We have to be vigilant about the coming smear project against Antifa.
In these dark days, an intergenerational warning is in order: Antifa folks -- be wary. They are coming for you.
Some of us have seen this movie before. In my generation, when I was a teenage member of MSU's SDS in the late 1960s, I remember the guy who was always yelling, "Kill the pigs," and encouraging us to burn down the ROTC building on campus. In later years, I heard from old SDS colleagues that when they sued the police, they learned that the outspoken guy was a police officer and his friends were informants.
For my dad's generation, the right-wing takeover of a protest movement happened in Germany generations ago, so most Americans don't even recognize Marinus van der Lubbe's name.
But the Germans remember well that fateful day 81 years ago -- February 27, 1933. And many of them are looking at the confrontations in our streets and worrying.
It started when the government, struggling with questions of its own legitimacy and the instability of its leader, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. Historians are still debating whether the "terrorist" was a mentally incompetent young man maneuvered into place to take the fall for the crime, or was an actual communist ideologue (of limited intellectual means and probably schizophrenic; that seems to be one thing most agree on).
But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the people claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted.
He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world.
His coarse use of language -- reflecting his background of hanging out with disreputable sorts -- and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media.
He desperately wanted to be appreciated and loved by the "old money" crowd, but he also hated them because they had never accepted him and, deep down inside, he knew they never would.
Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike, and he had already considered his response. When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he rushed to the scene and called a press conference.
"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," Hitler proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out German Parliament building, surrounded by national media.
"This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion -- "a sign from God," he called it -- to declare an "all-out war on terrorism" and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion.
And, he said, their fellow travelers -- "communists" like the man who'd set the Reichstag on fire -- needed to be tracked down and utterly destroyed.
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