Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's The Twenty First Century, Fer Crissakes - Even If We Can't Have Jetpacks, Can We At Least Get Rid of Hitler?

Everything we know, hell, everything we THINK we know, is in one way or another a product of history.  We don't really "know" anything, instead, we draw conclusions from what has transpired previously.  The theory is that a certain combination of events leads to a certain outcome, and we should be able to shape the outcome by shaping the events.  And that makes sense.

But the key question that no one seems to be asking is "are we looking at the right history"?  Because if my cable TeeVee is any measure, what we keep looking at is Nazi Germany under Hitler, Hitler, Hitler.  I swear to you it's all Hitler, all the time, twenty four by seven, HITLER.

And judging from the American political opposition, from Glen Beck to Rush Limbaugh to the guy that paints the signs for the Tea Party, they've taken a firm hold on this historical bogeyman and used him to threaten every kind of downfall, economic, political, intellectual, spiritual, even moral.

But it's time to be honest, and put Hitler away.  Hitler was a product of postwar (that would be World War ONE for those of you who are unclear) Europe, where there were massive displacements, great poverty and a sudden outburst of ideas, from physics to psychology to, yes, politics.  It was a continent that had been at war with itself for two thousand years, and a time when technology ran ahead of any understanding of it's consequences.

I surf the channels, and every night I see more grainy black and white footage of Jews being rounded up, taken off in trains to concentration camps, and worked to death or directly murdered.  And you show me this, night after night, as if there is something new to be discovered, some breakthrough yet unlearned, and you wonder why I fear a government that might want my guns?  I wonder what the outcome might have been if the Warsaw Ghetto had the same firearms ownership as the Bedford-Stuyvesant Ghetto.  I know it makes no sense to arm entire communities in America in the 21st century, but you don't talk about that.  Instead you show me Hitler, over and over again, without context or relevance.  

There have been modern holocausts, from Cambodia to Rwanda to Sudan.  Why not update the narrative, make me understand the political and economic forces at work to bring industrial - scale death to entire populations?  Could it be nothing more than they are a different color, a different religion, a different tradition?  Could it be that the only thing that makes Hitler relevant nearly a century later and Omar al Bashir unimportant even today, with people dying a month after the referendum, is that the victims of today are not Jews?  Should we even consider that it is the Zionists who stand triumphant today, even with their boot heel on the throat of another persecuted population?

It's time to get past Hitler.  It's time to put the second world war in the rear view mirror, time to understand Stalin was a product of his time and move on, time to merely accept Truman's brutal hatred that unleashed hell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, time to view the world in its own modern context.  Finally, at long last, is there anything left to learn from a world gone mad a generation before we were born?

Here's what I'm afraid of.  I'm afraid that we just can't confront our own evils, from Bush to Abdul Aziz to Putin to Hu, that the challenges and complications are beyond the courage of our willingness, and so instead we oddly choose to cling to the super villains of the past, the ones whose names whisper to us  down the dark hallways of time, because the alternative is to understand that the fundamental evil never left, never ended, it just morphed into a global "marketplace" where people are exploited rather than conscripted, where war is less common only because it is a drain on profits, and where the casualties are economic rather than military, while the conquests are even greater and the costs even more horrific....


  1. that the challenges and complications are beyond the courage of our willingness,

    I think the big problem is that our own evils make a lot of money for powerful people. They're the winners, not the economic casualties, and they're creating their own reality.

  2. Nuremburg was the exception. Humanity does a lousy job of confronting our own evil, especially when they are committed by the oligarchy.

    After all, we invented the Devil, to explain the Bad Things people do. Hitler is the new Devil, the new Boogeyman.

    And, of course, thundra's comment. I rate for thundra.

  3. I do, however, admire your invention of the Pre-emptive Godwin of your own post.

  4. Those Teevee channels are certainly stuck on WWII. Maybe that stuff is all in the public domain.
    The other thing with Hitler is that he is an easy target, no one can seriously look at him and say "Oh he just went a bit far, but the trains ran on time" as Queenslanders said of their massively corrupt 1970's and 80's government.
    But people like that shit and pay cable companies for it which keeps Citizen Murdoch in fresh monkey kidneys

  5. The criminals of this latest century just haven't got the carnage down the way Hitler had it. I worry about some impressionable young dictator committing a copycat crime with all that Hitler coverage.