"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." ~ C. Wright Mills
Wake Up, America
A German Minister has likened Bush Junior to Hitler. The remarks seem to be directed at the American public, rather than their leader, to alert the unsuspecting American to his role in the looming World War: a war in which the enemy of choice for the Christian World is no longer the Jew, but the Muslim.
To understand what is happening to the American people, we need to go back in history. Ignoring claims that Holocaust did not happen, or that it was the largely unintended result of a confluence of wartime circumstances, we need to be more concerned with the failure to recognize the true nature of the part the German people played in the implementation of Hitler's plans. Are Americans following the same course, or do they still have the power to rein in their leaders?
By the time Hitler appeared on the scene, most Germans were already imbued with eliminationist anti-Semitic feelings. In the same way, Western media ' particularly the American media' has been trying to instill the same kind of anti-Islamic feelings in the Western public since 1990. Like the American attitude after September 11, the Germans were not primed for massacres, they only agreed it was desirable to exclude the menacing and racially alien Jews from the life of their nation. This consensus was the result of years of propaganda'much like the anti-Islamic propaganda we have been watching since the fall of the Soviet Union .
Like the post-September 11 mood in many Western cities, German attitude was pregnant with murder, but the baby could not be born until the most virulent and dedicated anti-Semite ever to lead a modern nation replaced the previous state, which would not permit the organization of racist sentiments into systematic persecution.
Just as no anti-Islamic feeling played a role in Bush's election, Hitler was elected without reference to the Jewish problem. A host of other factors explains Nazi appeal better than fear of Jews. Once in power, though, Hitler and the Nazis unshackled Germans' pent-up anti-Jewish rage and guided it toward a murderous goal beyond the reach of most Germans' imaginations. When others showed the way to genocide, they were ready and willing to follow.
Today most Americans are indifferent to the foreign policy of their country. Tomorrow they will have to shoulder more responsibility than their president for the bloodletting of Muslims. Many historians think it is wrong to exculpate the German people by depicting them as merely indifferent to the fate of the Jews. Such indifference in the face of a neighbour's extreme suffering is a virtual psychological impossibility. What has been mistakenly labelled 'indifference' was in reality a pitiless and morally depraved ideology. Pick up any mainstream American newspaper or magazine, or watch any talk show on foreign affairs and you will find the same ideology wrapped in American colours ' this time against Muslims a enemies of the West.
This deluded and inhuman state of mind was so typical of the Germans of the Nazi era that virtually any citizen could easily have been promoted from guilty bystander to wholehearted accomplice in genocide. Nothing illustrates this better than the men of the Order Police, who patrolled German occupied territory and massacred Jews by the thousands. Compare German Order Police with US marines and other forces who are bombing weddings in Afghanistan and starving millions to death in Iraq .
Christopher R. Browning, the author of Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, devotes a great deal of attention to the unusually well documented activities of one Order Police battalion. Many authors stress that the men of 101 were selected for their task more or less randomly. In their attempt to explain how these ordinary men could rapidly become professional killers, both emphasize the fact that they were, like the rest of German society, immersed in racist and anti-Semitic propaganda that bred in them an aversion to Jews. Killing thousands of retreating Iraqi forces during the Gulf War and bombing mosques and homes in Afghanistan in 2001 demonstrate the same kinds of attitudes toward Muslims.
This was, however, not enough to turn the men of Battalion 101 into obedient murderers. The decisive factor in their transformation was their fear of ostracism if they did not shoot Jews ' a frightening prospect in a tight-knit unit stationed abroad among a hostile population. Compare this with Allied forces in Afghanistan today and Iraq tomorrow. Eight or nine of every ten members of 101 could fight the claims of their incompletely silenced consciences and go on with their filthy jobs'Americans and their Allies would do the same to Muslims without remorse.
We see precious few signs that the men of 101 had consciences to squelch. They seem to have been feeling great'like the Israelis taking photos with dead Palestinians and the Americans inscribing their names on the bombs before dropping them on Iraqis during Ramadan. We can find evidence of this in the general good spirits of Germans, their openness about their genocidal slaughtering, the excessive brutality with which they went about their business, what they said and did not say in their off-the-job conversations, the alacrity with which they participated in murderous operations from which they could have obtained exemptions, and their neglect of readily available opportunities to obtain transfers from the Order Police. The men of Battalion 101 and similar units killed Jews because they wanted to kill Jews'because they, like virtually all of their countrymen, had been thoroughly corrupted by an insidious ideology.
One might think books like Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (Knopf, 622 pages) by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen are designed to disabuse readers of any such notions and to place the primary blame for the Holocaust on the German people in general. But this is definitely not the case: such books are the best defence of the idea that leaders cannot turn a people into killers unless they willingly ignore the reality and blindly follow their leaders' propaganda.
We can see from the outside that most ordinary Americans have been marginalised. Even those in the corridors of power have little room to manoeuvre when it comes to telling the truth. This situation is not very different from that in Germany before all-out war on Jews. Hitler's genocidal plans long predated his genocidal actions. If from the time he seized power until the launching of Operation Barbarossa he pursued less drastic goals than the extermination of the Jews, this was not by choice but for lack of any prudent alternative. At each phase of its development, the major thrust of Nazi policy was the maximum eliminationist option possible given the existing constraints. And Hitler very clearly opted for extermination at the earliest feasible moment.
Men like Browning and Goldhagen spent years poring over documents of Nazi era. It is difficult to summarise the evidence they use to demonstrate just how hearty and enthusiastic was the participation of the German people in the Holocaust. What we can say for sure is that in the face of the facts which historians like Goldhagen marshal, it is extremely difficult to exculpate the great mass of ordinary Germans in the Hitler era. The same will be true for Americans tomorrow. Present day Americans have to decide whether or not they will be willing executioners of Muslims and live under people infected with anti-Islamic prejudice. We hope they do not want the US to be the home of a people under the sway of absurd, racist beliefs and that they find the truth and learn how to speak it to power.