In college, I took a class on Nazi Germany. The teacher was an elderly man in his final year. One day, he got into an argument with an entitled and defiant student who felt compelled to spew the kind of fringe conspiracy theory that's regrettably kept on perpetual life-support.

"Well, how do you know?" said the student after a back-and-forth that had become embarrassing.

It still gives me chills to remember what happened next.

My professor rolled up his sleeve to reveal his Auschwitz tattoo. In a voice just above a whisper, he said, "Because I was there."

That moment instilled in me a need to speak out against injustice. Today, the situation is dire and more voices are needed.

America is charging down the road to ruin

The things that are going on right now are so awful that I never thought I'd see them happen again in human history. Today, politicians toss out language that used to be disqualifying without giving it a second thought.

For example, when asked a softball question like, "Do you plan on becoming a dictator?" The correct answer is, "No!"

The correct answer is not, "Yes, I'll be a dictator on the first day because it's what my opponents are doing and they're awful so I'm completely justified!"

There's been talk of deploying the military to take over cities. There's been talk of rounding up immigrants and putting them in camps. There have already been unacceptable calls for violence against a sitting vice president. There's nothing in the news but hate speech and threats of retaliation. Now you can add the word dictator to the list of deplorable concepts floating around in the atmosphere.

I know the guy is a liar, but on this, I believe him.

The defiantly ignorant are doomed to repeat history

Over the last few months, I've been keeping my eye on various controversies. Whenever a book gets banned, it goes right to my to-read pile. I've been living in an autocratic state long enough to know the best way to educate yourself is to read the works the fascists want censored.

A society that bans the teaching of history knows that it can adopt the tactics of the most horrific dictators as a game plan. There's a lot of precedent for what's going on in America today. I assumed that a sense of self-preservation would kick in within the GOP when the insurrectionists sent a mob to the Capitol. They had the legal authority to put an end to this threat against freedom forever, all they had to do was find the courage to defend the Constitution and vote in favor of impeachment.

Done. America is saved.

But they rejected the way of salvation.

For the sake of saving their political careers, the cowardly GOP has placed the future of the whole world in doubt. Please people, just listen to what's being said! You don't have to believe me when I suggest we're charging heedlessly down the road to ruin. Look at history! Nothing that's going on right now is new.

The dictator's playbook

Every American citizen needs to recognize that we're watching a rerun. Everybody's seen it before, and everybody's pretending that a new set of actors following the same script is somehow going to avoid the same catastrophic conclusion.

They won't. The ending of this show has already been written. Our job isn't to rewrite history. Our job is to prevent the crimes that echo in eternity from ever happening again. The parallels from the past are stunning, but since we don't teach history in the United States, maybe the general public is sincerely ignorant about the dangers we face.

As for me, it was my privilege to take a class from a professor who conveyed to us the horrors of enduring a dictatorship. He passed on to me the vision to recognize the warning signs.

Here are some disturbing facts so that you're better informed:

  • Did you know that Hitler didn't come to power by winning an election? The guy was a two-time loser. Gee, where have I heard that before?
  • Hitler tried to lead an insurrection but failed and was sent to prison. Gee, that sounds familiar (except the prison part).
  • Hitler incited rage by claiming "November criminals" stole the country's rightful victory in World War I, and he promised retribution. Gee, have you heard anyone talking about a "stolen victory" lately?
  • Soon after being appointed chancellor, Hitler called for the murder of his political opponents within his party on June 30th, 1934 in what would come to be called the Night of the Long Knives, or the Röhm purge. This one hasn't happened yet, but if history is any indication (and it always is), the insurrectionist president will likely order the modern American "Night of the Long Knives" around February of 2025.

Modern American politics is following a checklist. Why should we expect any deviation from what happened the last time this series of events was put into motion?

Self-preservation should come into play

I guess I don't understand the lure of power. I find myself standing on the sidelines watching the action unfold, and I simply cannot believe what I am seeing.

There's already an acronym being thrown around that stands for Republican In Name Only (RINO). That acronym itself is coded language that's designed to incite violence. Already it's clear that anyone who dares to criticize the insurrectionist is going to face the wrath of the most radical fringes of the party.

I don't like the politics of American Republicans, but I don't want them to be the targets of physical attacks. In fact, I'm afraid for them. Do they not see the risk? The insurrectionist keeps going on the news and telling everyone what he's going to do.

The first victims of the Hitler playbook were the naysayers within the party. Removing the critics creates an unopposed consolidation around hate ideology. The final step is a national commitment to unspeakable crimes against humanity.

It seems to me that the modern members of the Republican party should be reminded of this. There is still plenty of time to avert the worst-case scenario, but they have to act. Perhaps it would help if we encouraged the media to issue constant reminders that Hitler murdered the "disloyal" members of his party first.

Gee, where have I heard the word "disloyal" lately?

Stop! Stop! Stop!

Everyone needs to start hitting the panic button. We need a ceasefire now! It's disturbing how citizens of the United States are conditioned to think violence is the answer to everything. History shows that violence solves absolutely nothing. All it creates is devastation and horrors that cannot be undone.

There are people sitting at the table of power who face a blatant threat to their personal well-being and they refuse to act even to save themselves. They took an oath to safeguard the American people. We can't forget that if they go down, the rest of us are going down with them.

There's a whole series of safeguards that have been put in place to avert disaster. One by one, they're all being systematically deactivated. This will not end well.

The hate propaganda of a stolen victory

The lie of the stolen victory is one of the most effective tactics for planting the seeds of hatred within a society. Human beings are susceptible to this form of manipulation. Even something as inconsequential as a sporting contest decided by a bad call can create lingering resentment that lasts for decades. Confederate apologists felt entitled to indulge in domestic terrorism because, to this day, they maintain the delusional belief that they were robbed of their "rightful" victory in the Civil War.

Now, there are well-funded groups committed to spreading the big lie of election fraud.

We have to apply more pressure on our political leaders to stop kicking the can down the road. We've already voted politicians into power who have sworn oaths to prevent our country from falling under the rule of a tyrant.

We have the authority to take peaceful, lawful action to prevent catastrophe. All we have to do is convey what's at stake and find the courage to act.

We can't presume we're safe by relying on the next election. The Hitler playbook does not require an election victory.