Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

November 2, 2013

Lincoln vs. Hitler

(Continued)

For in truth these November anniversaries are an accident of history, nothing more than that. History itself, of course, is no accident but instead the documentation of humankind’s dignity and humankind’s savagery, and testimony of the ability of humankind to lift up the world or to plunge it into suffering.

Only at this distance, a century and a half from Lincoln, three-quarters of a century from Hitler, do we see that the genius of the one serves to underline the perversion of the other. And at this distance, too, we see the power of words -- to inspire hope and idealism on the one hand, to foment hate and violence on the other. Lincoln’s remarks were but whispers on a battlefield, itself the site of savage combat only four months before. Hitler harnessed the power of the radio and of mass rallies to create a frenzy of brutality.

The next several weeks will bring forward a flood of retrospectives and reassessments of the speech at Gettysburg, and this week people around the world will look again at Kristallnacht. An exhibit called “Fire! 75 Years After Kristallnacht” opens in a few days in Berlin. A group of cultural organizations in Central Florida this fall undertakes a long examination of Kristallnacht. Choirs of 22 Jewish groups in the Washington area are to gather next Sunday for a musical “Voices of the Holocaust” performance intended to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

The terrible train of events in Germany in 1938 promoted expressions of horror from the United States and Britain, throwing Hitler into a rage. “Hatred of the Jews was perhaps the most sincere emotion of which he was capable,” British historian Alan Bullock wrote in a classic biography of the fuehrer. “To his resentments against Britain was added the fury that the British should dare to express concern for the fate of German Jews.”

Text Only
Opinion
  • Close the tax loophole that sends US corporations overseas Since we last overhauled our federal tax code, in 1986, countries around the world have lowered their tax rates, leaving the United States with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed word. At the same time, the system has become full of inef

    July 29, 2014

  • Israel and the U.S.: Whose survival instinct is stronger? There’s something darkly coincidental in the fact that the latest weapon to be deployed against the survival instinct of both Israel and the United States is an alleged “heartlessness” when it comes to children. The people of Israel are castigated in

    July 29, 2014

  • College cost isn't big problem for poor students To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting mo

    July 29, 2014

  • Ducks, geese a blessing I would like to respond to the “Geese and ducks causing problems in Veterans Park” article that was published in the Mt. Vernon Register-News on July 16, 2014. I must share that I do understand that at times there have been a great number of the Cana

    July 29, 2014

  • Money not always the answer I really have to stop and think sometimes. I challenge my thought processes when I write these columns. I am having a hard time with this one. It appears to me that every time a governmental agency or any of the entities that spend other people’s mon

    July 29, 2014

  • Teachers unions' destructive behavior You can always count on the national teachers unions to behave badly at their annual conventions, and they certainly didn’t let us down this month. In doing so, however, they let down many of their members, along with students who are working hard to

    July 26, 2014

  • Workers of the world, curb your ambitions A group of Democrats introduced legislation this week to protect low-paid shift workers from last-minute changes in their schedules. The idea fits into an intriguing category of economic activism: Not trying to lift low-paid workers out of poverty, n

    July 26, 2014

  • State of the reunion ‘Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 26, 2014

  • Fear indifference ‘Perhaps the Catholic church would volunteer to pony up some cash for the illegals’ care then? Hmm?”“Pope should stay out of it. Matter of civil laws, not church laws.”“Thinking that the pope should want the illegals to go to Argentina to get better

    July 25, 2014

  • A push for felon voting rights If advocates have their way, voting rights could be a new reality for the nation’s incarcerated.Full voting rights for felons is as hot a topic in Washington as voting rights in reverse pushed by voter-ID-tickled Republicans. But with new legislation

    July 25, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks