Yes The Nazi Party Was Bad, But Do You Understand Why?
It is easy to overuse the Nazi party as the villain for whatever purpose you want or need. In fact, this tactic has been overused to the point that many do not know what it was that made it so evil. They hear Nazi and think evil, just like you hear beach and think sand. This auto-pilot thinking needs to be avoided. After studying several essays written by German academics shortly after the fall of the Nazi party, I came away, and wanted to share, five fundamental aspects that made it evil. This will increase our understanding and reveal useful warning signs.
This is the most obvious aspect that comes to people’s minds when considering the bad ideas that the Nazi party entertained, though, as the other paragraphs will show, it is not the only bad aspect. I agree whole heartily that the idea of racial superiority, of one over the other, is factually flawed and morally repulsive. But there is a more subtle racism which is often overlooked and that is the thing I want to highlight.
It is not completely accurate to call Nazi’s white supremacists, because they did not think all whites were the same. Germans were the supreme race, while white Americans, British, French, Polish, Jewish, etc. were deemed inferior. They did not look at race objectively, as a color, or heritage, or ethnicity. Rather they used their terms to suit their needs, those who agreed were part of their race, like when the Japanese and Turks were labeled Aryan in an honorary status. Those who did not agree were not considered part of the master race, so although the Polish are Aryan and white, the Nazis decided they in fact were not.
So, what does this mean? Notice how the Nazi party decided that they could determine who was white and who was non-white, not based on actual skin tone or ethnicity, but by who they preferred or did not prefer. Unfortunately, this idea is starting to take hold here in America.
Consider the verbiage from the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s website about “whiteness”. Among their explanation, they include the idea that whiteness can be subjective when they state, “persons who identify as white”. This phrasing opens the door to whiteness being untied to actual skin tone or ethnicity. And that is exactly what happened.
A problematic January 15, 2021 opinion piece in the Washington Post by Christina Beltran makes this point. She scolds all non-white supporters of President Trump and claims they support white supremacy. She calls this non-white support of white supremacy “multiracial whiteness”. In her own words, “multiracial whiteness reflects an understanding of whiteness as a political color and not simply a racial identity.” And there we have it, whiteness does not correlate to race, ethnicity, or color, it is about if you agree or not.
This allows for an Afro-Cuban man, and a black Arab man (both real people) to be considered white because they support different politics. This is how black men like Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, Ben Carson, and other conservatives are not considered black because of their differing views. This is exactly what President Biden meant when he said that if you do not vote for him, then you are not black.
This line of thinking is what excuses senator Elizabeth Warren, (obviously a white woman), to identify as Native American. She did so for years, enjoying the privileges of that race without actually being that race — and no one on the left really cared.
The weaponizing of race is bad in any context, but while it’s obvious when race is used overtly in terms of color, it is just as wrong, but more subtle, when used by those who pretend race fluctuates by ideology, or relativity.
2. Blame the Jews: Scapegoating
Identifying real problems in your country is not bad. Identifying the cause of those problems is not bad. Attributing all your country’s problems to a single group sharing arbitrary identities is bad. Claiming that all problems will cease if you can just remove/ undo/ isolate the problematic group is bad.
Hitler’s obsession grew as he saw Jews everywhere, in every part of culture, in every successful practice, and every single system. Their incurable evil nature, according to him, infected everything. Therefore, only a cleansing of culture, practices, and systems will save the country. He believed it was the moral thing to do.
This is not so different than the socialist-authoritarian left’s view of evil white men. All evil in America can be attributed to the arbitrary color of one’s skin and gender, the current scapegoat is white males. Similarly, if only this problematic group, linked only by arbitrary identity, were removed from power, isolated, or their work undid, then the country would be better. According to current scapegoating, white males are at the source of every problem; their evil nature cannot be cured, whiteness and toxic masculinity cannot be cured. This group must be ostracized for a nobler, superior people to emerge victorious.
The parallels are so close that a few professors quoted sections of Mien Kampf, substituted ‘Jews’ with ‘White Males’, and got it published in an academic journal. Their work was praised by leftist scholars. Think of that, the very book riddled with hatred of a people based on arbitrary identity, this very book had several passages re-quoted, except instead of hatred and blame toward Jews it became hatred and blame toward white men; and left-leaning scholars praised it and published it.
What made Nazis bad was not their sincere belief that they were morally right in their socialist-fascist designs, it was not identifying problems and offering solutions (terribly evil solutions), rather it was the belief that an arbitrary identifier determined worth, evil nature, the source of their problems, collective guilt, level of guilt, and elimination as the best solution.
If this sounds familiar, it is because the old playbook is being used again, only this time they added a new cover; but the contents are the same. Real bigotry can be aimed at any identity and is always bad.
It is obvious that the Nazis relied on propaganda to foster support for their policies and practices; but every society and group attempts to win support and convince others. In this instance propaganda refers to the sinister coordinated effort to perpetuate a narrative, rather than simply trying to persuade or convince the masses.
While propaganda is a low form of media, the point to understand is what they propagated more than how they propagated. The basic model of their propaganda was that their German brothers and sisters were oppressed, in other countries as well as their own. Their media embellished and amplified actual oppression, canonized perceived oppression, and even created oppression out of thin air. Basically, it was anyone who was not them, but specifically the successful, the Jews, other races and countries, capitalists, and communists, etc. All oppression was cause by their oppressors, no exceptions. This logically allowed them to justify anything to save the victim class. We know how this story ends, but do we recognize it when we are in the middle of it? Propaganda allowed Nazis to demonize a group of people to desensitize the masses to the tragedies that would ensue. No one feels bad for the pain of the “bad guy”, all you need to do is propagate your enemy as the “bad guy.”
The how, while less important due to its generic usage, is still important to know. In short, the media worked for the party. The pursuit of stories, news, truth, etc. ceased, and the media and government party conspired to deliver their desired message.
Our media is acting in like manner. They are all but bed fellows with the most authoritarian major party in the US. Coordinating their efforts, they flood our lives with sinister narratives about oppression and oppressors. They embellish real oppression, canonize perceived oppression, and create oppression where it does not exist. Loudly shouted narratives are followed by retractions in hushed whispers; they drive the story they want this people to believe and coordinate with a certain major party to do it.
They identified a group as victims, they identified the group to blame for all troubles. So, when you wonder how the German people could have been so easily manipulated by their government and media to hate, persecute, and look the other way then atrocities occurred, use yourself as a case study and consider how appealing it is to consider yourself a victim, and that the reason for any failures or problems you faced is because of a group of people, who, if removed and dismantled, would allow you to succeed. That is tempting, it worked then, and is working now.
4. Book burning
Book burning is terrible, but why? It is not bad that paper burned, nor that a book was destroyed, after all we throw away unwanted books all the time. The evil was the purpose for burning the books. The books that they burned were selected, they were all books deemed to be too dangerous to be read, or subversive to Nazi goals; in short, they were books of opposing opinions and ideologies.
All of us reading will self-righteously claim that we would not participate in the book burning, and some of us even lie to ourselves by saying that we would be brave enough to oppose it. Sadly, statistically such courage and conviction are rare. How do you know how you would have reacted?
The powerful elites started purging words, opinions, and ideologies that oppose them. Through de-platforming, deleting accounts, and attempting to outright ban these opposing views, the “book burnings” have returned. The justification is the same: their ideas are too dangerous; their ideas will destroy the country.
Now that the leftist tech companies have banned thousands of conservative and non-leftist voices from Twitter and Facebook, now that prominent Democratic party leaders consider legislating banning opposing conservative views, or erecting a truth commission, the “book burnings” have returned. Ask yourself: did your cheer, stay silent, or stand up for the 1st amendment? When the authoritarians began silencing opposition in order to keep society safe, what did you do?
The Nazi party hated both communists as well as capitalists. This is often the only cited evidence to paint Nazis as either left or right wing economically. Because their name contains the word ‘Socialist’, left wingers try to distance the Nazis from them by pointing out that businesses where privately run.
That is about as capitalist as it gets for the Nazis. For while they did not nationalize all their economy like most socialists do, they used a centrally planned economic system. This simply means that businesses stayed private on paper, but prices and wages were fixed by the government, they decided which businesses were essential, and forced all excess proceeds to be loaned to the government through bonds. The means of production is hardly in the hands of the individual in this economy, it was practically all in the hands of the government — a form of socialism.
Their slogans may have very well sounded like this: “no one needs that much money,” “the government should step in to lower prices,” “it’s morally wrong to have that much of a profit.” They did not want to nationalize their economy, but they chose to have their government regulate every aspect; because capitalism is evil, immoral, creates poverty, and is not fair — according to the conspiracy theorists.
Part of the Nazi appeal was their promise of economic policy, take from the ‘haves’ to help the ‘have nots’. Allow the government power to fight greedy capitalists. This plan closely resembles one of our major political party’s economic plan today. They deny wanting to nationalize the economy, but welcome and want to centrally plan the economy because they repeat the slogan “capitalism is evil”.
You see, it is not big business that is the problem. There are natural checks in how large a business can grow, such as diseconomies of scale. In free market capitalism no one forces you to buy from any business and therefore they have no power over you.
When people complain about “big business”, what they actually dislike is the influence, marriage, or deal making between business and government. It is the government getting involved in the economy that makes it problematic, evil, and harmful to the population. Governments and economies do not mix, yet we continue to be flattered away by the government’s desire to gain power.
Why were the Nazi’s bad? There are several reasons, but we must not commit the Midas fallacy (everything king Midas touched turned to gold, everything the Nazis did was pure evil). The Nazis had a charismatic leader, but that was not their source of evil. Trump, Obama, Reagan, and Kennedy were all charismatic and not evil. The Nazis breathed air, had political rallies, symbols, and uniforms. That is not what made them bad. They obviously thought they had the answers to problems, and that in and of itself is not what made them bad. Every political party or person believes they have the solution. We must identify what made them bad.
The most obvious is racial superiority, but to stop there would leave us exposed to the same discreet evil that infiltrated their nation. The Nazi party used race as a fluid way to group their enemies and rank them by race (even when it had nothing to do with ethnicity or skin tone). From there they identified a victim group and a group of oppressors, they chose this group based on their perceived success and hysteria of a conspiracy that this group bands together to keep victims down. They then teamed up with their media to propagate rhetoric against their enemies and control the narrative, which allowed the masses to buy into the idea that there are oppressors and oppressed. They silenced opposition and dissent to make it appear that they were always right. They had a centrally planned economy, created a dependence on the government, which further cemented loyalty to their cause, because one must agree with the government to be successful.
Now all the pieces were in place, they decided who was what race, who was a victim and who was to blame. They decided what information got out, and what information was too dangerous to be allowed. They decided every aspect of the economy. Their power was centralized, all the ingredients were in the pot, now all that was left was to see what they could create. Obviously, they created one of the worst atrocities in history. The strange part is, now that all these ingredients are creeping back, waiting to be mixed, why do we think that the next creation will be any better?
Where there is a party that uses race to bash opponents and save allies; who sees the world as oppressed and oppressor; who propagates the most important information to the public in a way the party approves of; who seeks to destroy dissent; who wants to centrally plans the economy; where such a party exists, I urge you to stay away from them. We have the warning signs in front of us. It is now our duty to stay alert to avoid the potential devastation that follows this deadly combination. Now you know why the Nazis were bad.