My default in discussing the Trump regime’s authoritarian side is usually Fascist Italy, not Nazi Germany. Like Mussolini, the Impeached Insult Comedian is an opportunist and mountebank. Attorney General William Barr, however, is a true believer in an unholy mishmash of right-wing Catholicism and absolute presidential power. He’s still waddling his way to infamy.
Pairing Bill Barr with Hermann Goering is, at one level, odd. Goering was an opportunist and mountebank working for a true believer, Adolph Hitler. In reality, Barr and Goering are opposite sides of the same corrupt coin: they sold their souls and considerable talents to a leader bent on destruction, domination, and chaos. Trump may not know what Gotterdammerung is, but he seems determined to repeat it on the streets of our nation’s capital. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.
The Barr-Goering comparison struck me last night while watching Lincoln Project honcho Steve Schmidt on The Rachel Maddow Show. They had a lively discussion about the unmarked, un-badged law enforcement officers strutting about the capital this week. They appear to be a mixture of private cops and federal corrections officers. Schmidt quite rightly denounced this saying, “America doesn’t have a secret police.”
The image of Goering flashed into my head at that point. He was the founder of the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s secret police. Himmler may have perfected the instruments of repression, but Goering was present at the creation.
I groan every time I hear the sitting Attorney General called “the nation’s highest law enforcement officer.” Instead, they’re the people’s lawyer. The former label has stuck and is being applied in a perverse fashion during 2020’s Days Of Rage. President* Pennywise has put Barr in charge of enforcing the federal response to the current wave of protests. In a time of sinister developments, this may be the most sinister of all.
If Hermann Goering were alive, he’d be struck by the irony of the situation. He was the bull goose war criminal at the first Nuremberg Trial. The lead American prosecutor was former US Attorney General, Justice Robert Jackson. Our current AG is employing police state tactics in support of the Current Occupant. The mere possibility that Goering and his ilk could have the “last laugh” because of Barr’s corrupt malefactions is deeply disturbing. Goering knew from corruption, which was eloquently pointed out by Bob Jackson in his closing argument:
“The large and varied role of Goering was half militarist and half gangster. He stuck his pudgy finger in every pie. He used his SA musclemen to help bring the gang into power. In order to entrench that power he contrived to have the Reichstag burned, established the Gestapo, and created the concentration camps.”
Unlike Goering, Barr does not appear to be financially corrupt but his political and legal corruption is a bottomless pit. There is no bottom with Barr and Trump. As long as they’re in office, we’re going to hell in that proverbial handbasket.
As a student of history, I don’t make Nazi analogies lightly. Until recently, I was a firm believer in Godwin’s Law. Trump and Barr have made Nazi analogies not only apposite and appropriate but imperative as even General Mattis has come to understand:
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”
“Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was “Divide and Conquer.” Our American answer is “In Union there is Strength.”’ We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.”
I wish that General Mattis had come out forcefully against Trump before this. But I understand the reluctance of an apolitical officer corps to get involved in politics.
The last word goes to a tweet from the daughter of the man who played resistance leader Victor Laszlo in Casablanca: