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THEY DID IT - RIGHT IN FRONT OF US
And it's still hard to believe.
Both Dr. Timothy Snyder and Anne Appelbaum, who both know a thing or two about authoritarian movements and how they take power, point out that their main strength is that it’s hard for their opponents to see them as “the enemy” they are. I have proof of that insight from now-departed friends who were on the front line one of the worst of these movements - Hitler and the Nazis - as Germans, in Germany.
I also have my own experience of growing up in Cold War America. It wasn’t an authoritarian fascist dictatorship, but we certainly did a lot more than our share of supporting authoritarian fascists, and even setting them up in power. So, if we weren’t authoritarian fascists, we were certainly “afficianados.”
And it came wrapped up in ‘being an American.” It came with having the hackles on your neck rise when you heard that guy you had been hoping would become President, when he said “Ask not, what your country can do for you. Ask rather, what you can do for your country.” And I went out and “did for my country,” right up to the point where my nose was forcibly rubbed in the fact that what I - and many others - were “doing for our country” was the exact opposite of what I’d been raised to believe that meant.
The interesting thing was, when I became friends with the former Luftwaffe pilots I came to be friends with, I found people who were just like me. Young guys who had believed the version of what I wrote above that they heard. Who finally had their noses rubbed in the truth that what they were “doing for their country” was the exact opposite of what they’d been raised to believe that meant. Their nose-rubbing was a lot more thorough, though. A national defeat will do that.
And three of those guys actually met Hitler in person, as young “heroes” Der Fuhrer wished to honor for their efforts. They had a lot of nose-rubbing ahead of them. Two of them I knew well enough, felt close enough, that I asked them The Question: what was he like? Both of them replied that he wasn’t some out of the ordinary amazing being, that he was, in fact, in person, very ordinary. One put his finger on it: “It was what we wanted to see in him that gave him his power.”
The funny thing is, that’s exactly what I have come to understand was the underpinning of my belief in, indeed my love of, JFK, that inspirational president. It took finally reading the actual documents, the proof of what was said and done and who decided what, to finally see he really was the one who led us all dancing along with him into the “Big Muddy” of Vietnam. It wasn’t LBJ - it was JFK. Not an authoritarian fascist, but a guy who made it easy to believe in and work in a system that supported authoritarian fascists. In the name of “freedom.”
The whole point of what Snyder and Appelman say, and the testimony of my friend who saw the Nazis for what they were so clearly that the night they took power, he got the hell out of Berlin for the next twelve years, and the testimony of my friends who survived those twelve years inside the monster - nobody can actually believe what they are seeing is as bad as it is. Not unless some event comes along, like being told the truth about the Tonkin Gulf Incident by a good friend who was directly involved and knew what really happened. Even then, even 60 years later, it’s hard to believe I know what I know. Particularly when I can go to the Official Website of the history of America in Vietnam, and find that lie about Tonkin Gulf that was told 57 years ago still there - despite the fact the actual truth has been available to anyone who wants to look since 1971, when the Pentagon Papers told the real story. And the story that those who told the lie at the time knew what the truth was.
In a circuitous way, I have been reminded of all that over the past week, as the truth starts to come out about the failed Coup d’Etat of January 6, 2021. Don’t call it an “insurrection,” because that implies it was some sort of popular welling-up of people’s belief. It was a Coup d’Etat, that was planned by conspirators. Conspirators at the very top of government, including the then-President of the United States. With the goal of overthrowing the government of the United States. It was an act of treason committed by men and women who told the lies while knowing the truth. It failed, but it came damn close.
I don’t know how much nose-rubbing in the facts it will take to get all of us to really realize what I just said above is The Truth with a capital “T.” I hope we realize it in time to stop the second assault, that is coming as I write.
Last night, Rolling Stone broke a story that has the testimony of two people who were directly involved in the event. They were involved at a low level, but they were able to see the upper levels, to talk to the more senior conspirators, to be involved with them directly.
Multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent. We’ve known that, but now we get our nose rubbed in the knowledge.
“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” one of them said. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”
Along with Greene, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.
The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence. “Meadows was 100 percent made aware of what was going on. He’s also like a regular figure in these really tiny groups of national organizers.”
Gosar, one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters, allegedly took things a step further. Both say he dangled the possibility of a “blanket pardon” in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.
“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer says, “that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval … in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.” The pair received “several assurances” about the “blanket pardon” from Gosar.
“I was just going over the list of pardons and we just wanted to tell you guys how much we appreciate all the hard work you’ve been doing,” Gosar said, according to the organizer.
The two potential witnesses plan to present to the committee allegations about how these demonstrations were funded and to detail communications between organizers and the White House. According to both sources, members of Trump’s administration and former members of his campaign team were involved in the planning. Both describe Katrina Pierson, who worked for Trump’s campaign in 2016 and 2020, as a key liaison between the organizers of protests against the election and the White House.
Nick Dyer, Greene’s communications director, responded with this:
“Congresswoman Greene and her staff were focused on the Congressional election objection on the House floor and had nothing to do with planning of any protest... She objected just like Democrats who have objected to Republican presidential victories over the years,” wrote Dyer. “Just like in 2017, when Jim McGovern, Jamie Raskin, Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Raul Grijalva, and Maxine Waters tried to prevent President Trump’s election win from being certified... No one cares about Jan. 6 when gas prices are skyrocketing, grocery store shelves are empty, unemployment is skyrocketing, businesses are going bankrupt, our border is being invaded, children are forced to wear masks, vaccine mandates are getting workers fired, and 13 members of our military are murdered by the Taliban and Americans are left stranded in Afghanistan.”
What’s really awful is, that statement probably works with the people who want to believe that the Coup d’Etat wasn’t a Coup d’Etat, but a “restoration of freedom.”
It’s hard to believe that terrible things actually happen. Even when you get your nose rubbed in the truth.
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