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  # 2069878 8-Aug-2018 13:30
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From this tweet by Garry Kasparov:

 

 

This by Voltaire is often paraphrased as "Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Reducing our exposure to and belief in absurdities reduces injustice.

 

This is why dictators and would-be autocrats push conspiracy theories and misinformation. They wish to weaken the mind and to spin the moral compass. The truth is always their greatest enemy.

 

It's not satisfactory to simply say that all those who do evil acts are evil. It has a beginning, nearly always with believing falsities and absurdities peddled by the power-hungry. The truth is the first casualty, and never the last.

 

When a leader lies constantly, the goal isn't to make you believe something; it's to make you believe anything.

 

 

And how does Trump compare to Hitler, article on Salon by a German historian:

 

 

I do think there's certainly a very strong possibility that it's not going to end well -- and that's from the perspective of a German historian. And as a historian, my natural tendency is to always try to stop people from invoking Hitler. In most cases it was not appropriate to make such a comparison. But now, with Trump, my resistance and that of other historians to making that comparison is being overcome.

 

 

 

But there is an important qualifier: History doesn't have to repeat. It doesn't have to look exactly like what happened before. It won't. But if we wait for Trump and this moment to fully become like Hitler and the Nazis, and that is the point at which you start to act, then it is already too late. The unfortunate aspect is that if you set the bar so high in terms of outrage and horror then people all too often let things continue when they could have been stopped earlier. Once it gets to that point it's way too late.

 

Where I see things going right now with Donald Trump is that if he is not stopped the result will be some form of authoritarian, racially exclusionary democracy. My focus is much less on a particular system, whether he's a fascist or not. It's much more the question of exclusion. Trump and his allies are trying to create a kind of white, Christian, male-dominated national community for their followers. He's drawing the boundaries around that community and excluding all those groups that don't fit in, whether it's the handicapped, immigrants, Muslims, Jews or other groups. Those Americans and others who are not part of Trump's imagined community will be second-class citizens and will have their rights restricted.

 

Part of the problem is also a belief that progress is natural and that it moves in the direction of more freedom and more democracy. It happened slowly in this country. But there is nothing inherited or natural about it. Progress can just as easily slip back. As you pointed out, civil rights for African-Americans -- it's only been about 50 years.

 

If you look at the situation in Germany for Jews, they were technically emancipated in 1871. So when you look at how they had those rights taken from them over a couple of years after 1933, you're talking about 60 years [later]. Things are getting better: Jews are getting more and more rights, Jews are getting more opportunities. more doors are open. Afterwards it got even better for the Jews in Germany, despite the fact that anti-Semitism was on the rise in the 1920s. And yet those rights were taken away.

 

So you can't get too comfortable. That's one of the things I think people don't necessarily appreciate. It's comforting to think that things always work out for the better over time. Maybe in the very long run that happens, but there are these steps backward, as we are seeing with Donald Trump. We have to fight to keep our democracy, our rights and our freedoms.

 

That is a fundamental part of nationalism. If you're a nationalist, you believe your group is special and somehow superior. This means not acknowledging your country's wrongdoing. It means forgetting and playing dumb. Nationalism also means explaining away all the horrible things your country has done that are very similar to the horrible things that all countries have done.

 

But if you're a nationalist, you can't really acknowledge such things. So when people point them out, you take offense. They're attacking your identity by saying you are not special. And this is why academic history is not popular in certain respects.

 

Of course Hitler was not elected chancellor before he came to take full control and power. The most he had was 37 percent of the vote in a multiparty system, which means about two-thirds of the country didn't want a Nazi dictatorship. At the same time, if you take all of the people who voted for the Nazis, the Communists and the German nationalists, a significant majority of Germans voted for some kind of dictatorship.

 

They were certainly not voting for democracy anymore. That was finished. And so the notion that the end of democracy under Hitler came as some kind of surprise to Germany is partly false because most of them didn't want democracy anymore. They were looking for something else. They did not want a Hitler dictatorship, but some kind of authoritarian system was going to happen. It should also be clear that those people who followed Hitler or voted for him did so for different reasons. They were not all vicious anti-Semites. Some voted for him for economic reasons, some voted for him for nationalistic reasons, some voted as a protest. The frightening part, of course, is all those people weren't bothered enough by Hitler's anti-Semitism to not vote for him.

 

 I can't say that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. But there was no secret to his beliefs, just as there was no secret to Hitler's. So if you voted for him for some other reason, obviously, again, you were not bothered enough by Trump's racism to prevent you from voting for him. So there's a certain tolerance and acceptance of racism among Trump's voters and supporters.

 

Hitler became more popular as time went on, because he succeeded in doing things that people wanted. The economy improved -- not necessarily because of his policies, but it did improve. He started to take apart the Treaty of Versailles, which was enormously unpopular, and until 1939 he did it peacefully, which is what most Germans wanted. So the more success he had, the more Hitler was able to win people over. This included people who hadn't voted for him before.

 

Eventually, during the war, when Hitler's successes became enormous, even people who had opposed him at one point or another started to back him. So Hitler was popular, really, throughout the regime. It's quite remarkable. More so than the party itself and more so than any number of institutions in the party. So it's hard to say, in terms of "good Germans," who they were, because of course it was very difficult to express oneself. You don't know if your neighbor is flying a Nazi flag because they have to or because they really believe it.

 

I do believe, generally speaking, that most Germans were supportive of Hitler. And like what is happening in the U.S. with Trump and immigrants and Muslims and other groups, Hitler was tremendously successful at marginalizing the Jews.

 

Jews were Germans and many people saw them as such. And in almost six years: pushing them to the margins, removing their rights, removing their citizenship and removing them from the national community, so that by the time of the war what happened to them was much less of a concern to ordinary Germans. If you don't want to ask about what's happening to Jews, you don't have to.

 

For example, if you aren't necessarily totally anti-Semitic yourself, but there's an auction for Jewish property after the Jews have been deported and now you've got a nice living room table and chairs. You know on the one hand that's a terrible thing. You have just gained at the expense of someone who may have likely died as a result. And so to assuage that, you think to yourself, "They must have done something to deserve this. Innocent people can't get deported."

 

Outside of a very small circle of extreme nationalists Hitler was not taken seriously at all. German politics until the end of the First World War was still very much a kind of elitist enterprise. The notion that someone like Hitler, who was really a nobody, could play any kind of leadership role was laughable to most middle-class and upper-class Germans. This was true even in the early 1930s as he became a powerful national figure.

 

The business elites, military officers and some aristocrats who helped him win power did so because they firmly expected to be able to manipulate him. "Who is this guy? We are the natural rulers, and this person has no political experience whatsoever. He has never won an election, he has never held any elected office. We are going to use his popular support for our purposes."

 

I think there was also a certain degree of belief that after Hitler became chancellor he wasn’t going to last. He was the third chancellor in two years. Things were very unstable. Hitler had no experience, so the idea that he was going to succeed where all these other seasoned politicians and experienced people had failed before led a lot of people -- Jews included -- to take a "wait and see" approach.

 

Trump and other Republicans and Trump-supporting conservatives en masse only care about people who are in their group. Therefore, if you make fun of Ivanka Trump you are going to be demonized. But for them, if you make a horrible remark about a disabled child who has been removed from the arms of her mother: "So what?" That person’s mother should never have crossed the border. They are not thinking about that person as a human being. Trump's comments after Charlottesville where he called Nazis and other white supremacists "very fine people" was just another example of this.

 

With Trump's nationalistic rallies, and all of his language and imagery, he is setting up an environment where violence is possible. No one should be surprised when the violence occurs because we have seen that throughout history. Trump's intentions do not matter.

 

Once a process of violence and nationalism on a massive scale starts there is very little that can be done by regular people.. For example, the only people who could stop Hitler after a certain point were the Russians, the Americans and the British. Individuals could not do it even though they tried.

 

You are going to have a certain segment of the population who are already ideologically aligned in that way. They are racist and hostile already. They are ready to go. Unfortunately, ICE seems to be an organization that attracts those kinds of people. In any society, whether they are sociopaths or not, such people need to be ideologically motivated. The problem is you need many more people. Hitler could not have followed through on his plans with just the SS. He had to bring in many other people, conscripts, to take direct roles in the killings.

 

That’s why it is important to inoculate people against such bigotry, racism and hatred ahead of time. Many ordinary people will do horrible things when told to do so by their leaders and government.

 





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  # 2069975 8-Aug-2018 14:18
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Yes, "When a leader lies constantly, the goal isn't to make you believe something; it's to make you believe anything". So true.

 

Two very sobering quotes, MF. Bloody scary.


 
 
 
 


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  # 2069976 8-Aug-2018 14:20
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Not my circus, not my clowns, but as entertainment, the Trump saga just keeps on giving.

 

Makes the standards of administration in VEEP look quite good.





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  # 2070050 8-Aug-2018 14:34
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On a serious note the salon article makes sobering reading, but I think (hope), the constitution and laws of the US prevent Trump acquiring the type of direct control that Hitler et al did. It simply shouldn't be possible.





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Lock him up!
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  # 2070055 8-Aug-2018 14:37
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This is very important. Everyone should read it. Don't be put off by the length. 

 

 





I don't think there is ever a bad time to talk about how absurd war is, how old men make decisions and young people die. - George Clooney
 


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  # 2070064 8-Aug-2018 14:50
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MikeAqua:

 

On a serious note the salon article makes sobering reading, but I think (hope), the constitution and laws of the US prevent Trump acquiring the type of direct control that Hitler et al did. It simply shouldn't be possible.

 

 

 

It simply shouldn't be possible that Trump could become the Republican candidate.

 

It simply shouldn't be possible that Trump could be elected President.

 

But it did happen.

 





Sideface


 
 
 
 


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  # 2070068 8-Aug-2018 14:55
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@MikeAqua:

 

On a serious note the salon article makes sobering reading, but I think (hope), the constitution and laws of the US prevent Trump acquiring the type of direct control that Hitler et al did. It simply shouldn't be possible.

 

 

Hitler was duly elected to the German Reichstag. He was nominated Chancellor by President Hindenburg. Once he was Chancellor he then managed to get laws approved to change their consitution.

 

All very legal.





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  # 2070091 8-Aug-2018 15:45
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Sideface:

 

MikeAqua:

 

On a serious note the salon article makes sobering reading, but I think (hope), the constitution and laws of the US prevent Trump acquiring the type of direct control that Hitler et al did. It simply shouldn't be possible.

 

 

It simply shouldn't be possible that Trump could become the Republican candidate.

 

It simply shouldn't be possible that Trump could be elected President.

 

But it did happen.

 

 

It was  legal for Trump to stand as republican candidate and plausible for him to win.  Therefore it was legal for him to stand as presidential candidate and plausible for him to win.  He may be proven to have won by illegal methods - if so he will face impeachment. 

 

Bill Clinton got close to impeachment just for ...

 

Do you think it's plausible the legal and political institutions of the US will allow the invasion of Canada, Mexico and couple of other countries for good measure? 

 

Do you think it's plausible those same institutions will allow the human rights abuse perpetuated by Germany in '30s and '40s to be repeated within the US?

 

I just can't see those things as being plausible.

 

Clever cartoons aside, there are parsecs between Trump and AH





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  # 2070097 8-Aug-2018 15:51
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freitasm:

 

@MikeAqua:

 

On a serious note the salon article makes sobering reading, but I think (hope), the constitution and laws of the US prevent Trump acquiring the type of direct control that Hitler et al did. It simply shouldn't be possible.

 

 

Hitler was duly elected to the German Reichstag. He was nominated Chancellor by President Hindenburg. Once he was Chancellor he then managed to get laws approved to change their consitution.

 

All very legal.

 

 

Perhaps you could expand on that line of reasoning by comparing and contrasting the pre-war constitution of Germany and the current constitution of the USA.  I lack the expertise to do so myself.  For example: What is required to change the constitution of the USA?

 

I note that so far Trump can't even get his wall built - which I suspect doesn't require constitutional change.





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  # 2070127 8-Aug-2018 16:12
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freitasm: Not worth it. Some people may be at the point of no return.

 

I looked it up - seemingly a two thirds majority of both houses is required to change the constitution of the USA.

 

Republicans and Democrats currently have roughly 50% each of both houses.





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  # 2070154 8-Aug-2018 16:58
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MikeAqua:

 

I looked it up - seemingly a two thirds majority of both houses is required to change the constitution of the USA.

 

 

So it's as easy to change the constitution as it is to successfully impeach the President.


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  # 2070158 8-Aug-2018 17:26
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MikeAqua:

 

freitasm: Not worth it. Some people may be at the point of no return.

 

I looked it up - seemingly a two thirds majority of both houses is required to change the constitution of the USA.

 

Republicans and Democrats currently have roughly 50% each of both houses.

 

 

Or there's opportunity for 2/3 of States to propose amendment, 3/4 to enact it.

 

Current state governors are 33 Rep, 16 Dem, 1 Independant - so it's not an impossible scenario if very unlikely.

 

But that's not the immediate threat.

 

The text of the 1st amendment is:

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

Yet - using executive power - Truman did a comprehensive job of suppressing free speech and freedom of association and political expression, leading to McCarthyism. 

 

Give Trump a sympathetic SCOTUS - and he's quite capable of becoming (even more of) a tyrant.


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  # 2070407 9-Aug-2018 09:20
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The Star Wars actor Mark Hamill took to Twitter to nominate his late, great co-star Carrie Fisher to fill President Spanky's Hollywood star spot.


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