Good Germans

This morning, I find myself thinking of “good Germans.”

Hitler came to power under legitimate terms. His ascension was enabled by those around him. His party spewed hate, and yet… Among those who backed the party, it’s possible there are those who thought that his desire to Make Germany Great Again was simply that. He would bring jobs and restore what had been lost in WWI. But there was an unstated subtext that later became a critical part of the message. I imagine the good Germans saying, “I’m not a hater, but it seems like he’ll put us to work. Plus there are too many Jews in my town with their weird Saturdays off thing and that’s when I like to shop.”

I’m not saying Trump is Hitler. Not yet. I do think we have a fair share of “good Germans” who chose to look away from the danger of hate-based politics because some loud mouth said he’d “Make America Great Again. “I’m not a hater but it seems like he’ll put us to work. Plus, there are too many Muslims with their weird no pork thing and they make me nervous.”

The surprise data said it was middle class whites, not poor whites as we’d all been told, who led the American vote for President. They don’t need to be put back to work. They’re mad because their new boss is a woman. Or because the neighborhood parents asked for different days off in the school calendar. “I’m not a hater, but it seems like you’re asking me to treat others as equals, and I don’t think they’re equal.”

I’m at a loss for how to respond. I see endless calls for us to put on our shoes and go to battle. The election was that battle, and we lost. Now, the fight we’re asked to take on is different. We are not fighting for, we are fighting against. Perhaps it is easier to fight against when you are a white Christian, preferably male, with a stable income. I am self aware enough to know that I’m low on the list of targets, but I *am* a target. And I’m world aware enough to know that other minorities are rolling their eyes at me, saying, “Good morning, we’ve been in danger for decades. Centuries, even. Welcome to the war.”

My immediate fear is that I will lose my health coverage and that someone will decide my husband is the wrong kind of immigrant simply because he has an accent. My longer term fears include things like “What if he pisses off the North Koreans? That madman has been saying he’ll shoot. He has nukes and the West Coast where I live in is in range.”

This election has emboldened our worst citizens — yeah, they’re deplorable — in ways that elicit a fear I’ve never known. I should lace up my boots and fight. But I also think about those who fled Europe in the 30s. Did “good Germans” tell them to fight? Did they say, don’t worry, this is a civil government, only the bad actors will suffer? I can see it happening in real time. “Don’t worry, you live in a blue state.” “Don’t worry, there’s still due process.” “Don’t worry, there’s a mid-term election in two years.” Those who fled 30s Europe were privileged, like me. They fled because they could. But millions could not and they were systematically murdered.

This line of thinking is probably rife with messy fallacies, perhaps my analogies are clumsy, my history not quite right. I am feeling wrung out and overly dramatic — maybe. Time will tell.

But here we are, looking at our neighbors, wondering who it was that thought *this* was the better idea for the country, that this was the direction in which we should turn.

I have no idea what to do. The darkest part of me wants to pin a yellow star to my coat and see what happens next.

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6 thoughts on “Good Germans

  1. Brilliantly said. From one low-on-the-list but still on-the-list to another, thank you for voicing what I could not find the words to say.

  2. Keep being bold, Pam. Keep your voice out there, no matter what happens with this new shit-show of an administration. Will gladly pin a star, too, and help those who believe in human rights, equality, and taco trucks on every corner.

  3. Last night, I looked at my husband and said, “I’m so thankful you look and sound American, but I’m still scared.”

    Because his parents don’t sound American. Because I’m now going to wonder what people think of us when we speak another language in public. Because I want to run, and I want to fight and I don’t want to have to do either. I just want to be accepted as the beautiful, messy, people we are.

    My first inclination was to leave, but if I leave, does that mean they’ve won? Today, I’m going to mourn. And then I’m going to fight to remind the “good Germans” that this isn’t okay.

    Love trumps hate. It has to.

  4. Pam, I feel so the same way. I was shopping for some groceries yesterday afternoon and it felt surreal. I was looking at people and trying to tell–were you one of the people who voted for him. How could you do this to us? It’s like there are pod People hidden among us. And now I’m trying to think of how my college can deal with this in some constructive way. I hated that yesterday I went to campus and everyone was behaving like nothing had changed. And I hate that as educators we’re not
    supposed to dip into politics. Which is why the word “academic” is a perjorative.

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