LII – The Hitler Test

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In
previous years, and on the first day of class, I have given my new
students a ballot, indicating that "it is time to elect the
leader of a great nation," and offering them two candidates,
A and B.

Candidate
A is identified as "a well-known critic of government, this
man has been involved in tax protest movements, and has openly advocated
secession, armed rebellion against the existing national government,
and even the overthrow of that government. He is a known member
of a militia group that was involved in a shoot-out with law enforcement
authorities. He opposes gun control efforts of the present national
government, as well as restrictions on open immigration into this
country. He is a businessman who has earned his fortune from such
businesses as alcohol, tobacco, retailing, and smuggling."

Candidate
B is described thusly: "A decorated army war veteran, this
man is an avowed nonsmoker and dedicated public health advocate.
His public health interests include the fostering of medical research
and his dedication to eliminating cancer. He opposes the use of
animals in conducting such research. He has supported restrictions
on the use of asbestos, pesticides, and radiation, and favors government-determined
occupational health and safety standards, as well as the promotion
of such foods as whole-grain bread and soybeans. He is an advocate
of government gun-control measures. An ardent opponent of tobacco,
he has supported increased restrictions on both the use of and advertising
for tobacco products. Such advertising restrictions include: [1]
not allowing tobacco use to be portrayed as harmless or a sign of
masculinity; [2] not allowing such advertising to be directed to
women; [3] not drawing attention to the low nicotine content of
tobacco products; and, [4] limitations as to where such advertisements
may be made. This man is a champion of environmental and conservationist
programs, and believes in the importance of sending troops into
foreign countries in order to maintain order therein."

The
students are asked to vote, anonymously, for either of these two
candidates. I employ this exercise only every other year, at most,
so that students will not have been told to expect it. Over the
years, the voting results have given candidate B about 75% of the
vote, while candidate A gets the remaining 25%. After completing
the exercise and tabulating the results, I inform the students that
candidate A is a composite of the American "founding fathers"
(e.g., Sam Adams, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington,
etc.). Candidate B, on the other hand, is Adolf Hitler, whose advocacy
for the programs named can be found in such works as Robert Proctor's
The
Nazi War on Cancer
.

In
one of my classes a few years ago, we were discussing the Schechter
case, in which the United States Supreme Court struck down the
cornerstone legislation of the "New Deal," the National
Industrial Recovery Act. I was explaining to the students how this
legislation had transformed American commerce and industry into
a system of business created but government-enforced cartels. I
also pointed out to them how popular fascist/socialist programs
were throughout much of the world at that time. There was Stalin
in the Soviet Union, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Franco
in Spain, and Roosevelt in the United States.

I
then informed my class how Winston Churchill had, in 1938, praised
Hitler, as had such luminaries as Ghandi, Gertrude Stein (who nominated
him for the Nobel Peace Prize), and Henry Ford (who was pleased
to work with the German leader). One of my students could take it
no more. "How can you say that so many people could support
such an evil man as Adolf Hitler?," she pleaded. "You
tell me," I responded, "just two weeks ago 78% of you
in this class voted for him!" Some twenty seconds of pure silence
settled into the classroom before we moved on to the next case.

A
couple days ago, I decided to introduce a new group of students
to this exercise. After they voted — again, anonymously — I tabulated
their votes and discovered that, once again, Hitler had prevailed,
but by a much narrower margin than in earlier years. In my two classes,
Hitler won by a 45-41 combined total of votes (nor did he require
the Supreme Court to validate his victory). His support, in other
words, had fallen from previous averages of 75% to about 52.3%.

One
of my students wrote on his/her ballot "leaving ballot blank,
or writing in a socialist candidate if one exist." At the following
class meeting, I read this notation aloud and told the class that
a "socialist candidate" did exist: candidate B,
in the person of Adolf Hitler. The word "Nazi" was derived
from the formal name of Hitler's party: the National Socialist German
Workers' Party. That so many of Hitler's policies have become the
essence of modern "political correctness," as well as
"mainstream" Republocratic platforms, is a sad reflection
on just how far the American culture has deteriorated in recent
decades.

Still,
there may be some basis for optimism in this latest response from
these students, who had never had a class with me before. When close
to half of these young people were more comfortable siding with
the kind of men whose thinking was reflected in the Declaration
of Independence, there may be healthy signs that support for the
Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft/Ridge form of fascist state is starting to
wane.

Additional
evidence of a diminishing enthusiasm for leviathan can be seen in
the resolutions passed by over one hundred city/town councils —
plus one state legislature — stating their opposition to, or even
refusal to abide by, the Patriot Act! The lobotomized voices that
insist upon passive submission to authority, may find themselves
screeching to a rapidly depleting audience. They, and their statist
overlords, may be able to count on the continuing complicity of
a round-heeled Congress, but many thoughtful men and women may be
peeling the "love it or leave it" bumper-stickers off
their minds and cars.

Having
had a brief taste of the brown-shirted culture of the present administration,
perhaps enough Americans are rediscovering the significance of their
own history. As the media lapdogs continue to recite their scripts
and slobber on cue, it may prove to be the case that the "spirit
of '76," with its love of liberty and distrust of governments,
is still sufficiently engrained in the fabric of our society.

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