Der Spiegel: Wake Up America. You Are Closing in on 1933

Today we feature a report from Germany pleading with America to wake up. The parallels are becoming more pronounced with the introduction of paramilitary troops into our cities & vicious rhetoric characterizing protesters as terrorists. Read on.

Tuesday, I received an email from Bruce Berlin with a link to an article from the NY Times that discussed a recent Der Spiegel article warning the US that we were living in 1933. The article caused my skin to crawl. This is sobering and we all need to soak it in fully. Our review of the piece follows a couple of announcements.

Tuesday, August 4. NM State Election Strategies: Who Can Win, Who Needs a Push and What YOU Can Do. Panelists include: Eric Griego, Working Families Party of NM, Andrea Serrano, Olé and representatives from Indivisible, Nasty Women and other grassroots groups that have teams working on campaigns. Find out key races where wins are possible and races where good Democrat incumbents face stiff challenges. Find out the nuances involved in organizing successful campaigns and the many ways in which you can support a campaign. There is far more to be done besides making calls and writing letters.

We have a unique opportunity in 2021, Democratic Governor, a strongly progressive House and a potentially a completely transformed Senate. Now we need to finish the job and make great candidates into great legislators. Find out how we can create a Legislature ready to pass a Public Bank, Health Security, Tax Reform, Funding for Early Childhood, and to pave the way for a just transition in NM.

This Zoom will reach capacity very early, so register now by clicking here.

Updated Actions & Events Page

With most of our events being our zoominars and conversations, we’ve gotten lax in keeping an up to date Actions & Events page. But yesterday, we revised it completely, updating the variety of current actions, events and opportunities, including:

  • We had a huge 5-0 win yesterday at the PRC. It feels strange to actually win and win unequivocally. Not only did we get 100% renewable power to replace the lost power from the closure of San Juan’s coal-fired plant, but PNM will not own the renewable installations, saving rate payers hundreds of millions of dollars. This is what happens when we stand together. Kudos to our allies New Energy Economy, Earth Care, YUCCA, WildEarth Guardians and the Alliance. A great day.
  • Oil Conservation Commission (on produced water, or more accurately produced toxic waste). Now our attention turns here. Use the link below to get to our Actions & Events page and make sure that you submit written comment. You will find contact info, how to register for the hearing and speaking points.
  • Veterans for Peace, Friday July 31 at noon 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For over a decade, VFP has been a constant presence at Cerrillos and St. Francis, each Friday at noon, but this Friday is special, as VFP protests nuclear arms proliferation on the 75th anniversary of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
  • Retake on KSFR 101.1 FM Saturday, 8:30 am with Karen Whitlock, Democratic candidate challenging District 38’s Republican incumbent Rebecca Dow.
  • Working Families Party’s Statewide Convening;
  • International Veteran’s For Peace Online Conference;
  • Boycott and cancel Amazon account; and
  • Other local, regional and increasingly online actions.

Click here to get to our Actions & Events page.

News In Brief

One piece today, the English translation of a Der Spiegel cover story on the parallels between Germany in 1933 and Trump’s USA in 2020.

If He Loses in November,
Could Trump Pull the Plug On Democracy

I’m sure you’ve read articles projecting different scenarios should Trump lose in November. They point to one or another statement he’s made about whether or not he would “accept” an election in which he had lost. And his signals have been mixed at best, most recently saying he couldn’t really say whether he’d accept a defeat.

But as disturbing as these comments are, Trumps actions over the past months are still more unsettling, as an increasing number of behaviors and his non-stop rhetoric about largely peaceful protesters being extremists or terrorists echo 1933 Germany. And Der Spiegel has noticed:

Trump and his political accessories are using the rhetoric of authoritarianism. Militarized police forces haven’t just been using violence to quell plundering and rioting, they have also been attacking peaceful demonstrators. Journalists have been arrested as well.

Should we be worried about the United States? Is a fundamental shift taking place in a country that is synonymous with deeply rooted democracy? The current chaos on the streets of America isn’t just the product of the country’s economic and societal tensions. The president himself has repeatedly exacerbated those conflicts with his rhetoric. Trump, it seems, needs the chaos. He feeds off it.

Few other democratically elected leaders have as much power as the U.S. president, a reality that can lead to abuse. Trump has made personal loyalty the most important qualification for those with whom he surrounds himself. He harbors deep admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and once voiced his support for the violent crushing of the pro-democracy protests on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, saying it was a sign of strength.

The Russia investigation and his impeachment did not show him the limits of his power, and instead awakened in him a desire to hit back hard and to get rid of anyone within government who does not fulfill his every whim. In the waning months of his first term in office, just a few months before Election Day, he is increasingly putting his authoritarian tendencies on full display.

Der Spiegel: “Democracy on the Defensive In Trump’s America”

The New York Times did an opinion piece, “American Catastrophe Through German Eyes” focused on Der Spiegel’s report. The article cited comments from Michael Steinberg, a professor of history at Brown University and the former president of the American Academy in Berlin:

“The American catastrophe seems to get worse every day, but the events in Portland have particularly alarmed me as a kind of strategic experiment for fascism. The playbook from the German fall of democracy in 1933 seems well in place, including rogue military factions, the destabilization of cities, etc.”

New York Times: “American Catastrophe Through German Eyes”

Steinberg continued, pointing to how Trump’s rhetoric and his demonizing of the opposition is eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s racist call for a pure homeland.

“The basic comparison involves racism as a political strategy: a racist imaginary of a pure homeland, with cities demonized as places of decadence.”

New York Times: “American Catastrophe Through German Eyes”

And more from the NY Times:

“From the deployment of those federal units in Portland, Oregon’s largest city, where protesters have been demanding racial justice and police accountability, it’s not a huge leap to the use of paramilitaries (like the German Freikorps in the 1920s) to buttress a “Law and Order” campaign. The Freikorps battled communists. Today, Trump claims to battle “anarchists,” “terrorists” and violent leftists. It’s the leitmotif of his quest for a second term.”

Many have suggested that Trump’s incursion into Portland, Chicago, New York, Albuquerque and other cities governed by Democrat mayors is merely testing the waters: what will America abide? Is this setting the table for another of Trump’s “states of emergency” if he does not like the November election result?

Throughout his rants, he has claimed to be protecting American lives and institutions. Well, if he were serious about saving lives, he would have led the nation in a unified science-based strategy against COVID. The Trump Death Clock continues to add lives to the total number of deaths caused by Trump’s inaction.

Germany has had a much different experience with COVID, in large part due to the national leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel. From the NY Times:

“’We are not condemned to accept the spread of this virus as an inevitable fact of life,” Merkel said. “We thrive not because we are forced to do something, but because we share knowledge and encourage active participation.” She went on to say that success largely depends “on each and every one of us.’

It worked. Merkel was addressing all democratic citizens, Americans included. No wonder Trump cannot stand her, a woman trained as a scientist whose life lesson has been the sacred value of freedom.”

New York Times: “American Catastrophe Through German Eyes”

Clearly, had Trump had the slightest interest in protecting Americans, he would have listened to science as Merkel did, modeled wearing masks, and implemented a nationwide shutdown back in April. If he had, over 80,000 Americans would still be alive and their parents, children, grandchildren and friends would not be mourning. The survivors of COVID would also not be imprisoned with fear and left with the choice of risking their lives when they go to the market, travel to see a grandchild or go to work.

We can’t expect Trump to suddenly change his tune and become an advocate for delaying the re-opening of schools, or pressing Congress to provide real relief to the American people, the kind of relief that would allow them to stay home and allow us to stall the pandemic. He won’t do that and so, quite likely, we will have this virus to contend with until January. That will be hard, very hard. But as this post suggests, we will need to be ultra vigilant to ensure that this nightmare ends on January 20, 2021. But what does being vigilant really mean?

  • Participating in the national election to play your part in ensuring not a win, but a landslide that will be impossible for Trump to refute;
  • Talk with others you know, especially Republicans. How much can you take of this? How will you react if Trump loses decisively in November?
  • Be prepared to show the courage and persistence of the Portland protesters, as we will need to take to the streets in NM to protect the results of this election and there will be Cowboys for Trump, armed and pissed, so taking to the streets then will take courage.

As I thought about this post more, I kept wondering about: what being vigilant really means. So I ask you: What can we do to ensure that the election results are a landslide and what do we do if Trump and Fox and the GOP attempt to invalidate the election results? A very tough question.

In solidarity & hope,

Paul & Roxanne



Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics, Uncategorized

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4 replies

  1. It is indeed a scary time. Ever-increasing signs of fascism are very personal for me – many family members, including my grandmother, died in the Holocaust, and my mother barely escaped Germany as a teenager thanks to the Quakers. For me, one of the most important and memorable displays at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC is the room that lists all of the gradual changes that one by one turned Jews and other “undesirables” into non-persons to be eliminated. It wasn’t one big decree or legal change, but rather an accumulation of small rules and legal insults. So one of the lessons of that time is how people need to pay attention, and get involved, and protest, and not wait until it gets “bad enough”. We need to make sure Trump isn’t re-elected, of course, and get much more involved in the election than maybe we have been. But we also need to be actively involved in protesting all the rule changes and administrative actions that are already happening. This is not the time to watch; this is the time to act.

  2. So much to be disturbed about. Today trump tosses out the idea of “delaying” the election and it immediately gets some backing. I do believe that during August we will see more actions just to test how much “Americans will abide”. As our economy continues to fail and the deaths continue to mount unabated the MINDS of Americans are vulnerable to the fear. I am NOT saying that we should NOT be fearful–in fact–we should be very fearful. I personally think it is imperative that Americans who are opposed to trump must be reminded that they DO have power. Perhaps ONLY at the voting booth and therefore we must do what is necessary to ensure we vote on November 3. Germans failed to “listen” when their country tipped into Facism and I fear that Americans are too full of themselves to “listen” to what this article has to say. Your last line above “A very tough question” is exactly why we ARE vulnerable. The Democratic Party is still (in my opinion) operating in the past and offers little in leadership in a moment-in-time when we are desperate for a leader. THIS is why your last line is so disheartening as there is ZERO leadership in response to trump’s “floaters”.

  3. Paul, Wish you had posted a link to the Der Spiegel article, which I’ll try to find in German. Will share any salient points once I’ve been able to read the original. I have been saying this to friends and family for some time – we ARE Germany 1933, and it will only get worse if Americans allow it to. Noam Chomsky said on DN! this week that it’s up to us. He has often said that things will continue as they are until the public stops it. The future is in our hands, and history is our lesson book. This is why I believe our situation is deadly serious and we need to really understand it that way. Best, Linda

    P. S. – My husband and I lived in Germany for more than 10 years. We have translated many concentration camp reports and other historical materials on the Holocaust, including a historical novel about one of Germany’s greatest 20th century poets, Gertrud Kolmar, who remained in Germany and died in Auschwitz.

  4. Found the article, which is titled Präsident Trump setzt die USA in Brand:
    Der Feuerteufel / President Trump sets the USA on Fire: The Pyromaniac. Have to subscribe to read the full story online, but I’ll take a look at the first few paragraphs that are available and share that info.

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