Dear Ben Carson,
When I get mad, I tell myself I shouldn’t post on the blog. I should take a walk, hum a little tune, think of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Well, I’ve done all those things, and your claim that the United States is “very much like Nazi Germany” has still got me royally pissed off.
It is not because I’m oversensitive or interested in joining the “P.C. police”, who are apparently headquartered somewhere on Twitter and who ruthlessly inflict upon you to the unwelcome knowledge that there are people in the world who don’t care for what you say. I’m angry because the statement that America is like Nazi Germany is an ugly and dangerous lie. You should be ashamed of yourself, Ben, but I’m sure you’re not. So instead of suggesting how you ought to feel, I’ll spend the rest of this debunking your bunk.
Just to lay the foundation for my qualifications: I’ve spent the last four years writing a novel set in Nazi Germany and a year on this blog presenting those real world personalities and political institutions from the regime that were connected to my work. I do not count myself as the world’s foremost expert on the history of the Third Reich, but I’ve put in my time immersing myself the works of those who are. Sir Ian Kershaw has been my greatest influence, but I’ve also delved into the works of Richard J. Evans, Joachim Fest, and Robert Jan Van Pelt. I’m a layman, but I’ve worked hard to be a well-informed layman.
Ben, I won’t go into all the ways that we’re not like Nazi Germany. That’d take a three volume set of books. But it is interesting to me that you said what you said now, since two anniversaries of significance to the history of Nazism are just around the corner, and they’ll work very well for debunking purposes.
On March 20th, 1933, less than two months after Hitler became Chancellor, the Nazis opened their first concentration camp outside of Munich: Dachau. Dachau’s purpose was to house political opponents of the regime, mostly members of the Communist and Social Democratic parties of Germany, the KPD and SPD. Though Dachau was not a death camp, inmates were subjected to appalling conditions and placed beyond the reach of any law. Upon release, generally after 12-18 months in captivity, former inmates returned to their communities, usually as broken men. These physical and psychological wrecks served as a warning to those who might even think of joining the opposition. The next two anniversaries are connected to this. On March 23rd, the Reichstag passes the Enabling Act, allowing Hitler to rule without consulting parliament or the cabinet. Members of the SPD who protested were beaten, inside the Reichstag itself, by Hitler’s stormtroopers. A week later, Hitler uses the Enabling bill to remove all members of the KPD from local government, which presumably made them easier to arrest.
Has anything similar happened in the United States, Ben? Has your political party been outlawed? Have its members been beaten by uniformed thugs for trying to vote in Congress? Has a concentration camp opened to house members of opposition political parties? Does the President of the United States rule by decree? Has Congress passed a law allowing him to do so? Has such a law even been suggested? The worst the can be said is that during both the Bush and Obama administrations, the executive branch’s intelligence apparatus has pushed its activities beyond what the law ought to allow (whether the law as written does allow it is a matter of dispute, I know), but that’s a long way from gangs of guys in brown shirts using police powers to beat dissenters into stains on our cities’ pavement.
How has Barak Obama treated the political opposition? He’s spent most of the last six years trying to strike various deals with them, only to be rebuffed time after weary time. If he’d been the dictator that people like you paint him as, Ben, John Boehner would have been in prison in 2011, not on the links with the President discussing a “grand bargain”.
Your party is actually looking forward to substantial gains in the upcoming congressional elections, Ben. It may get to control the Senate as well as the House in 2015. That would be less welcome news to me than to you, but I hardly think it indicates that we’re on the verge of a collapse of democratic institutions like the one that befell Germany in the 1930s. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Ben, the mere fact that your sillier claims provoke a hostile response among pundits or on Twitter doesn’t mean that we’re becoming like Nazi Germany. It means that you’ve discovered that the world isn’t a multiplied you. It’s horrifying, I know; but if you have any conscience at all, you’ll find some way of coping that doesn’t involve obscene slanders.