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I’ve been reading…..

That time of year. Days move so fast. As a kid the wait for Christmas seemed interminable from year to year. Now it seems upon us before we know it. Aging does such things I suppose. I’m now 47. I feel every bit of it at times. When I feel younger, I’m happier. The great deception.

I’ve been reading. History mostly. Not sure why but this time of year leads me to monsters. Read back to back bios of Stalin over the last few weeks. Not exactly the type of thing I’d recommend to anyone not used to such things. The human capacity for evil is staggering. But while the Hitlers and Stalins of history are indeed unique….the “ordinary executioners” (to steal a term from another past read) they induce to do their bidding are what frighten the most. There never seems a shortage of such people. History tells us who they are. They are our neighbors. Evil men need evil men, of course.  But they also need good men to do nothing. Why are we so good at the last bit? It’s said that one death diminishes us all. Stalin felt differently. “Death solves all problems” he said. “No man, no problem.” The Russian leader solved over 20 million problems during his reign of terror….making Hitler look like a rank amateur…even counting the Shoah. Yet mention his name today and you’ll get lots of blank stares. “Uncle Joe? Our ally?” Ah….but didn’t the man with a withered arm and webbed toes look so unassuming. Like a dunce.

Well….looks are deceiving (recall that most Americans had no idea their own President could not walk).

Yea….we danced with the devil. Roosevelt. Churchill. Faced with the politics of it all….the propaganda of it all…the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ of it all….it’s a wonder they were able to stay sane. To lead their respective nations through such colossal carnage. Hitler needed to be crushed. Nobody could argue otherwise. If there are no just wars…then WWII needs to be classified as something. One can’t sit idly by in the midst of a genocide. The men who stormed the beaches of France and survived the horrors of Peleliu did not die in vain.

And yet….

We did sit idle. We do. Still. But…

Who could have done better than FDR? Than Churchill? When you wake up Monday morning and dread your work day….some perspective please.

Then FDR dies and Harry Truman…the former haberdasher who is not considered worthy by his own mother in law….gets the call he’s been dreading. And then….”Oh Harry…by the way….we have this bomb…”

Then he’s sent off to deal with Stalin one on one?

Who could have done better?

Things could have….should have happened differently.

WWI…triggered by a byzantine series of alliances that even the nations involved didn’t seem to understand, should not have happened. Germany should not have been devastated. The world economies should not have collapsed. Hitler and Stalin should never have risen to power on tides of recrimination and hatred. Ordinary Germans and Russians should not have been so captivated by demagoguery….by their own stupidity….”it has to be someone else’s fault because otherwise that means it’s ours….” The Jews. The Kulaks. Neville Chamberlain. Father Coughlin. Lindbergh. Hell, even Joe Kennedy.

That Hitler can be trusted. Uncle Joe is a man of his word. The Pacific Fleet? What about it?

Bah Humbug. Thankfully such days are over. Right?

Thankfully, those who make their living by hating are in such short supply these days.

Right? (pun sorta intended…)

In a bit..

–tf

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