Monday, January 29, 2007

It was every German's patriotic duty.

[Cross-posted from my diary on DailyKos]

This may surprise many of you, but I used to be extremely active in an online gaming clan.

I don't really have very much time for that any more. But during the months leading up to the 2004 elections, I used to be very active in my clan's message boards, activities, and what not. Given the fact that we had an election looming, the admins put up a forum called "The Senate"--a special discussion board entirely for political conversations.

We eventually had to shut The Senate down because it was generating too much rancor--we had our fair share of progressives in the clan, but most of the officers were really conservative. There was one exchange, however, that best exemplifies to me why this occupation is still going on, and why the right wing noise machine continues to support it and claim the public supports it, despite the widespread disapproval from the public.

It shocked me when I first heard it, and it'll shock you too. But it does have some explanatory power.

I voiced my disagreements with the invasion of Iraq long before it was popular to do so. During one thread on Iraq in my clan's Senate forum, I voiced my disagreements with the invasion chiefly on geopolitical grounds. I got the responses I expected from many of the right-wingers: "If you don't like the country you should leave it" and "if you disagree with the war it means you're unpatriotic."

I didn't bother to rebut to the first response, but the second response came from the founder of the clan, so I decided it would be worth discussing. So I posed a "gotcha" question in response:

In that case, was it every German's patriotic duty to support Hitler's wars of aggression in the 1930's?

The response I was expecting back in return was that the situations weren't at all comparable, and how dare I compare the United States with Nazi Germany, or something to that effect. But that's not the response I received. No, the response I got instead was startling, shocking, and gives some insight into why this occupation won't just go away:

Yes, in fact, it WAS the obligation of every German to support its country's wars. It's the only patriotic thing to do.

Now, it's really hard to imagine someone saying of their own free will that anyone had a patriotic duty to support Hitler--but it's perfectly representative of the mentality that enables the current administration and its supporters to keep on believing what they believe. For these people, triumphal allegiance to and solidarity with a source of power is more important than the truth.

But you might raise an objection. You might say that the same people that are cheerleading the failing occupation in Iraq are the same ones that showed their apparent lack of patriotism by failing to support Clinton's actions in Kosovo. And you'd be right.

The difference is only in the fact that it's their team. And when you combine the fact that it's their team with the fact that their team is actually in power, you begin to understand how totalitarianism can happen in a country--because it doesn't matter how wrong they do--if they're on your team, they can do no wrong.

And if it supports their increasingly untenable position, they'll go so far as to say that if we had been German in 1935, we should have supported Hitler all the way.

There remains only one solution--just as there was only one solution to deal with supporters of the Nazi regime. Expose their crimes to the light of day, and marginalize in word and deed anyone who continues to support their extremist, failed policies. It won't end until they're out of power, no matter how much pressure we put.

And if the exposure in question results in sufficient traction for impeachment, don't get me wrong--I'm all for it.

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