Wednesday, November 30, 2016

All politics are local and visible.

Kind of old news, Nazi rallies in favor of their national leader. But, I’ve been thinking a lot about last week’s Alt-right gathering where Trump was Seig-Heiled by his followers.

On the Tom Hartmann show, last week,  Thom was reading from a book written right after WWII -  They Thought They Were Free. The author, Milton Mayer, a Jewish American, went to Germany right after its surrender to get an idea of why some people just went along with the Nazis. The old adage of “At first they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist…Etc.” comes from this book I believe.

The gist of it is that, in local communities, the infiltration of the Nazi agenda was so gradual and nonthreatening, it was a surprise for most to wake up one day confronted with what they let happen. One of the interviewees said that all the old institutions had remained - church, the cinema, markets, but the soul of their town had changed and by the time they noticed this, it was too late to do anything about it.

When you look around Spokane, right now, it’s hard to remember a more prosperous time. Our local economy is doing well. Eight years ago, we were deep in recession and all of us homeowners had lost a lot of value in our homes and our retirement plans. Now things have reversed. It’s a head-scratcher to me why we want to go back to where we were eight years ago. But the minority in our country has spoken, so looking at Trump’s cabinet picks, we will do just that.

It’s hard to wrap our heads around national problems and solutions. But, looking at the economy of our local area, it is apparent that national politics have had a real effect on our local economy. Likewise too, the recent pro-Nazi, pro-KKK graffiti spray-painted on buildings, the accosting of local minorities by pro-Trump supporters certainly are a reflection of how national politics infect a local system almost seamlessly - thanks to the 24-7 news cycle and social media. Also, our responses to these crises remain local (PR events). No one can make the connection of these reprehensible actions to the beliefs they hold for our nation. I am reminded of my father’s worries/excitement about the upcoming race wars, and his disdain for African-Americans on a national level. My best friend was African-American and after my dad lectured me on the evils of "the Blacks," he would always exclude my friend’s family because they were unlike most Blacks and were “good people.” He could not make the connection.

Speaking of good people, I had a falling out of a sort with a relative by marriage of mine. He kept posting articles that were blatantly untrue about Hillary Clinton, stuff we now know were intentional disinformation pieces. I Snoped them and they were easily refuted. Yet, he persisted. And this, to me, was a curious thing. He has a job, like mine, which makes him a trusted member of our community. He also has a skill set, like mine, which is continually updated as we learn new things about medicine, fire behavior and other parts of our jobs. We work hard to know the truth. We easily change our minds and our practices to better serve, and we want to remain credible to our community. Yet, here he was willing to sacrifice his credibility for a national figure, Donald Trump, and this is what I find puzzling. You can dislike Hillary Clinton all you want, love Donald Trump all you want, but why would you discard your credibility by spreading things that were obviously false? Now if he was being satirical, I get that. But, he wasn’t.

I presented three hypotheses to him on why this might be. I went back this morning to copy and paste them here. But, he has sanitized his Facebook page of all things political. So, the great forgetting begins! Mine and his.

In a nutshell, I think folks are willing to sacrifice their credibility by perpetuating what they know are lies because: 1. They figure the stakes are so high for their team, they think it’s worth it. 2. It’s only a game, only a team, nobody takes politics seriously- they’re all crooked and there is nothing you can do anyway. 3. “I can find any ‘truth’ I want on the Internet and it’s just as  good as the real truth.” In any case, the underlying cause is not having enough energy or enough caring to pursue the truth because the truth might conflict with your worldview, the truth is not that important or there is no truth - only relativism. All these attitudes we would reject in our personal and professional lives. Also, these same  attitudes were prevalent in the build up of Nazi Germany, if one believes what the author of They Thought They Were Free has to say..

I really don’t remember if this is exactly what I said to him, but needless to say, I did not receive a reply!

So, if you participate as a cyber Brown Shirt by posting untruths to win one for some guy who is worshipped by NeoNazis and the Klan, someone who will now set up shop on the other side of the nation, I hope you take responsibility for your actions when they migrate here. Again, my hope is that you will remember what you did; that you will notice what effect your choice has made on your life, the ones you love and our nation; and that you will rethink your beliefs and the way you do business.

As I sit here in a prosperous Spokane, one that lay devastated eight years ago, when I think back to your support of George W. Bush (twice) and the build up to the Iraq War (both things that you now disavow), I have my doubts you will remember, that you will take responsibility and that you will change. It’s not just you, it’s the people we have become - incapable of self reflection, ignorant and arrogant. It will be our undoing. And you’ll have a front row seat for the unraveling - right here in the Lilac City.

Nazis worship Donald Trump
Thom Hartmann
They Thought They Were Free

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