Today, on the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day landings, I’m genuinely pessimistic that this nation learned – or can learn – one of the most important lessons of the war.
Indeed, it seems that there are those in our society who really don’t want this country to learn it.
Words like “Fascist” and “Brownshirt” have been overused, mainly but not quite exclusively by the left, over the past 4-5 decades One might even say they’ve been devalued, if you’re conspiracy-minded.
In light of events this past week, they need to be re-valued, and Americans need to get a quick education in political history.
Alliance Für A Better Deutschland: With the collapse of the Weimar Republic, German politics returned to a state that hadn’t been seen since the chaotic late teens and early twenties; political parties retained private groups of thugs to harass, intimidate, and attack political opponents’ demonstrations, meetings and events.
And it wasn’t just eggs and water bottles; in the ’20s, German parties enlisted Freikorps, groups of armed World War I veterans who fought gangland battles and, in some cases, pitched military engagements in the streets of German cities.
The biggest participants were the Communists and and, to a lesser degree, the Socialists on what’s conventionally called “the left”, and their opponents (called “the Right”, although the sought to govern scarcely less as authoritarians and totalitarians than did their opponents), of whom the National Socialists (the Nazis, of course) became the leader.
Like I said, it got bloody . On July 17 1932, “Bloody Sunday”, Communist “direct action” activists attacked a Nazi rally in Altona, Germany, killing 18; revenge and counter-revenge played out across Germany afterwards, as it had before.
Altona in the wake of Bloody Sunday
This was one of many events that framed the Nazis final ascent to control of the country six months later.
“Brownshirts” – the official name was Sturmabteilung, or “Assault Detachments” – and members of Stahlturm (Steel Helmet, a Nazi veterans group) burn Weimar flags as the Nazis assume control of the Reichstag, or Parliament. The evening, and the coming months, saw more pitched battles in the streets between party thugs, before the government moved on to more decisive means.
Not only have Americans living today never seen such a thing – groups of thugs acting as a direct action wing of political parties – but in fact the little information they have about this is pollyannaish in the extreme. It wasn’t just Germany, it didn’t end 80 years ago, and it can happen here.
In Poland in 1980,
Polish “riot police” – thugs with shields – take down an enemy of the state in 1981.
In Panama in the late eighties,
Manuel Noriega’s “Dignity Battalions” – a make-work program that put thugs to work attacking dissidents and protesters.
in Iran in 2008,
Basiji assaulting Tehran University, putting down the uprising in 2008 (with the tacit support of Barack Obama).
And here in the US, today:
Thugs, likely with the support of liberal plutocrats with deep pockets, attack a Trump rally last week in San Jose. As usual.
There’s precious little difference between the people above and the people below:
And I don’t know that I trust Americans to know this anymore.
Politics + force = where horrible things come from.