A Canadian's perspective on domestic and international issues. Independent coverage of Canadian federal, provincial and municipal elections and anything of interest in Canada.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Canada 09 vs Germany 39

I grew up listening to stories about the "Great Wars." In school we learned about the politics behind those wars.
We were told Hitler was trying to conquer the world, end democracy, and institute an international dictatorship. Repeatedly it was explained how he went from being a fringe player, seldom taken seriously, to having a minority, to overruling the majority in his own parliament, to unleashing a period of unprecedented terror on the world.
Step by step his actions were explained, with the intent of making sure, we would never forget, and would not allow such a tragedy to occur again.
Hitler began with a small group of radicals. They complained German society was too "liberal", crime was out of control, outsiders were destroying society and hording resources, that Germany needed to build a strong army to reclaim its greatness.
Unfortunately, the German people did not take Hitler seriously. He seemed an odd man, surrounded by fringe characters. His politics were not widely shared. Few believed he would ever get elected, let alone become Chancellor. His party seemed to be little more than a group of disaffected losers who liked to complain about everything, and wanted to take the country backward, not forward.
His party's tactics of name calling, of accusing the opposition of being in league in with Germany's enemies, of claiming other parties were suffering from moral decay, only seemed to reaffirm he was a marginal character of no real consequence.
Even after being elected Chancellor, with a slim minority, few took him seriously. His claim that crime was out of control seemed ridiculous because most Germans lived relatively peaceful lives. Yes, there were serious economic problems, but no one really believed it was caused by immigrants. People were confident, his party was in the minority and there were plenty of checks and balances in the German political system.
When he began to chip away at the judiciary, appointing like minded people to the German courts, few challenged him. When he allowed the police to do their business without oversight, few complained. When he mocked his opposition, calling them names, accusing them of being traitors, few challenged his assertions. Most people found the politics of the time so negative, they simply ignored it. Even when Hitler began to outrightly overrule the elected majority, people continued to call him “inconsequential”.
The German people, by and large, viewed the ultra-nationalist, law and order, militaristic Nazi platform as a minority view, that would go away if ignored. Hitler represented the few and in time would be voted out.
We all know what happened next!
I’m grateful to be Canadian. The accident of my birth saved me from war, starvation, most disease, and dictatorship. I’ve been free to speak my mind, move about unfettered, and had a say in how I’m governed.
However, I do remember the lessons I was taught by those who experienced fascim, oppression and deprivation! Because of those lessons, I remain keenly aware of the warning signs.
When a people become complacent, ignoring the signs, more concerned about their individual wealth than the well being of the many, when they allow their democratic institutions to be chipped away, when they ignore the rantings, name calling and unfounded accusations being tossed around, they are ripe for dictatorship!
There is an old adage: “All it takes for evil to thrive in the world is for one good man to do nothing.” It seems to me, in Canada today, there are a lot of good people choosing to do just that!
That said, there is only one thing I want for Christmas. I want my fellow Canadians, all of them, to stand up for the most precious gift we have in our possession, our democracy!

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