Thursday, February 24, 2011


Message on sign:

February 22 - February 23, 2011

- some people came up to ask what the sign meant because they did not understand the historical reference

- some interpreted the sign to mean that we should feel ourselves fortunate that we do not have to remain silent whereas in Hitler's Germany universities had no choice

- a woman passing by clapped four times and smiled at me; one guy gave me the thumbs up while walking by

- a guy passing by read the sign aloud mockingly in a faux grave tone of voice

- a guy walking by said to his friends: "Wait, this guy's the most silent..." (I assume referring to the fact that I do not address anyone who does not first address me)

- one guy said: "You of course know that there's a law on the internet that says that as soon as Hitler or the Nazis are brought up in any discussion, that's the end of rational discourse."

- one guy said: "Hey, man. I'm not quite sure what you're doing, bro. But keep doing it."

Discussions of the Hitler era vs. today:

- "The US is not Hitler's Germany because there's no Holocaust going on."
"That's what one assumes and hopes is true, but the world--and the vast majority of Germans themselves--did not learn of the Holocaust until after the end of the war."

- "Any of the groups in the US that are fascist are at the fringes and thus pose no real threat."
"The Nazi party was also on the fringes of politics. Hitler came to power without his party ever winning a majority in any election."

- "In Nazi Germany people's freedoms were taken away; here we have our civil rights."
"Among the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights is the right to be secure in one's person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and this right has been abrogated by the Patriot Act; your house can now be searched without a warrant, without consent and without the knowledge of the person whose house is searched. People in the US charged with 'terrorism', including US citizens, have been placed into military prisons, have not been allowed access to family or representation of an attorney and can be held incommunicado as long as the government deems it necessary."

- "In Hitler's Germany people at universities had no choice but to remain silent because otherwise they would have been killed or arrested."
"Before Hitler was appointed Chancellor and before he had had time to install himself dictator of a police state, academics and students at universities failed to speak out in any significant numbers against the injustices and extremist rhetoric of the Nazi party."

- "Why did professors and academics at German universities remain silent?"
"Perhaps they as professional educators felt it should be the students themselves who should make such judgments and they therefore wanted to remain neutral."
"Perhaps they liked the status quo."
"Maybe they were afraid."

- "Why do students on campus today not engage in more activism? The most activism I've seen is people standing with signs advertising 'The Vagina Monologues' next to groups of visiting school children."
"Hitler correctly understood that to take over a country you first have to control the students. Here the media tells us that each of us is a beautifully unique snowflake and that if we each work hard we'll all become millionaires, which is not borne out by statistics. But it keeps us divided and incapable of coming together."

- "If they raise tuition in Europe thousands of students come out in protest. Here you get a measly 200 to go to Olympia or a pathetic bunch of 100 on Red Square, half of whom are student government members themselves."
"Maybe students don't come together here because they are so diverse ethnically and religiously, but then again in Europe you have a very diverse group of students too."

In a curious bit of synchronicity, the LaRouche people on the first day had a table set up in front of the University Book Store with their literature and with posters of Obama with a Hitler mustache drawn on:

For a complete transcript of discussions with people about this sign (or at least as complete as memory would allow), see here, February 22-23.

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