COLLECTIVE GUILT AND ARMAGEDDON
I don't know what grade I was in-- or if it was even in school-- that I first confronted the idea of collective guilt, collective guilt as in the WW II generation of Germans. They kind of elected Hitler-- well he really did have a lot of votes, even if he actually attained power extra-Constitutionally. But, even more than that there were a helluva lot of them-- true mostly in the south (Bavaria) but, eventually all over Germany-- who were enthusiastically supportive of Hitler and his radical/conservative Far Right regime. And even the ones who were less enthusiastic... went along.
Why bring this up in 2005? 1935 was 70 years ago. (Disclaimer: I admit that when the U.S. invaded Vietnam, bombed and brutalized its heroic people and turned that country into a hell on earth, I was also concerned about collective guilt and, in fact, left the U.S. for quite a few years, not so much to avoid military service-- luck of the draw gave me a very high selective service # so I was clearly never gonna get called-- as to try to avoid the karma for what my country was doing in Southeast Asia.) My latest bout of obsession over collective guilt isn't really about the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq per se.
It's much worse. I mean the Germans were cursed long before Hitler invaded the Sudetenland, reoccupied the Saar and then the Rhineland areas, even before he unilaterally tore up treaties and started sabotaging the League of Nations. They were cursed when they allowed themselves to slip, step by step, into the ever tightening grip of fascist totalitarianism.
My forebearers were European Jews. The ones I know of were long gone before Hitler was a factor. But growing up as a person of Jewish heritage, in Brooklyn no less, I couldn't help but ponder-- more than once-- how those people could have complied more-or-less calmly, at least to the extent of not fighting to the death, as they and their families were systematically exterminated. I mean that's even scarier than watching your country turn into a totalitarian fascist state. I don't foresee concentration camps or extermination camps in America-- not even for gay people-- although, the Jews that didn't die in ovens and "showers" were the ones that were fast enough on the uptake to get out of Dodge early. But what I do see-- more clearly with each passing day-- is my country slipping, slipping, slipping into totalitarianism and fascism. OMG! I said it.
Now what the hell am I gonna do about it? Did you read that thing from the NY TIMES I posted a day or two ago-- the one about how our Army is brutalizing innocent-- innocent as in random, minding-one's-own-business-- Afghanis who just happen to get swept up in a general swoop. And we're doing it in Iraq too. Big time. By the way I said "we're," not "they're." If a bunch of yahoos with Confederate flags in their tent, following orders from the White House and the Pentagon brutally torture and then beat some innocent Afghanis to death. It's our men and women, boys and girls, over there, following orders from our civilian-controlled government. You can probably guess I didn't vote for Bush. But I'm not in prison either, so those soldiers are acting for me-- and you.
My friends are pretty smart, pretty educated, pretty well-informed. Pretty much every one of them voted against Bush and even the ones who preferred Nader over the pathetic Kerry were smart enough, this time, to vote for Kerry. I keep talking to them and lots of them don't know what "The Nuclear Option" is. They don't know that in like 2 days the radical wing of the Republican Party will have unilaterally changed the rules of the United States Senate in a way so that they can do anything they want with no checks and no balances. This is alarming-- particularly for someone like me who's looked closely at the election returns in 2000 and 2004 and was greatly disturbed to see African-American precincts in Florida and Ohio which had always voted OVER 90% Democrat, being reported as voting over 90% Republican. No checks, no balances.
I don't want to contemplate the kind of Armageddon the Germans experienced so I'm gonna cut this one short and just think about it for a few days. I'll bring it up again though.