Books all trigger memories, ideas beyond themselves, and always provoke new questions. So it was Tuesday with Rachel Maddow talking at Town Hall about her new book, Prequel.
She read a few lines about Nazism rising in America just before WWII, reminding many of us of an earlier talk by Tim Egan on his book about the second coming of the KKK in the last century, and of Heather Cox Richardson’s appearance (also at Town Hall) just a week ago. Richardson and Maddow — two direct and fearless minds.
Maddow’s book traces the American resistance to totalitarianism leading up to World War II. In her talk, she reminded us that Henry Ford, the great American industrialist, was also antisemitism unbound, vilifying Jews to the point where he is the only American whom Adolf Hitler compliments by name in Mein Kampf. As Hitler once said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration.” That was a reminder too that authoritarianism, wherever it lives, contains similar characteristics — threats of violence, scapegoating, and conspiracies, undermining of voting rights and confidence in election outcomes, and blindness to truth by attacking experts.
Here was a question Maddow put to her sold-out Town Hall audience: “What do you want future writers, the historians decades from now [assuming they’re still allowed to write freely], to say about us?” My answer/question: Were we stewards of this democracy, of freedom, or just too busy?
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