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CSotD: Staying off John Chancellor

Given that today is only the 17th, I have no idea how many people will turn out tomorrow to protest the arrests of people who attempt the violent overthrow of the government.

Nor, assuming they show up, do I know whether they will be met with the rubber bullets, truncheons and tear gas used against those who protest police brutality or who clutter the site of photo ops at Episcopal Churches.

But, like Kevin Siers, I do know that — whatever their numbers, whatever their actions — they have the support of the Republican Party, which continues to promote the lie under which they march.

Some time ago, Cassandras cautioned that someone might set fire to the Reichstag or something like it, and perhaps stage a phony assault on a radio station as well, alluding to the false premises with which the Nazis first seized power, then invaded Poland.

Hyperbole? We’ve had a series of little Kristallnachts around the country, including, of course, Charlottesville, and, if nobody burned down the Capitol, they sure made an attempt, with the support of the GOP, which refuses to investigate whether it was also at their instigation.

We’ll get to that radio station in a minute, but here’s the canary in the coal mine, if you needed one:

Ohio Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, a Republican whose parents fled Cuba, and who voted in favor of Trump’s second, post-election impeachment, has decided not to run for re-election, a decision explained by the Bulwark’s Tim Miller in a must-read warning of where we are today:

There is more. It matters. Read it.

It matters because something else has been popping up on social media for some time, which is the suggestion that, if you’ve ever wondered what you would have done in 1930s Germany, you’re doing it now.

 

I put together this quote and photo six years ago and I’ve posted it many times since, first as, granted, a bit of hyperbole, but, more recently, completely in earnest.

It’s not so much the people who join in as the people who stand by, and even “standing by” can become active: One of the most frightening elements of Germany’s invasion of Poland seems to me to be the fact that soldiers — ordinary soldiers, not SS hardliners — were told to shoot those who surrendered to them, and to kill civilians as well, and simply “followed orders.”

After the war was over, of course, everyone claimed to have been active in the resistance, and I’m sure that, when the dust has settled this time, we’ll all agree that we were sneaking around in the night as heroes, just as, when the rain ended and the mud dried, we all claimed to have been at Woodstock.

Now, about that radio station: The Gleiwitz Incident, in which German operatives faked a Polish assault on a radio station, did not emerge out of a clear, blue sky. Europe had been bracing for war as Hitler rattled his saber, and the staged attack was only a final excuse for him to launch the invasion.

But he didn’t have V2 missiles yet, much less the ability to launch ICBMs at the push of a button.

Things move a little faster, 80 years later, and, while you can sit back and say nothing happened in January, we should recognize what might have.

 

Clay Bennett (CTFP) offers a quiet, undramatic summary, which makes his cartoon all the more powerful.

As noted here yesterday, General Milley’s actions, as reported in Woodward/Costa’s book “Peril,” need to be considered in context, and further reports suggest that he didn’t act alone or in haste, but that neither was he the only person at the top levels of government who feared what an increasingly erratic president might do.

 

Hence Jack Ohman (WPWG)‘s more dramatic rendition, based on what might have happened but didn’t.

You don’t get medals for your action in things that didn’t happen, though my son once got a commendation from the Navy for extinguishing a fire in the torpedo bay of his ship.

Sometimes “nothing” is a cool hand, and, as he said when he called from Japan, “Boy, you’d have seen this one on John Chancellor.”

Staying off John Chancellor was the objective, and, similarly, Milley’s actions produced nothing for Lester Holt, thank God.

The difference being that this fire isn’t out yet, which leads to our

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Gary Varvel – Creators)

 

(Dana Summers – Creators)

It is probably unfair to accuse them of being disappointed, since they’re talking about Milley thwarting not an actual unprovoked nuclear attack, but merely something that might have happened and didn’t.

Still, it’s a reminder of Sir John Harington‘s quote, “Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

Since it didn’t prosper, Republicans will likely hold an investigation into Milley’s actions, as they did of the Benghazi incident, as they did of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail.

Though, of course, they have not held one of the January 6 uprising, because, so long as the Senate filibuster holds, it wasn’t treason.

What is clear is that, whether or not the mob shows up tomorrow, there is a substantial number of people, including some cartoonists, willing to stand behind the president.

 

As long, Ann Telnaes adds, as we mean their president and not some disloyal, unAmerican, fraudulently-elected president.

And as long as “treason” is defined as defying the chain of command to prevent an undeclared nuclear war, rather than as defying the Constitution in order to thwart the peaceful transfer of power.

 

Or, as Steve Sack imagined happening four years ago, passing along highly classified information to Russian officials, which would certainly be treason if it had actually happened, and if anyone had dared speak up to make the charge.

 

And there might have been treason if there existed some sort of special investigation into election interference that had not — as Clay Bennett put it two years ago — been carefully examined, redacted and explained by a group of loyal, patriotic experts who understand these things.

To simplify Harington’s expression, “It ain’t treason if you win.”

But it is treason not to fight back.

Community Comments

#1 gezorkin
September/17/2021
@ 3:07 pm

Excerpt from the Bulwark article explaining Republican Gonzalez’ decision not to run again:

“The primary was to be solely a referendum over whether voters of the district wanted their representative to be a Trump toady even if it means overthrowing American democracy.”

—-

I quibble with one word. ‘Even if’ should be replaced by ‘especially if’.

#2 Becky
September/17/2021
@ 4:59 pm

Living in Texas, I have many good friends who, as staunch Trumpers, are just as convinced as I am that the Other Side is all “convicts and lunatics”, as you put it. I don’t know anyone who is “standing by,” not seeing and caring about what is going on. When you don’t agree on what is fact and what is fiction, what is there to do? All I know to do is to wait and hope, quietly donating to the political groups that I believe can do the most good.

#3 Mike Peterson
September/17/2021
@ 5:18 pm

Alas, “waiting and hoping” is what let things proceed as they did. Lots of Germans waited and hoped.

#4 Lawrence Roberts
September/17/2021
@ 6:57 pm

Waiting and hoping doesn’t work.

The Germans weren’t the only ones to find that out. Present day Iranians are also waiting and hoping but when they let Khomeini in no one was safe. Russia, China, and North Korea also suffer from there being no hope arising from waiting (unless you wait for generations, maybe)

An American perspective of the rise of the Nazis, and the involvement (or disengagement or passive participation) of the general population, is well set out in “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany” written by William Shirer. At just over 1,100 pages it may be beyond some modern readers however the insights and parallel are worth the effort. Reading the book might also help understand why some commentators say it is inappropriate to compare Trump with Hitler.

Would it also be fair to say a general outcome of the Nuremberg trials was that failure to act is also a crime against society or even humanity?

#5 Mary Ella
September/19/2021
@ 7:18 am

So, if “waiting and hoping doesn’t work”, what’s the alternative?

I’ve watched my own congresscritter go from what seemed like a relatively reasonable conservative to a full-blown Trump minion over the course of his career. Calling and writing his office gets now response. He stopped holding town halls in the more “urban” parts of his district in favor of VFW halls out in the red boonies in the middle of a weekday, so no one with a normal job can come. And now, thanks to how his district is drawn (and, the Republican supermajority in the state house that gets to redraw it this year), he will likely be re-elected in perpetuity. And underneath him are who knows how many state reps and school board members who are exactly the same way.

I have given up on writing letters and calling when the only response I get is a form letter, if I’m lucky. I donate and vote for opposing candidates where I can, but those opposing candidates have a hard time of it when they have to put all that time and money into what turns out to be a guaranteed loss.

This isn’t the first comment thread I’ve seen decrying people who “just let it happen” like the Germans did, but I never EVER seem to see any useful advice for an ordinary person. Short of setting myself on fire, what am I supposed to do to avoid being the person that “just let it happen”?

#6 Mike Peterson
September/19/2021
@ 9:01 am

Donating to other campaigns — including tight races in other places than your own — is one thing you can do. Of course, so is voting against monsters when you have the chance.

Watch ultralocal races. Conservatives have mastered the art of capturing school boards and town councils. Don’t let them, because not all the important things happen in Washington.

Letters to the editor. Bumperstickers. Lawn signs. Let others know that there are other voices in their community.

Shop with merchants who make public professions of good will and decency. Avoid those who express negativity. Get your morning coffee at the place that pays decently and employs refugees or the developmentally disabled. Don’t know who? Ask around. People know and will be happy to share the information.

Go to meetings. If your congressman doesn’t hold any, your school board, planning board and other boards do. Read their agendas and go to ones in which things you care about are being discussed and decided.

Silence implies consent. Don’t be silent. And don’t give up.

#7 Tara Gallagher
September/19/2021
@ 10:21 am

You are so right about local races, Mike. And let me add, watch your state legislature closely. Write to and call your legislators–they get fewer calls and pay a bit more attention. And, yes, work for good candidates.
State legislatures are where it all really happens, including voter suppression and gerrymandering (both Congressional and, oh, state legislature districts…).

Also true about the signs and bumperstickers, no area is fully red-state but can sure feel like it.
“Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.”

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