James Kirchik takes a 75-Year-Old Harper’s story, “Who Goes Nazi?” and finds that it often applies word-for-word in the current American context.
Written by Dorothy Thompson, the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany, the article presents readers with the aforementioned â€œmacabre parlor gameâ€ in which she secretly assesses which guests at a random social function might â€œgo Naziâ€ given the proper political and social conditions. As Thompson keenly observed from her time in Germany, there was no single demographic â€œtypeâ€ of Nazi supporter; workers and businessmen and intellectuals and landed gentry all backed Adolf Hitlerâ€™s political movement, just as workers and businessmen and intellectuals and landed gentry opposed it. There were even Jews, Thompson wrote, â€œwho have repudiated their own ancestors in order to become â€œHonorary Aryans and Nazis.â€ Nazism, Thompson argues, â€œappeals to a certain type of mind,â€ not a rigid composite. As such, her article is a timeless analysis of the authoritarian mentality and makes for disturbingly relevant reading today. …
â€œBelieve me, nice people donâ€™t go Nazi,â€ Dorothy Thompson wrote. â€œTheir race, color, creed, or social condition is not the criterion. It is something in them. Those who havenâ€™t anything in them to tell them what they like and what they donâ€™tâ€”whether it is breeding, or happiness, or wisdom, or a code, however old-fashioned or however modern, go Nazi.â€ … These people are lacking â€œsomething in them,â€ a moral code, and their very large numbers are a troubling indicator of a rot in the American soul.
Read the whole thing.