Learning From History: Don't Think Fascism Can't Happen in America Today

In 2017, Nazis and racism have somehow made their way to the forefront in America. If we want to combat fascism today, we need to look at what happened in history.

The Nazi movement in 1930s Germany managed to convince people to overlook, tolerate and participate in horrifying crimes against others. How did they pull off their massive scam and persuade the German people that they were standing up for their “heritage”?

Glenn took a historical look at fascism in the hopes of stopping people today from going over the cliff on radio Wednesday. The key issue was how people were trained to believe that their suffering was the fault of the Jews, giving them an excuse to look the other way during Hitler’s atrocities.

“How did the Nazis actually pull this off?” Glenn asked the difficult question. “How did something so evil become something that so many people, and some of the best-educated people in the world [fell for]; how did they fall for that?”

Part of the problem was how society slowly began to devalue human life, while simultaneously turning to science as the answer to all of people’s problems.

“’Science will solve everything,’” Glenn paraphrased the thinking of the time. “’If we can just get rid of the stupid people, if we can just get rid of the handicapped people’ …”

GLENN: Hello, America. There's a couple of stories that are really fascinating. One is in the Washington Post. The road to hate. For six young men, Charlottesville is only the beginning. And it talks about how these guys have fallen in with neo-Nazis. And it's very, very clear and easy to see what's happening. But it is a difficult conversation to actually come at this and try to have a real conversation in more than a seven-second sound bite.

And so for the love of our nation. For the love of each other. For the love of decency, common sense, and our very survival, we're going to try every day to have an actual conversation. I don't know if that's even possible anymore.

But we're going to take another step towards it, beginning right now.

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GLENN: How did the Nazis -- how did the Nazis actually pull this off? How did something so evil become something that so many people -- and some of the best educated people in the world, how did they fall for that?

It is the question that I don't think that we've ever really, truly answered. We have spent -- at least me -- we have spent our lives watching all these World War II documentaries. And if it's black and white and it's got Nazis in it, guys somehow or another are always flocking to those documentaries. We're fascinated by this.

And we're fascinated because it is so clearly evil. And it just swept a nation. And almost swept the world.

How? How?

There's been a lot of surface answers. But the real answer, to me, is pain and humiliation. The pain and the humiliation that was caused by World War I. And then the indoctrination that -- that happened in the -- in the universities, beginning at the turn of the century, long before the Nazis. The devaluing of life and the sanctity at this time of life and the -- the elevation of science, to get rid of all of our problems. Science will solve everything.

If we can just get rid of the stupid people, if we can just get rid of the handicapped people -- excuse the language, but this is the language they used to use, if we can just get rid of all the retarded people, we're going to be fine.

But we don't have time. You want to make the world a better place: We've got to get rid of those people. And that quickly turns into: If we would just get rid of all of the greedy people. If we just get rid of all of these bankers because, you know, the bankers were involved.

Let me say this to you: Do you believe the Nazis are good?

Okay. I think that's -- I didn't even need to pause. I think everybody's like, "Nope."

Do you think -- now, here's where it's going to get complicated for some people, "Do you think the Nazis have some good points that they're making?" Think about that.

Your knee-jerk is no. But how many in the audience are like, "Well, they are standing against the -- wait a minute. A door is opening. They are standing against the erasing of our heritage. A door has just opened.

If I said, "Jews, Jews, Jews, they all must die. They're bad. They're keeping you down," I don't know a soul that's going to believe that. Not a soul is going to believe that. But then let's take it to the next chant that they do, the next chant is, "Jews, they run the banks."

Okay. I don't know anybody of any intelligence that believes that and is going to say, "You know what, that Nazi is making a good point."

"Jews, they run the banks, and the banks are getting rich off of your back."

Now, wait a minute. The door is starting to open a crack because the average person who is suffering will dismiss the Jew part, but begin to see, "Yeah, well, wait a minute, the banks are getting rich."

And the smart Nazi will say, "The banks are getting rich. They got a bailout. Did you get a bailout? I didn't get a bailout. They got a bailout, and it's the -- it's the banks, and it's the corporations that are doing it."

Now that door is open to anyone who suffering. And that door is there. And all of a sudden, the guy who didn't say Jews, didn't say Jews are running the world, didn't say Jews are running all the banks, but that's implied because he's a Nazi.

Because he has found that one place of connection and he looks like you. Read the story in the Washington Post. The guys who went down there, they never saw themselves as Nazis. But I know this to be true because I've joined another very unpopular club. I hate to say this. But I am a big supporter of Alcoholics Anonymous. And I remember the first time I went to an AA meeting, my first thing I said was, "I think I'm an alcoholic." And the room laughed. And they said, "Well, brother, if you think you're an alcoholic, I mean, there's usually a reason for that. You know, people who aren't, you know, having blackouts don't generally think they're an alcoholic. You've got some signs. So if you're thinking that way, you most likely are."

And I said, "Well, here's my problem: You guys don't look like alcoholics."

And a lady -- an old lady with pearls and a sweater set, who looked like a grandma and a really respectable wealthy grandma -- not my grandma. A really respected wealthy grandma, just without even turning around said, "Oh, honey, we're all drunks in here." All of a sudden, I could accept that I was an alcoholic, because they didn't look like I thought alcoholics looked.

The Nazis are coming out. And did you hear about the Antifa protester that was beaten up by his own people because he looked like a Nazi? And he was like, "I'm not a Nazi. I'm on your side." And they beat him within an inch of his life. Because he looked like a white supremacist Nazi.

Well, when you're coming in -- why do you think -- do you know who designed the Nazi uniform, the storm trooper, the SS, the black uniform? That was Hugo Boss. Hugo Boss, the designer. He's the one who designed those uniforms.

Oh, but his suits aren't oppressing you, right? Or should we burn down all Hugo Boss uniforms, I mean, stores?

Somehow or another, he gets a pass. They get a pass.

Volkswagen gets a pass. Volkswagen, you put the little flower in the little cannister there, the little vase by the steering wheel. Volkswagen is a thing of peace and love. Volkswagen. The people's car. The people's wagon. It was a national socialist design and commissioned by Adolf Hitler.

Oh. But they get a pass. We're not burning Volkswagens down, are we?

Why? Because they've changed their image. They no longer have Adolf Hitler going, "This is the people's car." They have a little flower by the steering wheel.

We're being tricked by image. And people are falling into it for a couple of reasons: One, they are actually hurting. People are going to Antifa, and they are excusing -- they're not joining. They're excusing Antifa, even though there are many people on the left who do not believe what Antifa is doing is right. They do not believe that burning the city of Berkeley down to the ground is a good thing. They don't believe any of that.

They're actually afraid of Antifa. But they're excusing it, because, look at the other side. Look at what they're doing. We got to stop that, right? The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

No, the enemy of my enemy may be your friend, but he also may be your enemy.

And Antifa is your enemy. Same with Nazis. They are your enemy. You cannot stand with them, no matter how much you want to dismiss the bad parts about them. No matter how much they image themselves just like you. That's not who you are.

There was something that happened yesterday that is the cliff of insanity. And I refuse to go no further.

And I'm going to ask you to join me on something. But everything in you will say, "I'm not going to do that." Everything in you.

And, you know what, partially, you will be justified in saying it. Because you're tired. And you've been convinced you don't make a difference. But I'm going to ask you, "Don't go over the cliff with the rest of humanity. Take a stand."

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!