We may hope not.
[N.b. Hanson, whom I’m mostly familiar with via the internet, is a very accomplished classical historian, with a heavy sideline in military history. I recently read — it was borrowed, so I had to return it, much to my chagrin — his The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny, a comparative history of Epimanondas’s conquest of Sparta, Sherman’s march through Georgia, and Patton’s march through France in 1944. Fascinating stuff.]
Be all that as it may, Hanson looks at two shootings: the first, in 2014 of the violent criminal Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, and the second of Kathryn Steinle, in San Francisco. Brown was black; Steinle was white. Brown had just committed a robbery; Steinle was walking down a pier with her father. Brown had just attacked and attempted to seize the weapon of the police officer who had matched him to a minutes-old radio alert of the robbery, and was shot dead in his tracks , from the front, while charging the officer. Steinle was shot dead in the back while . . . well, while walking with her father, minding her own business. Brown was shot by a police officer; Steinle was shot by a multiple-convicted felon whose very presence in the United States constituted a crime. The police officer who shot Brown was white; the convicted felon who shot Steinle was Mexican, an illegal alien.
After Brown was killed in the midst of his attempted third felony of that day (first: robbery; second: attacking and attempting to steal weapon from law enforcement officer; third: second attempt to attack and steal weapon from same), Dear Leader’s administration and his political allies very carefully stoked the fires of racial hatred, and Ferguson burned. After Steinle was shot dead by the felon who was very intentionally released by the City of San Francisco in spite of a request by federal authorities that they hold him until he could be deported (this would have been his sixth deportation), there were . . . crickets.
Hanson has the temerity once more to point out the very different treatment of the two killings, one indisputably justified (Brown’s), and the other (Steinle’s) indisputably an abomination, all but engineered by the left-extremists in the San Francisco city government.
Maybe VDH didn’t want to violate Godwin’s Law, which holds that the longer an internet discussion goes on, the closer to 1.0 approaches the probability that someone will make an explicit comparison to the Nazi era. But since Hanson put up his post yesterday, and today is November 9, I’m going to do the belly-flop for him.
On November 9, 1938, Germany exploded. Well, to be more precise, a segment of Germany exploded. That segment was the segment represented by synagogues and Jewish businesses. They were torched, their owners and congregants beaten, in many cases beaten to death. There was so much broken glass in the streets from smashed windows that the Germans knew it as “Kristallnacht,” or “crystal night.” Here’s the Wikipedia entry, for those curious.
Why did Victor Davis Hanson’s post on the political reaction, and the carefully orchestrated violence, in response to Michael Brown’s death put me in mind of November 9, 1938? Because Kristallnacht too was a highly orchestrated orgy of violence in response to a single killing. Ernst vom Rath was a German diplomat stationed in Paris. On the morning of November 7, 1938, a Polish Jew then living in Paris a teenager, Herschel Grynszpan (he had fled Germany in 1936; after his arrest he stated that he acted to avenge the news that his parents were being deported from Germany back to Poland), shot him five times. Rath died on November 9, by which time the Nazi powers had had time to organize “spontaneous” demonstrations of outrage inside Germany.
The destruction of November 9, 1938, was no less “spontaneous” than the observances surrounding the announcement that officer Darren Wilson, the police officer who successfully defended himself from Michael Brown, would not be indicted for any criminal offense.
Carousels are circular. Stand in one place long enough and everything you’ve seen before you’ll see again. Sort of makes you wonder, doesn’t it, what else from the 1930s and 40s we’re going to see again in the coming years? Holodomor? Molotov-Ribbentrop? Munich? (Dear Leader sure made a run at that last by handing the Iranian mullahs a green light for nuclear weaponry.) Greater Southeast Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere?
Sobering thinking, it is.
[N.b. I don’t know whether I’ve pointed it out before on this ‘umble blog, but November 9 is a date pregnant with significance in German history. In 1918, the German republic was proclaimed and the Kaiser abdicated; in 1923, the Beer Hall Putsch failed; in 1938, they put on Kristallnacht; in 1940, Neville Chamberlain, the man who more than any other enabled Hitler to become the continental-scale monster he did, finally died; and, in 1989, the Berlin Wall, the physical embodiment of the war’s outcome, came down. Can’t make this stuff up.]