A few nights ago, I was thinking about how, when we hear words, we think of images rather than the real meaning of the words. So when I refer to our society as having fascist elements, some people get really mad at me. You can't compare anything else to fascism or Naziism. These were evil, and uniquely evil. There as only one Hitler, one Mussolini.
If I mention Germans of the 1980s. the image is one of good people - much like us, hard-working.
If I mention Germans of the 1930s to 1945, the image is of cruel and evil people. Amazing how they've changed.
I read a newspaper article on the collapse of the Greek economy, and the generations of poverty that Greece now faces. It hinted, more than hinted, at an image of the Greeks - lazy, warm climate, too easy, self-indulgent. (In fact, Greeks were working longer hours than Germans - and the economic collapse owed much to international bankers, few of whom were Greek.)
Now, to stay with the Germans, how did good people so suddenly become evil - and then so suddently good again? How did they tolerate racism, illegal aggression, civilian murders, atbitrary arrest and jailing, torture, and genocide. How could good people so suddenly change?
The answer is - they didn't.
The Nazi who smashed into Poland in 1939 and the ones who were guards in the death camps wore belts with the motto Gott mit uns. God is with us. The air crews who slaughtered British civilians from their bombers, and the soldiers who lined up civilian hostages and killed them - sometimes burying them alive - all had Christian chaplains.
The Germans didn't change. They still loved their children, sang sentimental songs, enjoyed evenings with friends. They tortured people, yes. But governments have been torturing people since the beginning of time. Waterboarding was invented by the US to torture native peoples over a century ago in the invasion of The Phillipines. Did you seriously believe that just started in Afghanistan?
The British tortured and murdered in India. The French used torture and terrorism in Algeria. One of the most brutal and prolonged periods of slavery, torture, butchery and theft dates back a hundred and forty years when those nice people in Belgium took over Congo. Within a few decades, the dead or tortured and enslaved numbered in uncounted millions. In tamer form, it still goes on. And, if you look hard enough, you will find Canadian 'investors' there.
Genocide? You might ask North American native peoples about that. You might ask George Bush the first who, as director of the CIA, oversaw the slaughter of a quarter million men, women and children - because they were Mayan.
Hitler was most certainly a vicious animal. So was Mao-Tse Tung who killed even more - perhaps 50,000,000. Nobody really knows. Then there was Chiang Kai-Shek. Chiang is pretty much forgotten. Beginning as a thug working for a big-time drug dealer, he rose to be the leading Chinese war lord between the 1920s and 1949 when Mao defeated him. Chiang almost certainly killed and tortured as many people as Mao did. He also sustained a poisonous drug trade that had been forced on China by Christian enterpreneurs in Britain a century earlier.
Funny how we never hear about Chiang's brutalities. Could that have anything to do with the fact that he was our ally? And the fact that the US was helping him to establish himself as President of China?
He also had something else in common with Hitler. Both of them publicly proclaimed themselves to be Christians. The press made a lot of favourable comment on Chiang the Christian. I cannot recall ever seeing a mention of Hitler the Christian.
Since 1950,the US has killed at least six million civilians all over the world. All have been in the course of invasions that were, under internatinal law and agreements signed by the US, illegal invasions. That would seem to make almost all US presidents since 1950 guilty of war crimes.
The figure of six million, by the way, is a low-ball guess. There are no figures of war dead that can be trusted. Must public estimates are absurdly low. One estimate, for example, counts war dead only as those whose direct killing was witnessed by journalists representing at least two news agencies. Those who die of hunger or exposure are usually not counted. In some cases, people hit in battle but who die later in hospital are not counted as war dead.
Then, of course, there are all the secret wars - the drones, the bombings, the assassinations. Nobody knows how many countries are doing this or to whom. And there aren't even guesstimates of the dead.
Like Hitler, the president of the US has now assumed the power the imprison people indefinitely without cause or trial.He also can order assassinations of American citizens - with no charge, and without even admitting he ordered it.
The American spy system, both foreign and domestic, is so big and so sophisticated that Hitler would only envy it. The size and sophistication of American torture operations makes the gestapo look like sweethearts. And Canada is rapidly moving in the same direction. Remember, it was Canada that turned over a Canadian to the US for torture in cooperation with the US's good friend, the president of Syria. (you know him. he's now a bad guy.) And it was CISIS that cooperated with the CIA in interrogating the Canadian.
Well, that's where we are. So how do you feel about it?
Is George Bush 1 an animal who should be hanged? George Bush2? Tony Blair?
If I accused you of being a Hitler, you would be insulted. If I accused you of being a George Bush, you would probably just be puzzled.
You don't see anything really wrong happening here. Of course not. When we hear words, we don't think of their meanings. We see images. And George Bush looks just like us.
That's how Germans became Naziis without really noticing it.
Do they remind you of anybody you know?
Sometime later, it'll be worth taking a look at facism, and what that means.
Oh, there's another thing you might want to mull over. What Hitler was doing to the Jews was well known long before 1939. Charlie Chaplin even made a movie about it - for which some wealthy Americans severely criticized him. Before and during the war and even after, Canada had an effective ban on Jewish immigration - even by Jews who were fleeing Germany. So did the US.
But the US did not declare war on Germany in 1939. Even in December of 1941, when the US declared war on Japan, it did not declare war on Germany. In fact, when war was declared, almost a month later, it was declared by Germany against the US - not the other way around.
ever wonder about that?