Here We Go Again: A Failed Lesson in History

by Fernando Perfas

Storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan.6, 2021 | Photo by Tyler Merbler via Creative Commons 2.0

Adolph Hitler rose to power in the aftermath of Germany’s humiliating defeat in World War I. A brilliant tactician and charismatic leader, he exploited the German’s prevailing sentiment following the war. The German’s morale was at its lowest point, and the nagging question in the minds of many was what led to the country’s failure to prevail. Hitler seized the moment and found the answer: the Jews. Historically, Jews were often viewed as an outsider, a convenient scapegoat for all that was wrong in the world, in this case, in Germany.

Although Jews were a diverse group but well integrated into the German population, Hitler started to paint a general picture of Jews as traitors and troublemakers, based on the prominent Jewish roles in social movements and the Bolshevik revolution. Notwithstanding the Jewish achievements and contributions in Germany’s economic, social, intellectual, and cultural life, native Germans were bombarded with anti-Semitic propaganda based on lies and the incitement of fear for the Jews and other fringe groups. They promoted a contrived sense of pride about the German’s superior heritage as a member of the Aryan race. To complete his racist agenda, Hitler enshrined the values of racial purity and superiority. Other races they viewed as inferior were fair game. What was Hitler’s endgame? Global dominion and the eradication of Jews on the face of the earth at all cost.

It’s notable that Hitler espoused eugenics and singled out the German race as superior in contrast to the Jews and other races. This view set the stage for persecuting other races through violent means. He effectively corrupted the German’s mind with his warped and toxic narrative. And his lies were bought by people who were vulnerable to his manipulations. There were no outcries against his criminal policies; instead, the Germans embraced his agenda with little resistance. The rest is history.

“The parallelism with what is raging in U.S. politics today and the Germany of Hitler’s time is astounding. In his four years in office as president, it is remarkable that Trump had pushed a racial narrative that was corrosive to the healthy functioning of an egalitarian and multi-ethnic nation.”

But what did we learn from the Holocaust that Hitler unleashed and the destructions of the war he instigated, all for his quest for power and a distorted vision of racial superiority?

The parallelism with what is raging in U.S. politics today and the Germany of Hitler’s time is astounding. In his four years in office as president, it is remarkable that Trump had pushed a racial narrative that was corrosive to the healthy functioning of an egalitarian and multi-ethnic nation. He has always promoted the superiority of the white race and denigrated colored races. Not long ago, he described the origins of these races as “shit hole” countries. He described many immigrants from Latin America as rapists, convicts, thugs, and violent drug dealers preying on American communities and attacking hapless victims or taking jobs from ordinary Americans. Is this a symptom of man’s short memory and failure to learn from the past?

The racist narrative promotes a conspiracy theory that the growing non-white minorities are about to overrun and replace the dominant white race in America. It incites fear of a plague of non-whites taking power and running the country. The racist undertone of the narrative pushed by Trumpism and embraced by Trump-leaning conservative politicians and followers is palpable. The attempted coup that failed to keep Trump in power did not end in the steps of the Capitol. Now, a frenetic effort by some conservative states to change election rules that have worked for centuries to favor the Party of Trump by suppressing voters’ rights is at work.

“A study of the demographics of the January 6th insurrectionists tends to prove my point that race is the underlying driver in American society’s polarization and Trump’s rise to power. Many of the participants in the insurrection were not jobless, disenfranchised Americans.”

A study of the demographics of the January 6th insurrectionists tends to prove my point that race is the underlying driver in American society’s polarization and Trump’s rise to power. Many of the participants in the insurrection were not jobless, disenfranchised Americans. In fact, many were regular people with stable jobs, business owners, and professionals. It is interesting to note that the overwhelming majority who violently attacked the Capitol police and threatened members of Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence were whites and older adults. The crowd had obviously bought Trump’s conspiracy theories, abetted by some in mass and social media, about a stolen election and lies about the dark design by Democrats who, incidentally, promote the equality of races and liberal agenda.

I often ask myself, what is it about Trump, with all his glaring faults as a person, that a mass is willing to listen and follow him? I believe his followers are willing to overlook his lawlessness, ego centricities, and utter disregard for Democratic principles for what he stands for: white supremacy. He said on January 6th, “We will fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you are not going to have a country anymore.” Those lines are revealing and ominous, for those words are meant for his predominantly white followers who feel threatened by American society’s rapidly changing racial shade.

If there is a silver lining to the ignominy of the January 6th insurrection, the young generation, who often dominate anti-government protests, was hardly there. It was older folks who were actively involved in the attempt to overthrow the results of a free election.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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