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Nazi Wannabes and State Power

Most Americans recoil in horror at what Hitler’s minions did to the Jewish people during World War II. But several recent books (Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, by Daniel Jonah
Goldhagen, 1997) have uncovered a curious fact: these atrocities were supported by many Germans. Hitler was not an abnormality. He was the leader ordinary Germans chose. He gave voice to their fantasies, fears, and

Often it is not great events that reveal danger, but trivial ones. On a recent radio talk show in Washington State, caller after caller explained to the host why they turned in fellow motorists to the police — those with their vehicles licensed out-of-state. Curiously, many focused on their neighbors. Motorhomes were a favorite target. What were these civic-minded citizens subjecting their neighbors to?

The licensing of a vehicle in another state by a resident of this (Washington) state… evading the payment of any tax or license fee imposed in
connection with registration, is a gross misdemeanor punishable…. For a first offense, up to one year in the county jail and a fine equal to twice the amount of delinquent taxes and fees, no part of which may be
suspended or deferred. (Source: Revised Code of Washington 46.16.028)

Washington has no income tax; it has a sales tax of 8.6 percent. Buy a new vehicle and the state will reward you by demanding a 2.2 percent tax on its value — every year, for as long as you own the vehicle — in addition
to license fees. Little of this money goes into transportation, as the state’s roads attest.

History is entwined with themes larger than humanity. Wars, plagues, natural disasters, racial identity, greed, envy, and hatred: Like great ocean undercurrents, these emotions flow silently within the collective
mind of a people and nation. On the surface all is calm. Beneath lurks the treacherous undercurrents, ready to drag the unsuspecting trespasser down to his death.

The modern state has made it possible to punish one’s neighbors simply by informing on them. Are you envious of your neighbor’s new car? Wish that you had his motorhome? Nose around and see if it bears Washington
State plates. All it takes is a telephone call. No one need ever know. Don’t like the way your employer runs his business or pays his employees? Report him to Occupational Safety and Health authorities. Even if he’s done nothing wrong, his dealings with Big Brother will be punishment enough. Done business with a company you don’t like? Perhaps they’ve violated EPA regulations. Do your neighbor’s children annoy you? Don’t like homeschoolers? Call child protective services. With one anonymous complaint you can destroy his family. It’s easy and quick. He’ll never even know it was you.

In America we choose our leaders, just like pre-Hitler Germany. The Bible admonishes us, “Let a man examine himself….” So too, let a nation examine itself. Great statesmen and political leaders have always known “the secret”: How to tap into the powerful, hidden undercurrents that propel a nation — and a career — forward. Wars have been won, poverty
fought, the moon visited, all under the leadership of men who tapped into this power.

But what are we to think of leaders who tap into these great undercurrents solely for their personal power? Do we imagine that such forces, once harnessed, can be cast aside when they are no longer needed?
Ask the Jews who lived in Nazi Germany.

A nation of informants can never know freedom. Recent records from the East German Stassi (secret police) reveal that even the clergy had agreed to inform on their flocks. When the state becomes the final authority
on good and evil, right and wrong, we have forfeited our liberty, our humanity, and have moved beyond freedom and dignity.

Perhaps you doubt that the state has become the final moral authority? Have you ever heard the law cited to justify the death of the unborn? A political leader say he’d “done nothing wrong” and then cite the law
to justify behavior that discredits his office, disgraces his constituents, and dishonors his country? Greed, corruption, and malfeasance are all excused today because they are not against the law. Are we really
ready to have the state become the final arbitrator of right and wrong, good and evil?

America no longer has a moral conscience. As such, its citizens are incapable of recognizing evil. They recognize no authority higher than the state. If the state tells them it is all right to inform on their
neighbors, they will do so. If the state tells them it is all right to kill their unborn children, or their ailing parents, they will do so. Eventually the right leader will come along, with the right promises. He will
strike a chord; your friends and your neighbors will respond to the music.

I pledge allegiance to the flag … one nation, under God. …

America has removed God. But while the troublesome notion of national sin is gone, have we not likewise forfeited the right to call on Him
to save us from our transgressions?

Nations rise and fall not so much on the accomplishments of their people as on the petty proclivities of their leaders. The German people
chose Hitler. He made the state their god, and gave them the Final Solution. Greed, envy, anger, and hatred are endemic to the human heart. Our leaders have been harmonizing with these undercurrents long enough. Americans are perilously close to crafting their own version of the Final Solution. When will the architect emerge?