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Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt ill-at-ease about the shootings at Parkland in a way that went far beyond the deaths and desperation that has followed the episode. I finally put my finger on my perceptions. And it raised great concern for me. Let me summarize first what has been happening nationwide regarding the shootings, students, and protests.
Students are obviously in great emotional pain and are motivated to take action following the traumatic experience of the shootings. They have come together for a primary cause. They have made the National Rifle Association their primary focus/scapegoat, and secondarily the legislature. They are saying to everyone that you are either anti-gun or against their teens. Companies have boycotted the NRA. Those who didn’t support the calls for new legislation are the enemy. Hundreds of students and adults all over the country have organized protests. Millions of dollars have been donated to their cause, including GoFundMe sites, many of which are for the survivors and their families; included with the donors are Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, and his wife.
Meantime, these young people have been receiving an education that is deeply influenced by Leftist doctrine, hating and demonizing those on the right, and demanding that students be listened to and cared for.
Now I’d like to shift gears and hope that you’ll bear with me. As I describe the following historical period, I’d like you to see if you can identify parallels and whether they stand up to scrutiny.
In Germany in the 1920s Hitler Youth groups were created. By 1933, membership increased to 100,000; by 1936, all other youth organizations were abolished. Although boys and girls were organized separately, both types of groups were highly disciplined. In 1938, Hitler made the following statement:
These boys and girls enter our organizations [at] ten years of age, and often for the first time get a little fresh air; after four years of the Young Folk they go on to the Hitler Youth, where we have them for another four years . . . And even if they are still not complete National Socialists, they go to Labor Service and are smoothed out there for another six, seven months . . . And whatever class consciousness or social status might still be left . . . the Wehrmacht [German armed forces] will take care of that.
The Third Reich looked to the schools to carry out further indoctrination:
Nazi scholars and educators glorified Nordic and other ‘Aryan’ races, while denigrating Jews and other so-called inferior peoples as parasitic ‘bastard races’ incapable of creating culture or civilization. After 1933, the Nazi regime purged the public school system of teachers deemed to be Jews or to be “politically unreliable.’ Most educators, however, remained in their posts and joined the National Socialist Teachers League. 97% of all public school teachers, some 300,000 persons, had joined the League by 1936. In fact, teachers joined the Nazi Party in greater numbers than any other profession.
Indoctrination included new textbooks that lauded the Nazi causes, anti-Semitism, and racism.
Group leaders played an important role, too:
Youth leaders used tightly controlled group activities and staged propaganda events such as mass rallies full of ritual and spectacle to create the illusion of one national community reaching across class and religious divisions that characterized Germany before 1933.
By 1939 the Hitler Youth became the largest youth organization in the world with over 7.3 million strong within its ranks. A new law was issued on March 25, 1939, conscripting any remaining holdouts into the organization amid warnings to parents that unless their children were enrolled they would be forcibly removed and placed in the custody of state run orphanages.
Now I realize that we are a long way from becoming a Germany; our culture does not embrace Prussian discipline, and our youth tend to choose peace, philosophically, instead of war. Yet I’m also observing a great deal of anger that may have as much to do with the times as it does with a school shooting. I see school teachers indoctrinating our young people across the country with Leftists ideas and ideology, as well as the accompanying demonizing of those who are “the enemy.” I see teenagers who are looking for a way to find “a home,” a place where they feel safe and included. I see millions of dollars pouring into their cause, and unidentified people or organizations appearing to guide their activities. The media is intimately engaged, and social media is being exploited to publicize their agendas.
It’s easy to point to other causes that eventually died out: Occupy Wall Street; anti-war protests (Vietnam and Iraq). But today’s activities have a uniform, vulnerable (teen) population with a centralized cause, possibly shadow supporters and millions of dollars. And I see no way to mollify the participants or focus the energy in a constructive way.
Is Germany a cautionary tale? Am I overreacting? What do you think?