Morning after morning after

According to an (even) older Czech friend: “When you live long enough you see some strange things.” According to his wife, it is the current theme of his observations, back home in Zlin. The world, I have observed myself, is generally quite strange, except in moments when it becomes stranger. At such times, the most one can do is resist “change” — by staying monotonously sane, oneself. And yes, this is ineffective.

There are people older and wiser than I. One of them is Dennis Prager, whom I have long read with respect. On “a lifelong quest to understand human nature and human behaviour,” he wrote a column I seriously recommend, about what he has learnt recently, culminating in the Batflu. (Here.)

It is ostensibly about the “Good German.” It is extensively about the many, many millions, through history, who quietly accepted life under the Gestapo, or its parallel in many other countries. Why did these “silent majorities” put up with often monstrous deeds? Why didn’t they at least “protest”? How could they just stand by?

Why, let me add, after evil regimes collapsed, did they say, “We didn’t know” — what was happening to their former Jewish neighbours, or others who had been rounded up? Why even bother saying “we didn’t know,” when they couldn’t not have known, but had just been keeping their heads down.

Years ago, when the Czech friend mentioned above (then a refugee to Canada) was working in my Idler magazine, we had that discussion. Another staff member — smart, but glib and Canadian — was condemning Czechs and others for failing to resist the Communists. Why didn’t they make a stand? Why did most of them quietly submit to tyranny, and play along with all the lies and the mendacity of the tyrants?

It was a wild exchange. Suddenly my Czech, who like so many had risked his life to escape to the West, became angry. I had never seen him angry, before. He said nothing intemperate, but the veins on his neck were bulging. He had, for the moment, had enough of this smug young “conservative intellectual.” But he only said that, if his questioner had any experience of the circumstances, he wouldn’t say things so asinine and fatuous.

Really, one cannot say more. And today, Dennis Prager writes of the ease with which North Americans have accepted censorship, cancel culture, and leftwing intimidation, when they actually have the overwhelming power of numbers, and could easily win the battle they are losing. For an easy life, they play along. Rather than resist, they quickly adapt to the “politically correct,” and cheerfully utter the latest false platitudes. The more cynical advance themselves by playing along actively. They join the hyenas.

Prager finds himself defending the much-maligned “Good Germans” — who did not choose to let the Gestapo make examples of them, at a time when their lives were cheap.

For me, it was a little revelation to learn how Channel Islanders had behaved under Nazi occupation. I realized that all the grandstanding about British bravery under Churchill was sludge. Had the whole of the British Isles been occupied during World War Two, the British would have acted like the Vichy French. A few, to be sure, would have fought underground (as in France); but the great majority would have collaborated, in their various degrees of enthusiasm. Instead of a Churchill to salute, they would have had a Quisling.

It is pointless to misrepresent human nature.

We have saints and heroes. They have made a difference, “bigly,” at times. Even to losing causes, they have brought glory. I attribute them to God.

Those who attribute sanctity and heroism to Man, will continue to populate our swamps.