Can’t happen here…

Yesterday I saw this article from the New York Times come across my Facebook news feed. I know it’s starting to make the rounds. If you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to take the time to read.

The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

From the article:

“Auschwitz and a handful of other concentration camps have come to symbolize the Nazi killing machine in the public consciousness. Likewise, the Nazi system for imprisoning Jewish families in hometown ghettos has become associated with a single site — the Warsaw Ghetto, famous for the 1943 uprising. But these sites, infamous though they are, represent only a minuscule fraction of the entire German network, the new research makes painfully clear.”

What bothers me most isn’t the stunning magnitude of the study, though I think it ought to come as no surprise, but how the information got lost in the first place. I don’t find the discovery surprising at all.

Many people assume blithely that the Nazi movement was limited to a few camps. Some even deny it happened at all. We’re not talking about the Japanese Internment Camps or today’s immigrant tent cities. Imagine for a moment that for every city, town, hamlet or village in the US there was at least one area where people were rounded up, forced into slavery, required to do hideous acts or simply killed outright because of their beliefs, sexuality or heritage.

Can’t imagine it now, can you, because we’re above that sort of thing here. We learned our lessons. We’re not Nazi Germany.

Right. Yes. Sure.

Only we haven’t ALL learned this truth. Some of us in the US still believe the despicable actions of our southern forefathers were justifiable because people of African descent simply were not human. And that doesn’t begin to cover the atrocious treatment of Native Americans, or of today’s immigrant populations.

Those who think either the Holocaust was exaggerated or didn’t happen at all seem to have that same sense of justification for holding and amassing guns today. Witness this:

Now before you go all crazy on me, I know already that gun advocates are not all extremists. Not all Christians are fundamentalists, either. And not all Jews support Israel. You have only to go outside your local frame of reference to find people who ARE extremists and who DO believe that if you’re not an English-speaking Christian, you’re worthless. And you’ll be surprised, I suspect, to find just how many people agree with the people in this video.

It’s scary to think how many people there are in the US who would think nothing at all of advocating the same sort of violence. We don’t have numbers because our system of government allows so very much autonomy between the states. Our system of information sharing is deeply flawed. Each state manages its own criminal records and laws. Some states go out of their way to avoid reciprocity, claiming States’ Rights.

The overall effect is that one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. Given the mob mentality that doesn’t just promote hatred but provides the fuel for acting on it, we may wake up one day and discover the problem is everywhere, right here in our own backyard.

It’s not the government in this country that we should worry about. It’s the rest of the hive mind.

In the dialogue between our various religious factions, we constantly lose sight of the tolerance that helped found this country. There isn’t a single document at the federal level that says the US is all about English-speaking Christians. Maybe that is enough to keep dogma from destroying our country and its multitude of cultures, but I’m not ready to believe that an American Holocaust can’t happen.

Bloomberg Businessweek sums up the problem of gun control and the current debate nicely: A DOJ Memo Shows Why the NRA Wins on Gun Control, but much more telling are the comments. You often hear people say you should ignore the comments in these articles or YouTube videos, but I suggest reading them. The education is there for the taking. You just have to know where to look.

Learn to recognize hate speech and the organizations that promote it and stop supporting them before it’s too late.

2 thoughts on “Can’t happen here…”

  1. Any respectable moral system spends a great deal of effort teaching people to overcome their innate tendencies. Humans have evolved to survive in conditions very different from those we find ourselves in now. For example, anyone who gives in to the instinctive urge to over-indulge in fatty, sweet and salty foods will rapidly get themselves into serious health problems.

    Similarly, I’m afraid there is a strong tendency towards tribalism, not just in human culture, but also human genetics. I cannot point to research supporting this, but my gut tells me it is likely. If this is the case, then our cultural and religious institutions need to address the issue more directly.

    The Tea Party isn’t difficult for me to understand. When my old relatives and neighbors in rural Pennsylvania go to the same grocery store they’ve shopped at for forty years and (for the first time) see real live Mexican people… speaking SPANISH! (of all the nerve), well, they go a little bit insane. They’re root-bound because they don’t deal well with change, and when the change comes to THEM they feel threatened.

    But I think the Tea Party is a generational phenomenon and will fade away as those tigers pass on. Norman Rockwell has left the building. What we need to do is limit the damage they do on their way out.

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