Growing up, I always wondered how an entire nation could go mad. I was thinking about Nazi Germany, and millions of good, decent Germans, seeming to lose their minds for Hitler and National Socialism and its repressive brutality.
I never thought I was see it for myself. It would be a long time, I told myself, before a nation would lose itself again as Germany had in the 30s.
Then came the 2008 elections and the Tea Party. It is painful and shocking to witness people you would assume to be as rational as you flip on Fox News and – as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar used to say on Wayne’s World – go “mental.”
It turns out people can absolutely believe impossible things and they can be quite fanatical about it. The facts are right there; I can see them plain as day. Why can’t they?
Fox News is absolutely part of the problem. Everywhere you go, it’s on. It’s like a national propaganda channel. Joseph Göbbels would have wet himself at having such power in his hands. People sit in restaurants all across the nation and listen to lie after lie – all unsubstantiated and invented out of whole cloth – pass the lips of Fox News commentators.
Imagine how much easier would have been Hitler’s job if he had been able to do the same, rather than standing on street corners giving speeches and passing out leaflets.
All the Tea Party represents is repackaged fascism. The message is the same: real Americans instead of real Germans and familiar enemies, like Muslims instead of Jews (they share a hatred of gays); out-of-control paranoia and conspiracy theories like stabs in the back and betrayal; the view of women (real American – aka white women) as breeders of a master race; and a mission from God to restore the nation’s greatness.
America for Americans is no different than Hitler’s Germany for Germans. They even have the same overblown sense of nationalism: Deutschland über alles and American exceptionalism share a low-brow wavelength.
Nor is it a coincidence that both National Socialists and Tea Partiers happen to be white and predominantly male.
I really thought I would get through my life time without seeing it for myself. I wish I had, because though it helps me understand how it could happen, it does not bode well for the world my children will inherit.
You have only to peruse sites like Right Wing Watch to see how bad things are. The idiocy of their claims come right out of the same adherence to 19th century pseudoscientific principles sprinkled with nods to the actual Bronze Age of 3500 years ago, give or take.
It is not so long ago that people assumed superstition would not make a comeback. But it has. Every time I hear some Republican pooh-pooh global warming – like Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) a few days ago saying that global warming is a fraud and a plot to institute global government (remember what I said about paranoid conspiracy theories?), or Rush Limbaugh saying if you believe in God you can’t believe in global warming – I wait expectantly for the germ theory of medicine to get thrown under the bus.
After all, we have Catholics in California worshipfully claiming liquid from a tree are God’s tears when what it actually is, is lice excrement.
And that’s not all: we already have gay animal demons explaining homosexual behavior in thousands of species of wild animals, and God, not tectonics, explaining earthquakes and volcanoes, while God, not global weather patterns, explain hurricanes and typhoons.
Goodbye germs. Welcome back the demon-haunted world Carl Sagan once warned us against. I never thought I’d see a major American political party get all Nazi either, so I’m not putting good money on the germ theory. Sorry guys.
No, Hitler didn’t like science either. He wanted “German” science just as today’s conservatives want “Christian” science.
Look, you shouldn’t have to be a liberal to think fascism is a bad thing. Republicans should think so too, and once upon a time, they did. But those Republicans aren’t in power anymore. To the point they still exist at all they exist as RINOs (Republicans in name only) and like Dick Lugar – who, let’s face it, while hardly a moderate looked sane by comparison – find themselves suddenly without jobs.
There are perfectly sane Christians out there and there have been perfectly sane Christians all through history, folks who lived alongside their Pagan neighbors, and who nowadays live alongside their liberal neighbors, alongside their gay neighbors, alongside their Muslim neighbors, and alongside their feminist neighbors.
Sadly, history has shown that the moderates seldom prevail. The reason is simple: they are not ruthless zealots. They’re average folks who just want to get along and so like all those same folks in Germany of the 1930s, they get trampled underfoot in the rush to kill the constructed Other of the moment. If theocracy does not prevail, some worldly power co-opting the Church prevails.
Even Hitler, after all, said he was doing the Almighty’s work and whatever disparaging remarks he might have made about Christianity, he made those same remarks about Paganism, and he paid his tithes to the Catholic Church till the day he died.
Benjamin Franklin said of mobs, “A mob’s a monster; heads enough but no brains,” and we’ve seen that to be true of Tea Party rally after Tea Party rally. Not all of these people are ideologues just as not all Germans who cheered for Hitler were Nazis.
It turns out General George S. Patton was right in 1945 to compare the Nazi Party to the Republicans and Democrats, because there isn’t as much difference between them as we would like to believe.
Patton was reprimanded, but who knew, after all, that in just a little more than half a century, the Republicans would themselves become Nazis?
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.