Lessons from Germany trip
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
I’d like to share what I wrote when I returned from a trip to Germany in March.
We as a society like to paint Hitler as a historical villain, and that’s not without its truth. In reality, though, there are hundreds and thousands of Hitlers walking among us every day. It is only when we, as people, give those individuals power that they can become dangerous.
Though America has its laws, and a Constitution that is the backbone to our nation, this does not mean as a country we are at any less risk for the rise of fascism.
In President Trump’s America, rhetoric based on terror is used to describe a “what if” world based on people’s greatest fears. Citizens are constantly being told that any problems in existence today can be blamed on a single source or group of people, and that as a nation we must do whatever it takes to protect the greatness of the country, and all those who stand in the way of its success.
This type of nationalism is exactly the type of thinking that led to the Holocaust during World War II, as well as a censored and fearful life for German citizens, who were afraid to openly voice their thoughts and concerns. The less people who spoke up, the more it was thought to be an unpopular opinion, and the more acceptable the atrocious violent behavior became.
Though pride in your country is nothing to be ashamed of, it can set a dangerous precedent if we also don’t uphold another responsibility of being a good citizen, speaking out against what we feel is not morally right as a human being, not just as one country. The us vs. them mentality leads to things like violence and pain disguised as freedom of expression.
The real power lies not in our laws, but in the ability to speak up. That in itself is what continues to thwart a second rise of a third reich from happening again, today.