Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Gift Ideas for Republicans in Congress

Early in the year a game designer who worried about the fascist tendencies of President* Trump sent his new game about the rise of Hitler to all the members of the US Senate.

Reported in AdWeek

I suspect it had more of an effect on Democrats. Republicans may not love Trump but they think they can work with him, can get what they want through him…. that, by helping him, he will help them. Like business leaders said about Hitler “He’s a man we can do business with."

This is disturbingly reminiscent of the complacency shown by German liberals and non-fascist conservatives in the 1930s. Of course after Hitler got these enablers to pass the Enabling Act of 1933 a lot of them wound up in concentration camps. The Nazi juggernaut had begun.

Should we be sending games to members of Congress?

Or should we send books? Will they play the games or read the books?

Gift Idea #1: HITLERLAND




Or is Godwin’s Law so fixed in people’s minds that they think Nazi comparisons are verboten. In fact Godwin himself has said the comparisons are indeed valid.

From the Independent

From Esquire

Trump is Hitlerian and growing moreso. His followers are fascists and bigots, there’s no mincing words about that. This is not a time to be polite about it. We are re-entering the 1930s.

Since Christmas is coming, maybe it would be persuasive to send a book this year. Send a book about the unlikely and avoidable rise of Hitler to our Republican friends who seem blind to history.

It is a teachable moment among liberals and Democrats too. In 1933, it wasn’t only right wingers who helped Hitler gain power, it was also Goldilocks liberals and leftists who demanded purity and perfection and refused to compromise with each other and refused to work together––who wound up promoting the monster on the other side. They wound up in concentration camps, many of them dead.

Maybe we should be sending hundreds of cautionary books to our political leaders this holiday season. It can happen here. (It almost happened here in 1933 too. See below.)

Another book that describes a crucial year in this country is Lawrence O’Donnell’s new book “Playing With Fire” which describes how liberals and Democrats failed to coalesce around their candidate and let Nixon win. In the Trump comparison game I think Trump is much closer to Hitler than he is to Nixon, but he does have Nixonian impulses. What kept Nixon from being worse was the strength of our traditions and institutions that stood up to him in both parties. Those political traditions and safeguards are absent on the Republican side today. The GOP is very Weimarian in that respect. Very much like the conservatives who thought they could manage the tyrant until he took full control of them.

To get a glimpse of Trump’s fascist tendencies look at his embrace of tyrants around the world. Duterte, the brutal murderer/dictator in the Philippines. Erdogan, the autocrat who has snuffed out liberalism in Turkey (who Trump’s national security advisor worked for during and after the election.) The various right wing monsters vying for power in democracies from Ukraine to France and the UK and elsewhere. The new Saudi dictator who spent the weekend jailing his cousins and uncles. And Putin, who murders his opponents in Russia and abroad, who corrupts and directs the political process here, who seems to have appointed several members of Trump’s cabinet.

Our only counterweight against fascism is a Congress that’s now dominated by Republicans who seem increasingly fascist. Maybe there are still some Republicans who can be saved… Send a book.

Fascism almost triumphed here once before, in 1933-34. Reported in this BBC radio documentary

Sinclair Lewis wrote a book about what almost happened here. He titled it “It Can’t Happen Here.” He demonstrated that it could and it might.

Philip Roth wrote a more modern and accessible novel on the same basic idea, called “The Plot Against America.” It was about a very real movement led by a Minnesotan named Charles Lindbergh, wrapped around the idea they called “America First.” Sound familiar?

If you prefer movie versions, the best American movie about the rise of Hitler is on TCM this week, on Wednesday evening, November 8th. THE MORTAL STORM stars James Stewart and shows what fascism does to liberal societies.

History doesn’t repeat but it rhymes.

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