A letter to the Editor in the San Antonio Express News on 8 July addresses “all the Democrats and leftists who think it is appropriate to call President Donald Trump a Nazi or Hitler…” and concludes that those who wield such epithets must have no understanding of what Hitler did during World War II.
Care with the words we use is, of course, important. And, I guess the letter writer’s contention is that rampant imprecision, generalization, and self-serving confabulation should be reserved for those chosen, by hook or crook, to lead us. With all due respect for my fellow citizen, though, pining for the good old days, when the worst thing said about you was that your citizenship needed proving, you were in the nefarious employ of George Soros, and you were a radical Muslim Isis co-founder, please consider:
Pattern recognition is one of the vital adaptive capabilities our species has developed. But, for a variety of reasons, the switch is not always fully engaged. Imagine how different the history of the twentieth century might be if, say, 58% of Germans had vociferously, if sometimes imprecisely, spoken up about the poisonous generalizations Herr Hitler used to build his political base. In our current moment, 18 months into this Chaos Factory* of a presidency, it might be helpful to remember that Hitler became the leader of the Nazi Party in 1921.
It would be seventeen years until Kristallnacht.
Not even the Thousand Year Reich could launch fully-formed into the killing machine it became. All the armaments in the world could not have achieved it without those weaponized words, poured into the ears and the psyche of a vulnerable, desperate body politic.
In retrospect, when we read or listen to the early speeches of the German leader, some of the patterns are painfully clear.
And, even if what we see in the pattern now turns out to be a false positive, is it really all that difficult to imagine a similar outcome? If it is, our shared Earthling adventure is in jeopardy.