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Saturday, November 21, 2015

SEND In the STORM TROOPERS (Part II)

In my last post, I discussed the broad strategies of the Nazi Party of the 1930’s related to the takeover of a small town in central Germany; the town of Northeim, as told in the book, “The Nazi Seizure of Power” by William Sheridan Allen.   Author Allen told us about some of the strategies used, and I summarized them under four large headings: 1) Use Outside Threat(s), 2) Use False Hope, 3) Send in the Storm Troopers, and 4) Seize Complete Control.  In today’s post, it is important to explore the tactics used by the Nazis at the grass-roots level, in order to bring that town, and all of Germany, within its complete control. 

It is of great importance in our current circumstances to illuminate the one weapon used most effectively by the Nazis, and that is the engendering of reactions that further their cause.  The point cannot be over-blown that what ISIS counts on in terms of their strategies and tactics is the reaction of those who are on the receiving end of their threats.  They must be overjoyed by what they have seen, particularly in the United States.  In France and Europe, they are witnessing a growing concern to restrict air travel, to tighten entry surveillance, to ramp up all kinds of additional surveillance, and to lessen the restrictions on search and seizure.  It is quite similar to the reactions of the Bush administration after 9/11.  The more reactions they provoke that instill fear and restriction of freedom, the closer they are to their goal of total control.

More to the point, ISIS must be absolutely exuberant over the Xenophobia exhibited by most of the Republican presidential candidates (along with a majority of Governors and a huge majority of the House Representatives who pushed legislation to keep Syrian refugees out of the country for now).  The candidates and their followers have issued all kinds of warnings and actions regarding keeping Syrians from crossing our borders for fear that some of them may be Jihadist terrorists. Calling for substantial boots on the ground in Syria, as well as taking restrictive and prejudicial actions against Muslims, are additional actions and attitudes that serve the Jihadists’ cause.  Take just the one example of about eight Syrian refugees (including four children) who presented themselves at the Mexican-US border in Texas.  That circumstance was immediately used by Donald Trump (and others) as a foregone conclusion that they could be terrorists.  Turns out, they were families with children who presented themselves to authorities rather than crossing undetected (i.e. illegally).

One point:  those who react with threats of war and threats of more surveillance and repressive actions that reduce individual rights are playing right into the hands of the terrorists, as the citizens of Germany did with the Nazis of long ago. 

The over-reactors like Trump and Carson are cultivating the possibility of new members for the very terrorist cells that they want to destroy.  They lay the groundwork for recruitment of new Jihadist members by lumping all Muslims into the terrorist camp, and especially referring to refugees as "rabid dogs."  Those outcomes are exactly what the Nazis wanted, and are a tremendous help to the Jihadi terrorists in preparing the groundwork for attitudes upon which they can build.  Let us, then, not support those who unwittingly support the terrorists by their words and actions.  Creating fear, suspicion, xenophobia and repression is not helpful, and the radical Republicans fail miserably in understanding that their reactions are helping to build the ISIS movement. 

In addition, we have to point out the obvious: the problem is not with Syrian refugees. There were no Syrian refugees involved in the latest attacks in Paris.   And, of the 2,000 Syrian refugees accepted into our country since 2011, NONE have been arrested or deported for terrorism!  The real problem is the fertile ground in which home-grown terrorists are being cultivated (recruited and trained) by ISIS for terrorist activity.  And that problem is exacerbated by xenophobic congressmen and women, and Republican presidential candidates (and others) who scapegoat innocent refugees (75% of whom are women and children).  The engendering of fear, hatred and scapegoating is a betrayal of our core American values.  It is also a classic tactic utilized by radical rightists in their quest for absolute power.  We should have learned this long ago.

With some editorial comment from me, I hope this posting will enable you to detect the parallel actions of radical Right Republicans and of Jihadi terrorists as compared with Nazis of the 1930’s.  Most recent events and past atrocities have indicated the fascist tendencies of ISIS and reactions to some of those events and their consequences have also shown more clearly what stripes are being carried by the Right-wing radicals of the Republican Party.  Here are a few of the Nazi tactics that deserve your scrutiny and understanding in relation to our own national circumstances.

  • Incessant propaganda – Republican radicals are particularly adept at this with unified themes and emphasis right down to the synchronized wording used by local operatives.  Not only do they make use of propaganda to convince an unthinking public of their beliefs and policies, they use lies and manufactured crises and threats to put fear in voters’ lives and misconceptions into their heads.  Just like Jihadi Terrorists, radical Republicans use this tactic to recruit new members as well. 
  • Keep records – of all kinds: who attends meetings; topics that work; numbers in the audiences, etc.  Donald Trump’s suggestion for a database to track Syrian refugees (and other Middle Easterners) fits exactly into this tactic, as do special ID cards suggested by others.
  • Adapt message to audience – adapt to public interests and what works.  Pandering to their ultra-conservative base is something most right-wing Republicans do best.
  • Castigate the opposition and keep doing it; use violence when necessary or expedient.  One mechanism that worked well in Northeim was a weekly Nazi newsletter that contained furious attacks on the communists and the city council.  Jihadists tend to use electronic means and Republicans tend to use TV, especially Fox News, but are now using electronic social media and databases at a more effective level.  There are many examples of this from Republicans, but none as graphic and hate-filled as their acknowledged excoriation of President Obama at every opportunity. 
  • Project an image of fervent patriotism and avid militarism.  Radical Republicans use this tactic whenever possible because Americans are generally receptive to it, as it is an integral part of the American experience.  Donald Trump may be the epitome of tough talk that spurs nationalistic fervor, but John McCain has always been the stirrer of the pot when it comes to war-talk.  This last week, Republicans took advantage of two circumstances that presented themselves: the terrorist bombings in Paris and the rejection of Syrian refugees in some 31 states, culminating in the House passage of restrictive legislation pertinent to Syrian refugees.  Such reactions were nothing more than bluster as most military solutions proposed by the Republicans for battling the terrorists have already been implemented by President Obama.  State restrictions on refugees are nothing more than symbols of toughness because Governors have no say over federal law that governs what happens with those seeking asylum or protection in this country. Nonetheless, they serve to promote nationalism and militarism.
  • Send in the Stormtroopers – demonstrations of strength and violence are intimidating to most, and attractive to some.  Terrorism works to impress certain groups which is why the Troopers attended most Nazi rallies in their brown-shirt uniforms. 
Radical Republicans don’t support gun violence just because they support the 2nd amendment right to own firearms.  They also support secret and not-so-secret militias; unrestricted carry and self-defense laws, and guns for children.  They vigorously support the idea that the more people carrying guns, the better prepared they are to fight off an out-of-control central government.  Their main objective is not a second amendment right to own a gun, but having the ability and power to take over a government that challenges their views, their politics and their way of life.
  • Support and infiltrate local governments and offices – important to Nazi takeover and to radical Republican takeover (they have already made gains in municipal areas by running for school boards, councils and legislatures).
  • Pick on an enemy (or scapegoat) – choose one that others will also identify as a problem –like Jews in Europe, illegal immigrants in America, and Christians or Israelis in the Middle East.  Just recently, Republicans chose to make the Syrian refugees the target of their villainous Xenophobia, potentially denying thousands of young families the ability to seek the safety and protection of this land.  At least twenty-eight Republican governors actually have led the fight to exclude those refugees from their states, in defiance of federal law, and 50 Democrat Representatives in the House just supported Republican passage of a bill that will do just that, but the President has vowed to veto.
  • Join local organizations and movements and then promote and proclaim one’s own philosophy and cause(s) at every opportunity.  Ever been to a school board meeting or a coalition of churches where right-wingers are in abundance and are attempting to impose their beliefs on everyone present?  It’s not pretty.
  • Use religion as a pawn—the Nazis warned the faithful to beware of fundamentally anti-church socialists and communists who were atheists.  They also excoriated the Weimar Republic which they said leaned toward communism and therefore would damage the Christian (Lutheran) church.  Sound familiar?  Republicans constantly warn their Evangelical friends to be wary of the anti-Christian and socialist leanings of the national government. 
Voter restrictions to combat voter fraud, walling off borders, abortion and same-sex marriage have been lead subjects for Republicans – why?  Because they know this is the way to garner solid support from middle class church-goers for what is essentially an immoral approach to denying homosexuals, African-Americans and Hispanic Americans (particularly Mexicans who cross our border illegally) as well as poor women and children certain benefits and rights to which they are entitled. The Republican support for the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on religious grounds is the epitome of this kind of manipulation of religion. For Ultra-Rightists, Religion is a means to an end: a very useful pawn in their battle for control of people’s lives and their votes.
  • Organize to assist workers and others down on their luck – when the depression got worse, the Nazis organized a soup kitchen to feed the unemployed but went even further to provide bed and shelter for those in need of a place to stay.  This tactic is well-known to both Radical Republicans and to Jihadists who have done similar “good works” in their respective areas.  It is a tactic and not charity, for they expect to recruit new members from such activities, much like the evangelical missionaries of a by-gone day and certain faith communities today.  The pandering of Republican presidential candidates to the pressing needs of the working class is another example of this. What they plan to do when in office is quite different, for they plan to destroy the programs and policies that aid the “unwashed” and the “unworthy” (read their budgets!).
  • Emphasize youth membership and give them very visible things to accomplish – by keeping its activities as much social and adventurous as political, the Hitler Youth groups for boys and for girls made a lasting impression on its members and on the community.  Republicans are paying special attention to religion-affiliated colleges where more right-wing students can be found to join the Young Republicans. 
  • Destroy trust in government and its leaders – the Nazis attacked and vilified a particular senator in the Civic Association of Northeim.  They did it for a reason that explains why Republican radicals vilify and downgrade government and prominent office-holders every chance they get. It’s also why they themselves act in a seemingly raucous and mean-spirited manner.  It is clear that radical Republican debasing of the political process and of the leadership of that process (including the President, the Majority Leader of the Senate and the former Speaker of the House) has produced a repugnance among the citizenry for the whole process of governing.   This attitude exists to the extent that a majority of Republican voters now favor outsiders (non-politicians) as their candidates for President in 2016.  The chief effect of the blockages, disharmony, disarray; the partisan bickering and the relentless attacks on President Obama is not to turn people away from a particular Party necessarily, but to undermine the People’s trust and respect for government itself and for its leaders.  Why? Because that very distrust and disgust can be used by a radical group to worm its way into power with a promise to make everything right through a strong authoritarian leader (Hitler, by the way, was a definite outsider and so were many of the local Nazi leaders!).
  • Use and abuse the election process to win offices and to gain control.  This must be a never-ending pursuit and the Nazis did so over decades until elections were no longer needed.  Gerrymandered districts, Super-PACs, attacks on voter registration and ability to vote, plus attempts to manipulate the actual returns and voting processes are all ways that Republican radicals have used and abused the election process.  The fact that the Supreme Court has joined in this strategy by approving legal bribery in their Citizens United decision is abominable.
Although there may be other tactics used, the point of this exercise was mainly to point out that when we citizens see such tactics and strategies in isolation from one another, we think little of it as a movement or conspiracy.  That misperception turned out to cause major problems for the residents of Northeim.  We cannot close our eyes to a collection of tactics that are now extant, now being used by ISIS, and more especially by the radical Right-wing of the Republican Party (abetted by more moderate Republicans who do not speak out when they should).   The author of “The Nazi Seizure of Power” presents some compelling conclusions for our consideration, as he asks the question: "what is to be learned from Northeim’s experiences?”  More on that next time.