“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
– Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
As we in America wake to pictures and reports of horrifying war crimes committed by Vladimir Putin's forces, innocents -- hands tied behind their backs -- lined up and executed, the bodies of children, women, men, thrown into ditches or left in the streets, I would remind you of this:
"Why do I care what is going on in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia? I'm serious. Why shouldn't I root for Russia? Which by the way I am."
-- Tucker Carlson, Fox News
"This is genius. Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine -- of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that's wonderful."
-- Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States
"I'd say that's pretty smart. He's [Putin] taking over a country -- really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in."
-- Donald. J. Trump
"I don't need a ride, give me ammunition. The fight is right here. But we also have neighbors to the north who need freedom and need to be liberated, and we need that right here at home as well."
-- Lauren Boebert, Congresswoman,
I could go on all day, quoting various Americans who support the idea of genocide.
But, I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
Russia learned from the Nazi invasion of their own country.
Oh, most certainly, they had already committed horrifying slaughters of their own, too many to name in the 1920s and 30s. As someone on my Twitter timeline noted: Hitler had nothing to teach Stalin. Russia already knew all there was to know about brutality.
But when the Nazis invaded Russia, it gave Stalin justification for that Soviet brutality.
Or perhaps validation is a better word.
Whatever word you use, Russia carries that idea to this day, i.e. they were brutalized by their enemies and so any savagery on their part today is justified by that terrible history.
That's why any appeal to humanity and the rules of war go unheeded by Vladimir Putin.
Russia took the ruthless lesson of their brutal history to heart and it informs how they wage war: target the innocents, burn the hospitals, slaughter civilians, destroy the infrastructure, and thus reduce a nation's ability to fight back. You have only to look at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to see the broad outlines of this doctrine.
Trump, Carlson, et al look upon that brutality, that savagery, that ruthlessness, and they see exactly what Russia sees.
And willingness to do whatever violence is necessary to achieve your goals.
And the brutal means are justified by the idea that you yourself are the real victim of this violence.
Trump, and far too many Americans, admire Vladimir Putin because they see themselves as victims just as Russia does.
They see themselves as oppressed, put down, because the world is changing.
They feel themselves diminished because others who have been traditionally marginalized in our history are now gaining rights and privileges and an unashamed place in our society.
You have only to look to Fox News and OAN right now to see those who speak for this brutal Republican ideology, you can daily see them threatening similar violent revenge on Americans for a thousand imagined slights.
See the comments of Ron DeSantis, Florida Republicans, Laura Ingraham, et al. and how they fully intend to use the power of their office to punish Disney over trans rights.
Listen to the words of Donald Trump and who he admires.
Listen to the MAGAs who support him: he says what we think!
Listen to Republican Congresswoman Lisa McClain speaking at a Trump Rally in Michigan yesterday when she declares that migrants crossing the border are all “terrorists, convicts, murderers and rapists.
Listen to Texas Republican Robert Foster:
“Some of y’all still want to try and find political compromise with those that want to groom our school aged children and pretend men are women, etc, I think they need to be lined up against a wall before a firing squad to be sent to an early judgment.”
That's how it starts.
You see yourself as a victim.
You see The Other as terrorists, murderers, convicts, and rapists.
You paint The Other as the worst possible thing you can think of, Satan worshipers, pedophiles, criminals, subhuman, the Enemy.
You use that rhetoric, revenge, get even, and you tell those most privileged by your society that they are the real victims.
And when you gain power, you use the mailed fist of government and the military to crush your opponents -- and to keep that power, you'll need to carry through on your promise.
You'll have no choice but to actually line up those you hate against the wall and put a bullet in their heads. The mob who raised you up to power will accept nothing less than blood.
That's where it starts.
And it ends with the bodies of innocents shot in the head and dumped in a ditch.
You remember when Trump as President threatened to send the Army into Chicago?
And Republicans cheered that idea?
You remember when that same president sent goons dressed in unmarked military garb to Seattle to secretly arrest "ANTIFA" and "BLM?"
And Republicans cheered.
When he paraded tanks through our capital?
And Republican cheered?
It's all part of the same mindset, one that ends in war and genocide.
We must not only stop what's happening in Ukraine, we must stop it before it happens here.
For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power!
-- Joe Biden, 46th President of the United States