The Nazis wanted Germany to be admired, of course, which was an aim of the propaganda, but that was never enough. They also wanted to terrorise their actual or potential enemies whether ethnic, political or foreign, and to declare war on the Jews. The pretext for the last of these came on 7 November 1938, when a young Jew, outrages by the treatment of his relatives, assassinated a German diplomat.
While there hasn’t been a similar retaliation against Republican bullying from their targeted groups (LGBTQ+, Muslims, or maligned Mexican nationals), it’s not hard to see how a volatile situation could unfold. A Mexican national whose child has been caged at the border lashes out at a politician with violence. What happens next? Is that why there was unmarked paramilitary assault in Oregon? To create a situation that could escalate and justify further military involvement?
Kristallnacht embodied in fact a familiar Nazi rhetorical conceit: that the sin of one Jew was the sin of all Jews, and that every crime committed by a member of a race was attributable to all members of that race.
This reminds me of the Muslim Ban of 2017. Trump’s - and Republican, by extension - desire to curtail refugee settlement into the United States, along with the “Build The Wall” policy and other anti-immigration initiatives appear to paint a white nationalist vision of America. The sins of some are used to smear nationalities - from Trump’s calling Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists, to insinuating that all Muslims are terrorists, it echoes Nazi methods.
On 20 March 1933 Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, opened, and the terror was now real. The inmates were not specifically Jews but Communists, socialists, Liberals, and in fact general non-Nazi political activists of the Weimar era, or anyone who was politically suspect.
The increased use of United States border detention centers is an appalling parallel to concentration camps in 1930s Germany, that, as the quote above states, started as a general holding place for all who could oppose the Nazi government.
The US detention center precedent for extrajudicial detention of thousands, separation of children from their parents, lack of access by the public or oversight from officials escalates a situation that has already caused untold suffering, and has set up the blueprint for further escalation and abuse.
…the perversity of a state that was not your friend but your adversary: the knock in the night, the beatings, the disappearances - where the state existed not to protect you from enemies and criminals but was itself an enemy and criminal.
Police brutality and killings of black people has caused a major wave of protests in 2020 and given further exposure to the BLM movement. Militarization of police, combined with underfunding of social services and support programs seems to have furthered an antagonistic relationship between much of the American society and forces originally designed to serve it and protect it. Republican focus on Law and Order seems to have transformed into a directive to Suppress and Control, going as far as to deface the American Flag with the “thin blue line” variant, supposedly showing support for police as it protects the “good” part of the flag from the “bad” part of the flag. Ironically, the “good” and the “bad” are depicted identically. The tone-deaf “All Lives Matter” slogan became the rallying counter-response coming from Republican supporters.
…another function of propaganda was coercive insofar as it sought to send a message to people as to the scale of the brutality they might experience for non-compliance.
Trump promotes violence as some kind of machismo badge of manliness. He has the “tough people” who don’t play it tough “until a certain point” and “then it would be very, very bad”, or for the so-called Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”, or threatening Maxine Waters to be careful what she wished for. As of May 2020, ABC identified 54 cases of violence invoked in Trump’s name, 13 of which were in defiance of Trump. Luckily we have not yet transitioned to a time where wall posters threaten citizens with border detention camps for supporting Mexicans or immigration in general - if we’re mindful of the examples from the past, perhaps we can avoid this in the future.
The Nazis were experts at mood control, creating public actualities which were apparently spontaneous or authentic but were completely fabricated. Their success was due partly to popular credulity, a naivety as to the scale of regime’s manipulative apparatus, but people were also willing co-conspirators in their own self deceit.
“Astroturfing” is clearly not a phenomenon invented in modern age, although the evolution of the current Republican Party seems to be, starting with the invention of the self-righteous faux-patriotic Tea Party Movement. The importance of the quote above, however, isn’t in fake grass-roots protests or other fake “public activities.” It’s more important to note that the success of these activities rested on public credulity, i.e. willingness of the public to believe that they were organic, and lack of knowledge about the extent of propaganda’s reach. It’s similar to the circular argument we’re still hearing from republicans even after Treason Day of January 6th, 2020: Republican politicians spread unsubstantiated rumors about election fraud, members of the public believe them, and same politicians site that public belief in fraud as the reason for invalidating election results.
(I took these notes before Treason Day of January 6, 2020, when MAGA terrorists stormed Capitol Hill, defaced the building, and were responsible for deaths of 5 people).
During the 1930s, the Nazis concocted serial mythologies to create an illusory realm. One of these was the myth of the benevolent concentration camp, even though the truth was perceptible in the oft-reported phrase ‘shot while trying to escape.’
What’s scary is that in modern day United States of America, the Republicans aren’t even trying to create this myth about border camps! They’re just flat out redefining what “benevolent” means.
That the objective reality of something can be so much at variance with the public’s truth, even the antithesis of its public descriptor, is the essence of political fiction. But illusion was the core of Nazi methodology.
I think it’s accurate to say that illusion is the core of Republican methodology. Illusion about global climate change (“it’s a hoax”). Illusion about healthcare (“we have the best in the world”). Illusion about coronavirus pandemic (“it’s a hoax”). Illusion about racism in America (“there isn’t any”). Illusion about immigration. Illusion about economy, housing, environment, education, military size, fiscal policy, retirement, social safety net, trickle-down economics - I can’t think of a single civic topic where Republicans haven’t constructed, proselytized, and insisted on an alternative reality that is disconnected from “public descriptor.”
The licensed sadism and institutionalized psychopathology of the concentration camps became, under this mythology, simply re-education.
The intentional and gleeful gaslighting is one of the defining characteristics of the Trump Republicans. Even the Trump campaign slogan from 2016 is one giant gaslight: Make America Great Again. Surely that doesn’t refer to white supremacy. Of course not. Also, ref: Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, really, pick any Republican; here’s a web search on Republican gaslighting to get you started.
What they [Nazis] craved was a nation of believers in the new order, ‘a new consensus of values’, they were not merely exploiting an existing value system but were surreptitiously replacing it.
This is uncannily like the current process in which Fox News, OANN, Breitbart, The Blaze, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, etc., are enthusiastically engaged. Have you noticed how suddenly Republicans are staunch supporters of Russia? How all of a sudden foreign election interference is OK? How nepotism and sycophancy are the currency of the Republican administration? These are just current examples of supplanting recently-held beliefs. Plenty more have been subverted over several decades: separation of church and state is no longer an American virtue; honesty has been replaced by spin and outright lies; admission of error by bluster and bullying; decency by vulgarity and name-calling; fiscal conservancy by rampant, un. Whatever values rank-and-file Republicans stood for only a couple of decades ago have been supplanted by a steady stream of falsehoods. Go find some Dwight Eisenhower quotes, if you really want to see the evolution of Republican ideals from the 1950s to 2020s. It’s a hell of a trip.
The Second World War functioned on two levels for its participants: as a raw physical event, but also as a media event - as Ross had remarked, war had never before been so extensively communicated to civilian audiences.”