Valley News Forum for Sept. 18, 2023: A troubling parallel with Nazism

Published: 09-18-2023 3:45 PM

A troubling parallel with Nazism

I read William L. Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” a number of years ago. Currently I am reading his more intimate and compelling “Berlin Diary”; both which detail the growth and dominance of the Nazis Party in 1930s and ’40s Germany. What is very striking is the subtle, insidious and almost irresistible ballooning of a political ethic that ultimately drives a country to absolute ruin and the deaths of millions.

There is a parallel between the rise of Nazism and the steady erosion of education, stultification of press freedom, hatred of immigrants, and the demonizing of the election process. At the risk of outrage, it can be stated that, yes, it can happen here, even in this bucolic corner of New England. We have already seen multiple examples of attempted totalitarianism around the country, and quite a few individuals who are happy to go along with it, just so long as they are giving the orders.

Please note, it may be tempting to foster a dictatorship, but in the end, those who are willing to join the ranks of volunteer thugs, and are passionate apologists for the destruction of all we hold dear in an open, diverse and caring society, would be the first victims of fanaticism. Unless a person is prepared to denounce friends and even members of their own family, they would not be considered sufficiently orthodox.

You may not like all the clauses of the American Constitution, but we have nothing better. Democracy is sound, despite the myths, and in the event of the rise of a dictatorship, you will not have any choices whatsoever. If you intimidate elected officials, teachers or poll workers, just remember what you are supporting. Fair criticism has an honorable place. Threats have none.

Paul Cooker


No miracle is coming, or needed

I will not quote the Bible. Reading Mr. Wittik’s letter on Monday (“Jesus: Less Woke than he seems,” Sept. 11), I am inspired to quote Robert Burns. “O wad some pow’r the gifte gie us to see oursels as other see us!” This is from To a Louse, about viewing lice on the fancy hat of a woman at church. Jesus was crucified by the Roman political leaders and the local religious leaders. The analogy with today’s politics is obvious. Christians were persecuted and should understand political power should never enforce any one particular religion.

Reading the letter I was struck by the possibility that the religious right-wing extremists are counting on God to balance the federal budget. The poor will always be with us, which means the word “us” will always include poor. It is blasphemy to claim the powers of Jesus, so we mere mortals need to meet our obligations to others and our obligation to provide for ourselves with the powers we have. God helps those who help themselves. That includes paying taxes to cover the many services which are truly communal, some being: health care, roads, clean water, clean air, public safety, and protection from other individuals and other countries.

My mother taught me: Religion is the way you live.

Mr. Wittik seems like a person of good intentions, who researches issues and truly cares about others. I thank him for the insight he gives me into the thinking of conservatives, although I do not burden him with the duty to explain them all. I am most impressed he notes he, as well as the person he is refuting, will use the quotes that support their own position. One of my most liberal friends will often ask us to reflect on our confirmation biases. Sorry Mr. Burns, no miracle is going to suddenly awaken us to our own biases. And sorry Mr. Wittik; don’t expect a miracle to feed the poor and heal the sick, and no miracle is going to balance the federal budget. If we meet our earthly obligations no miracle is necessary.

Lanea Witkus


What Jim Vanier brings to the CCB

Let me add my voice in support of what Pat Walsh started and Jim Vanier has continued in a manner that would make Pat proud. I think the board needs to remember that more than money, is the importance of the CCB’s code of conduct, fair play, support and friendships. We all understand budgets and income in, but what’s been forgotten is civic responsibility. That is what Jim is all about.

My son, who has grown up in Hartford, loved the end of Lebanon Alumni parades because of Jimmy with the water guns! Kids who have Jim want to be like him and kids who don’t have him, wish they did. That should be your bigger worry. How will you ever replace Jim Vanier? Not with dollar signs.

Randi Harron

West Hartford