TNC…where curious minds can access wholesome news commentary

TNC…where curious minds can access wholesome news commentary

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What Matters: ‘We must speak truth to fascism’

Fewer people who can actually remember the Holocaust are still with us. Denialism and disinformation about the Holocaust presaged the false information now spread online. The rise of a virulent White nationalism plagues democracies like the United States and was on display at the US Capitol during an insurrection that’s been compared to the burning of the Reichstag in 1933.
Witness to the Holocaust. Irene Butter is a survivor who watched the rise of the Nazis as a girl in Germany. She writes a warning for Americans that their democracy is at stake and sees “echoes of the Nazis and their regime” in the insurrection at the US Capitol, which featured rioters in Holocaust-denying T-shirts and other anti-Semitic symbols.

“The disinformation, distortion and denial of human rights and democracy that resulted in the Holocaust must not happen again. We must speak truth to fascism.”

And…

“Four years ago, we could not have guessed that rioters with Nazi symbols would break into the Capitol to subvert a fairly elected president. None of us can afford to be a bystander to history. We all must confront racism and hatred when we see it. We must establish a record, encourage witnesses and others to speak out, and teach truth. Each of us can and must make a difference.”

It’s a compelling story from a woman who barely survived concentration camps and, once freed, was forced to live for a time alone as a refugee, separated from her mother and brother after her father’s death. Butter’s warning is in line with the message Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was born in Austria after the war, posted on social media after the Capitol insurrection.
President Joe Biden acknowledged the Holocaust and said in a statement that bigotry and hate were what pushed him to run for office in 2020.

“The horrors we saw and heard in Charlottesville in 2017, with White nationalists and neo-Nazis spewing the same anti-Semitic bile we heard in the 1930s in Europe, are the reason I ran for president,” he said — although he did not mention the events just three weeks ago on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, in a different reality. The Oregon Republican Party is drawing the exact opposite conclusion from the January 6 riot and making false claims about who was responsible. The party — a legitimate, statewide arm of the GOP — issued a formal condemnation Monday of the 10 Republican members of Congress who voted in favor of impeaching now-former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection.
In their warped view, it’s not the people who invaded the seat of American power who were trying to overthrow democracy. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they claim the insurrection was a “false flag” operation and, in a bizarre reversal of facts, it was Democrats who were trying to take over the government, like Nazis who burned the Reichstag in 1933.
Let’s not doom ourselves to repeat history. Read a refresher on the Reichstag fire from Smithsonian Magazine here. A Communist was blamed for the damage and Hitler used the event to consolidate his power and purge Communists from the government, despite recent evidence the Nazis may have had a hand in the fire themselves.

This actual quote from the Oregon GOP is the type of disinformation and distortion Butter is talking about: “Whereas there is growing evidence that the violence at the Capitol was a ‘false flag’ operation designed to discredit President Trump, his supporters, and all conservative Republicans; this provided the sham motivation to impeach President Trump in order to advance the Democrat goal of seizing total power, in a frightening parallel to the February 1933 burning of the German Reichstag.”

It might be the most deranged non-ironic argument you’ll ever hear. A state party backing a President whose followers wore symbols of the Nazis and physically stormed the Capitol to stop the counting of votes are officially arguing the other party — the one elected by voters — is more like the Nazis.

There’s a pattern for this type of total distortion. Trump twisted accusations of fake news online helping his 2016 campaign into his “Fake News” mantra about legitimate media before his 2020 campaign. As president, he cried about a “witch hunt” against him as he purged people he didn’t feel were loyal in the federal government.

The Capitol riot was not a false flag operation. Many, many, many people who were on video storming the Capitol and are avowed right-wing activists are among those who have been arrested. They often admitted on tape or on Twitter to being there and marching for Trump. It wasn’t false flag. It was flag-waving.

Historians have tried to tamp down on comparisons between Trumpists and Nazis. The author and professor Thomas Weber, who wrote a book about Hitler’s rise, warns against a false equivalence, and argues anyone making the point today should look closely at Germany of the 1930s, when Jews were being rounded up and sent to camps.

“Hitler and Trump, along with fascism and Trumpism, are all destructive to liberal democracy but in fundamentally different ways,” Weber wrote after Schwarzenegger posted his video. “Taking these distinctions seriously allows us better to understand the specific threat Trump posed and be better equipped to spot the warning signs of someone who might follow in his footsteps.”

Still, it is alarming and sad, today, that parts of the GOP have completely bought into the conspiracy theory mindset and false narratives that thrive online, like the “false flag” silliness about the Capitol insurrection. Even if they’re not themselves storming the Capitol, the energy in the GOP isn’t looking for any accountability from Trump, who helped incite it.

Backlash to accountability. Those few Republicans that expressed anger at Trump or, even fewer, voted to impeach him, have been vilified rather than celebrated for their courage.

Politico’s David Siders wrote that, “for a moment, it looked like Donald Trump might be losing his iron grip on the GOP” after those 10 Republicans joined Democrats in that impeachment vote in the House. But the effort is being quickly snuffed out as Republicans in Washington who used to talk about censuring the former President are falling in line. Siders talked to a Nelson County, Kentucky, official, Don Thrasher, who is mobilizing there against Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

Thrasher said the power of Trump remains strong at the local level and the former President could sway any local party election in the country: “If he interjected himself in any of the state party elections, it would go in his favor … I know in Kentucky, if he called for the removal of the whole apparatus, we’d vote them out.”

Maybe McConnell, who had earlier spoken out against Trump on the Senate floor, heard the same thing. He did not follow his public condemnation of Trump up with a vote that the impeachment trial was constitutional. He did the opposite and joined the party.


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