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Roemer: ‘Crisis’ reveals parallels between 1930s Germany and our country today | COMMENTARY

In his Jan. 14 Community Voices column, Tom Harbold implores Americans not to allow the storming of the Capitol “to become our Reichstag moment.”

I’m sure many of you understood that historical reference. In 1933, a young communist named Marinus van der Lubbe, acting alone, lit a fire that engulfed the the German Parliament Building, called the Reichstag. A day later, Adolph Hitler as Germany’s chancellor demanded and was given emergency powers to deal with the “crisis.” The Nazis held all communists in Germany responsible for the actions of van der Lubbe claiming they were conspiring against the government, so it was considered justified by many Germans when Hitler ordered thousands of communists across the country arrested, and forced all communists members of the German parliament out of their seats. The Nazis also suspended the basic civil liberties of the German people, including freedom of speech. They explained this was necessary to protect the country from those who would destroy it. The Nazis would never restore those liberties.

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The Nazi Party used the Reichstag fire to create a “crisis” from which they were able to consolidate power, and put Hitler on the path to becoming, “Der Fuhrer.”

Today, many politicians are intent on using words like “insurrection,” and “coup” to describe the events of Jan. 6. You saw the videos of the rioters that day. The man in the horns. The guy sitting in Pelosi’s office chair. The idiots on the Senate floor. Do you honestly think they were trying to take over the government? That they broke into the Capitol expecting they would be running the country at the end of the day?

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No, they were rioters and like most riots, this one quickly spun out of control and people died.

However, for those who wish to benefit politically from that tragedy, and in order to justify what they do next, it’s important that what happened on Jan. 6 be painted as something much more than just a riot. For that, a “crisis” is required and there seems no shortage of politicians willing to manufacture one.

Like the communists in 1930s Germany, all Trump supporters are said to be responsible for the actions of a few. There are calls for senators to lose their seats. Harvard threatens to take away the diplomas of politicians and other graduates with whom they disagree politically. Corporations are warned not to hire anyone who was associated with the Trump administration. AOC wants a government commission to reign in the media and talks openly about using government funds to “de-radicalize” Americans. Leading “journalists” like Katie Couric and Eugene Robinson think Trump supporters need to be “deprogrammed” (maybe we should consider re-education camps). Simon and Schuster reneges on its contract to publish a book written by Sen. Hawley. I guess his book didn’t fall into the category of approved speech. Even the National Guard needs to be purged. The enemies of the state are everywhere and draconian measures are required to protect the country from the existential threat they represent.

Then there’s the deafening silence from the left when Twitter, Facebook, and Apple all act to suppress speech they don’t like in a de facto curtailment of civil rights for millions of Americans. But there’s no reason to worry because it’s only the dangerous people who will have their rights infringed upon. That’s what most Germans believed. They would learn otherwise soon enough, and the results could not have been more devastating.

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I am not saying Democrats are Nazis. What I am saying is, as Harbold so rightly points out, there are parallels between the political environment of Germany in the 1930s and what we are confronting here at home today.

The left may believe they are benefiting from current events, but history proves time and again, governments act to curtail liberty, not enhance it. Sooner or later, those on the left will have their liberties “suspended” by a government or its surrogates they helped become increasingly comfortable telling people what to think.

Politicians are working overtime creating a “crisis” which will give them the justification they need to silence their political opponents. They’re counting on the fact most Americans have never heard of the Reichstag fire, and are unaware of the lessons it teaches. And they are betting, in the environment of fear they are working hard to stoke, Americans will be too distracted to consider the long-term implications. They’ll just buy us off in a Faustian bargain whereby we sell our national soul for another round of relief checks and a false sense of security. Its probably a good bet.

But this is the 21st century and we’re much more enlightened now. What happened in Germany could never happen here. Right? Actually it was the political left which used to warn about this kind thing all the time. My, how things have changed.

Chris Roemer is a former banker and a former Carroll County Public Schools middle school principal who writes from Finksburg. Reach him at chrisroemer1960@gmail.com.

For any member of the community who would like to submit a guest community voices column for publication consideration, it should be approximately 700 words and sent to bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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