It was November 7, 1938.
A 17-year-old ethnically Polish Jew living in France named Herschel Grynszpan had learned the Nazi party had exiled his parents to Poland from their home in Hanover, Germany.
Enraged, Grynszpan retaliated by shooting Ernst vom Rath, a German diplomat in Paris, who died two days later.
In response, the infamous Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister for public enlightenment and propaganda, whipped Nazi party members and sympathizers into a frenzy, resulting in a rampage of torched synagogues and vandalized Jewish homes, schools, and businesses.
By the time it was over on November 10, close to 100 Jews were dead and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps.
This event came to be known as Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass.”
Up to this point since Adolf Hitler’s ascension to the German chancellorship in 1933, repressive policies toward Jews had been nonviolent.
Kristallnacht was the culmination of years of Nazi policies isolating and persecuting Jews, such as requiring German non-Jews boycott Jewish businesses and excluding Jews from civil-service posts.
Hitler’s first year in office, writing belonging to Jewish and other “un-German” authors were burned in a communal ceremony at Berlin’s Opera House.
By 1935, German businesses refused service to Jews, only Aryans were considered full German citizens, and Aryans and Jews were forbidden to marry or have extramarital relationships.
We know how it ended.
It’s important to note that Hitler did not come right out and demand Jews be harassed imprisoned, and killed. He was eventually able to accomplish all the hideous crimes for which he is known, though, through engaging in stochastic terrorism–“the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act.”
Fast forward to today.
Could the thirteen pipe bombs the now-apprehended Donald Trump supporter from Florida sent this week to prominent Trump critics and CNN be our own Kristallnacht?
As Andrew Gawthorpe writes in The Guardian:
“Political violence in the United States has tended to come in two forms. The first consists of simply unhinged acts, like John Hinckley Jr shooting Ronald Reagan in the hope of impressing the actress Jodie Foster, or Timothy McVeigh hoping to bring down the government with a bomb. The second is more systematic and sinister: the violence used to keep down groups who threaten the social and political order. This is the violence of strikebreakers and the KKK…This was violence of the people, by the people, for the government.
“This is the correct context in which to understand the bomb scares that have recently affected Barack Obama, the Clintons, Eric Holder, George Soros and others. We don’t yet know the state of mind of those responsible. But the identity of the targets chosen (primarily women, African Americans and a Jew) and the fact they are all known enemies of the president of the United States tells us something deeply disturbing about the state of America today.”
Trump refers to his political opponents as “globalists” who “want the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country.”
Those “globalists,” according to Trump, support “caravans” of “unknown Middle Easterners” en route from Central America to wreak havoc on American sovereignty.
When it comes to elections, says Trump, the “globalists” depend on millions of non-American “illegals” showing up in droves to vote.
Trump suggested Barack Obama “founded” Isis.
He told “second amendment people” they might be able to take care of Hillary Clinton.
Last week, Trump extolled Montana Republican congressman Greg Gianforte for body-slamming Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs in May 2017 for asking a question Gianforte didn’t appreciate.
Trump has called the media “scum,” “dishonest,” “not good people,” “sleazy,” “fake news,” and “among the worst human beings” he has ever met.
There is even reason to believe adult film actress Stormy Daniels’ arrest in Columbus, Ohio this summer was politically motivated due to Daniels’ outspoken criticism of the president.
And although there may not be any connection between Trump and the gunman who opened fire on a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning, killing 11 and wounding six, as Gawthorpe wrote:
“It is no surprise that this febrile atmosphere, in which any lie can be justified if it paints the president’s opponents as traitors, would lead to violence.”
When commenting about the synagogue shooting, Trump, predictably, stated:
“If they had protection inside the results would have been far better. If they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it would have been a much different situation.”
This is what we can expect from a man who just this week in Houston identified himself as a “nationalist,” inviting former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke to tweet:
“Trump Embraces Nationalism in a Massive JamPacked 99.9 % White Venue in Houston! Zio Journalists asked him if this is White Nationalism! Of course fundamentally it is as, there is no ethnic or racial group in America more Nationalist than White Americans… So What’s the Problem?”
No, Trump is not outright calling for journalists to be threatened and/or killed. He is not overtly calling for Muslims, African Americans, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants (mostly dark-skinned ones), or Democrats to be harmed.
But over the past several years, his stochastic terrorism has successfully incited ardent supporters to fill in the blanks.
He hasn’t yet proved us wrong.
We probably shouldn’t expect him to.
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