Uncommon Sense

April 23, 2021

You Learn Something New . . . about Nazis . . . Every Day

Filed under: Culture,History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:45 am
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I have been reading an interesting book “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933–45” by Milton Mayer which I have commented on before. Most recently (I am a little over half way through), I learned something that contradicted claims I have made. In the past I responded to the claim that the Nazi movement was atheistic by denying that claim outright. I countered with the facts that Hitler was a Catholic and never renounced his religion and the SS belt buckle emblazoned with “Gott Mit Uns,” that is “God is with us” or, as we like to say, God is on our side, und so weiter.

Well, according to the actual Nazis interviewed in this book (in the 1950s), I was “somewhat wrong.” In the early days the Nazi leadership did not pick fights with the churches in Germany. Not that they would have gotten much of a fight; Germany’s churches were state churches supported by taxes and so were more than a little lax in their duties to parishioners.

But after a while, maybe 1940 onward, the Nazi regime started shifting to a stance of not a state-sponsored religion but a religion of the state, the Nazi’s own religion designed to take the place of the pre-existing religions, which would have been eventually banned out of existence. (Their plans extended to “after the war.”)

Of course, the Nazi leadership ran into a little hiccup, actually two: the Red Army in the east and the “Allied Forces” in the west and their plans never came to fruition.

Now, I must clarify, that the Nazis weren’t even thinking of creating an “atheistic” religion. Religion is too powerful as a tool to throw away its most powerful bits. They were designing a new religion in which the God was a thinly disguised stand-in for the German state or the German people. So, not atheistic except in the sense that your god is kinda-sorta being rejected. (Remember that Christians were considered atheists because they refused to recognize the other gods in the Roman panoply.)

So, I stand corrected . . . somewhat. :o)

March 25, 2021

The Esteem of Teachers

Filed under: Education,History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:12 pm
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I have been reading Milton Mayer’s book “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945” and I ran across this:

In the years of the rise the movement little by little brought the communities attitude toward the teacher around from respect and envy to resentment, from trust and fear to suspicion. The development seems to have been inherent; it needed no planning and had none. As the Nazi emphasis on nonintellectual virtues (patriotism, loyalty, purity, labor, simplicity, “blood,” “folkishness”) seeped through Germany, elevating the self-esteem of the “little man,” the academic profession was pushed from the very center to the periphery of society. Germany was preparing to cut its own head off. By 1933 at least five of my ten friends (and I think six or seven) looked upon “intellectuals” as unreliable, and among these unreliables, upon the academics as the most insidiously situated.” (p. 112)

I am quite aware of Godwin’s law (Invoke the Nazis and you’ve lost the argument.) but I plow on fearlessly. The Nazi’s were a totalitarian authoritarian bunch. And if you are just going to rule by giving orders, you do not want a bunch of credible naysayers arguing the other way. Fascists just don’t like opposition, so they either eliminate it or marginalize it.

Fast forward to today and we see some startling parallels. When I was young, teachers were held in high esteem, but over the past twenty or so years, teachers have been criticized as being pigs at the public trough, earning way too much money. They have been criticized as being the reason for failing schools. They have had collective bargaining rights stripped from them. Their unions have been demonized. Their role in the classroom undermined by “systems” that insist on approved classroom scripts being read instead of anything the teacher might have thought would be helpful. And when testing results of their pupils do not show progress, they are blamed as the sole cause.

I must also point out that during the social unrests of the 1960’s and 1970’s college students and teachers were much to the forefront. The revision of the bankruptcy laws disallowing student loans from being discharged (with no evidence for the claim such loans were being abused) has effectively chained students with a ball of debt they drag around with them through much of their working lives. Such people do not jeopardize their careers by falling behind on their debt payments, so they keep their heads down and just keep doing what they are told.

So, now that teachers and students have been defanged, we see a veritable war on science and the pointy-headed intellectuals behind it. We have become suspicious of experts, you know the people who kind of know what they are talking about. Gosh, would any American political party find this acceptable? Apparently both do to some extent. Joe Biden was a major force behind the student loan bankruptcy legislation. And the Republicans have been full bore on a “Let’s Get Ready for Fascism” campaign.

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