Monday 12 April 2010

Kristallnacht has come

In Afghanistan the Taliban have a system called “night letters” – they drop a letter at your house, threatening violence unless you do what the Taliban says. So let’s read a few:

“You’re a dead man. We’re coming to your house. We already smashed your window. Now we’re coming back to kill your wife and your kids. We might even run you off the road, and your kids too. We’re in your town every day, with our guns, all reloaded. We’ll kill the local police too. We pray to God for you to die. Because you dared to defy us. And we’re telling all our friends that attacking you is okay. Because you dared to defy us. You can never hide. If I was a boss, I would fire you. If I was a doctor, I would refuse to treat you. The revolution has come.”

Oh wait, that’s the Republicans. Since the passage of health care, the conservatives have gone all Mullah Omar on us.

But think of that last bit. Rightwing whackjobs talking about firing Democrats, or refusing them medical treatment. What if they try to take that national? What if businesses across the country try to figure out your politics, and refuse to serve you if you admit you’re a Democrat? Or refuse to hire you? What would that make us, as a nation?

It would make us 1935 Germany.

“Jews? No groceries for you! Get out of my store! Juden raus!”

Or perhaps the South in the 1950s, when blacks couldn’t use the hotels, the bathrooms, the restaurants…

So what have we got? The violent terrorism of the Taliban and the Klan, and the incipient economic terrorism of the Nazis and Jim Crow. What else do we have? Wow, it’s straight out of Mein Kampf. Using mass communication to drown out facts with lies, semi-irregular groups of thugs to intimidate opponents, shadowy backers from big business, scary rhetoric about Communists, the bombastic militarism, the big rallies, the constant search for new enemies and new scapegoats, the daily incitement of fear and hate, the racism, the eternal appeal to everything that is small-minded and short-sighted and mean-spirited and just plain stupid and ignorant in the human soul….

Kristallnacht has come to America.

While we were worrying about important stuff like Tiger at the Masters, America stopped being America.

It doesn’t matter that the Democrats control the White House and Congress, if the Republicans are allowed to shut down government entirely. Mitch McConnell is promising to shut down the Senate unless Obama picks a fascist Supreme Court justice, other Senators are promising total shut-down in retaliation for the health care bill, and Newt Gingrich is promising to shut down the entire government if they get enough House seats in November. If democracy is meaningless, if elections are meaningless, if the Constitution is meaningless, there’s no America. By the end of the year, America as we know it could be dead.

There was no particular point in the 1930s when the German people suddenly realized that the Nazis had enslaved them.

Hitler won the chancellor’s office and the Germans cheered.

He burned down the Reichstag and suspended the parliament, and they yawned.

He persecuted the Jews, and they shrugged.

He took Czechoslovakia and Austria, and they applauded.

And then it was all too late.

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