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The danger of denial: Ignoring domestic terrorism and the propaganda that blinds us to its threat

“A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes truth.” – Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda

One of the greatest tools we have available to understand the world we live in is looking at the past. Humans are a predictable species. People often say history repeats itself because humanity has not evolved enough to shift away from its ugliest habits. We still kill a ridiculous number of our own species for no good reason.

We still exploit the resources of the planet to make a small segment of the species rich, while billions suffer in hopeless poverty. We still poison our only viable home planet with fantasies of one day moving to the moon or Mars. We still destroy the habitats of multiple other species without a care in the world as to their well being.

One of the worst cases of man’s inhumanity to man was the ritual murder of millions by the Nazis in Germany. They were led by a maniacal leader and his faithful minions. One of these was Joseph Goebbels, the Minster of Propaganda.

It has been instructive to study this man and how he created an apparatus to keep the people numb while committing some of the most despicable acts every recorded in human history. I will use his words to show how he did it. We can learn a lot about the current state of affairs by listening to the words of this psychopath.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

As we watch an unprecedented rise in hate and violence this year, I keep hearing people say we are better than this. I have to say, I am not convinced that America is better than this. Where is the evidence that America is better than this? The track record of America is filled with bloodshed, here at home and abroad. We’ve been taught to accept this bloodshed because it supposedly protects our liberties. Americans have consistently looked the other way as the nation and its citizens committed brutal acts.

“As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1967

As many Americans sit idly by obliviously living their lives, a small but growing segment of the nation’s population are seeing the reality of how the perception of America does not fit the reality of America.

The President and Vice President both stood on debate stages and lied as if it is second nature and only some people were outraged about it. Far too many are okay being lied to. They know they are being lied to, but don’t care. This is what led to the rise of fascism in Europe. People looked the other way while being lied to day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year.

So-called militia members – who we need to call “domestic terrorists” – are working in consort with white supremacists to undermine the nation. The President with 65 to 70 million people watching during the first debate, was asked point blank to denounce white supremacists and refused to do so. The Vice President when confronted with this fact by Kamala Harris at the Vice Presidential debate said, “not true.”

“Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” – Comedian Richard Pryor

As Goebbels said so aptly, “the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” We are seeing how the tool of propaganda is making Americans believe the pandemic is either overhyped or just a hoax. What is happening is not something new in America. We have short memories. These domestic terrorists are the sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of Americas past domestic terrorists. Jim Crow did not die, it went underground and is coming out in to the open again as the President and his followers makes it safe to do so.

In much the same way, what happened in Germany in the years leading up to WWII was not new. The Germans had practiced slaughtering people in Southwest Africa for decades before unleashing that same terror on the Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, the Roma, those with mental illness, gays and countless others.

The story of what Germans did in Namibia is unknown to only a few Americans. Historian Firpo Carter documented this story in his 2003 book, Germany’s Black Holocaust: 1890-1945. He asked if the story of the savage treatment and ritualized murder of these Africans has been taken note of by history.

“…has history taken note? ‘Taken note of what?’ One might ask. Taken note of the fact that these Africans were the victims of one of the worse atrocities ever committed in human history. And, in answer to the question, sadly and simply, no, recorded history has relegated it all to a footnote—if that.”

What was done? They built Germany’s first concentration camps not in Poland and Germany but in Southwest Africa. Colonial Germany took advantage of these helpless, defenseless Africans without the nation blinking an eye. Why? Because these Africans were demonized as savages by Germans and most of their neighboring nations back in Europe. They committed mass murder and mayhem and the world, including America, sat silently by not even mentioning it. It set the stage for what would come decades later.

The Ovambo and Herero people would be the unwitting victims of colonialism run amuck. The infamous Berlin Conference 1884-1885, was the beginning of this monstrous activity. European leaders, high off of their planet-wide excursions “conquering” lands around the planet, carved up Africa like a Thanksgiving turkey. The Portuguese got some, France, Great Britain, the Dutch and others decided they could take what they wanted. Germany got a smaller piece of the pie than they wanted.

These White men drew borders where none had existed before without asking any African to sit at the table with them. German East Africa (Tanzania), Togo, Cameroon, and Southwest Africa would be theirs to do as they pleased. Germany annexed Namibia and renamed it South West Africa. The way they treated these Africans would lead to later mistreatment of Blacks in Germany as the United Staes Holocaust Memorial Museum archivist Dr. Robert W. Kesting noted.

“There is no question that black persons were targeted for discriminatory treatment as Nazis were coming to power in Germany in the 1930s … German bias was turned up one level against black-skinned persons.”

As the Herero people revolted against German colonialism it, “led to the death of 60,000 Herero people — 80 percent of their population.” Another 20,000 Nama people were also killed and many died in concentration camps and forced labor camps. From 1904-1907 nearly 80 percent of the Herero, 50 percent of the Nama and 50 percent of the Damara people were wiped out. These people were used as guinea pigs in medical experiments much as Jews would be later.

Why are these stories of atrocities relevant to this narrative? We have been led to believe a specific narrative about what happened in Germany without historical context. The horrors of the Holocaust did not come out of a vacuum. Propaganda, and state sanctioned lies played a major role. These are the tools of those who want to rule with no rules constraining their activity.

Likewise in America we have been sold a bill of goods, telling us that America is the land of the free but the historical record does not support this assertion. Study the history of Africans, Native Americans and Asians who immigrated to this country and it will be crystal clear that the story of America is a fallacy.

As we sit back in this country, the ugly parts of American history that have always been left out of our history books and classes are coming to the surface now. The so-called militia movement, and the rise of white supremacy hate groups has not come out of a vacuum either. These are vestiges of centuries of anti-black racism embedded into the DNA of America. There has been an unbroken line of anti-black racism here since the first African captives were sold in Virginia 401 years ago.

A race war is the goal of these domestic terror groups. When a group of them attempted to kidnap and murder Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan people were shocked. We should not be shocked. The President chided her instead of offering condolences or concern when the plot was exposed. He did not find it in his heart a place to denounce the plot the way most rationale people would. She thanked the FBI for their diligence in uncovering the plot.

Afterwards she spoke about the role the President has played in the current state of affairs. “Our head of state has spent the last seven months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” He tweeted an attack on Whitmer right after her remarks.

“My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced… today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities… I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

On October 6 the Department of Homeland Security, without much fanfare, released a report stating that white supremacists are, ”the most persistent and lethal threat” in the United States. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently testified to Congress about the growing threat of racially-motivated violent extremism, stating that these people are the greatest terrorism threat we face . Despite this, the media simply refuses to consistently call them domestic terrorists.

In the meantime, the White House is constantly chirping about “Antifa” while they look the other way as domestic terrorism grows. Attorney General Barr barely had a word to say about the plot in Michigan and how it is tied directly to what Homeland Security and FBI leaders warn us about. Integrity First America is suing the white supremacists responsible for the violence in 2017 in Charlottesville. They recently warned us about the words of the President.

“This is all the more urgent as white supremacists and other far-right extremists exploit racial justice protests to spread disinformation, hate, and violence—and take President Trump’s comments as marching orders for violence.”

We all heard President Trump mention the “Proud Boys” at the first debate without being prompted by moderator Chris Wallace. He would later claim to not know who they were. The most important words said by either candidate at that debate were these.

“Stand back and stand by.”

Regardless of him calling out white supremacist later, his message to the Proud Boys and their ilk was loud and clear and was spoken on the largest stage possible. The Proud Boys printed up t-shirts with this call to action from the President the following day.

During the reign of the Nazi’s they spoke openly about their hatred of Jews but far too many did not take them seriously. The world stood by and watched, listening with deaf ears as they stated clearly what their intentions were. Hitler had written in Mein Kampf exactly what he planned to do years in advance.

As we anxiously await a presidential election that will more than likely be like none other in American history, we must understand clearly that these violent domestic terrorists have been preparing for years for a race war. They have planned and plotted what they will do if Joe Biden wins the election. They will undoubtedly try to intimidate voters on November 3. The president has refused to say he will accept the results of the election if he loses.

The lies continue to come unabated from the White House. The rhetoric which emboldens these domestic terrorists is clear to anyone paying attention. In Germany under the Nazis, many regular German citizens were caught up in the cloud of misinformation and were complicit in the murder of millions or stood by, saying and doing nothing. Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany, and a foe of Hitler, spent seven years in concentration camps because of his outspokenness. After the war he penned these words.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Like Niemöller, Dr. King spoke to the importance of being aware of the capitulation of our allies.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

My hope is that more people will wake up and actively work to fight against the propaganda which is being used just as Goebbels used it in Germany. He was brilliantly evil. These last few quotes from him are instructive if we pay attention.

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly — it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

“…the rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious.”

“Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.”

We should not be caught by surprise. The danger is much closer than we imagine. The terrorists who planned to kidnap governor Whitmer trained in Wisconsin where they planned to hold her mock trial and execution.

About The Author

Reggie Jackson

As an award-winning Senior Columnist for the Milwaukee Independent, Reggie Jackson covers a range of African American issues. He is also a Consultant with Nurturing Diversity Partners, and volunteers as Head Griot for America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) in Bronzeville.