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Call Out White Supremacy

White nationalists and neo-Nazis march in an anti-immigration rally on December 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Each week, LA Progressive’s editors pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader’s thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week’s pithy "Feedback Friday" response comes from Larry Wines, who commented on the article by Rev. Peter Laarman, "After More Mass Shootings It’s Time to Call Out White Supremacy in the Pews"

There is a modern adage that the first one to invoke the Nazis loses the argument. But I am not here to slap down Galt’s comment. A full range of historical examples must be available if history is to have value in the present situation.

Rather, since Rev. Laarman brings us the perspective of his long years working with people while seeking to understand what motivates harmful behavior, I would like to submit this for consideration:

A ruthless pragmatism wholly replaced concern for those who could be usefully made scapegoats. And thus all of humanity becomes the victim of the insidious conniving, runaway ego, power-and-control megalomania of one individual.

Hitler is the symbol of evil. But we must not fail to recognize, and to study why, he was successful in gaining absolute authority through democratic processes. Among the very long list of factors, characteristics, and phenomena is this: we can see that a ruthless pragmatism wholly replaced concern for those who could be usefully made scapegoats. And thus all of humanity becomes the victim of the insidious conniving, runaway ego, power-and-control megalomania of one individual.

You may already have applied the same statement to Trump. Or to a frustrated little nobody with an assault rifle and a charge account at the ammo store. The duality of every human individual is oft considered by philosophers as the origin of a countervailing system of God and the Devil.

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In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote:

“What a piece of work is man, How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, In form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals.”

The late historical novelist Michael Shaara seized on that speech by Hamlet as the subject of conversation among Civil War generals before the decisive battle at Gettysburg. It warrants only the simple retort from one general, “How like an Angel? Well he’s damn sure a killer angel.”

The phrase became the title of Shaara’s book. The point remains for us to ponder. And to apply to anyone who emphatically accuses the rest of us of wanting to take their guns, when they are the upstanding citizens we all will someday need when the (other) to-be-feared “they” come for us.

Seems to me it comes down to fear-based thinking, and how susceptible the masses are to buying into it. And whether a love-based philosophy can yet triumph among so many Christian congregations — to the extent it can purge the “dead bloody hands” ideology of conflicted congregants.

Rev. Laarman certainly has his work cut out.