published Monday, August 27th, 2012

Sunshine in Bavaria

Adolf Hitler is still making news in Germany, or at least his book is. After more than half a century of censorship, the state of Bavaria has decided to let copies of "Mein Kampf" be sold openly, though it'll be fully annotated with tendentious footnotes as a kind of inoculation against its ideas.

It seems Bavaria inherited the copyright to Herr Hitler's masterpiece of rabble rousing at the end of the WWII, and has been trying to keep it under wraps ever since. In vain. The full text of "My Struggle," as the title translates in English, has been available for some time over the Internet, and now even the Germans have come to realize that their ban on the printed version has become futile.

What our German friends may not realize is that forbidding publication of Hitler's manifesto -- it's actually more an extended diatribe -- was a bad idea to begin with. Nothing increases interest in a book like banning it. Besides, its sales offer a reliable guide to which parts of the world are most susceptible to its particular brand of hatred. (Sales are high in the Arab world, especially in the Palestinian territories and parts of Turkey.)

A repressive government can pay a good book no higher compliment than censoring it, as the late unlamented Soviet Union discovered when it tried to gag its best and brightest - including Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

The most ineffectual response to a great book, or even a bad one, is to ban it. That is only a compliment to its power. In the case of a bad book, it's an undeserved tribute.

Bad ideas need to be exposed to the sunlight, to open inspection and criticism and ventilation in general, the way any form of rot should be. Keeping bad ideas under wraps only lets them fester. Letting bad, even dangerous, ideas be published also provides fair warning of the political viruses out there -- like a public-health report on the state of the body politic. The publication of "Mein Kampf" allowed vigilant types like Winston Churchill to sound the alarm early.

Before Americans start looking down on Europe's fondness for censoring the censurable, let's note how easily we, too, fall into the same trap. Look at all the Speech Codes that American universities were adopting only a few years back. And still are. An advisory panel at the University of California has just recommended that the university "seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus."

That recommendation, inspired by some of the uglier aspects of anti-Israel protests on campus, embodies the same mistake censors always make. They fail to recognize that the best response to bad ideas is better ideas, not a gag rule. After half a century, the Germans seem to have caught on.

How long will it take Americans to recognize that the Founders had a better idea than censorship? It's called the First Amendment, and, among its other wise provisions, it prohibits Congress from passing any law "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . . ."

Censorship of political ideas, even the worst, is not only wrong in principle but in practice. Instead of snuffing out bad ideas, it only makes them more attractive. As forbidden fruit always is.

Thomas Jefferson said it in his First Inaugural: "If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."

Let us have the same faith in freedom that Mr. Jefferson did. In the end, it will prove not only the idealistic but the practical course. As the Germans have finally realized. Their permitting "Mein Kampf" to be published at last is not a sign that their republic is weak, but that it is stronger than ever. And growing stronger. And wiser.

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EaTn said...

Several years ago I had a German employee and we often discussed the reasons that Hitler was able to control the minds and actions of his parent's generation. Never did I dream then that a few years later we would see the same extremism and gullibility in this country. We don't have to worry about banned books in this country because most folks don't read them anyway--they get their half-information propaganda from the electronic media.

August 27, 2012 at 7:11 a.m.
LibDem said...

Back in the days before neo-conservatism, a copyright allowed one to limit publication.

August 27, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.
rolando said...

He controlled the news/film media, EaTn; he established a propaganda machine par excellence; he outlawed private ownership of and confiscated guns; he seized private property without reimbursement; he controlled banking and the monetary system; he pitted one part of the country against the others; he controlled or conspired with the major industries, etc etc etc. A partial quote from Wiki states:

" After a series of unsuccessful cabinets, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933.[33] On 27 February 1933 the Reichstag building went up in flames, and a consequent emergency decree abrogated basic citizens' rights. An enabling act passed in parliament gave Hitler unrestricted legislative power."

Sounds quite familiar...Stalin and Mao come to mind. And yes, we are getting there too with our own homegrown {??} tyrant.

Read Obama's 30 Mar 12 Executive Order giving the Executive essentially unrestricted civil powers over just about the entire US. Legislative approval is unnecessary although it will be advised.

August 27, 2012 at 6:51 p.m.
EaTn said...

rolando...our corporate/political system is setting the table for a tyrant regime, without regard to political preference. Eisenhower was more prophetic than we realized.

August 27, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
rolando said...

Indeed, EaTn, but this Chief Executive is setting the stage during HIS tenure. Check out his E.O. here, http://kaygranger.house.gov/weekly-enewsletter-executive-order-you-should-know-about and here, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness

He intends to control everyone and everything -- in the name of National Defense, of course.

August 27, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.
jazzman said...

rolando said...

re: 'http://kaygranger.house.gov

She says, on her webpage, that 'similar orders have been made before by presidents from Eisenhower and Reagan to Clinton and George Bush'. Granger also states: 'As President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he has the Constitutional authority to issue executive orders.' Granger and the vast wasteland of kooky right-wingers are wonderfully paranoid.

So.....even though both republicans and democrats have done this before, your point is that it's 'worse' this time, because Pres. Obama did it ?

re: 'Sounds quite familiar...Stalin and Mao'

was Reagan Stalin or Mao ?

You forgot to include Obama coming for the guns., and the secret FEMA re-education camps in your conspiracy theory: 'He intends to control everyone and everything".

August 28, 2012 at 1:54 a.m.
rolando said...

Which of those former presidents have ignored public law and constitutionally mandated duties as this one has, jazzman? Which had an AG who selectively and repeatedly prosecuted law dependent upon the race of the perps? Which had a DHS chief who condoned, perhaps committed, sexual harassment in violation of federal law?

Where did I saw a President does not have the authority to issue Executive Orders? This is not the issue. In any case, which former President -- excepting perhaps FDR 1940-1945 -- issued such a sweeping EO establishing himself as absolute ruler and dictator? Especially in time of peace?

Finally, which sitting President was convicted of a felony in federal court and successfully impeached? [You want cites on any of this, google it].

August 28, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.
jazzman said...

rolando

You.... posted Granger's link, try reading it again and understanding what she says on her page, not your biased reinterpretation.

re: 'ignored public law '

try Reagan & Co...... look up Iran/Contra

re: 'Where did I saw a President does not have'

dude,.... about your grammar....

re: 'establishing himself as absolute ruler and dictator?'

your opinion doesn't qualify as a fact.

re: 'successfully impeached?

that would be Clinton,, impeached by The House,..acquitted by the Senate...... very successful presidency, Romney loves him, and extols his virtues in his campaign and in his political ads., Clinton more respected than most current politicians.

re: 'convicted of a felony '

You should read about Watergate if you're too young or confused. Nixon resigned in disgrace before he was going to be impeached..... his VP, Spiro Agnew also resigned and pleaded no contest to criminal charges of tax evasion. Tax evasion seems to be a recurrent thread in republican political circles.

August 28, 2012 at 3:55 p.m.
Leaf said...

Rolando, who created the Department of Homeland Security?

If fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in a flag and waving a Bible.

August 28, 2012 at 4:06 p.m.
rolando said...

Your attempts to divert Obama's direct attempts to become a virtual dictator through Executive Order are pathetic, jazzman.

Which public law did Reagan ignore? Congress itself could find no such act. He signed no Executive Order giving himself the tyranical powers enumerated in the E.O. of 16 Mar 12 and placing himself above the law; Obama has.

It has become evident you either have not read the E.O. or you choose to sidetrack it and the dictatorial edicts it contains.

August 29, 2012 at 6:26 a.m.
rolando said...

The advent of fascism in this country will [and has] first take the guise of socialism, Leaf. First get the support of half the people by giving away free stuff. This has already happened under The Obama. This E.O. completes the transfer and removes the disguise.

Have you read it? All is important but most damning is the appropriately titled Section 8 wherein all control and all power are in the hands of the Executive Branch.

Insofar as the E.O. is concerned, who created the DHS is important how?

August 29, 2012 at 6:32 a.m.
jazzman said...

rolando said...

re 'Your attempts to divert Obama's direct attempts...'

Your attempts to divert your own direct attempts are attempts to create a fallacious right-wing reality based on spurious conjecture degrades and defames the very foundations of our cherished freedoms. Furthermore, your continued war and demolition of the English language is an affront to every American.

August 30, 2012 at 2:43 a.m.
rolando said...

Wassa matta, jazzy, ya cain't unnerstand nuttin? More than a bit dense there aren't you.

Try staying away from the XBox and "reality" TV and read something. You might even try "The Hunger Games". [No, not the movie...the real thing.] Make note of how the Capital gained and retained it power. It was written for teenagers so you just might be able to grasp it.

Better yet, read the E.O. Pretty tough reading though...all those clauses with sinister and ominous meaning, you know...

Furthermore, you know nothing of politicians...or pretend to. The rest of the world knows them well. If given authority of any kind, they WILL, in time, abuse it. This President and his minions abuse it mightily. Watch how he uses his E.O. in an attempt to extend his failed presidency and turn it into a tyranny. All it takes is a few false, heavily orchestrated "uprisings" around the country [in collusion with the MSM] and the ball is opened.

August 30, 2012 at 6:14 a.m.
jazzman said...

rolando said...

re: 'all those clauses with sinister and ominous meaning, you know..'

You 'justify' your conspiracy theory with your own opinion, it's a beautiful example of circular 'reasoning'.

re: 'Watch how he uses his E.O. in an attempt to extend his failed presidency and turn it into a tyranny. All it takes is a few false, heavily orchestrated "uprisings" around the country [in collusion with the MSM] and the ball is opened.'

another example of exemplary paranoia and delusion... based on your own conspiracy theory about events that haven't happened.

So,...according to your delusional story line, the Pres. is going to accomplish his secret plot and takeover in a little over 2 months.....

You should call someone immediately,.. to escort you back to the psych ward, or at the minimum, resume taking your meds.

August 31, 2012 at 2:51 a.m.
rolando said...

Personal attacks rather than read the E.O. Uh huh.

Come bgack when you can respond to the issue...i.e., The Obama's political resemblnce to a dictator. [sic]

[Let me know if you have trouble comprehending all that, huh?]

August 31, 2012 at 6:46 p.m.
rolando said...

By the way, jazzy, I sincerely hope you are correct in your assumption that The Obama signed that E.O. with the country's best interests instead of his own. [Really; I hope I am wrong.] So long as HE isn't the one who decides what constitutes a threat to our national security -- he no doubt thinks his re-election would definitely threaten our well-being and require his intervention.

August 31, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.
jazzman said...

rolando

re: 'when you can respond to the issue...i.e., The Obama's political resemblnce to a dictator.'

As I don't agree with your opinion/characterization of the Pres. as a 'dictator', no response is necessary.

re: 'I sincerely hope you are correct'

Glad to see you're 'rethinking' your mistaken paranoid 'analysis' and projection.

re: 'he no doubt thinks his re-election would definitely threaten our well-being and require his intervention.'

That kind of nonsense is the reason I suspect you are off your 'meds'., as it makes no sense even in the hypothetical context of your imagined political fantasy.

September 1, 2012 at 3:47 a.m.
rolando said...

You can do the Progressive thing and just ignore it, jazzy. See you on the line on November. Opposite sides, I am sure.

September 1, 2012 at 3:42 p.m.
jazzman said...

rolando

re: 'See you on the line on November.

let's hope there are no lines, and that people can vote easily without republican interference

September 1, 2012 at 5:10 p.m.
rolando said...

It's the black, club-toting thugs at the polling place I worry about...the ones our black Attorney General refuses to prosecute -- along with all the other race-based [read racist] decisions he has made.

Lines mean voter interest. Hopefully they will wrap around the building this year but I doubt it.

You may or may not know that Tennessee has an unchallenged voter ID law in place and working. There has been no meaningful news whatsoever about anyone being denied their right to vote because of it -- saw one brief mention somewhere that the lady who started it all voted...without incident.

September 2, 2012 at 12:51 p.m.
jazzman said...

rolando

re: 'it's the black, club-toting thugs at the polling place I worry about..'

so, how many of 'those' people have you personally seen at your poling place to cause you to worry?

September 5, 2012 at 3:21 a.m.
rolando said...

It only takes one. How many such racist actions have you seen Holder take? [Not counting the refusal to prosecute videotaped Voter Intimidation.] Too many to easily count, actually.

Should one one of those racists ever threaten me with serious bodily injury, he would take a double-tap. But then they don't threaten voters where people carry, do they?

Took you a while to pick up on that single phrase...with no comment on the rest.

September 6, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
jazzman said...

rolando

I see you're having some reading problems. I asked you...'how many of 'those' people have you personally seen '. Your answer includes intentions to murder someone for actions that haven't happened. It's a very republican answer, imagined grievances followed by threats of death.

September 16, 2012 at 5:36 a.m.
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