The Good Germans (Nazi Era)
And The Good Americans (Today)
by Philip Greenspan
Swans Commentary, www.swans.com,
March 15, 2004
How could a modern civilized country sink
to the barbaric depths that could produce the horrors of Nazi
Germany? What could account for the approval or acquiescence of
the German citizens to such evil rulers? It was indeed difficult
to understand how such a phenomenon could take place.
When the Nazis bombed innocent civilians
in numerous cities -- Guernica, Rotterdam, Coventry, and London
-- those actions were denounced. But the subsequent allied bombings
of innocent enemy civilians were much more devastating. Not only
were the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki unnecessarily
despicable but the fire bombings of Tokyo and Dresden were even
more horrible. General Curtis LeMay admitted that if the allies
had lost the war he would have been tried as a war criminal for
his Tokyo firebombing. Yet those actions were applauded by their
Over the years the US has been complicit
in criminal activities throughout the world - usually covering
its tracks by the clandestine tactics of the CIA. All sorts of
illegal and unconscionable activities -- short of operating death
camps -- have been engaged in. Millions of innocent men, women,
and children have been killed, tortured, and wounded. Trillions
of dollars worth of property were damaged or destroyed. The environment
has been despoiled. And lawful governments have been overthrown.
With this background and a policy of continual
war being adopted with the consent and approval of most Americans,
it is apparent that the phenomenon of the "Good German"
is not unique. What can account for it?
I have been giving this some thought and
think it's several interrelated conditions -- all properly orchestrated
by the state or for the state.
Loyalty, patriotism, obedience
A lifetime indoctrination of loyalty to
the state -- pledges of allegiance, singing the national anthem,
rooting for the home teams, etc. -- creates a supportive backdrop
for improper actions by governments. All governments seek that
indoctrination and, in varying degrees, obtain it.
An embroidered historical background is
taught that glorifies the accomplishments of the state, suppresses
its deficiencies, gives pride to its citizens; and elevates the
country as superior to all other nations. The schools, the churches,
the media, and prominent and respectable model citizens already
indoctrinated reinforce the chauvinistic precept.
Distortions and Cover-ups
A media that completely distorts current
news is a necessary next step. The truth is covered up. Justifications
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's media czar,
maintained complete control over the news to which the Germans
were exposed. Repetition of the lies eventually caused most to
believe what they were being told.
The Bush administration's lies were accepted
whole-heartedly by the major media although ample contradictory
evidence was available.
Fear is an extremely powerful emotion
that will permit extraordinary liberties to be taken of the frightened
masses so that they will be secure from the potential threats.
The 9/11 attacks so frightened the public that they willingly
accepted unlimited war and accompanying restrictions.
Sympathy for the innocent victims provoked
anger and a desire for vengeance against the guilty culprits.
That Afghans and Iraqis, just as innocent of wrongdoing as the
9/11 victims, would be targeted and would suffer was not considered.
Proposed reasonableness of position
Logical arguments are made to justify
taking hostile action without thoroughly exploring the implications
of the action. Opinions of a contrary or alternate point of view
The various arguments justifying all out
war do not entertain the thought that 9/11 was similar to the
Oklahoma bombing which was treated as a crime with prosecution
of the perpetrator; nor is there consideration of the motives
that prompted the 9/11 bombings and addressing those causes.
Prominent individuals' approval
Prominent pundits, commentators and columnists
will express approval of the questionable actions to overcome
the doubts that may arise among some thoughtful individuals. After
all, if these fine ethical people overwhelmingly support the government,
it must be O.K.
"To get along you have to go along."
It is difficult to take a position that is in opposition to one
that virtually no one else is taking. Harsh punishment may be
taken against the dissident. Small groups of protesters in Germany
certainly suffered for their opposition. But even against the
Nazis, a strong organized group of German women who protested
the arrest of their Jewish husbands were successful at saving
The enemy is depicted as an immoral creature.
Horror stories of their dastardly acts (usually completely false)
will often provide the spark to set off the war. Gulf War I had
Iraqis throwing babies on the hospital floor, WWI Germans cut
off the hands of Belgian nurses, etc. Pictures of Japanese with
fanged teeth were displayed on posters during WWII.
What is the antidote?
To change the public's strong support
or acquiescence those factors must be broken down. How?
Get the truth out and show that opposition
forces exist in sufficient numbers for one to join without being
alone in opposition.
Strong committed groups must take up the
fight and continue until the tide is turned. At present there
are numerous forces throughout the country that are doing just
In spite of all the harsh actions that
the state and its supporters will take to suppress dissidents,
their numbers and power should continually increase and the state
will eventually accept the message!
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