actually photographed.

#97 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 06:28 PM:

Thank you, Andy -- though you're welcome to go on longer if you'd like.

Jax, we are killing people at Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere, though not in wholesale quantities. I worry about what we may be doing at Guantanamo Bay. Is this a Holocaust? No. But I'll certainly argue that the current situation is inadequately distinguishing itself from the early stages of same.

Everyone: I'm all for fine distinctions. In fact, I'm a major fan of fine distinctions. But in my experience, they're at their best when made under slightly less heated conditions.

#98 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 08:23 PM:

Though there is a difference between death retail (at Abu Ghraib) and death wholesale (at Dachau), it behooves us to pay attention to preventing the deaths in the first place.

Andy, thank you very much for your site. I think I've been in your store, and I appreciate the amount of work and research this takes (especially in the context of running an independent bookstore).

#99 ::: jax ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 11:08 PM:

Teresa,

Thanks for your post. (And thanks for the original post...it's been an interesting learning experience).

I'm sure I won't be popular when I say this, but when you say we are killing people at Abu Ghraib, how have these deaths occurred? In the bit of research I've done, my understanding is the deaths have been few, some due to attempted escapes, and one as a result of a prisoner so intimidated by the guards, he had a heart attack and died.

I hope this isn't the only paraghraph that people read, but I accept it sounds a bit inflammatory.

None of this is meant to excuse *any* of the deaths. The Abu Ghraib prison is a terrible example of the worst planning and execution. General Karpinski was the person they put in charge of the prison, but she had absolutely no experience running any kind of military prison, and she made such sexual and physical abuse as happened possible.

All people responsible for the degrading, inhumane and torturous abuse of these prisoners (as well as the holding of people long after they were determined NOT to be threats) should be duly, strictly, and mercilessly punished under the laws of our system.

But, I'm afraid I still have to disagree with how this resembles, even remotely, the German concentration camps. I do not believe this is a fine distinction. If I did, I wouldn't bother saying anything. The purpose of Dachau and Auschwitz and other such camps *never* started out innocent, they never started out, even, as military prisons during wartime. They were soley to herd (i.e., concentrate) any enemy of the state into one place and systematically murder them, after various torturous tests and experiements were performed on them. While they may not have begun gassing people in Dauchau until the 40's, it is well documented that they intended to do so all along because they already built the gas chambers masquerading as showers in 1933. They didn't convert the existing showers in the 40's when they decided to gas prisoners; they were always there, they were always part of the plan.

This is a tremendous distinction between the two types of prison camps we're comparing here. My understanding about how the Abu Ghraib story broke was military personnel at the prison itself could not support what was happening and testified accordingly, as well they should have. This is another large distinction. The fact that a good portion of the nation was and is outraged at hearing the news is another difference.

As I've said before, if I thought we were talking about fine distinctions, I wouldn't have bothered bringing anything up. And I'll repeat again, what happened at Abu Ghraib was a gross display of the abuse of military power and should be punished in the most severe manner. Those responsible for deaths or murder in the prison should be tried for such (this kind of behavior, unfortunately, happens in regular American prisons, too). But it just isn't the same as building a camp in which the government plans and almost publicly announces all along to kill its prisoners.

I'm not really hoping to convince anyone on this. But, it's something I feel strongly about, and something close to home for me, so I felt the need to speak up.

Thanks again for this thread, and thanks much to Andy for that amazing site.

#100 ::: jax ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 11:15 PM:

Just did a bit more research on the prison beatings in Abu Ghraib, so I'll ammend the first part of my previous post where I thought the deaths occurred from escape and one from heart attack. The viciousness of the beatings would most certainly make it possible to bring about death and as I've said before, those responsible should be punished to the full extent.

The rest of my previous post, however, is the same.

#101 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:29 AM:

HOLY SMOKE
by JOAN ACOCELLA
What were the Crusades really about?
The New Yorker
Issue of 2004-12-13
Book Review
Posted 2004-12-06

"In its original meaning, a crusade was a Christian holy war, and in that sense it was a contradiction in terms. Christ’s whole teaching was to love thy neighbor, not kill him. But, like everyone else, the early Christians had enemies, whom they needed to fight on occasion. So the Church fathers went to work on the doctrine, and by the eleventh century it was agreed that in certain circumstances God might not only condone war but demand it...."

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