Fear is a subject of particular interest to me, as an avid reader of horror fiction, and as an aspiring horror author. I didn’t imagine I would be writing this for my first “real” blog post. Fiction is more my area of consequence. Even if no one cares for my two-cents, I will exercise my freedom of expression, and I’ll write this for me if for no one else.
The hideous tragedy that occurred in Charlottesville, as I am certain you’ve heard by now, is older than a week and still retains a death-grip on the American consciousness. A veritable maelstrom of Tweets, Blog-posts, and articles have been written about the incident and certain behavior that has followed this disaster has been disconcerting. This is not, however, going to be a post on the supposed “Hidden Epidemic of Nazis” in America. On the same token, if you’re looking for your daily dose of “bash the fash” rhetoric, prepare to be severely disappointed. Many of my fellow Americans have decided, in a blisteringly brilliant display of rationalism, to attack the 1st Amendment. Quartz.com wrote a thoroughly inept story posturing that “maybe anti-fascism is the basis of true free speech” while the Atlantic calls for a stronger regulation of ideas. In order to understand why such assertions are profoundly absurd, we will need to take a short history lesson.
The time is the 1920’s. The Nazi Party was a small, but growing political party in Germany following WWI. The part had just invited a fresh face into the fold, a charismatic and skilled orator by the name of Adolf Hitler. He quickly rose through the ranks, replacing the chairman of the party, Anton Drexler. Spurred on by the party’s increasing numbers and the success of Mussolini’s coup-d’etat, Hitler enacted the “Beer Hall Putsch” which failed immediately, resulting in the arrest of several prominent Nazis, including Hitler and the banning of the Nazi party. Hitler was leniently sentenced to 5 years (but would only serve 1) and used the trial to propagandize the Nazi party. The Sturmabteilung (aka The Brownshirts), routinely used violence to cement the power of the Nazi party, gunning down rival Communists, intimidating Jewish businesses, and beating Jewish civilians in the street. In fear of Bolshevism, popularity for the Nazis skyrocketed, resulting in 230 seats claimed by the party, allowing for Hitler to become Chancellor of Germany. His chancellorship promptly became dictatorial, as total governmental power was transferred to Hitler alone, and all non-Nazi parties were banned.
I ask you to think on this, and ask yourself, “At what point would an “unregulated market of ideas” ensure the Nazi parties dominion over Germany?” Even banning them did not reduce their numbers, it only made them more popular. In reality, the Nazi’s became popular because alternative forms of government were strongly sought after due to extreme destitution plaguing most European countries post-WWI (in particular was the egregious Treaty of Versailles that placed Germany in an impossible position economically), and the Nazi’s use of violence to gain and cement their power. These attacks on freedom of speech will not protect America from fascism. Rather, it will assuredly create an atmosphere where ideologies such as fascism can take root. The freedom to express oneself, the ability to speak about whatever you want no matter how wrong or right or despised it may be, is the essential core of Enlightenment values, values that our country was built upon. Authoritarian and Totalitarian regimes rise and inevitably crumble, but it is our liberal, democratic America that withstood the test of time and became the superpower that it is. America is, without debate, the greatest country on Earth and it’s persistence proves that the thinkers of the Enlightenment, and our founding fathers, were some of the greatest minds in human history.
This is not a left vs. right issue, this is a Totalitarian vs. anti-Totalitarian issue, and if someone attempts to have you subscribe to a brand of Totalitarianism just because it bends to your side of the political spectrum, and then calls you a “useless centrist”, then that person wasn’t worth your time anyway. Anti-Totalitarianism is a side, and if a person tells you otherwise, they are more interested in telling you what to think, than how to think.
But before I end this, just one last thing. This blog post is ultimately about fear. So I ask you all reading this to stand up, look outside for a moment, away from the pundits that scream hysteria from their podcasts, away from the fear-mongering abyss that is Twitter, and look at the real world. The world is not ending, as much as those who purport to deliver your news would want you to believe. Nazism is not becoming the majority, in fact, it is still the extreme fringe minority and still consummately loathed in the mainstream. The barista that signs your venti-espresso whatever is likely not a secret Klansman. The guy that manages your local McDonald’s probably doesn’t want to round-up all Jewish people. There used to be a time when the KKK had a membership of 6 million people, today they stand with a paltry 8,000 at the most generous estimate, less than 0.0001% of the total population of the U.S.
Take a deep breath. We’ve been through worse. This too shall pass.