L. Neil Smith's
The German Syndrome
by Patrick K Martin
Exclusive to TLE
After the Second World War, when the German people were confronted by the Holocaust, most of them said, "We didnít know!" Well, they knew about the kristallnacht. They knew about the Ghettos. They knew about Jews, Gypsies, gays, and others who were disappearing. They knew about the trains heading ĎEastí. They heard the stories and rumors, and the tales of horrible things going on. They had the information, but they didnít know! Why? Because if they did they would have had to make a choice. They would have had to stand up, to cease their support for the butchers running their country, and they would have had to work to bring down the animals responsible for the barbarity. Otherwise they would have to stand with their government, and bear moral responsibility for what that government did. We humans are good at that, at ignoring what we do not like, at refusing to know rather than facing up to the decisions that knowledge makes necessary. Sometimes it is simply easier not to know.
The urge not to know is by no means confined to Germans. In the twentieth century people all over the world have worked desperately, not to know. The communists in the west have refused to know about the White-sea canal, where itís said a human death accompanied every meter of earth that was dug. They didnít know about the millions of Ukrainians starved to death to enforce collective farming. They didnít know about the purges, the Gulagís, the wholesale executions, the displacements of native populations. They didnít know about the capture of western P.O.W.ís at the end of the war, or the anti- communists, butchered after the west turned them over to Stalin. They didnít know about the untold millions of Chinese murdered by the communists over a period of thirty years. Nor the chemical weapons used against the peoples of Southeast Asia and Afghanistan. Because if they KNEW, they would not be able to escape the fact that their dreams of socialist utopia were really blood soaked nightmares.
Today we Americans face a crisis of not knowing. Our fellow countrymen refuse to know that their government has itís hands soaked in the blood of itís citizens. They refuse to acknowledge that the Constitution no longer restrains the men in whoís hands we have placed our nationís future. They refuse to know the crimes carried out in the name of the People. They refuse to know, because then they would have to do something about it.
I have a friend who is a lawyer. He claims to support the Constitution, and to love the Second Amendment. He says that he is a lawyer in order to protect peoples rights. When I attempt to show him some of what is being done by our government however, he refuses to believe. He asks for chapter and verse of the incident, and if I cannot provide them, he scoffs. If I do, he attacks the source, or claims the evidence is incomplete or open to interpretation. If he can do nothing else, he says that it is just an isolated incident and not representative. I used to wonder how he could be so blind, but now I understand that he has no choice. He cannot accept that what I show him is real because he is a part of the system, if that system is corrupt, if that system is destroying the things he believes in, then he must abandon it, or admit that it is he who is destroying the rights, and indeed the nation, which he has sworn to protect.
We must learn this lesson, we must learn it well and we must learn it right now. When we point out the errors and crimes of our government to people, we are attacking them. It is not the abstract concept of our nation, it is not something called a government, it is that person which we are bashing. When you tell a cop that other cops are killing innocent Americans, you are telling him that he is a member of the Gestapo, that he is part of a group that murders people. How do we expect them to react? They call them Brother Officers for a reason. When you tell a veteran that his country is running around the world beating up defenseless people, you are telling him that he and those he served with were bullies and thugs, fighting, not to defend freedom and democracy, but simply to impose something on somebody else. Do you expect him to admit to it?
Do you expect him to thank you for opening his eyes?
People tend to identify themselves with the things they love, they do not separate themselves because they cannot. We are all Americans, so what attacks America is attacking us. Some time ago Vin Suprynowicz was attacked in these pages for suggesting in issue #140 that we;
"... Make war in Southwest Asia by following the rules of the last fellow to successfully conquer the place. Genghis Khan graciously accepted the peaceful surrender of any city that would send him tribute ... even allowing them to keep their religion and customs. Those who demurred were left with no stone standing atop another. Their surviving male inhabitants had their hamstrings cut so they'd be crippled for life, while their women and children were herded back to China to serve as slaves and concubines."
I doubt Mr. Suprynowicz was seriously advocating that we start hamstring anyone who failed to bow quickly enough, or bring Afghan women to the U.S. to serve as concubines. I believe he, like myself and many others I know, simply felt that the September 11 attack was an attack on him, not on an abstraction called American. Like a man who has had a loved one attacked, he sought to express his rage and need for vengeance. I think this illustrates my point. Mr. Suprynowicz is no knee-jerk, "America, love it or leave it" reactionary, but his visceral reaction was to destroy the enemies of his nation. Why should we expect others to react differently when we attack the things that they hold dear?
Yes, I know that we are trying to bring back the true sprit of American. I know that our attacks are aimed at the vermin infesting our institutions and spilling the blood of our innocent fellow- countrymen, but we must realize that others do not see it that way. We must begin to approach our fellow Americans with the understanding that they will defend the status-quo, both out of reflex and out of a sense of self-preservation. So much of their ego is wrapped up in the idea of The United States that they cannot separate themselves from it.
Nor can we expect those who are victims, or potential victims, of the system to respond properly. In the words of Rabbi Mermelstein of the J.P.F.O.;
"In Germany, Jews said things like: "Hitler is a passing fad", "Kristallnacht was an isolated occurrence", "We will be set free from the labor camps and returned to our homes soon." "
How many people, faced with government charges of violating un- constitutional laws on weapons possession, the environment, drugs, taxation, etc. go eagerly into a courtroom expecting to be vindicated, when they know, that thousands languish in prison for similar acts? What makes people expect that their rights will be upheld, when the rights of so many others have not? What make people think that what happened to Randy Weaver, or the Branch Davidians, will never happen to them? Are they not reacting just like the Jews Rabbi Mermelstein mentioned?
In picture after picture from the Holocaust, we see German soldiers and SS men herding Jews and others with unloaded weapons. Submachine gun bolts forward, rifle firing pins down, pistols secured in full- flap holsters, these people had no fear of those they led to slaughter. They knew that the people they killed had no will to resist, and they were right. Not because the Jews or Gypsies were inferior, but because the victims refused to believe what was happening. In the movie ĎSchindlerís Listí as the women are going to the gas-chambers and bemoaning their fate you hear a voice cry out, "They wouldnít do that to us, would they?". That is the sound of denial, that is the sound of the NRA and Civil-libertarians as new restrictions on our rights are imposed, because no matter what violations have occurred before, some will refuse to believe the newest outrage. Because if we admit the truth we must do something about it.
The day the NRA admits that the government plans to deny our rights and kill those who resist, the NRA must call upon itís members to act. The day the ACLU admits that the destruction of the Second Amendment heralds the destruction of all rights, they must act to preserve it. The day that the American people admit that the government is out of control, that it murders itís citizens and oppresses itís people, they must do something about it. They must decide to risk their fancy houses and SUVís, they must risk their lives and the futures of their children, or they must accept the blood of innocents staining their hands, and admit that the gold the government gives them is pried from the mouths of victims just like them.
Sometimes itís easier not to know.