We Cannot Say We Did Not Know

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“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross” (Source Unknown) and wearing a ball cap with the words “Make America Great Again.”

We cannot say we did not know.

Before, during, and after the rise of Hitler in Germany, there were those who said they “did not know” what was happening. For those not fully engulfed in the wave and fervor of nationalism, plausible deniability mixed with fear became the excuse of millions as Hitler’s power grew into a nearly unstoppable force of hatred, violence, and death.

Here in the United States, we did not take Hitler seriously until it was too late. Andrew Nagorski, author of the book Hitlerland, writes this about U.S. views of Hitler before he came to power,  “…[Y]ou had Americans meeting Hitler and saying, ‘This guy is a clown. He’s like a caricature of himself.’ And a lot of them went through this whole litany about how even if Hitler got into a position of power, other German politicians would somehow be able to control him. A lot of German politicians believed this themselves.” Sound familiar? Nagorski goes on to write, “Of course, everyone began to reassess that very quickly after he took power. “ Some journalists, Nagorski notes, saw the threat early on and warned that Hitler was a genuine threat. Nagorski points to the example of how “Edgar Mowrer, the Chicago Daily News correspondent, kept frantically trying to warn readers and the world, ‘What he’s saying about the Jews is serious. Don’t underestimate him.’”

Over the next several months before our Presidential Election in the United States, it is the moral responsibility of all persons who see clearly what is happening with the rise of Trump to use every non-violent means at our disposal to make sure that it is not possible for people to say “we did not know.” Trump has given us more than enough signs during this campaign and during his life for us to know that he is dangerous to the United States and to the world. And here in the United States he is especially dangerous to Muslims, Latinos, African Americans, and women. Trump is also a threat to our ecological community. If you are someone planning to vote for Trump or a republican politician supporting Trump because you believe that he can be controlled once he is in office, please refer to history to see how difficult it is to control persons who come to power riding a wave of populist fascism.

Nothing is a greater warning about the danger of Trump than Trump’s own words. He may end up winning the presidency, but it cannot be because we ignore or forget during the general election what he said and did during the republican primaries. Below are some examples, but there are many more. These are Trump’s own words. We cannot say we did not know.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” – June 16, 2015

“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing. I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a trouble-maker who was looking to make trouble.” – November 22, 2015 – commenting about an African American protester being kicked, punched, pushed, and shoved by Trump supporters at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama.

“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. But they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.” – December 2, 2015

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” – December 7, 2016

“I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” – February 6, 2016

“I read a story, it’s a terrible story, but I’ll tell you. Early in the century, last century, General Pershing — did you ever hear — rough guy, rough guy. And they had a terrorism problem. And there’s a whole thing with swine and animals and pigs — and you know the story. They don’t like that. They were having a tremendous problem with terrorism. Pershing caught 50 terrorists. He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.” (There is no plausible evidence that this story is true) – February 19, 2016

“I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks… I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you that.” – February 22, 2016

From the March 3, 2016 republican debate:

BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists’ families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than water boarding, the military will refuse because they’ve been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.

So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?

TRUMP: They won’t refuse, they’re not going to refuse me — believe me.”

In an interview with Chris Matthews, Trump said “There has to be some form of punishment.” when asked whether women who have abortions should be punished – March 30, 2016

In relation to the Paris Climate Agreement Trump said, “I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else. But those agreements are one-sided agreements and they are bad for the United States.” – May 17, 2016

The American voters must not be allowed to say they did not know what was happening with the rise of Trump. It is the moral responsibility of us all to make it impossible for people to use this excuse to allow the most dangerous candidate ever nominated by a major political party to actually step into the Oval Office. This is especially the case for republican politicians who are supporting Trump for pragmatic reasons and think they can control him if he becomes President. In the haunting words of Edgar Mowrer, “Do not underestimate him.” We cannot say we did not know.

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is The Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. From 2009 to 2015, Mark was dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences and Wimberly Professor of Social Ethics at Oklahoma City University. Previously, Mark was dean of the Wimberly School of Religion at Oklahoma City University and Founding Director of the Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership. Prior to becoming dean of the Wimberly School of Religion in 2002, he was associate dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma City University and chair of the department of philosophy. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University.
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One Response to We Cannot Say We Did Not Know

  1. Pingback: Calling Out a Warning: #CantSayWeDidNotKnow | One World House

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