Op-ed: We’ve been here before, and the result was devastating
By Daniel McCool
First Published Oct 28 2016 05:00PM • Last Updated Oct 28 2016 07:11 pm
Nearly 100 years ago, in another country, a leader rose to prominence by promising to make his country great again. That country was facing unprecedented challenges, and this leader assured them that their problems could be blamed on certain groups of people. If these evil forces could be neutralized, then the solutions to their problems would be relatively easy.
First and foremost, this leader blamed his country’s problems on an ethnic minority, which he described as “bloodsucking” with the “stink of a foreign being.” He declared that this “alien people” was a “perpetual leech,” a “parasite fattening himself on the body of other[s]” and the “corrupter of our people.” The solution was to put these aliens behind walls so that they could no longer “undermine the pillars of the economy which the people need the most.”
The leader also held great scorn for liberals and leftists — “a disease masquerading as social virtue.” Theirs was a “doctrine of destruction” that would inevitably lead to “the ever-approaching inner and outer collapse.” If left unchecked, the left would inevitably drive the country into “the blood swamp of Bolshevism.” The left-wing establishment, he said, pursued a foreign policy characterized by “aimlessness and ineptitude” and was “cowardly, weak-willed, submissive, or more accurately traitorous.”
He characterized establishment politicians as “the rats infecting our political system” and “parliamentary snake-oil salesmen” and said those who ran “big government” had dragged the nation “into a black pit” due to their “general moral corruption.” He complained that “our whole political life is so overrun with the inferior figures of today” that the federal government had become a “monstrous human machine.”
He considered the media an “evil power” and a “liar’s society” dominated by “privileged-class chatterboxes.” He wrote a memoir to “assist in crushing falsehoods about me created by the… press.” He also despised intellectuals, who were guilty of “pitiful spinelessness” and would “like the greatest idiot if he is covered in enough diplomas.”
He accused the media and the intellectuals of supporting what we might call today political correctness: “The fear of showing unfair preference for a side has become our age’s symptom of its own weakness. Everyone wants to give equality to both sides without making a decision, without commitment…. This spirit of compromise and placation attracts small and feeble souls who could never champion any crusade. According to this leader, leftists in the national government had weakened the country’s military strength via the “employment of crippling policies that stripped away the organization and training needed to defend” the country. His immediate goal was a dramatic increase in military spending because “Force can only be broken by force, and terrorism can only be broken by terrorism,” noting that “victory is always won by the man who attacks,” and “the world will not be possessed by those who are weak-willed.” As for the perceived enemies of his country, he said “we need to use the most brutal weapons against” them. This would allow his country to again “gain her deserved place on this earth.”
This leader was a strong advocate for being armed. “How are we to produce the spirit that enables our people to bear arms? When a strong will rules the spirit of the people, they will find a thousand ways, each of which ends with a weapon.”
This rising leader charged that these undesirable elements had pushed the common citizen into “disgust, anger, resentment” that was sometimes “expressed as violent wrath,” and he warned darkly: “There is no doubt that this world is moving toward a great disturbance.”
The political establishment was surprised that this leader gained so many followers; they initially considered him a clownish megalomaniac with a bad haircut and a virulent brand of racism. But the leader promised that, if the people followed him, he would “resurrect” his country “with even greater might and magnificence.” And thus: “We will build the steps that our people will one day be able to again climb to the Temple of Freedom.”
But that is not what happened; instead, 60 million people died in the most murderous war the world has ever known, and his country was left in ruin.
(All quotes are from: “Mein Kampf,” by Adolph Hitler, the new Ford Translation, 2009).
Daniel McCool is a professor of political science at the University of Utah