My Response to Dennis Prager's Better Understanding of the Good German
A few days ago, I came across Dennis Prager's column, "I Now Better Understand the 'Good German'" where he shared his recently acquired insight about that large swathe of presumably decent German citizens who Mr. Prager says, "did nothing to hurt Jews but also did nothing to help them and did nothing to undermine the Nazi regime." He notes that the same questions that plagued him regarding this group could also be raised about the average Frenchman during the Vichy era, the average Russian under Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Leoned Brezhnev, and their successors. In each of these cases, Prager notes, we encounter a presumed majority of a population under an oppressive regime that does nothing to stop it.
Prager compares the dynamics that played out in each of these groups to the events he is witnessing in America today, with the acceptance by tens of millions of Americans of "irrational, unconstitutional and unprecedented police state-type restrictions on their freedoms, including even the freedom to make a living." Observing these developments, says Prager, has taught him "to not so quickly judge the quiet German, Russian, etc." Appropriately calling the trait demonstrated by these non-actors "apathy," Prager tells us that because of his observations of the American public, he can no longer conclude that the German and Russian apathy is specific to those cultures, as we Americans apparently share it with them. Thus, Prager concludes, he will no longer judge the average German or Russian as he used to.
Mr. Prager misses the point.
I have the greatest deal of admiration for Dennis Prager. His sage analysis of the human condition stands unparalleled to any other. Yes, our beloved Rush Limbaugh grew to be a much bigger, Herculean figure, but even Rush could not compete with the depth of reflection and human understanding that Prager displays on a daily basis. This is why I am surprised that Prager so recently came to understand the dynamics behind the "good German."
Perhaps it is because I was taught about the good Cuban as a child. My childhood was immersed in a culture laced with the raw emotions and pain of a people who lost their country. An employee of the American embassy in Cuba, my father fled in haste the moment the embassy was closed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. My mother, who ironically had not yet met my father but was standing outside of the closed embassy gate while my father was evacuating from the inside, fled from Cuba a few months later when my family’s patriarch, who had already fled to the United States, claimed her. From them and from all my friend's and relatives, I heard of the oppressive presence of Castro's Comités del Barrio, or Neighborhood Committees, whose responsibility it was to alert government officials of any unapproved activities. To hear them say it, in Castro's Cuba you could not trust anyone, not even your closest relatives because one fine day, when you least expected it, they would denounce you to the Comité. In a blink of an eye, you would be abducted by paranoid government officials eager to please the state. If you were lucky, you would be executed by firing squad in front of a nearby wall. If not, you would be taken to Cuba's prisons, sometimes El Morro, possibly never to be heard of again.
But I am more surprised that Prager missed the bigger point than mere comprehension. Of course, it is important all of us understand the tribulations mortifying the vast majority of people dealing with such subhuman circumstances, but the insight only begins with understanding. The actual lesson lies in action.
Evil feeds off human frailty. It takes the path of least resistance. If left unchecked, it will grow and grow until it consumes the souls of both, the individual and the society in which he is living. Thus, the key to facing it is to snuff it out the moment it wreaks its ugly head. Thus, in the case of Hitler, the time to stop him was when he was serving time at the Landsberg Prison for high treason instead of after being released having served a protracted sentence of only a year. In the case of France it was the moment they recognized the evil of the German regime, or perhaps at the very dawn of the godless French Revolution. In Russia, the defining moment was when the people listened to the perverse teachings of Friederich Engels and Karl Marx, and tolerated the overthrow of the monarchy; and for Cuba, it was when Fulgencio Batista shamefully fled Cuba, leaving his people to flail under the deathgrip of a power hungry egomaniac.
Our America is foolishly heading in the same direction as the Germans, the French, the Russians, and my family's Cubans. In each case, there is an abandonment of faith and an embrace of a purely secular view to man's existence. There is an abuse that follows due to man's inherent inability to restrain himself against immorality, greed, and power. And our great error, just like in the cases that have preceded us, is to tolerate the unending encroachment of this evil.
Thus, we do not act when an unelected Supreme Court takes away our abilities to pray in school. We fail to retort when the professors tell us that man can come up with solutions using only reason. We don't call out the absurdity in claiming that men can be women, that one is inherently racist because he or she finds Dr. Seuss books a positive influence on children, or that a white restaurant owner has no business producing and selling Mexican food because it represents something called ethnic appropriation.
All the signs of the impending terrorism are there, but we choose to ignore them, electing instead to maintain the peace and tranquility of our undisturbed lives rather than recognizing the evil for what it is and zealously toiling to stomp it out before it spreads–like it did in Germany, Russian, France, and Cuba, to name a few.
Thus the great lesson to take from human experience is not one that centers around understanding, although, of course, such is the springboard from which progress is made. The great insight lies in the realization that these oppressive, coercive, and Godless power grabs must be resoundingly defeated as soon as they are recognized and before it's too late.
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Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons. He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.