Elizabeth Scilia, of First Things brings us an article by Dorothy Thompson from the August 1941 edition of Harpers Magazine. asking
“Who Goes Nazi?”
Certainly the names are different these days but there are still people who will “go Nazi” if the chance happens though it I possible they will be the loudest denouncing Nazism. .
It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times–in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis.
Sometimes I think there are direct biological factors at work–a type of education, feeding, and physical training which has produced a new kind of human being with an imbalance in his nature. He has been fed vitamins and filled with energies that are beyond the capacity of his intellect to discipline. He has been treated to forms of education which have released him from inhibitions. His body is vigorous. His mind is childish. His soul has been almost completely neglected.
At any rate, let us look round the room.
The gentleman standing beside the fireplace with an almost untouched glass of whiskey beside him on the mantelpiece is Mr. A, a descendant of one of the great American families. There has never been an American Blue Book without several persons of his surname in it. He is poor and earns his living as an editor. He has had a classical education, has a sound and cultivated taste in literature, painting, and music; has not a touch of snobbery in him; is full of humor, courtesy, and wit. He was a lieutenant in the World War, is a Republican in politics, but voted twice for Roosevelt, last time for Willkie. He is modest, not particularly brilliant, a staunch friend, and a man who greatly enjoys the company of pretty and witty women. His wife, whom he adored, is dead, and he will never remarry.
He has never attracted any attention because of outstanding bravery. But I will put my hand in the fire that nothing on earth could ever make him a Nazi. He would greatly dislike fighting them, but they could never convert him…. Why not?
Beside him stands Mr. B, a man of his own class, graduate of the same preparatory school and university, rich, a sportsman, owner of a famous racing stable, vice-president of a bank, married to a well-known society belle. He is a good fellow and extremely popular. But if America were going Nazi he would certainly join up, and early. Why?… Why the one and not the other?
Indeed why? Read the whole article. The names are different but is today the same old story?
Dorothy Thompson (9 July 1893, Lancaster, New York – January 30, 1961, Portugal) was an American journalist and radio broadcaster, who was noted by Time magazine in 1939 as one of the two most influential women in America, the other being Eleanor Roosevelt.
She is notable as the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany (in 1934), one of the few women news commentators on radio during the 1930s, and as the inspiration for Katharine Hepburn's character "Tess Harding" in the film Woman of the Year (1942).
Related: Who is a Fascist?
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