Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2022

Greetings and Salutations.

This Image has become the Iconic representation of the Holocaust.

I did not want today to slip away without some observations on the past, and today. The Holocaust was an obscenity, perpetuated by a fascist, totalitarian dictator on a part of the society for no reason other than prejudice and hate. There have been a number of similar such attempts at genocide through the History of the world, but, this one ranks very close to Number One. The above image comes from a report, written by a Nazi officer, that was supposed to demonstrate what a success the Final Solution was. What it ended up doing was being a major piece of evidence at the Nuremburg Trials, and a number of other trials and tribunals. This resulted in the author, and quite a few other Nazi leaders being hung in the early 1950s. Here is a link to a more detailed article on this report, including many more pictures. While not comfortable reading, it is important and deserves attention.

The events of the Holocaust were not just the madness of the mob taking over, and spreading through the military. Rather it was a cold-blooded plan hatched by a group of leaders and intellectuals, who all bought into the idea that the Jews were the root of all Evil in the world, and the only way to eliminate that Evil was to eliminate the Jews…a “Final Solution”. Evidence of this keeps coming to light. Here is an article about a four page letter the Simon Wiesenthal Center received a few years ago. This letter, from Adolph Hitler, is, perhaps the seed that grew the Holocaust. The article looks at the letter, and the following events that culminated in the murder of millions. Again, not an easy read, but a necessary one.

It is also important to remember that these events only happened about 80 years ago…while there are almost no survivors of the Camps around any longer, there are a LOT of people whose parents or grandparents were Survivors. Did these offspring ever hear the truth about what happened to their parents or grandparents? A few, I am sure, did. However, how many of those older folks took their trauma to the grave with them…unshared and unexpressed. That is truly a heavy burden to carry alone, through one’s life. However, even if this burden was not shared, I KNOW it influenced the way the later generation was reared, and changed their views of reality. I know this because my father was of German heritage and old enough in World War 2 that, while he was not in the military, he either was one of the many German-Americans, or was close to others, who were swept up and confined in internment camps for no other reason than they had German heritage. This affected his view of the world for the rest of his life, and he ended up teaching me some lessons from that hardship that stick with me today. It was also something he would not talk about in any detail…but after years of gathering comments he made to us, siblings, and looking at his attitudes and history, I put this together. I only wish I could have had a chance to talk with him about it…

Well, I do digress at times…back to the point at hand. WHY did I mention in the opening not only looking at history, but looking at today also? A worrisome thing that happened to the Republicant Party during the previous administration is that I saw a huge growth in the attitude that Democrats were the cause of all troubles in America, and the best way to fix the problems was to get rid of them. I heard far too many members of the Party (Hereafter labeled “Cultists” to cut down on typing), even call, very seriously, for Repulicants to kill Democrats – To wipe them out (a “Final Solution” again). Politicians in Red states around the country are making a strong effort to kill any political power the Democrats might aspire to gain by carefully gerrymandering the districts to ensure that a vast majority of voters in ALL of them are Republicant. A Political “Final Solution.” To add to these actions, look at the times during the previous administration when large groups of Neo-Nazis showed up on our streets. They were not only marching and chanting…but engaging in violence, and murder in the process. Look at the hate-filled rhetoric that dominated the Right-Wing media for that entire administration…rhetoric that was not only designed to inflame emotions, but, was little more than blatant lies. Perhaps the most direct example of the dangers I am pointing out was the Jan 6, 2021 insurrection, where a mob of supporters, inflamed and egged on by the YEARS of lies by the president, his administration, and media toadies, attacked and breached the Capitol, in an attempt to kill lawmakers, halt the process of certifying the election results, and, re-install #45 as their fascist dictator for life.

I have to admit that I watched the events of January 6 in amazement. I really did not believe that AMERICANS were so stupid and gullible as to be hypnotized into such a fantasy world that these actions would seem reasonable and “patriotic”. However, I am also aware that the members of a Cult are, to a great extent, brainwashed to the extent that independent, skeptical thought is impossible. It showed me yet again the level of mind control that these Cultists have put themselves under. At one time, I thought that poor Education was the problem. However, now I understand it is, alas, not answer. In the second article I posted the link to, the authors point out that it was college educated men who sat in that meeting to create the Final Solution, and enthusiastically supported it, and worked to make it more efficient. For that matter, In today’s world, I know a number of quite intelligent, well educated people that have been sucked into the Cult of Personality, and as such dismiss any information that does not match the reality their Dear Leader has pushed on them as lies, and “Fake News” (Ever noticed that we never had “Fake News” until we had a Fake President?)

One factor in education that has been missing from the educational system in America for decades is the teaching of Skeptical Thinking, and “Library Skills”. I got a little bit of it from school, when I was in the earlier grades, as I was taught that I should not take any claim at face value; that I had to find at least three, independent sources that agreed on a fact before I should accept it as a valid truth. Luckily, I had some fairly strict teachers who were very focused on teaching these skills, and graded research papers and the like with that focus. In conjunction with that, of course, is the ability to FIND information. Now, I have to admit that I am older than dirt, so when I learned these skills, they were focused on how to sift through the tens of thousands of cards in a card catalog, to find relevant references. However, those same skills are even more vital today, when interacting with the search engines on the Internet. I am continually amazed when I can find information with a search or two, that others have spent days searching for. I am, however aware of the fact that I am very good at that sort of thing…so it really should not be that huge a surprise. That having been said…over the decades since I was in elementary and high schools, the focus of schools has shifted quite a bit, and mostly to the detriment of the students. As I have hinted, the whole idea of skeptical thinking has slipped from being a central concept, to being a fringe skill that most teachers do not even think about. There is a much greater emphasis on “teaching to the test”. Perhaps most worrying aspect of the change in society is the push to move away from teaching students that education and intellectual ability are great things to have and goals to aspire to, to more of a desperate race to keep the test scores up, and teach the kids that they just have to remember the data they learn long enough to achieve that goal. This teaches them contempt for intellect and education, which is a strong factor in bringing us to the state we are in now. Can anyone believe that an informed, skeptical population that is motivated to fact check claims by others, would have created the insurrection, or the increase in hate crimes, and other truly deplorable actions that are commonplace today? I submit that while these events might still happen, they would not be as strong or prevalent as they are today.

This, already somewhat lengthy, article would be a small book if I were to explore more of the parallels between the events in Nazi Germany in the 1940s, and recent developments in America. However, a few searches on the Net will likely bring up thousands of thoughtful and detailed discussions of this reality. The question I face is “What can we do to stop moving down this path?” I suggest that some of the following are actions that we, as a society can take that will move America back to a much more positive, inclusive, path.

  • We must be mindful of the goal we want to achieve…and be true to that goal. As with Sen Warren, we must “Resist, and Persist” in our focus on changing our reality – putting aside the hate and contempt, and moving to a more inclusive, accepting world. Part of that mindfulness is being aware of the problem and remembering that it took a long time to get here, and it will be a difficult path that will take time, to get back to a better place.
  • It is very easy to get overwhelmed with the flood of problems we face. My way of dealing with this feeling of taking on an impossible task is to focus on ONE thing. I try to get a good understanding of that problem and come up with a workable solution to change or eliminate it.
  • Patience…perhaps one of the most difficult requirements. We, in America have grown several generations of adults who have re-enforced and grown the attitude that “immediate gratification takes too long”. I see signs of this in the many people complaining that #45 and his minions have not already been tried and locked up someplace for the rest of their lives. Progress is being made there, but it is like mowing a 100 acre field with an 18″ push mower…it takes time.
  • We must look at how public schools are being run. Teachers should, in the earlier grades, and up through high school, be encouraged to make skeptical thinking and research skills an integral part of their curriculum.
  • We must turn the focus back to ensuring that students are given a good, broad education, and are not taught the minimum amount to get through a test. HERE, by the way, is an essay I wrote a bit ago on the state of education in America and related topics. As a part of this, I have been a long-term advocate of intelligent use of the computer in the class room. Computer Assisted Instruction can have many benefits, including allowing students to learn at their own pace, and freeing up teachers to focus on particular students who are hitting roadblocks, to help them solve these issues.
  • There is an uproar these days as regards public schools and parents wanting “more control” over what their children are taught there. This needs to go away. Public schools are not there to teach children what the parents want. They are there to teach children the skills and knowledge that SOCIETY needs them to have. As such, I think that if parents are upset about what their kids are learning in public schools, they need to take the option that has been around for the entire existence of the country – take their kids out of public schools, and either home school them, or enroll them in private schools.
  • We must find a way to break the control the very large school systems (and states) have over the content of textbooks used in the classroom. Over the past decades, we have seen some truly offensive whitewashing of history going on, and re-writes of events that rival even the most fantastical novels for the delusions they present. Here, for example is an essay I wrote on the control that Texas wields over the content of textbooks used all over the country, and, why that is a dangerous thing. The situation has not changed any appreciable amount since I wrote this essay, alas.
  • We have to address the concept of “Free Speech”. There seem to be too many Americans who believe that means “Unlimited Speech”, a concept that even the Supreme Court has said does not exist. Limiting speech is a dangerous path to follow, and I do not take it lightly. I think back to the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up. The flood of conspiracy loonies, and insurrectionist-wannabes out there we see today was still there, but their “speech” was limited by access. Art Bell, for example, used to broadcast on high-powered AM radio station based in Nevada. He had an audience, but his influence was limited. He had a dedicated following, some of which were truly sucked into the world of conspiracy theories, and believed his broadcasts to be the truth incarnate. While his show did end up being picked up by other stations around America, they were few in number, and he was not a powerful influencer in the world. Let us now look at Steve Bannon, the founder of Infowars. He was, up to the point the Internet really grew to the point of being useful, doing other things. He moved to Breitbart News, and Infowars, and started pushing Right-Wing lies, and conspiracy theories across the Net. this gave him such a huge platform so quickly that he is now a major influence in pushing propaganda out to the Cultists. In the long run, the influence of people like him will wain, as more and more people are educated to understand his lies and scams. However, I suggest that it would be a good thing for some controlling entities – I suggest the content hosting companies, implement requirements that there be some pressure on people like Bannon to produce truth, not lies, and to be temperate in their language. Bannon, for example, has a life-time ban from Twitter because he advocating killing Dr. Fauci, and other Liberals. Right now, anyone can post any speech, no matter how inflammatory, or hateful, without serious fear of repercussions. I have become convinced that this is not good for society as a whole, and we must find a way to deal with it.
  • I believe that the current system of laying out congressional districts is so flawed as to be impossible to correct. As such, I suggest that ALL states set up a non-partisan committee that reflects the demographics of the state, and allow them to audit and make small corrections to maps generated by one of the MANY existing programs designed to take demographic data and produce far more evenly distributed maps. The massively distorted shapes of some districts should go away, and a smoother, more bubble-like pattern emerge. In some ways, I would really like it if ALL districts were swing districts. Now, they are created to be so partisan that the politicians are choosing their voters…the voters are not able to choose their representatives. This whole issue is TERRIBLE for Democracy, as it makes it impossible, and moves the society to a fascist state.
  • We must, as a society address the baked in racism, and the continued oppression of people of color that it produces. This is a tough thing to do, as it requires people to change, and the older we are, the more difficult it can be for us to change habits, or attitudes. I struggle with this, and have to be mindful of my words and actions, more or less constantly, to not allow the early programming of my mind to cause difficulties.
  • More of us have to realize the peril climate change is presenting to the entire world. It is too late to avoid many of the effects, but we still have a chance, if we work together, to keep the situation from going down the tubes completely. Yet, there is huge resistance on the part of some of our society to do anything to move to improve the situation. It is as if these people believe if they ignore the problem it will go away. It will not, and it might well end up killing our grandchildren or a couple more generations down the line.
  • The Republicant party has become so corrupted by #45 and his Cultists that the only salvation is for the remaining, few, sane Republicants to break away, form a new party and start working for the good of the country and not the good of their rich buddies.
  • We must all push our Federal Representatives to pass legislation that makes voting easier and does NOT disenfranchise many Americans simply because they might not vote the way the Party might want them to.
  • We must increase our activism in the political arena. This does not have to be difficult or time consuming. Basically, each of us should make the effort to understand what each candidate supports and look at their record and history to determine if they are truthful. More importantly, we must get to the polls for every election…NOT just the exciting ones, like the Presidential contest. The other elections are, perhaps, more important, as they affect us far more directly than the President and federal level government ever could. Finally, we must convince others, who are apathetic or unsure about voting, to get to the polls. If necessary, help them get registered, and get to the polls.

This is, alas, far from a comprehensive list, but it is a start, and I think that these are some important issues that should be addressed sooner rather than later. Americans are capable of amazing feats when they put their mind to it…As an example, There is THIS. However, unless we decide to stand up and say “ENOUGH”, we will end up in a place that is far too reminiscent of the 1940s and Nazi Germany.

Whether you agree with my conclusion above, or not…consider this…Is the world of the Fascist Dictatorship and abuses of the Nazi regime what you would like to live under? Or that you would like your loved ones to live under? Do not lie to yourself and say “I would be OK”, or “It can’t happen here”. You and your loved ones would not be OK…y’all would likely end up a target, either because something you say or do gets the attention of governmental Security Services, or someone you have annoyed lies to the government about you. As for the latter opinion, well, back in the 1930s, Sinclair Lewis wrote a book that clearly demonstrated that it COULD happen here…and if you take time to read it, you will see a lot of worrying parallels between the events in the book and today’s society. Why, I ask, should we even give this world a chance to take over, when it is much easier and better to push America to be the Golden City on the Hill that others have suggested?

Pleasant dreams.

God help us all. Be safe, get vaccinated, wear your mask, social distance, and wash your hands properly.

Bee Man Dave

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