The fragility of civilization

March 7, 2017

civilization“Not every tear in the fabric of civility opens a path to Auschwitz but that civilization is immeasurably fragile,
and is easily turned to brutality and barbarism. The human capacity for hatred is terrifying in its volatility.”
~Adam Gopnik/The New Yorker

This part of a story I read in The New Yorker last month came to mind when I heard that the travel privileges of Gold Star father Khizr Khan who spoke out against Trump are “being reviewed” in an act of retribution that should send a chill down the spine of every decent American.

Yesterday I said that I thought we should all be ready to flee at a moment’s notice. That we were living under Fascism, that is plain as day to me. That we should be afraid. Very afraid.

“Where would we go?” my companion asked. “There’s no place to go.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Australia. New Zealand. Canada. All I can tell you is I don’t want to meet the same fate as the German Jewish families who thought their citizenship would protect them from the Final Solution. Being American in THIS version of America is not going to protect us from anything.”

Just that morning a friend talked about a conversation he’d had with a Trump supporter in his family.  They were discussing the vast number of unbelievably flagrant lies Trump continues to tell.  This was the response he got from the supporter:

“Let him lie! My retirement account is higher than ever, the stock market’s doing well–let him lie!”

He was aghast at that response. So the two of us then discussed how Trump supporters are blind to anything but their own self-interest.

Gopnik’s point in the quote above is well-taken. Civilzation is terribly fragile and the human capacity for hatred is terrifying. We’re seeing that right now and we can’t be in denial any longer.

And no, I won’t apologize for the vivid photograph of bones in the crematoria in Auschwitz. That, or something like it, could be our fate if we don’t act now to stop this madman and his horrible henchmen.

Here’s the full piece in The New Yorker.  

42 comments on “The fragility of civilization
  1. Diane says:

    Husby has long been a student of the second world war, with emphasis on Hitler and his rise to power and the similarities are more than chilling.
    People look back and say, “How the hell did we get here?” One step at a time. One step at a time.

  2. This is the thing… you can talk until you’re blue in the face and those who believe they voted correctly will not back down. I won’t back down for many reasons one of which is they have to be right the other is their self interest and the third is I don’t believe we’ve given “him” fighting chance. The funny thing is they would say the same about us. I do not for one minute believe they shouldn’t be able to see with much clarity that they are being hoodwinked. But that is the case. My stepfather was a Nazi I don’t mean in his theoretical viewpoint I mean he was raised as a Nazi youth and then emigrated to the United States. And although he was far from the perfect stepfather and one thing he truly truly despise was rabid fanaticism without factual basis. Just read “the Stanford experiment” you will see how quickly people can turn into monsters. I’m not ready not ready to leave but I am certainly willing to continue to fight. Thank you Carrol for your continuing observations

  3. shari Eberts says:

    The similarities are stunning and terrifying. We need to stay on alert.

  4. robin masshole mommy says:

    My stomach gets all in knots when I think about what the orange guy is doing to our country. People have fought long and hard to make America what it is and he’s destroying it all.

  5. Anna Palmer says:

    I am very afraid.

  6. Alexandra says:

    Very sad. Makes me sick to think about.

  7. Andi says:

    My hubby is French and we’ve talked about heading back there, but I’m not sure it’s any better there these days!

  8. Beth Havey says:

    Thanks for this, Carol. It’s part of what we have to do every day. YES, I’m afraid too. But I write and tweet and educate myself. Will it make a difference? YES. It will. Hiding and denying will not. Great post.

  9. Jesus! their account is fat because of OBAMA, not Trump! I’m looking toward Mexico for escape

  10. Amber Myers says:

    This is tough. And I do worry for our future at times. The bottom line is my president is my husband’s top boss (he’s in the military) so I try my best to hope for the best.

  11. Miranda says:

    I am afraid we as a country are about to learn a valuable lesson. Be it good or bad, we are not going to be able to avoid it. My advice is to start preparing.

  12. GiGi Eats says:

    Ugh. My husband told me that we could really be going to war with Korea, very very soon. That’s terrifying to think about but I try my best to keep positive about every situation going on in this world. That’s really all we can do, right?

  13. My family is back in India and I always think, I will go back there. Life is nothing but a journey.

  14. I’m a Trump supporter and offended by your accusation that “we” are blind to anything but our own self-interest. I’m an Army Veteran so how is that for self-interest? It seems some on the left are conveniently blind and forgetful and irresponsible to link Trump’s actions to Hitler and the unthinkable acts that happened to the Jews of past. I’m sorry but half the country cannot be wrong about the man we put in office and you can thump your chest and spread as many lies as you want about the man but it’s not going to change anything he has planned. I can understand how scared some people may be but that is because our last president became the apologizer-in-chief and weakened our national resolve. Trump is not going to apologize and I personally support his new travel ban from the countries that are ripe with ISIS bad actors.

    • Ranesha says:

      Your post is proof many Americans are blind. Be offended it’s her opinion and don’t have to agree.

    • Tbey can be wrong and they ARE wrong. That’s the bottom line. They’re ignorant of history, they believe lies and really do represent the worst of what a country can be. The parallels ot Fascism are undeniable except by those who have not studied history and who are focused only on their self interest. And Ranesha, I agree with you.

  15. Elizabeth O. says:

    It pains me to see what we’ve become and what we’re becoming. If we all don’t take a stand and just sit idly by while the country crumbles, we’re all going to pay for it eventually. I hope we continue fighting the good fight because this country is worth it.

  16. I’ve been thinking many of the same thoughts. I worry that we’re going to think “it could never happen here” and miss the window to leave. It’s terrifying and I just can’t believe anyone can support that man.

  17. We can do some meaningful ways for the safety of our future instead of condemning one another. We cannot change the world but prayers can because nothing is impossible with God. Let us pray to clarify the minds of our leaders for peace and order of our world.

  18. Sondra Barker says:

    It is definitely unfortunate that people are okay with lies. We the people need to stand up, to make this nation change for the better, I fear a time of so much hate in our country.

  19. Bennymakachi says:

    There’s a lot of lesson to be learned from this post. I know Ive taken a few. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Cameron says:

    That’s why it’s important to keep speaking out, protesting, and letting opinions be known. We won’t help anyone by staying silent. He didn’t win the popular vote – which means there are more people in this country who don’t agree with him.

  21. Sara says:

    One of the worst page of our history. I read a lot about this topic, we have to remember to avoid repeating all this.

  22. blair villanueva says:

    War might not be my favorite subject, but the WWI & WWII helps us mold what we have now.

  23. Sauumye says:

    It is sad to see where the world is today. I don’t understand how people can even begin to support something so stupid. For someone who loves history and has read a lot of it, I can surely say that there are so many similarities. My dad himself doesn’t understand when I try to explain it to him.


    I don’t know, I have a different opinion on all of this. We were just under democratic rule for so long, we forgot what the Republican Party is. The us has to put its self first. Our safety is important. I believe the fake stream media is exactly fake, because trump is all about being the “best”. He might not be the ideal candidate, but he has an e go so I’m trusting him.

  25. Samantha says:

    It is hard to know which direction this world is going in.

  26. Wildish Jess says:

    I want to go visit Auschwitz one day. I think it would be a very humbling experience.

  27. What happens over there affects us over in UK. And we voted Brexit so we are not ones to speak. But goodness we were shoked when Trup came out on top as POTUS???? How did normal American citizens allow that to happen…? Its scaryto even imagine what he has planned to make America “Great Again”!

  28. ke says:

    I couldn’t be more agreeing to this. Some people are too mindless and heartless to see the truth and good.

  29. Kelly Reci says:

    I couldn’t agree more to this. Some people are too mindless and heartless to see the truth and good

  30. Taty Pradilla says:

    I got chills reading this! This is what is wrong with the world. We need to stop being heartless.

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