Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
There are times that resistance seems almost hopeless. I was talking with one of my friends who is very discouraged about the situation. He is an idealist. I spent much of the evening trying to buck him up.
British Historian Laurence Rees wrote:
“human behavior is fragile and unpredictable and often at the mercy of the situation. Every individual still, of course, has a choice as to how to behave, it’s just that for many people the situation is the key determinate in that choice.”
One of the problems is that throughout history, resisters frequently fail to unify in the face of their primary adversary and instead look for the faults among their own potential leaders. That my friends is the way to failure. So tonight, or as it is early this morning I will leave you with a few thoughts of one of the key German resistance leaders against Hitler during the Second World War. That man was Major General Henning Von Tresckow, a key member of the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
Tresckow said a number of things that I will quote in the way he said or wrote them. But for every time Tresckow writes or says Hitler, substitute Trump, and when he says Germany, substitute the United States.
In reality that is now where we find ourselves. We are on the verge of a dictatorship of a man who can barely be called sane. Yet, he has a core Cult, of committed followers who will through their own willful avoidance of the truth would support him even if he overthrew the Constitution, and proclaimed dictatorial powers, and unleashed violence against every domestic opponent. He routinely makes those kinds of threats, to the cheers of his Cult. In one of his speeches from March 14th of this year Trump declared:
“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad,”
That is not a comfortable thought, but it is the new normal, especially among his supposedly Christian supporters, who include some of the most powerful religious leaders in the country.
“I cannot understand how people can still call themselves Christians and not be furious adversaries of Hitler’s regime.”
I feel the same way about Trump, whose most fervent and loyal supporters are conservative or Evangelical Christians. Honestly, when I read their writing, hear the speeches, and listen to their defense of Trump I see little difference in them and the German Christian movement that turned the Churches into a key part Hitler’s political base. Honestly, I cannot understand how any Christian cannot be a furious adversary of the Trump regime. This is not based on politics at all, but the demands of the Gospel itself. As Jesus taught in Matthew 24:24:
“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
Trump is an unbeliever in the greatest sense of the word. Though he presents himself as a defender of Christianity; in thought, word, and deed has made himself a cult-like messiah figure to conservative and Evangelical Christians. He has played on their fears, their racism, their misogyny, their homophobia, and their fear of something that they call socialism. Of course the early church was much more or a practitioner ethics that bordered on socialism, though the term was not yet in use, than the post-Nicea imperial church that has been the face of Christianity in most “Christian” countries since Constantine. This Trump Cult is not Christian: it is an anti-Christian, and anti-humanity personality cult.
Unlike the Third Reich, the situation has not reached the point for any resistier to resort to political violence in response to Trump or his Cult. Instead we must speak the truth and seek to win elections, and not build cult like followings of any of our candidates, and destroy any sense of unity. We have to win with ideas and truth. Even so there is a possibility that we could fail, that is a possibility, and that failure would be the certain end of our Republic, its institutions, and its Constitution as we know it.
Tresckow also said:
“It is almost certain that we will fail. But how will future history judge the German people, if not even a handful of men had the courage to put an end to that criminal?”
We have to put an end to the Trump regime at the ballot box, and even that may not cause him give up without a physical fight. His former attorney, Michael Cohen has said exactly that. Trump is destroying the hard work of Americans and our allies to build a better would, and in almost every country, Trump is destroying the image of the United States, like Tresckow said in his time:
“We have to show the world that not all of us are like him. Otherwise, this will always be Hitler’s Germany.”
Those are import words, but just substitute the name Trump for Hitler. Tresckow was no socialist or liberal, but he believed in freedom. In fact he wrote regarding the Prussian political tradition and how it could be subverted to support evil:
“The idea of freedom can never be disassociated from real Prussia. The real Prussian spirit means a synthesis between restraint and freedom, between voluntary subordination and conscientious leadership, between pride in oneself and consideration for others, between rigor and compassion. Unless a balance is kept between these qualities, the Prussian spirit is in danger of degenerating into soulless routine and narrow-minded dogmatism.”
Truthfully that is a spirit much like the United States that which is engulfing the United States today, soulless routine and narrow minded dogmatism. The tension that exists in the key ideal of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and the words of Trump and his supporters men who desire to rule by fiat and by extra-Constitutional means, cannot be more marked than it is today.
In the movie adaptation of the plot to kill Hitler Valkyrie: Tresckow is quoted:
“God promised Abraham that he would not destroy Sodom if he could find ten righteous men… I have a feeling that for Germany it may come down to one.”
To be sure, Trump is no Hitler, though his words sound more and more Hitlerian every day. I will not call the President a Nazi, though he has give tacit support to Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist groups and frequently engages in racist diatribes. He is certainly acting as any authoritarian leader would, and we have to heed the warning of Russian dissident Gary Kasparov:
“dictators & would be autocrats do not ask “Why?” when it comes to using power for their advantage. They ask “why not?”
To go back to the words of Tresckow in Valkyrie, in noting it may come down to the actions of one man or woman, my friends, that “one” may come down to you or me. We cannot sit silently by as more and more actions that would have been considered as criminal are perpetrated by the President and his followers.
So until tomorrow,
8 responses to “A Meditation On Resistance For Today From General Henning Von Tresckow”
Reblogged this on Rcooley123's Blog and commented:
Trump’s recent performances seem to indicate he is becoming more autocratic rather than less. It seems more and more likely that next year’s Presidential election will become the key to reclaiming and strengthening our democracy – even preserving the planet for future generations.
Trump needs to be held in check by each branch of government and members of all political parties. There are many announced candidates for 2020 who have some great ideas for making progress. It’s important to remember that there are many aspects of life today that are being ignored in the 24 hour Trump vanity news cycle. We need to keep this in mind as the craziness continues in the White House and as we approach the unfortunate possibility that a man who never should have had the office in the first place may get yet another four year term to try to mold this nation and the world as a whole as his personal domain – regardless of the consequences to the rest of us.
Thank you for expressing your thoughts on these issues, Steve. – rjc
Thank you for your kind words. We are living in dangerous times. All the best.
Excellent post, Padre. As one of those who is finding it harder and harder these days to keep a positive outlook, to find that ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, I somehow find it encouraging to know that others feel the same. I lie awake nights wondering how and whether we can turn this around before we do, indeed, become like Nazi Germany, and I think that the answer is people must wake up. Even many of those who dislike Trump are far too complacent, believing that if they just go on about ‘life as usual’, this will all somehow resolve itself. Personally, I think it will take more than that on our part. Anyway, thanks for a very insightful post!
In response to the complacency of many I am reminded of Hannah Arendt who wrote: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction ( i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false ( i.e ., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” Complacency will be our death.
That quote by Arendt is most fitting for the times. It is true … complacency will be our death. Thank you, Padre. You are a wise man.
You are welcome. Thank you too.
Excellent post, as always..I so wish you had a way to reach many many people. Your writing is superb and I’m sure it would go a long way for positive influence and maybe wake up a few of those apathetic people.
I wish That I could get that platform. Thanks for all of your encouragement!