Good Americans

By: Teddy Partridge Sunday January 3, 2010 8:01 pm

My father worked alongside some Germans, too, who had very nice families like ours. Socializing in the long summer evenings was sometimes part of his job, and (sort of) part of ours, too. But if the mom and dad were my dad’s age or older, I used to wonder: were these the ‘good Germans’ I had read about in my history books?

I mean, these people didn’t simply appear in Germany during the Marshall Plan, America’s wonderfully generous reconstruction of free markets and political institutions. They must have lived through the second world war, right? What role did they play? Were they soldiers, civilians, students, citizens?

When Germany was doing barbaric things, I asked myself, what were these people doing? When their state was acting in ways since condemned by the civilized world, what did these folks do? Did they know? Did they pretend not to know? Did the benefits of their situation somehow outweigh the risks of objection?

Did they know and not care? Or did they not know? Or did they not want to know? Or did they know now and simply want to forget? Did we all want to forget?

How, I wondered then, could an entire nation go insane and then, afterward, act as if it hadn’t happened? How did that work, exactly?


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  1. !

    Top Front Page at FDL for the moment.

    Bwah hah hah hah hah.

    Who’s the crazy cranky guy now?

    • TMC on January 4, 2010 at 06:47

    again what country I’m living in

    I think we are about to find out. Right here in America. By ‘looking forward not backward’ we are now Good Americans. We overlook our own country’s torture, kidnapping, child murder, eavesdropping, indefinite detention, and inutterable destruction of the planet. I mean, babies are being born in Fallujah with horrible disfigurements after our depleted uranium and white phosphorus attacks on that city. In Guantanamo, innocent men are housed in a never-land outlaw world, perhaps never to be released. Here at home, phone calls and other communications are monitored by the state. Nothing is private, really. Abroad, war profiteers and mercenaries looted our own treasury and destroyed lives without censure or account. And people in America, some of them citizens (a few, certainly, but isn’t one too many?) have been snatched up and detained in a gulag of unbearable torture and misery.

    But.but…He’s a Democrat..could have fooled me.

  2. Just posted this comment on TMC’s diary about the out-raged Iraqis, but I think it needs to be here…

    The first descent into evil…  

    …leads to much, much more, as the perpetrator/victim becomes caught in an endless tail chase to justify/protect the earlier action.  

    This happens now with those who voted to allow the illegial actions of BushC0–the authorization of monies for wars, the allowance of unprovoked, “pre-emptive” actions, the allowance of torture, illegal imprisonment, Abu-Graebe, Guantanamo, abolition of habeus Corpus, Fisa–all the illegal actions taken in the Hollywood Spectacular War on Terror.

    Now they are taking the next step down the descent to Hell, now they are saying we must keep imprisoned the many (70 or so) Yemeni in Guantanamo even though there has been no evidence that they committed any acts of terrorism, that they may be innocent.  But, they say, “We can’t take the chance! We can’t send them home even if we have no evidence of any wrong-doing.  We can’t take the chance.

    And just what is that chance?  It is the chance that after 7, 8 years of imprisoning and abusing normal people, we may have created a hornets’ nest, a group of people so angry from the experience of our abuse, that they might go home to Yemen and, God forbid, organize and act against us.

    So those cowards who went along with this wrong-doing from the beginning are now saying we must keep them imprisoned forever, even if they are innocent.

    The evil into which we have descended is unforgiveable.  My Senate critter, Dianne Feinstein, who has no understanding of the Constitution and the rule of law is one of these.

    The sad, slippery slope of the descent into Hell is greased with the need to protect from past actions, and its acceleration is exponential.

    • Inky99 on January 4, 2010 at 07:26

    When I moved to Germany in 1970 I was only eight years old.  I quickly became fascinated by the second world war and especially the comic books that portrayed it.   Sgt. Rock was the main one, there were others that I can’t quite remember the titles of.   WWII movies were big, too.    Whenever we’d go out and about, which was very frequently, I’d always look for any remaining bulletholes in the old buildings.  

    Then my Dad, an Army officer, would socialize with Germans who had been Nazis.  German men about ten to twenty years older than he was, former officers in Hitler’s Army.   That always struck me as very strange, and I always wanted to meet some of these guys, just to see them for myself.   Never did, as far as I know, although I’d see Germans who were maimed form the war quite often.   One guy with his arm blown off at the elbow, who would write, quite well, by shoving a pen between two bumps in the stump.   Another guy, on a street car, with a hole in his head, literally, a deep pit in his forehead, who wouldn’t quit staring at me.   I finally made a big deal out of staring back at him and he looked away.   God only knows what he was thinking, some smart-ass American kid in his country.   Only one time did we run into any animosity, an old woman in a gift shop in some town that the Americans had bombed to the ground.   The old woman almost violently kicked out my mother upon realizing she was American.   My mother was a very sweet and shy woman and felt really bad about it.  

    But yeah, we’re definitely living in a fascist war state now.   And nobody seems to think twice about it.    

    • Xanthe on January 4, 2010 at 15:12

    don’t they?  People who have been occupied and bombed.  I’m sure most don’t differentiate between those of us who opposed the last round of wars and others.  Should we ever come into their purview – would we be viewed as anything but Americans – the enemy?

    I’m sure many good people were bombed the hell out of in Germany and lost everything including children, mates, their own lives – people who opposed the regime but were afraid.  I don’t know how brave I would be if and when they start clamping down on Americans during the eternal wars now shoved down our throats.  Who knows?  

  3. …jolly good morning to you too, ek!

  4. but this one… says it.

    We resist and if we fail, we bear witness.

    Some of you know… I have a soft spot in my heart for Cambodians… from real life co-worker friendships. Yesterday, while google hunt, I b’marked this personal story from a survivor who resettled in the USA in 1981. She writes:

    “I have known what it is like to live in relative paradise, and I have also known what it must be like to live in hell,” she says. “All that is precious to a Cambodian, our culture, our tradition, our ancient history, was almost lost forever at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. I saw innocence itself die, along with millions of innocent people who committed no crime but to be alive and in the path of a genocidal movement.

    “As a Cambodian-American I have learned the importance and the value of freedom, that it must be protected and cherished, and never taken for granted. When your freedom is lost, the soul dies, the body is but a hollow vessel. Cambodia and its most precious resource, her people, were brought down to absolute emptiness by what transpired between 1975 and 1979. I pray that we, the Khmer-Americans, can help fill the reservoir of the soul of our homeland, with the essence of freedom, wisdom from the past, and hope for the future.”

    Often, the proclamation “Never again,” is associated with the Nazi holocaust. The Cambodian holocaust was the test of the world’s committment to “Never again.” The free world failed the test, and the Cambodian people paid, and continue to pay the price to this very day. Listen to the Cambodian survivors, and to the echoes of the killing fields.

  5. The Munich cafeteria and I was just starting to follow the conversations in german about a vacation in Cuba.  We ate a SudAmericanisher dish and all of this seemed a bit surreal to me.  I did get back to see the post wall reunified Berlin and the new construction projects erasing the traces of Cold War sentiments.  Checkpoint Charlie, the allied bases leveled and revamped back into their german roots.  As if we were never there.

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