Would I have been a Nazi?
I was reminded of this by a story in the Washington Free Beacon regarding Gen, John Kelly, who will likely be our next Secretary of Homeland Security, and his "troubling quote":
“Their struggle is your struggle,” Kelly said, according to a video of his remarks. “They disdain those who claim to support them but not the cause that takes their innocence, their limbs, and their lives. As a democracy … we must support them. I know it doesn’t apply to anyone in this room today, but if anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight–our country–then these people are lying to themselves and rationalizing away something in their own lives, but, more importantly, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.”Gen. Kelly, it is noted, made this speech four days after his Marine officer son Robert was killed in action in Afghanistan.
In the United States of America everyone, under the law, is entitled to criticize, belittle and/or savage the government in pretty much any terms they desire, as long as they don't advocate assassination or something similar. There's no requirement to "support" the government--and you'll notice Gen. Kelly wasn't calling for any such thing; he states that "these people are lying to themselves and rationalizing away something in their own lives, but, more importantly, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation." He does not demand that they be fired from their jobs, that their children be seized by the state, that they be banned from Facebook and Twitter, unlike "liberals" do with "racists."
By now you may be asking, and rightly so, what this has to do with Nazis?
I have always felt a primal urge to support the United States in what it does, ever since I was a young boy and the nation was involved in the Vietnam War. In 2001 and after I believed that almost anything was proper in attempting to locate and destroy our enemies. Now, 15 years later, a cold-blooded cost/benefit analysis might well say that the wars weren't "worth it," though that all depends on what you assess to be the current and future benefits. Anyway, the General's statement brought me back to a question I've pondered occasionally over the years:
Would I have been a Nazi?
It happens that I have read very extensively about the history of the 20th century, of the World Wars I and II, and the biographies of every major figure, from Bismarck to Churchill, Hitler, Eisenhower, Patton, Marshall, Rommel, and many others. I know a good deal about the era, the mood, the headlines, the zeitgeist.
I imagine myself a boy, perhaps born in the dismembered Germany of 1920 after my father had returned from the Front, my mother grateful that he hadn't been dismembered like her cousin or killed at the Marne like her best friend's husband. I imagine reading the headlines of the newspapers in the late '20s as I become interested in politics and government. I imagine the street battles between the Communists and the National Socialists. I imagine the sudden shock of the Depression and the rapid unraveling of whatever prosperity had slowly returned as I grew. I imagine Hitler being raised to the Chancellorship, the series of diplomatic successes and sudden reoccupation of the Rhineland.
What to make of it? I am German. Perhaps I'm Catholic, as I am now today in "real life." In Spain, Catholics are being killed by the thousands by the socialists, statutes of Christ battered with artillery, priests shot in the face, nuns raped...of course I support Franco! One occasionally hears about how the government has been rounding up traitors and spies--of course that's necessary. I've been in German schools all my life. Do I join the National Socialist Party Youth group? Perhaps. My parents are Christian people and they have some reservations about what's happening to the nation, but I'm sure I know better about the kind of future the Greatest Race the planet has ever seen is building...perhaps I don't actually join the Party, but as soon as I'm of age I join the Werhrmacht and fight for my family, my nation, my soul, my blood...
I come back to Present Day, all these years later. My goodness, Nazis are surely the worst people ever, racist/sexist/antisemitic/homophobes who killed tens of millions. And most especially, xenophobic. Word of the Year, 2016!
Anyone who wants to stop the flood of Muslims into the nation is literally Hitler! I am of course, not like that. It's troubling that a General says you can't "support the troops" without supporting the nation. I've been in American schools all my life, and as I've been reminded a thousand times by school teachers and leftist, peace-loving professors, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
I'm quite smug that given my current superior education/programming, I would never be a Nazi. I never would have believed anything like that.
It's [Current Year], people. We're better than that. Now.