It’s Happened Before

It’s happened before, you know. And some of us are old enough to remember when the people of one of the most stable nations in the world fell under the spell of a crowd- pleasing orator and followed him almost to annihilation.

In his thought provoking essay – History tells us what may happen next – Tobias Stone (https://medium.com/@theonlytoby/history-tells-us-what-will-happen-next-with-brexit-trump-a3fefd154714#.2pq7pel6u)  describes that leader as a man appealing to citizens who were feeling they had lost control of their country and what they regarded as a proud destiny; an electorate feeling betrayed and looking for scapegoats.

Then along comes a charismatic leader who quickly captures the public mood and targets their scapegoats. “He talks in rhetoric that has no detail and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions – and the whole becomes unstoppable.”

Stone was describing the rise of Hitler, the man who promised to make Germany great again after World War One and convinced the nation purification of race was essential to achieve that goal.

With a cabal of leaders of like mind, he set about cleaning out anything and anybody he considered to be threatening to the Germanic gene pool. In his thousand year Reich there would be no Jews, gypsies or any religions preaching love and understanding. He appointed like-minded or subservient judges to the courts to make sure his laws were upheld.

At first there were prison camps for those who didn’t fit or challenged the new doctrine. When they didn’t work as efficiently as this shaper of the new Germany hoped, prison camps became death camps and at the end of it all the once proud nation became a nation of the shamed, its leader crushed by world response to his unleashed evil.

Tobias Stone thinks we are on the cusp of entering another era of “unstoppable destruction that could have been prevented if only you (people) had listened and thought a bit.” He notes the pages of history are filled with rise and fall of tyrants who created only end-game agonies for those who survive the unstoppable destruction their anger and hate had launched.

Optimistically he figures, however rough the path ahead may be, even if “hellish and beyond imagination humans will come out the other side, recover and move on. The human race will be fine, changed, maybe for the better.” For those who survive “another of those stupid seasons human’s impose on themselves at fairly regular intervals … we humans have a habit of going into phases of mass destruction, generally self-imposed to some extent or another…”

A grim picture for sure, created by our own willingness to be wooed by the rhetoric, to follow a pied piper we know we shouldn’t trust and thus create for ourselves another holocaust.

It couldn’t happen in the dis-United States? Wise observers of world affairs thought the same way in the 1930s. The New York Times suggested Hitler’s threats and promises were just posturing, not really meant. Many high ranking members of the British Government thought the same and the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain once claimed after talks with Hitler an agreement on a path to world peace had been achieved.

The Jews have a slogan, a prayer, a promise about the final solution holocaust that claimed millions of lives and left so many millions more scarred for life. It is posted in the old death camps of Europe: “NEVER AGAIN”.

I can hope they’re right, but fear they are not.

 

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