Sunday, February 11, 2007

Nazis, The Deerhunter, and Blind Patriotism

I teach a class on the weekend. I've taught this class for years. I won't go into too many details for privacy reasons, but one assignment is to make a selection from a pre-approved list of films and write a paper on it as it relates to the subject matter of the class.

One of my students picked the The Deerhunter, which chronicles the effects of the Vietnam War on the lives of working class Pennsylvanians who fought there.

The student approached me at a break and he said, "I liked the movie, but I didn't really agree with the message."

Me: "Why?"

Student: "Well, if a lot of people saw this movie then they wouldn't want to fight in a war."

Me: "Well, that's sort of the point."

Student: "But how would we ever protect our country?"

I am never prepared to answer in situations like these. I sometimes freeze up when I have the opportunity. Class was due to start again and I am not sure that I made him think at all.

Anyway, Hermann Goehring may have been a Nazi, but he was absolutely right when he said the following:

"Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

<...>

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

3 Comments:

Blogger Timmy said...

READ: Bush is a Nazi.

February 12, 2007  
Anonymous lawgeekgurl said...

yes, the Nazis were so frightening not just because they committed such atrocities, but because they were so logical about it and getting people on board. We always like to think the really awful things in this world are only done by monsters, because we like to think we and those we love would never be capable of such things. I think the reality is that we are all capable, given a strong enough rationalization and a desensitivity to brutality. All you have to do is abandon your conscience.

February 12, 2007  
Blogger torporindy said...

Well put, lgg. The exploitation of fear, religion, tribalism, racism, patriotism and nationalism are the best ways to get people to do horrible things that they would not do otherwise.

February 13, 2007  

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