In the run-up to World War II (and even during the fighting), the British aristocracy was more than sympathetic to fascism. It was not uncommon among the elite to name their children after German political leaders who, like Hitler, espoused a virulent anti-Semitism to buttress the growing mania for Aryan purity. Naziism found a comfortable home among these well-heeled Brits, whose anti-Semitism was less extreme than Hitler's but whose fear that minorities would soon dilute the purity of the motherland was pretty much the same.
We often romanticize England in World War II, and with good cause: its citizens fought an enemy on their own soil and contributed to allied forces throughout Europe. But there was a dark side that needs to be known, especially now that, here in America, a turncoat ex-President is leading his party and followers in the same direction—away from the democracy that provides the freedoms he needs to operate and toward the fascism of Hitler and others.
Trump is not the new Hitler, or the new Mussolini, or the new anything else. He is merely a wannabe aristocrat—a failed businessman whose only desire is to accumulate as much wealth as possible...for himself. He does not want to be president of the United States but instead wants to rule a country unencumbered by rules that protect you and me. A king, maybe, or emperor—some potentate answerable to no one but himself, and certainly not to any voter, check, or balance.
But unlike in WW II England where the common citizen became the hero, striving to rout the enemy from their land, too many of their counterparts in America have become enamored of this figure who openly promises to end democracy. And though, as a former school teacher, it pains me to say it, such would never happen in an educated country.
In this area, the GOP has outstripped Trump, who knows little about education (or much else) and whose myopia forces him to see every situation with him at the center. But his party knows and has known for years, that hamstringing educators and interrupting the educational process are surefire methods to dumb down the American student. Proscribing books from libraries, demanding spurious methods of teaching historical events, and even making school boards so contentious that the best people quit and the worst assume the majority—all these tactics are well-established in the GOP playbook.
Also (and I'm not asking for agreement; just posing a question) has our eagerness to fetishize science and technology diluted the education children used to receive in history and government, and even the arts? When a sitting governor demands that slavery be taught not as an inherent evil but as a way for the Black man to elevate his station, and when anti-educational wahoos remove respected novels and poems from school libraries on a whim, we can plainly see that truth is the enemy of Republican leadership. Republicans do attack climate scientists (with less vigor these days), but they reserve their most violent disdain for educators trying to explain why we are where we are.
A populace conversant with its own history and previous threats to its democracy—the Civil War, the Great Depression, McCarthyism, assassinations, 9/11—threatens the GOP, already running scared from predictions of a white-minority. The election of Barack Obama unearthed decades of latent bigotry that would never abide the ignominy of another Black president. Discounting, adulterating, and revising the American Black experience is a repulsive tactic, but it has gained traction.
Republicans riding roughshod over schools and libraries know that knowledge is power, and that history will help us recognize and suppress treason. But if we consent to the new ignorance, democracy will become a footnote in the MAGA history books: a failed experiment whose demise America welcomed with open arms—and empty heads.