November 22, 1963, and the assassination of JFK. The 1930s and the rise of the Nazi Party. Where are we headed now?
This week a "birther" from the state of Georgia was convicted in Tennessee. The jerk had wanted to use his Colt 45 and AK47 to "arrest" Tennessee courthouse officials for their failing to oust our "illegal" President Obama. This skinhead is just the latest in a growing line of those acting out the hatred being pushed by the GOP right along with its promotion of violence.
Remember the shooter in Tucson? The spitting and cursing mob surrounding the Democratic members of Congress as they tried to enter the Capitol to vote on health insurance reform? The broken windows at Democratic Congressional field offices? The knot-heads with their guns at campaign events? The guy at a recent Obama event, shouting that Obama is "the Anti-Christ"? There's more examples of nut jobs acting out on GOP political rhetoric, but that's enough.
You say these are just loonies and that America always has loonies. But the GOP is feeding these guys an incendiary and inciting diet of hatred-and-violence-as-politics. And as we know too well, loonies can pull triggers. Or act as "patsies". Someone just has to point them in a certain direction.
Chris Matthews, with whom I do not always agree, is not old enough to remember Nazi Germany and the Nazis' tactics in their rise to power, but he is a well-read man. He has also seen enough of sporadic GOP bully-boy tactics over the last forty-plus years to have caught on to what the GOP has been systematically doing since the rise of Obama in 2008.
And Mr. Matthews has been brave enough to almost make explicit the connection between Nazi Joseph Goebbels' tactical innovations (see footnote) and the GOP current modus operandi.
Almost alone among political commentators, Matthews has refused to take his eye off the Nazi-like tactics the GOP has been employing. He spoke up long and loud about the gunsight symbol Sarah Palin and other Republicans used to "target" Democrats in on-line postings and other publishing. He has deplored the violent language of the GOP, such as Perry threatening Texas might leave the Union. And the cry of the GOP that the right to bear arms is their right to "take back" their America with their weapons.
Incitement to violence was a classic Nazi political party tactic.
Matthews has also persistently pointed out that the "birther" issue is an attempt by the GOP to make Obama into "the other." He rightly connects the birth certificate issue with the GOP labeling Obama as a "Socialist". Most Americans in 2008 had no clue as to what a Socialist is. The term had been missing from the American political vocabulary for over seventy years! So the GOP was free to load it with sinister connotations. A Socialist is "the other." He's anti-American. He's - well, he's like a European!
Newt Gingrich, the supposed "intellectual" of the GOP took it even further. Per Newt, Obama is an anti-Western Mau Mau terrorist because his biological father was Kenyan!
Demonizing people as "the other" was the Nazi first step to creating the scapegoat. And you know what happens to scapegoats.
The Nazis had centuries of European anti-semitism to hand them the Jews ready-made as "the other." The GOP has centuries of anti-black hatred in America to hand them "the other." And let's not kid ourselves. The HATRED - the seething, near-bloodlust HATRED - that the GOP has stoked against Obama is rooted in the fact he is partly of African descent.
Racism is alive in America, though no one seemingly dares say so. It's the devil's fiddle the GOP has been playing since Nixon adopted his "Southern Strategy" in 1968. Now the GOP has a whole orchestra playing the hateful tune.
The veneer among the GOP right-wing bigots is as thin as the coat of whitewash Rick Perry's family painted that rock with at their hunting camp. And the GOP is stoking the racism in a clever way. With Herman Caen popping up as a convenient Uncle Tom for cover, the GOP can again use the birth certificate issue safely, as they are now doing, to make Obama "the other". (If you don't understand that, maybe politics is not really your bag.)
Thus Rick Perry this week told Parade magazine that, after talking to Donald Trumpeteer, Perry just isn't sure about where Obama was born. He also said that the birther issue was a "good" one to keep going.
When you've got a good lie going and a racist political base, why abandon an effective Nazi tactic just because it fell out of fashion for a few months?
Keep your eye on this stuff, Chris Matthews! Keep pointing out the GOP tactics. Because you're on a national cable network, perhaps you're forbidden to use the accurate adjective "Nazi"when describing these tactics. But as the guy playing "Hardball", at least you notice when the game turns dirty.
And even if you do not personally remember the Nazis, you do deeply and personally remember Dallas in 1963.
Keep telling it like it is, Mr. Matthews!
You may save someone's life.
Maybe - God help us all - Obama's.
Footnote: A list of the Goebels/Nazi tactics is in my Oct.21 & Oct.22 blog postings, along with current GOP examples. For a decade or two after WWII, high school curricula required units on how to spot propaganda, undemocratic tactics, fallacious reasoning, etc. As WWII has become more remote in time, so have its lessons.